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Olive Blossoms

NickC

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There are a few tricky areas and I am slowly working my way through them. I thought it would be nice to have a thread where we can discuss tips and ideas on how to approach this tune.
For the meno mosso section, I am having a hard time making the melody stand out from the chord tones in the right hand. I am also having a difficult time with some of the larger bass jumps. And, finally, I am having trouble with the transitions from one section to the next.
Does anyone have any tips or ways to practice these problem spots.
 

JeffJetton

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Great idea for a thread! Sort of like a book club, but for an accordion piece. :cool:

For the meno mosso, I think I tend to play those chords staccato, even though they're technically not notated that way (in the arrangement I have at least). That seems to let the melody take more of the spotlight, and if you listen to Frosini play it, it sounds like that's what he's doing there.

Since people usually practice long pieces on a section-by-section basis, they often have trouble moving from one section to the next, for the simple reason that the transition winds up getting practiced far less than the sections themselves. If you're not careful, you wind up really only practicing the transitions when you do a complete run-through.

To remedy that you can take some time to practice just the transitions. You can also cultivate the habit of, when you do focus on a section, not stopping at the end of the section but rather stopping a few measures into the next section. (Resisting the urge to succumb to the momentum and play the whole dang piece, of course!)
 

JeffJetton

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My current trouble spots, for which I suspect there is no cure but "more practice":
  • In the B section, that octave jump to the repeated high Es, followed by that descending chromatic run of doubled notes. I either miss the octave, or flub the repeats, or hose the descending run, or some combination of multiples. The fact that it is waaaay up at the top of the keyboard doesn't help--I find my hand/finger angle a bit wonky there.
  • The triplet run at the "intro" to the trio section. Tough getting that one up to tempo. 😠
 

NickC

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Great thoughts Jeff. I will try to shorten the chord tones. There are a few melody notes on beat 3 of several measures. I guess I can play the chord notes staccato and give the melody notes full value. It seems like an independence exercise, similar to how drummers work to play accents with one foot while keeping the hands and other foot light.
Thanks for the tip on transitions. I do only play them when I am playing the whole piece. I will certainly work on that.
 

NickC

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That is fantastic, Zevy. I was considering doing the bellows shake technique on the intro. (Is bellows shake the right word?) I also like how you play those high 'E's in the B section. I tried that, but the coordination with the bass is proving to be a challenge that I need to overcome.
Learning this tune, and all the techniques is certainly helping me improve as a player. Even if I won't be performing it flawlessly live, it is still giving me confidence while playing other tunes.

Another question: I had a piano teacher in college who wouldn't allow us to isolate the left and right hands. She made us play with both hands at all times. We could slow it down as much as we needed, but we always had to play the music as written.

While working on this song, I have been doing some shortcuts to get through it. Sometimes, I will leave out a bass run and instead just hit the chord buttons so I can get through it. Or I might play the melody line and leave out the harmony notes in the right hand. I am wondering if this will hurt me in the end?
 

Zevy

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That is fantastic, Zevy.
Thank you, Nick.
I was considering doing the bellows shake technique on the intro. (Is bellows shake the right word?)
That is correct, and that is how Frosini played it.
I also like how you play those high 'E's in the B section. I tried that, but the coordination with the bass is proving to be a challenge that I need to overcome.
Learning this tune, and all the techniques is certainly helping me improve as a player. Even if I won't be performing it flawlessly live, it is still giving me confidence while playing other tunes.
Practice slowly. Take it in small pieces.
Another question: I had a piano teacher in college who wouldn't allow us to isolate the left and right hands. She made us play with both hands at all times. We could slow it down as much as we needed, but we always had to play the music as written.
That's an old argument. I see nothing wrong with working on one hand at a time; taking the easier part first. This isn't a sight reading contest.
While working on this song, I have been doing some shortcuts to get through it. Sometimes, I will leave out a bass run and instead just hit the chord buttons so I can get through it. Or I might play the melody line and leave out the harmony notes in the right hand. I am wondering if this will hurt me in the end?
I would try to get it right, a little bit at a time. What's the rush?
Good luck!
 

