Here are some drills from last week. This is how I usually work, in-order to ‘solidify’ the theoretical concepts of music into memory. I want to understand, each and every piece before advancing. Of course! All drill sheets are cited from memory, to ensure that I have stored knowledge efficiently.
I asked my instructor “when I will be ready to compose my first piece?” And to answer this, perhaps by estimate… another 3-5 years. Although, admittedly, I had already begun sketches of a composition in-mind. My very first. A waltz, named after my viola. Writing music, was one of the main reasons why I wanted to learn the theoretical underpinnings of music. Just as well, I have many pieces, I wish to compose as ‘love-letters’ to a certain kind of absence. Therefore, once I better understand the conventions of music, I believe I will complete my first composition in a good 2 years. Although, admittedly, it will be a measly little thing.
Music theory, pedagogy, and musicology is what interests me above all else… and it is most likely, that should no distractions or interruptions befall me, I will become a researcher in that field, just as well. A music theorist. Who knows? I am twenty-five years of age, at this current post. Just as well, I am two years shy from graduating with my first PhD, in Design Research. In a good five years, I intend to obtain higher education in music by way of The Conservatoire. How do I know? I do this everyday. And I enjoy doing it. And I will continue doing it whilst the circumstances allow it!
It may be possible, that I could combine the discipline of music with my background in “Design Research” just as well… one day. Then my profiling of skill will be like that of Image-Music-Text. And yes, that’s a sneaky reference to the the French Roland Barthes.
Music is a gift… one which can touch the heart and soul. Numinous in its ability to transcend mere strictures of language. It speaks to something higher. I want music in my life, ’til I am due to expire. For no other reason, except for… it is what I love.
Admittedly, as much as I love drawing. I don’t believe I had loved drawing as much as I love music. However, I owe drawing, the world. For had it not been for drawing, I would have never been afforded the opportunity to venture into music.
I am up to my seventh lesson, and by this measure I have learnt a lot… much more than I had during my seminal years in primary education. It’s unbelievable how juvenile music class was, being compulsory, as it is for Juniors. We were played re-runs of ‘The Sound Of Music’ and forced to recite the recorder (never again), by way of Solfege. Now… I learn, by way of my instructor through many pieces of literature… The primary one being the “AMEB Music Craft” series. That is, The Australian Music Examination Board. Their resources are terrific! I must say. Although I am indeed up to Kindergarten level, the concepts in this text far exceed what was taught in grade school years 1-5, from my experience. To cease me from rambling any further, I have learnt a lot… and I intend to learn a lot more.
For Lesson VI, here are my drills for the week:
- Duple and Triple time metres: The difference between the two, is found in the rhythm. One which is symmetrical, is duple… whilst the latter is of course, Triple. Most pieces composed with triple, are waltzes. A common convention, especially in Classical music. Duple is often found in your marches.
- Pitches, Scales, and Keys: The major scale (which is set to the Diatonic Scale Pattern) has semitones between 3-4 and 7-1 (8, if no notes continue after… this my instructor’s rule). The leading tone, is called a ‘Tonic’. A Diatonic scale, can span from 7-35 in their notes. Due to my being a beginner, I begin, like we all do with the standard heptatonic scale, which has seven pitches. Just as well, Western music appears to love heptatonic scales.
- 1st – Tonic.
- 2nd – Supertonic.
- 3rd – Mediant.
- 4th – Subdominant.
- 5th – Dominant.
- 6th – Submediant.
- 7th – Leading Tone.
Our Major scales are arranged in this manner (A collection of seven pitches arranged in order):
(Also Whole step to Half step)
CA-BC-DE-FG-AB-C (C-Major Scale)
(T) Tone to (S) Semitone.
The Tonic, for the C-Major Scale is ‘C’. The Tonic to any “Diatonic collection” is denoted by the number 1, with a caret (“^”) hanging over it. Numbered from 1-7 in a standard diatonic scale (or 8), the scale degree denotes a note’s placing in a scale (a numeral with a ‘caret’ or little arrow’). The degree is written above the staves.
The scale degree refers to the position of a particular note, within a scale.
I have also, by challenge of my instructor… memorized the following major scales (I was also instructed to only use the diatonic degree pattern, as opposed to ‘cheating’ through chart): A, G, D, and C:
C MAJOR SCALE: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.
A MAJOR SCALE: A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#-A.
G MAJOR SCALE: G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G.
D MAJOR SCALE: D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D.
And yes, I didn’t cheat. Where is the fun in that? Just as well, admittedly, I messed up a couple of times and re-corrected myself.
