martedì 30 aprile 2013

"Rigoletto" by Verdi: an exercise for the study of répétiteur

Giuseppe Verdi
The Prelude to the first act concentrates in just 34 bars (about 2 minutes of music) all the drama of the story of Rigoletto, in particular the obsessive idea of malediction that disrupts the tragic protagonist: in fact the musical idea of the bars will be 1-3 recovery in the troubled thoughts of Rigoletto.

It can be learned and performed as a piano piece. The effect piano will be very satisfactory, if you will bear in mind the sound and dynamics of the orchestral part.

You can perform the following exercises:
  1. rhythmic reading of the piece, accompanied by the gesture, with attention to the detachment of time and unity of the movement, articulation of sounds, the rhythmic phrasing; do not need to read the names of the notes, just scan some syllables comfortable for articulation;
  2. reading with the melodic voice, accompanied by the gesture, of the upper voice (and possibly elsewhere), preferably without help of the piano, with attention to the dynamics;
  3. study of the orchestral score;
  4. study piano;
  5. piano performance under the direction (edited by the teacher or a fellow student).
The Prelude consists of 34 bars Andante sostenuto in 4/4, in C minor, with the quarter note metronome marking 66. You can beat in four movements, in some subdivided. An important aspect is the initial attack: consider doing with an upbeat gesture corresponding to the last beat of movement, divided into eighths. Very important to the accuracy of the dotted rhythm and figuration in sixteenths.

Very important rests: sometimes, pianistically, you are wrong, prolonging indefinitely the sounds with the pedal as necessary to respect the silence of expression intended by the author (eg bar 3, the third and fourth movement).

Treating the crescendo at bars 11-14: a gradual crescendo of four beats, characterized by persistent repetition of the 'G' and the figurative ascending the bass, which is intensified by the decrease in the last bar rhythm (each movement instead of every two).

Equally important, the gradual decreasing to 20-24 bars and then the crescendo at bars 29-33.

venerdì 8 marzo 2013

Support the weight of the arm

A young piano student has asked this question: "I would like to have opinions on which fingering to use in the twelfth bar work of Schubert Impromptu Op 90 no. 3 in G Flat Major. Precisely where you "beat" for the first time on those E flat and C flat together. My problem is that I just can not give the correct pressure not to make it look like a hammer."

Here the musical example:
Schubert, Impromptu op.90 no.3

My short answer is this:
"The question is not at all strange, it is very sensible! I'll play with the fifth finger on the E flat and fourth with the C flat supporting the weight of the arm on the fifth finger, "leaning" softly, without a hammer! You will say, easy to say! Depends on technique".

Now I add something. The word "support", not surprisingly, is used in a number of cases in instrumental technique and also in the technique of singing. What does it mean support? It means "to lean, to stand on something, something supportive": so it's the exact opposite of what you do when you make an effort, you lift a weight, it faces a struggle. In everyday life, we lean when we need to stand up to support us (and, metaphorically, we rely on a few people when we feel discouraged or distressed ...).

So, lean means countering effort with an aid which, in the case of the piano, we are given simply by the force of gravity.

But more importantly (and this is the sense of the question) is that properly leaning the weight of the arm can also change the sound between the fingers of the same hand. This is necessary when we, in cases such as that place in this example, the composer needs to play melody and accompaniment in the same hand and therefore, by implication, requires two different sounds in the same hand.

Of course, you do not get an immediate: it is an instrumental technique that acquires the appropriate exercise.

lunedì 4 marzo 2013

Musical accents in the march tempo

One student asked a question about the Marche  in E-flat Major BWV Anhang 127, contained in the "Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach".

The question concerns the execution of the march time, that writing is like the 4/4, but it is actually a 2/2: how to feel the difference? It also asks: If the reviser indicates 76 to half-note, what is the difference compared to a 152 to quarter note?

The speed depends on the interpretation

From the mathematical point of view is the same: 76 at half-note equivalent to 152 to the quarter note. But from the musical point of view is different: it means that the music must be thought of in two beats per measure, instead of four. If it seems too fast, you can play a little more slowly, but the important thing is going to keep this rhythm in two movements, which is just the march. Keep in mind, in fact, that the values ​​of metronome are purely indicative, the musical interpretation does not mean never so stiff. Try therefore to study the piece at a speed of 60 to half-note: first try to sing the parts at this speed (especially the right hand, but also the left!) to get used to this scan.

BWV Anhang 127

A matter of accents

The difference in performance between 4/4 and 2/2 is a matter of accents. For example, in bar 1 (apart from the upbeat E flat-G, which obviously leans on the beat in B flat) is interesting figuration into eighths (C-D-E flat-B flat), followed by G quarter: the support should be given to the E flat and certainly not on the C, or only at the end of the beat, the next support will be the next G (eighth) that starts the bar 2. Note that the rhythm of the left hand helps the rhythmic beat.

Interesting then the bar 5, where they begin the triplets: we find a triplet eighths (F-E flat-D), where clearly we lean on F, then the two D (eighth), which must not be accented, whereas we lean a shortly above the D, who began the succession of eighth D-F-E flat-D. The beats subsequent steps like: avoid the accents on the second and fourth movements, unless there is syncope (as occurs in beat 3), which is the evident "exception to the rule" and what is its meaning.

giovedì 7 febbraio 2013

How to begin playing by ear

Pianist Galì in the forum "Theory and solfege" Site "MyPiano Talk", posted this interesting article.

Is it more important to be able to read music or play by ear?  I really don't know the answer, but I know they are both important.  I am teaching my son who is eight to play the piano and though we focus mostly on reading music, I am already teaching him to play by ear.

One of the things I hate to hear my kids say is "I can't".  In most cases they can if they want to badly enough.  When I tell pianists they need to learn to play by ear, the first thing they often say is "I can't."  Don't say that!  Just start practicing.

So how can you start learning?  Here is a simple plan.
  1. Learn to pick out a melody of any simple hymn.
  2. Learn to play the melody in several different keys (preferably all of them).
  3. Pick a key (C is a good choice) and start playing the melody in the right hand.  As you play, experiment with simple triads in the left hand in the octave just below middle C.  In almost every case, either the I, IV, or V chord will work.  In the rare cases where none of those chords work, either skip the chord or cheat and look in the hymnal.
  4. Once you know the melody and the supporting chords, you can start improvising a bit.  Play the chord in simple arpeggios in the left hand or move the melody to the left hand and play chords in the right hand.  Or try some inversions in the chords.
To make it easier, let me refresh your memory on the I, IV, and V chords in the key of C.  This is the octave that they will sound best in if you are playing them without any inversion.

Let me pause for a moment and remind you that I am making some assumptions about your current knowledge of theory.  For example, I am assuming that you understand how to identify and play I, IV, and V chords.  If you do not, please find a book or website that you can learn from before continuing this lesson.  Knowing the I, IV, and V chords in each key is absolutely critical to your ability to learn from these lessons.

Some great things will start happening are you start faithfully working through these simple steps.  Don't overdo it--15 minutes a day is sufficient.  Don't worry if the sound is not wonderful.  The important thing is that you are starting to crawl.  You will be able to run later.  

I am going to cover step 4 in much more detail in the next lesson.  For the time being, just work on steps 1-3.

Practice strategy:
Practice steps 1-3 on "Jesus Loves Me."  Learn to play it in a minimum of four keys including C and work on step 3 in the key of C.  Then try it in Db.  If you have time, add another song.