Author Topic: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music  (Read 773 times)

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2018, 04:57:50 PM »
Fingering

I am sure that we have all had occasions when our fingers got mixed up and we realized that we could play the piece better.

As we get older and our fingers become stiffer and less supple, this becomes an increasingly frustrating area.

Some pieces have fingering marked adjacent to the notes.    Don’t reject these suggestions, but at the same time, try those proposals out to see if they suit you.
If they don’t suit your hand, then pencil in alternatives, that do fit your hand.

However, many pieces of music do not have any suggestions for fingering.   
In most cases we probably won’t find this a problem, but it is a good idea to check out a new piece and confirm that we can cope with the diversity of notes presented.

In the next Reply, there is a suggestion as to how to approach a new piece with fingering in mind.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2018, 05:17:53 PM »
Here is one suggestion as to how to approach a new piece, with fingering in mind.

1.        Identify the ‘natural’ phrases in the music.


Now for hymns or songs, this is very easy.

Take the National Anthem for instance….

God save our gracious Queen
God save our noble Queen
God save the Queen
and so on.

These phrases correspond to the sections that we would sing with each breath,   (though as we get older, we might need one or two extra breaths!)
Notice that lyrics can really help you to determine the phrases, because they match the lines of the words.

However, generally phrases usually last for either 2, 4 or 8 bars.

Phrase marks in music (if they appear at all) are long curved lines drawn above (or below) the  melody line, but breaking where the phrases end.

Here is an example:




In this case the long curved line is drawn below the notes that make up the phrase, but it can be placed above the notes.

But another strong clue to where phrases end is when there is a long note or a rest.

In the next Reply we look more closely at fingering, in order to play the piece smoothly.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2018, 03:32:18 PM »
2          Work out the fingering for each phrase

Cover each phrase separately, and aim to achieve smooth fingering for each section.   Don’t be too proud to pencil the finger numbers on your music, if that helps you.

By doing this, when you play the piece, you can lift your hand off the keyboard at the end of each phrase, just as if you were taking a breath, when singing it.

If you have a phrase of 5 notes, which are all adjacent, then you can allocate one finger for each note, with the thumb taking the lowest note and the little finger the highest.   In this way, fingers 2, 3 and 4 with fall naturally on those notes in between.

Trouble comes when the music stretches beyond those 5 adjacent notes.
This is decision time.

Here are 3 workable fingerings for the phrase example we used in the previous Reply, but you may even find yet another way of fingering it elegantly that suits you.
You will notice that the fourth example below marked with a large X  is totally unworkable.





Remember that your thumb is the only digit that is ideal for crossing over.

So when you play consecutive notes coming down the scale, you can simply swing the rest of your hand over your thumb, and strike the next note in sequence, with either the second (index) finger or the third (middle) finger.   It is rare to swing the fourth finger over, but not impossible.

Equally when you are playing notes which ascend up the scale, you slip your thumb under your hand, while playing a note with either the second or third finger.

At the bottom of such a run, with your thumb on the second note up (i.e. your thumb is playing an F and you have an E and a D to come, before returning up the scale) then you have a choice of either playing the E and the D with finger 3 and 2 (which you would if the music continued to travel down the scale) or with the digits 2 and 1 (i.e. index finger on the E and thumb again on the D).

The danger here is that you can be tempted to leave your thumb on the F, when playing the E and D, if you use fingers 3 and 2.    By using fingers 2 and 1, you have to let go of the F.
The preference is entirely up to you.

Remember if it doesn’t feel natural, you won’t find it easy to play, or, more importantly at this juncture, easy to commit the piece to memory.

In the next Reply, we discover some useful friends to help us.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2018, 11:38:53 AM »
We do have some friends in this area, which are called Sequences.

In this case a sequence is when a phrase or another short passage of the music is repeated with exactly the same shape, but either higher or lower than originally.

When this happens it makes good sense to try to use exactly the same fingering again.   Sometimes those nuisance black notes interfere, but generally it works OK.

Here is an example of such a sequence, with fingering added for guidance.




I am pretty sure that when the composer was sitting at their piano and writing that piece of music, it not only flowed easily from their mind, but flowed easily from their fingers as well as they caressed the keys.   
So it is probably true that the music as written will fall naturally for your ease of fingering.

Music, and especially vocal pieces, much prefers to move in small local steps.    Huge leaps are quite rare.    That is a good thing for our hands.

In the next Reply, we’ll look at Repeats.

Peter

Brian Lisher

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2018, 02:05:16 PM »
'Via Back Doubles'

May not be what your father meant but, as a boy in the North East, the terraced houses there had 'back lanes', fairly wide cobbled  lanes usually running between two sets of  rows which were wide enough for vehicles, dustcarts, coal lorries, etc to service the houses.

