The conceptual precondition of the intended research is the presence of interconnection between psychic affects and the physical actions expressing those affects. The mentioned precondition has a wide general profile; yet, practical scope of the research is limited to the specificity of a fortepiano, and has two objectives: precise and comprehensive scientific reflexion, on the one hand, and on the other, practical importance of this reflexion in creative – performing field, as well as in pedagogy.

Fortepiano, similar to any other instrument, due to its technical structure, entails a certain tendency for the above-mentioned interconnection between the psyche and reflex. From a structural standpoint fortepiano is a separated instrument. The separation of its keys and hammers from each other and the absence of any binding technical element creates appropriate conditions under which a pianist acts not only through the imagination and ear but also physiologically. Let us compare piano with wind and string instruments: A bow is involved in the playing a string instrument; a bow has a property of unifying multiple sounds in one whole and a single psychic affect. Here the interconnection among sounds creates the graphical-dynamic form identical to the one created through the choreography of interaction of a bow with the strings. During the act of performance there is some common fundamental element between a bow and a hand, on the one hand, and the interconnected sounds originated through them, on the other, and this is present in the psyche as a single whole affect. So, a dynamic sketch of movement of a hand and a bow is the same for the psyche in terms of an affect as the “dynamic sketch” of interrelated sounds that we can hear and imagine even without a bow and a hand. Or let us take a flute: such as the dynamics of exhaled air stream, sounds are in such dynamic relationship and this is one, whole, integral affect for the psyche. Affect, which has two versions – musical form as clear imagination, and a physical action. And these two forms are concurrent and absolutely integral during performance.

Vertical, separated attacks are characteristic of immanent tendency of playing a fortepiano, which is due to the construction of a fortepiano. A pianist is able to overcome this very tendency, musical manner of whose performance is elastic and raised. If, during the playing a violin it is easy to observe the connection between physical action and imagination and establish interconnection between them consciously (for direct connection between affect and expression gradually implicates expression, as an outcome), or if, for example, we can explain to a student musical form by illustrating using the movement of a bow, in the case of a fortepiano this is relatively difficult. Scientific knowledge would benefit from a systematized analysis of these possibilities and from development of pedagogical and performance methodology in this specific direction.

That is, forthcoming from the aforesaid the issue stands as following: how can we hear with a hand?

Lat us consider several examples:

We have to play several accords in distance from each other. The hand takes the first accord. The attack is performed vertically - from upward to downward. Then hand should be lifted in the opposed direction - from downward to upward and moved to another accord etc. There is a danger that while moving downward, the hand will be slightly delayed on a piano key button by the influence of inertia caused by gravity and a choreographic draft that will be performed by it will not be in line with a proper (according to aesthetics, style etc.) sample of a dynamic connection between accords in the existing actual interpretational context.  Our physical action automatically awakes appropriate affect, appropriate illusion in us and diverts our musical interception from the right road. As in opposition to this, it is possible to plan the movement choreography so, according to a musical-aesthetic goal, that the hand movement not only corresponds to the goal but itself awakes hearing aiding reflex in the psychic.

Here is the second example: we have an interval, rising quinte Do – Sol. The sounds are quite distanced from each other in time. We have the key button’s lowering and holding on the piano and then the second key button’s lowering.  If in the opposition to this, a hand does not relax to the end, does not hold and does not find itself in a complete inactivity after lowering of the first key button, but instead performs – for illustration overdone here - a circled movement representing connection, interception, the sound will awake in our hearing Do ‘s intensifying and not subduing impression, and there will be a corresponding result, because Sol will be touched as the last point of this hearing-chorographical line rather than the separated key button. 

Circle, as the graphical model and the circled movements are the most illustrated version of the principle under our consideration. Of course, during fast movements in fast tempo we have no time of such illustration.  We will overview only a starting point on the circle’s example. Also, exactly the circled movements could be implemented at the initial study stage so that a student, under constructive separating conditions of piano, gets used to the interlinked thinking, which s/he will establish by the usage of affective similarity principle between movement and hearing and the usage of interconnection existing between physiology and psychic.

More refined and minimalist method for realization of the same principle should be searched directly in the touché sphere.

Touché also belongs to the intuitive sphere in the pianism history and there is no corresponding scientific study of its psycho-physiological features. On one side, by all means, the circle principle is also presented here in a form of the rotation possibility on a tip of a finger and on another side, great number of nervous endings that gather on a finger-pad, gives particular sensitivity to this spot and gives the possibility of intense contact feeling with the piano key button.