JeffJetton

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I guess I can play the chord notes staccato and give the melody notes full value. It seems like an independence exercise, similar to how drummers work to play accents with one foot while keeping the hands and other foot light.

Yes, I feel like this is a key skill for an accordion player. It's important to cultivate the ability to push a button in the LH and a key (or button) in the RH at the same time, yet lift off of them at different times.

Otherwise your LH is going to almost always stomp all over your poor RH melody on nearly any piece you play. :oops:
 

JeffJetton

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I'm sure this has been asked an answered somewhere in this forum already, but since it pertains to this thread topic...

What's the story with the non-standard (at least by modern standards) register markings on this piece and others from "Frosini Highlights"? I've seen these in other examples of old (circa 1930s or earlier) accordion sheet music. Probably something to do with the accordions of the vaudeville era not having more than a couple of registers?

It starts with a big "R" in a circle. Is that "master"?

Then there's what looks like a big asterisk in a circle. Some sort of "soft" setting, maybe? (Or musette?)
 
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Zevy

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I'm sure this has been asked an answered somewhere in this forum already, but since it pertains to this thread topic...

What's the story with the non-standard (at least by modern standards) register markings on this piece and others from "Frosini Highlights"? I've seen these in other examples of old (circa 1930s or earlier) accordion sheet music. Probably something to do with the accordions of the vaudeville era not having more than a couple of registers?
Yes, Jeff.
It starts with a big "R" in a circle. Is that "master"?
Exactly.
Then there's what looks like a big asterisk in a circle. Some sort of "soft" setting, maybe? (Or musette?)
That's for middle registers alone.
I believe that that music predates any high, or "piccolo" reeds. As such, many accordions had a switch that would either include or omit the bassoon reeds, so only the middle reed(s) would play. Frosini's accordion, as well as Guido & Pietro Deiro's, had one low (bassoon) reed, and three (!) sets of middle reeds. I also believe that all three of those middle reeds were tuned dry. I have one such accordion. It's great for playing tunes from that era.

I see that you are getting "into" the Frosini music. Enjoy!
 

JeffJetton

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Spent the past week working on the "B" section (top of the second page, "Frosini Highlights" arrangement). Now starting to polish up the Trio. :oops:

Two things I noticed:
  1. That triplet run at the end of the Trio "intro" is mighty fast. I've been experimenting with some alternate fingerings, with the current "winner" being: 2-3-1, 2-3-1, 2-3-4, 5. I feel like that might have potential to work better for me than the normal chromatic scale fingering. Not sure. Anyone else doing something different there? Should I just stick to the classical fingering?
  2. The very last bass note on that same page (the last E in the descending walk-down) is notated as a regular E, without the underline. Is anyone really playing it that way? I've always played that as a counter bass E. Seems much more logical, but maybe that's just me. It does require a "hop" of my 4th finger to get to the following D bass. Maybe that's the reason for it?
 

Zevy

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Spent the past week working on the "B" section (top of the second page, "Frosini Highlights" arrangement). Now starting to polish up the Trio. :oops:

Two things I noticed:
  1. That triplet run at the end of the Trio "intro" is mighty fast. I've been experimenting with some alternate fingerings, with the current "winner" being: 2-3-1, 2-3-1, 2-3-4, 5. I feel like that might have potential to work better for me than the normal chromatic scale fingering. Not sure. Anyone else doing something different there?
At first glance, I think I use the same fingering as you. However, my teacher (Charles Nunzio) changed some of the particulars of that line, so I play it a bit differently.
  1. Should I just stick to the classical fingering?
I don't know what you mean by "classical" fingering. BTW My teacher told me that Frosini didn't write the fingering, as he played CBA. My teacher did a lot of the fingering for him. In fact, IMHO I don't think that Frosini did all of his own transcribing. But that's for another time....
  1. The very last bass note on that same page (the last E in the descending walk-down) is notated as a regular E, without the underline. Is anyone really playing it that way? I've always played that as a counter bass E. Seems much more logical, but maybe that's just me. It does require a "hop" of my 4th finger to get to the following D bass. Maybe that's the reason for it?
You nailed that one, Jeff! If one plays the E as it is marked, the next note (D) is much easily played. As Mr. Nunzio taught me, it is all a matter of where you are coming from and where you are going to. There are very often alternate fingerings that work, but in this case the printed version will work just right.
Good luck and keep the questions coming!
 

