Whenever I mention about piano technique, I often emphasis two aspects: velocity (speed) and force (weight/energy). In this post, I am going to give you a detailed explanation of how our control of weight (and the lack of it) in striking the piano keys down affects the sound of our playing drastically. In fact, I would say that the control of weight is solely responsible for the projection of tone and volume.
There are two ideas I want you to understand here:
1. We apply different level of weights for different dynamics.
2. We apply different level of weights for each key – even in the same dynamic level.
Let me first start with the first idea.
What does that mean by us applying different level of weights for different dynamics?
Imagine that you want to hit someone really hard (please only imagine, don’t go hurt someone right now). You have to use more force to hit that person in order to evoke more pain right? (Ok, doesn’t sound very moral but let me continue). Instead, when you want to be gentle with someone, say you pat a person on the shoulder, you wouldn’t use the same level of force like you want to hit him/her hard yes?
So that’s exactly what I am trying to explain with our piano playing.
When you want to express a louder dynamics in the music, you would want to press harder (more weight and more speed- as I emphasis the latter more than the former as always). On the other hand, when you want to express a softer dynamics in the music, you would want to press softer (less weight and less speed).
How do we apply different weights for different dynamics?
Imagine there is a scale of weight/force level, with number 10 as the maximum level of force that you can press into the key, the scale would go like this:
10 = fff
So when you want to play “ff”, you use most of your energy (from the body) to strike the keys down. So with “f” (which is number 7) you should feel you are using lesser force than a “ff”. And so with “mp” you must use even much less weight and force to strike the keys down. It’s about feeling the different levels of force during the key strike and trying to apply them accordingly in respective dynamic situation.
(*Note: we can’t put everything like fffff or ppppp in the scale- it’s just a metaphor and a clearer way to explain this idea).
I’ll talk about the second idea in the next post.