Broad horizontal touché is of particular interest, where a finger’s touch with the key button is of a softer quality and broader area, which gives the possibility to experience the feeling of going deep (based on finger-pad softness) in the opposition to the feeling of moving on a solid flatness.

It is evident that actual reality during playing on the piano is touching a key-button, namely, producing an actual sound. After sound is produced on the piano, it is impossible to influence it (unless we count in a foot-beater). Then we produce another sound. This is the only actual activity while playing the piano. However, the way we touch a key-button at a certain moment is in direct connection with out artistic perception, and management of this perception or losing a proper control over it, is undoubtedly connected with the affective unity principle between imagination and action.

The question is put from the practical usage angle of this statute as to what should be considered as a correct movement, correct pianist “gesture” criteria. First of all, in the pedagogical sphere should be noted that right the psycho-physiological affect unity idea should dictate the necessity of searching oppositional to the piano’s fractionizing tendency pedagogical means and then the whole complex of means should be developed, which following from the initial study stage would assist a student that his/her imagination and musical perception does not fall under the influence of the piano’s fractionizing immanent tendency and s/he develops a correct vision of artistic musical images and performs their realization. Forthcoming from my personal pedagogical practice, I can positively say that the problem of fractionizing and flatness thinking between school and conservatoire students has high statistical indicator, the reason of which should be searched right in the existing situation - by conditionality of a gesture, pianism physiology in general due to the instrument’s fractionizing structure and by conditionality of imagination from the conditioned gesture side. In such case we will in vain try to tell a student - play inspiringly, lyrically or sarcastically. This will solve the problem only generally – only on the emotional level. This will be a certain broad bridge, which will definitely lack something essential. This essential is that micro level, that layer of performance, which has the constructive importance and without which the whole will always be not full.

Goal of the research is not creation of a new fortepiano school or invention of various, unrelated to each other pianist methods, but rather an observation on one principle perspective - piano-performing process and all the components involved in it, study of activity of this principle and forthcoming from this development of the methodic as in performing so in pedagogical spheres. Imagination gives birth to a gesture and this gesture on its part, in a form of a responsive reflex, gives birth to an equivalent imagination.  Hearing makes us play and a hand, based on the same principle, makes us hear. Between psychical affect and the way of its expression there is a solid simultaneity connection and this connection has two directions, direct connection: affect – “gesture” (in a broad meaning of this word), and interconnection: gesture – affect.

Let us consider several examples one more time:

 Chopin. Scherzo  N2 B flat minor



Sound Fa starts subduing after being produced. A pianist has no way of influencing it after producing it. Since a hand can add nothing to already produced sound it stops and then performs following semiquaver passage. Stopping of a hand provokes equivalent affect in psychics, imagination and this section is perceived in the foregoing way.

What could have happened unless it has been in this way? Could we alter sound with something after it has been produced? And if not, what for any activity is needed after producing it?

Of course, here comes an issue of interpretation. May be exactly this is the right interpretation and we should not be looking for anything else. Answering this question is beyond frames of the subject under consideration. Here we only pay attention to the fact that this passage if performed, for example, on a violin, could have given a possibility to Fa not to be subdued until flat Mi (bemol) but instead we would make crescendo, perform intensification of Fa until flat Mi and, as a result, we could have received the following dynamics:



Semiquaver passage would have “poured out” from Fa.

 Of course, this is possible on a piano, too. We are not saying anything new, we are only highlighting reflexes. If a hand stops, due to the interconnection principle existing between movement and imagination, hearing and imagination will stop as well and if a hand performs such movement, which dynamically will be identical to the dynamic connection between sounds reviewed on a violin’s example, then flat Mi, for the time of being produced, will establish aforementioned connection with Fa in our hearing and imagination and we will touch a key-button in a proper way and receive equivalent result. For that moment, flat Mi in our imagination will be a sound which came from Fa, which has not subdued as being dictated by an instrument, but rather its intensification took place in our perception with the help of a hand, due to the reflexive interconnection existing between hand and hearing, i.e. it will be a sound which “a hand made us hear”.

 As a result of this observation, we get an answer to the question why one pianist’s play is heard as knocking and another’s, which intuitively owns the performer’s palette, as a relief and breathing.

Can we conform whatever is in common with so imagined musical group, i.e. pure hearing-imaginary affect on one side and hand action dynamic on another side to distinct concepts and imaginations? This equivalence could be graphically represented for illustrational, noticeable purposes. Dynamics of the graphical line is equivalent to the movement and intensification imaginary models. This situation could be also successfully used in the pedagogical sphere, particularly at the initial stage.


© Jemal Tavadse




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