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Domenico Scarlatti Toccata in D Minor, K. 141: How to play rapid repeated notes, and make hand cross-overs easier (Videos)

I always return to a composition that never quite ripened into a desired tempo when I first learned it, with the intention of devising new strategies to improve my technique the second time around. In this endeavor I’ll often study videos of world class performers to ascertain physical movements that might work for me which I can then pass down to my students. (I’m sure I share a comparable journey with athletes who want to prime their performances on the field) Batters in a slump are known to study videos of players hitting 3 for 4, racking up doubles, triples and home runs.

In the music “field” I had Martha Argerich to observe. At least two of her You Tube performances of the Toccata were posted and they were at breakneck speed, though well polished and poised. How, I wondered, did she play reams of rapid repeated notes with alternating fingers so fluidly and without a second thought?

By watching this celebrated pianist for a few hours spaced over days, I obtained a new perspective on how to navigate the repeated notes, and separately, I self-analyzed my hand cross-overs and came to a new awareness about how my wrist had to spring forward to aid accuracy.

Ideas, suggestions, and epiphanies were shared in this video:

Playing through:

3 thoughts on “Domenico Scarlatti Toccata in D Minor, K. 141: How to play rapid repeated notes, and make hand cross-overs easier (Videos)”

  1. Thank you, Shirley! I’ll try to observe what motions I’m using. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing with this piece. But I figure as long as I’m not feeling pain it’s okay to try it.

    Do you think being able to play rapid repeated notes has anything to do with the instrument? That is, isn’t it easier to play this kind of thing on a well-regulated grand than on a middling upright?


  2. Hi Harriet, Yes I think the hammer repetition to keys (with all the assembly adjustments) is critical to playing clearly defined repeated notes. Some uprights surprise me and have good repetition where grands might not. I went over to my Haddorff console this afternoon and realized even with the light action, that I had problems with repetition. The Steinway grand was better, though it could still use some regulation. It’s a piano to piano situation. I am still amazed that Argerich basically dusts the keys and gets all the notes at incomparable speed. I’m sure her piano is super well regulated, and frequently adjusted.


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