colinm

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Spent the past week working on the "B" section (top of the second page, "Frosini Highlights" arrangement). Now starting to polish up the Trio. :oops:

Two things I noticed:
  1. That triplet run at the end of the Trio "intro" is mighty fast. I've been experimenting with some alternate fingerings, with the current "winner" being: 2-3-1, 2-3-1, 2-3-4, 5. I feel like that might have potential to work better for me than the normal chromatic scale fingering. Not sure. Anyone else doing something different there? Should I just stick to the classical fingering?
  2. The very last bass note on that same page (the last E in the descending walk-down) is notated as a regular E, without the underline. Is anyone really playing it that way? I've always played that as a counter bass E. Seems much more logical, but maybe that's just me. It does require a "hop" of my 4th finger to get to the following D bass. Maybe that's the reason for it?
My E is printed with an underline
 

colinm

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Spent the past week working on the "B" section (top of the second page, "Frosini Highlights" arrangement). Now starting to polish up the Trio. :oops:

Two things I noticed:
  1. That triplet run at the end of the Trio "intro" is mighty fast. I've been experimenting with some alternate fingerings, with the current "winner" being: 2-3-1, 2-3-1, 2-3-4, 5. I feel like that might have potential to work better for me than the normal chromatic scale fingering. Not sure. Anyone else doing something different there? Should I just stick to the classical fingering?
  2. The very last bass note on that same page (the last E in the descending walk-down) is notated as a regular E, without the underline. Is anyone really playing it that way? I've always played that as a counter bass E. Seems much more logical, but maybe that's just me. It does require a "hop" of my 4th finger to get to the following D bass. Maybe that's the reason for it?
How about 231, 212, 314, 5
 

JeffJetton

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My E is printed with an underline

Really? What publisher/edition/etc. do you have?

How about 231, 212, 314, 5
That would work, I suppose. Not too different from what's came printed on the version I have (differences underlined):

231, 312, 313, 4

You've got the same thumb crossings. Just the "upper" fingers are a changed a bit. So I wonder if it's any quicker in the end?
 

JeffJetton

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I don't know what you mean by "classical" fingering.

Maybe not the best word for it, I guess. There are several commonly-accepted ways to play a chromatic scale, after all. But the one I feel like I see the most is largely what's used in the "Frosini Highlights" arrangements: Thumb on most white keys, 3rd finger on black keys, toss in the 2nd finger if you have two white keys in a row, use the 4th and 5th sometimes to finish up the run.

It's a consistent/logical way of doing it, but not always as speedy for me as I'd like.

BTW My teacher told me that Frosini didn't write the fingering, as he played CBA. My teacher did a lot of the fingering for him.

Makes sense. Also explains his fondness for this sort of flashy chromaticism, which I understand is easier to execute quickly on CBA compared to PA.

I run into the same trouble trying to play (the presumably CBA-composed) Brise Napolitaine. That B section is murder on PA!
 

colinm

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Really? What publisher/edition/etc. do you have?


That would work, I suppose. Not too different from what's came printed on the version I have (differences underlined):

231, 312, 313, 4

You've got the same thumb crossings. Just the "upper" fingers are a changed a bit. So I wonder if it's any quicker in the end?
My copy does not have fingering on there, its an Alfred edition
 
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