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Shostakovich Trio Harmonics

Does anyone have any tips on practicing and playing the opening harmonics passage in the Shostakovich Piano Trio No.2? I'm 18 years old, and my trio is performing it in 3 weeks, so any advice would be appreciated!


Experiment with your bow placement for starters, getting pretty close to the bridge, use lots of bow and focus your ears on the sound you want to make, without forcing. You must get comfortable with the sound. Perhaps get some feedback from someone you trust. Some instruments emit clearer partials than others, but you don't want to do much more initially than coax the sound from the instrument. Your under-the-ear perception may not be an accurate gauge of what's coming out. In general, locating the bow near the bridge will make the difference in the projection. Try the third B harmonic on the D string and slide (not too pronouncedly) up to the octave with an unforced diminuendo until you get the right sound of the upper note in your ear, after which you can practice the upper note with more intensity (unless you love the reverse gesture). This should be a singing, ethereally intense passage. Save your strength--you'll need it in this piece.


Use the thumb nail instead of the fleshy part of the thumb. It makes the harmonic much more clear.


Try practicing it in octaves as well. This will make your intonation more solid. Also, alternate between the octaves and the harmonics.


1. Bow lightly , relatively fast, and NEAR the bridge.

2. Use both 4th and 5th (between thumb and 3rd finger) harmonics to minimize shifting.

3. Take your time when shifting. Harmonics (especially artificial ones) don't "appreciate" jerkiness.

4. Make sure you visualize the circumstances that led to the composition of the work and the personal experiences of Shostakovich during the war, and after. This is a meaningful piece (I find it's best played in winter, when the audience relates better to the lifelessness/hopelessness/desperation/rage that permeates it).

Monte Cristo

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