What assisted me, truly, is the use of a digital piano. The piano does well to elucidate your whole-steps and half-steps. One of the ways one can identify if the degree between notes is a ‘Semitone/half-step’, is through the absence of a ‘Black Key’ between two white keys. Or, in other words… absence of a sharp/flat. This is in the case of the C-Major Scale:
Also, truth be… I play through a scale to determine if it is correct. By ear, I identify if it sounds ‘off’. Sometimes the corresponding key needs to be hit up a half-step around the ‘Half-tone’ point of the diatonic pattern. Otherwise, the entire scale doesn’t sound as if it flows… for lack of a better word. This is more apparent in the A-Major scale.
This is what I’ll be venturing into eventually: https://www.pianoscales.org/minor-melodic.html#:~:text=Sheet%20music-,Melodic%20Minor%20Scales,played%20differently%20ascending%20and%20descending. Just as well, my instructor likes to sneak in little pieces of information between our recordings to pique my curiosity. He mentioned that there are other scale names, and by extension, degree patterns. Such as the: Ionian (Major), Dorian, Phyrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Acolian (Minor), Locrian. The two bolded, are the ones I’m familiar with. And no, I’m certainly not up to these scales yet. I begin with Major, as all beginners do.
I now know the A, C, G, and D Major scale off by heart.
Any musician who is good with your music theory. I respect you. ‘Deed I do. Theory is very important, and it’s quite sad that there isn’t an emphasis on theory as much as there is on practice. Arguably, parents may be partially to blame for that… they gather tutoring for their children, with the intention that their children ‘sound good’, rather than understand the concepts being taught to them. However, from my short experience in Academia… I argue that both go hand-in-hand to produce a capable musician. Every serious musician is a scholar practitioner. When I eventually have children of my own, I will teach them both. Why? A deeper understanding, will allow them to better appreciate the domain. Of course. “Children, doing is simply not enough… one must understand ‘how’ and ‘why’ in the doing.” Oh and also: “Children, that post-contemporary music is nonsense! Be gone with that infernal noise at once. We only listen to Bartok in this house!”
- Learn how to play with ‘Dynamics’ written on music sheets: Piano (Soft) and Forte (Strong).
- More on Dynamics. Practice ‘Diminuendo’ and ‘Crescendo’ on page 21 of Stephen Chin’s “My First Pieces”. I am up to the French Folk song “Au Claire De La Lune” in Pizzicato.
- Continue holding my viola with the left-hand technique in mind. I must continue working on my C-Shape. My Treasure (viola) has a high bridge–being a student viola ordered online. My instructor suggested, that by next year, I ought to have him work-shopped. I have bonded with my Treasure, therefore I don’t intend on being rid of him… not, for at least another five years or so. He is my love, therefore, I’ll have his bridge re-adjusted next year. For now, I’ll do with that minor error. He is not perfect. He need not be.
- I can now practice holding my bow. YES!
Although I love my music theory, practice is just as important. I must develop some wonderful calluses in good time!
I had signaled to my instructor, my reasoning for gathering his tutelage. That is, one day I should like to attend The Conservatoire. And therein, I would like to eventually become a composer and music theorist. He suggest, that in a good two to three years, I gain tutelage under a Composition teacher. He, however at this moment can do well to guide to that point.
It’s a musical journey. He’s like the wizard, guiding me to the philosopher’s stone or–some contrived nonsense.
2/4 = The upper number tells you how many beats are in each bar. The lower number tells you each beat is worth one crotchet. A whole note would not apply, in this metre.
Therefore, if we had cut-time (2/2) it would be two beats per bar… and the lower number denotes that each beat is equivalent to a minim.
Downbeat: Is always the first beat of any bar/measure.
Upbeat: Is always the last beat of any bar/measure.
In the case of the 2/4 time signature, we have two beats per bar… therefore the downbeat and upbeat are next to one another in the case of one using two crotchets in the bar.
2/4 is an example of a simple duple metre. That is, a specific kind. There are many more simple duple metres. “Duple” refers to the beats in a bar… that is what defines the metre, as such. Duple metres are divisible two, always. Simple means, that each beat is only divisible by two. Triple can also be simple, I.E: 3/4. That which can be divided by two. Whereas, we’ve our complex metres. An example of a complex duple would be 6/8.
Also, I’ve received many blisters on my plucking hand’s fingers, through pizzicato on the viola. My teacher told me to take breaks, once in a while. And I say “NEVER!” And now, I get to use the bow.
Score: Can either refer to a music sheet the conductor is expected to read, or music composed specifically for film.
The metre does not refer to the tempo. They are separate. When reading music sheets, the tempo is often seen to be written above the bars.
Meryl Keioskie -Nocturne, Op. 2 No. 1 in D Major. Frederich Chopin’s Face.
Meryl Keioskie – Nocturne, Op. 3 No. 1 in D Major. More of Chopin’s Face.
I kidd. I kidd.
For the duple time metre, we have ‘Strong-Weak’ pattern for the downbeat and upbeat.
