Question about Trills

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Andy
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Question about Trills

Post by Andy » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:50 am

Hey all,

I’ve recently started practicing a new piece of music out of one of Walters old books and came across a trill.
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In Kabateks book, he explains how to play Trills as…
The “Trill” is the swift, equal repetition of a principal note and the note that lies above it, in the regular succession of the diatonic scale; and ends with a turn, of which the last two notes are written as grace notes. A transposition sign placed over the TR, requires the degree above the principal note to be depressed; a transposition sign placed below the TR, requires the lower note of the graces to be raised.

The manner of playing the trill, on the zither, requires the principal note to be struck with the ring, and then slurred to the next degree, this must occur in rapid succession.
So thats about as clear as mud to me. In the situation I’m seeing, there are no grace notes following the trill, its just placed above the note. I had tried slurring to the next note up and back rapidly, but that only mutes the string. How would you play this? Is it just another vibrato? (Shake your finger left and right to produce a quaver?).

Thanks!
- Andy

NutmegCT
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Re: Question about Trills

Post by NutmegCT » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:58 am

Hi Andy - that Kabatek text is about the most confusing thing I've ever read. The interpretation of the "tr" varies across instruments, time periods, composers, and styles. Not a science, but an art.

Sometimes a trill begins with the note *above* the written note: sometimes with the note that's *below* the written note.

Sometimes a trill ends with a "turn", and sometimes not.

Trills are just "embellishments", and subject to interpretation by the performer. And different composers used the same "tr" to indicate different things.

One of the best descriptions of trills (and other embellishments) I've found is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornament_(music)

Isn't this trilling!

Tom M.

Evelyn
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:23 am

Re: Question about Trills

Post by Evelyn » Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:27 pm

The trill you are asking about in your post is played as illustrated below - a) or b). It requires you to play the d using the zither ring and immediately after bring your thumb down fast and forcefully onto the e to make it sound by this action, and then quickly withdraw (not lift off!) the thumb again by pulling it towards you while you are still holding down the d with your index finger, and to do this repeatedly for the duration of a full note. By holding down the d while pulling your thumb off the e, the d will sound once again.

See description and illustration in attachment 1 - different notes, though.

You can hear a number of trills in this piece played by Dieter Vensler (listen carefully between ~0:30 and ~1:18). I doubt that you'll be able to see them played, as it's a very fast movement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB47XMXWPKA

I would, however, suggest that you should perhaps try the short trill first, and try it using middle and index fingers*, as this is a lot easier to do than using the thumb. Ideally, the Bindungen and Abziehbindungen (slurs?) should already have been mastered, or at least practised, before trying the trills, because trills build on the former. I am saying this knowing that it can be rather frustrating to try something one's fingers are not as yet quite ready to do.

*Play the c and immediately bring the index finger down fast and forcefully onto the d to make it (the d) sound. Then immediately pull the finger off the d again, towards you, so that the c will sound once again (instead of playing the c with the zither ring, this time you activate it by plucking the string with the index finger you are withdrawing.

The short trill is described in
https://www.zither.us/files/keyes_zither_method.pdf

See the relevant paragraph - attachment 2 - in following post.

Happy trilling

Evelyn

PS - I have edited this post several times in an attempt to hopefully help everyone to understand in detail the moves described.
Attachments
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Last edited by Evelyn on Sat Apr 25, 2020 8:01 am, edited 10 times in total.

Evelyn
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Re: Question about Trills

Post by Evelyn » Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:52 pm

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Attachment 2


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kenbloom
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Re: Question about Trills

Post by kenbloom » Sat Apr 25, 2020 7:37 am

I execute trills doing what is described here but maybe the terminology that Pete Seeger invented might be easier to understand. He called these actions a hammer on and a pull off. You play the note and make sure that your noting finger is firm on the note. You use an adjacent finger and literally "hammer" that finger down to make the upper note sound. Once the "hammered" finger is down, you use that finger to pluck the string while still firmly holding the note below, thus giving you a "pull off". The latter in bowed string terminology is called a left hand pizzicato. Once mastered, this technique can make it possible to play a trill for as long as you need it. You need real strength and dexterity in your left hand to make this sound good. It is easier to start doing this with an open string and the note above. Hope this is helpful.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.org

Andy
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Re: Question about Trills

Post by Andy » Sat Apr 25, 2020 6:35 pm

Thanks all, this is a big help. I hadn't realized that little symbol was going to be quite so complex. Another thing to learn and practice.

- Andy

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