Brian Lisher

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2018, 09:04:38 PM »
He was born and brought up in Bermondsey, London, and some housing was similar, so it could be the origin of the phrase.  The thing is, I knew exactly what he meant.
Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2018, 12:10:53 PM »
We need to look at any Repeats in our music score(s), before we sit down to play them.     

Just like driving somewhere new, sensible folk plan their route, with a map.
In the same way you need to know your route through the piece you have selected.
Sometimes this is very simple, but it can on occasions be extremely complicated.

Repeats, not only save on printing, but prevent you having to turn over countless numbers of pages, while you are playing.   It also means that you can get all the music on to your music stand!

Take a song like The Twelve days of Christmas, which if written out in full would extend over several pages, but can be compressed into just a single sheet by using the appropriate repeats.

Here we start to look at different types of repeats, that you find on music scores.

1   Simple Repeats


These will always have an End Repeat sign, (when the dots face you – i.e. are on the left hand side of the double bar lines) and may, but not necessarily, have a Start Repeat Sign (when the dots face away from you – i.e. are on the right hand side of the double bar lines).

If there is Start Repeat Sign, you just play through it, because the dots are on the far side of the double bracket.
But when the dots effectively face you, which is called the End Repeat sign, you have to return to the commencing point of the repetition.

The commencing point will be the Start Repeat Sign, if there is one, but if not, you have to return to the very beginning of the music score.

This diagram should make this clear:



Remember there may not be a Start Repeat Sign, and if so, you must return to the very start of your music score and start again, when directed to do so by the End Repeat Sign.

In the next Reply, we examine First and Second Time Endings

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2018, 03:26:01 PM »
2    First and Second Time Endings

First and second time endings indicate different music to be played the first or second time.

Here is an example:



After you have started to play the piece, from the beginning, 1 when you arrived at the End Repeat sign, at the end of the  1 time bracket, you return to the very beginning and play the piece through again from 2.

This second time, though, you do not play the bars under the  1 time bracket, but jump to the bar under the  2 time bracket, 3 and in this instance stop at the end of the 2 bars under this  2 time bracket, which is the final bar of this piece of music.

Sometimes these Repeat Brackets can have other higher numbers.

Imagine a song with 5 verses and a final chorus or closing section to end with.   
You may well have the first bracket showing instead of the single  1.  1,2,3,4 & 5, with the word  chorus written in the final Repeat Bracket.     If it is just a closing phrase, it may have no words, or sometimes a helpful comment, like to end.

Again multiple Repeats like this, may have a Start Repeat sign and if that is the case, then that is the point to which you should always return, to repeat each of the verses.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2018, 02:26:27 PM »
D.C. al fine

This stands for    Da Capo al fine.     Da Capo literally means “from the head”.
It means to start back at the very beginning of the piece of music.

Al fine means after repeating back from the start, continue to play until you reach the Fine mark.

Traditionally musicians skip over any first ending, after they go back for a D.C. repeat,    (or a D.S. – that we look at in the next Reply).

Look at this example:


Let’s explain the red numbered arrows:

1   Play through to the first ending
2   Repeat back from the very beginning to measure 1 





....so carrying on:

3   When you get to start of the first time bar, jump to the second ending
4   Continue playing to the last written measure






...and working through the rest of the numbers:

5   D.C. to the “head”  (Go back to the start)            and
6   /   7    /     8          play through to the Fine, skipping any first endings and stopping at the end of the measure with the Fine marking.

Obviously all the red markings are there to explain how the music notation and symbols are to be interpreted.

We wrap up this subject in our final Reply, by looking at D.S.

Peter


Peter Anderson

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Re: No__78___Thoughts on how to tackle a new piece of music
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2018, 09:46:04 PM »
D.S. (dal segno) means repeat back to a special sign, as ‘segno’ means sign.   So when you encounter this instruction, it means that you continue to play from the place where the sign is located.

This (segno) sign looks a bit like a dollar sign, or an S with an angled slash through it, as well as a dot either side, like this.



As in the case of D.C.,   D.S. generally has the added instruction, of al fine or al coda.   

Again both of these words instruct the organist as to where they should go after the Repeat.

For a more fuller explanation of this topic of Repeats, please look at Peters Pearls #86 - Repeats in Music.

You can open that topic in a new window, by clicking this link:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3043.0


But this wraps up the subject of How do you start to tackle a new piece of music?

However do feel free to add your feedback as a Reply below with your comments, suggestions or helpful hints, please.

Peter