Theme And Variation (A Sort Of Form):
Due to my wish to eventually compose. My instructor had moved the lesson into theme and variation. Theme And Variation is a certain type of form:
First, we dissect Mozart’s “Ah, vous dirais-je, Maman”. This piece called “12 variations in C”. The very first, is the theme, whereas Mozart’s variations are iterations of the original. The original being a children’s song, from none other than France.
The original idea is still retained within the variation, that is the original idea being the theme–and the composer (in this case, Mozart) writes iterations. The underlying structure of a theme, will always permeate throughout a variation regardless. The embellishments, and flourishes the only thing different.
I can think of a contemporary music group who does many variations: Tally All. As observed within their “Miracle Musical” project.
As for feedback, my instructor at our seventh lesson has decided that we don’t need to spend a lot of time on the viola as compared to theory. As he believes that I “Pick up on things quickly”, as well as consolidate information quite rapidly. Being autistic, ‘deed I do.
Sight-Reading is fine, as I drill it constantly. My fingers can attest to that.
My bow-hold is fine, by my tutor’s feedback. Today, he taught me how to rosin my bow. One must rosin their bow every day, before playing. Rosin allows friction on the bow. When applying rosin, it is like the act of sandpapering. Lay the bow flat, and rosin the bow to the point that it gets lighter and lighter.
The Bow: Sound Production:
Coordination of ‘Ups’ and ‘Downs’.
For Up, one begins at the frog and bows upwards. For down, one starts from the tip and bows downwards.
There are 5 lanes to the viola, that I have been told about in regard to the sections that one lays down their bow to play.
Sound production is determined by ‘weight’, and speed. Weight referring to how much ‘pressure’ is applied to the bow. One bows with the muscle of their upper-arm.
Pressure = insinuates arm weight pressure, not ‘forcing’ the bow onto the strings.
Tips: When bowing to the tip, add more weight. The tip of the bow is lighter than the base of the frog, therefore it needs more weight.
+Everything is subtle.
+ I begin in lane-two. Ensure that you adjust the speed and weight to produce a good quality sound.
My pinkie often slips, due to it not yet developing a flatness through repeated playing. This will develop in good-time.
Practice: Down bow, up bow, and middle of the bow.
If you buckle in playing, you need more speed.
Homework: Pages 22-23 marked in Stephen Chin’s “My First Pieces”.
“Fuck it dude, let’s go Bowing”
Copied from the excel spreadsheet we write in (I tend to ramble):
This piece was written in 1842, and is a favorite for the serious pianist engaged in classical piano, specifically. This piece demonstrates impressive pianistic skill–then again, Chopin was a virtuoso on the piano. He played with the motivation of speaking to something higher than him… the spirit of music, perhaps. To him, he wished to touch the soul and heart of man. As for this piece, Interestingly enough, the title ‘Polonaise’ refers to a Polish slow dance. One which is set to triple time. However, one would not strictly consider this a Polonaise piece as such… rather, it was influenced greatly by Polonaise suites. Chopin being the romanticist that he was, was inspired greatly by emotional intent which is what this piece was most likely intended for. One can sift through many of his quotes, and see that the man, although informed heavily by structural conventions, was motivated by something higher and numinous. I believe, in looking at his oeuvres that was what truly inspired Chopin. Only the piano truly understood him. He also was a huge admirer of musicians who had preceded him just as well. Bach, being one of them. A strange contradiction of sticking to conventions, yet also swearing by his own methods.
“Put all your soul into it, play the way you feel!” –And so said Chopin.
The piano was what brought him happiness, above all else. The school of piano was forever changed with Chopin’s influence–and although we did have Liszt, who was indeed active at just about the same time (Oh yes, Chopin despised him before they became friends). Chopin’s pieces retained a lightness, and sweetness which is elegant in its execution. It’s hard to describe, but Chopin’s pieces take on a distinction of their own. His technique, upon the piano through fingering is one which allowed him to be very adroit… and by that extension, his compositions show this complexity. Chopin’s compositions include double octaves, and swiftly repeating notes to name a few. The experienced pianist, delights in his pieces for that reason. His music is often played with the technique of rubato (A subtle rhythmic manipulation). Especially in those of his mazurkas (Polish folk dances set to triple metre). His form of rubato however, is the archaic method used by Mozart–rather than the newer convention of that time. A traditionalist, with a rebellious streak no doubt!
As a teacher, he taught his pupils the Legato (a smooth transition) and Cantabile (as if the piano were singing) style of playing. Chopin was rather finicky, with a snarky sense of humor… what a delicious. A bit of a know-it-all, but it’s like… he’s Chopin. Ahem–For him, he demanded the strict adherence to rhythm. He detested rubatos which were misplaced, or exaggerated. It’s a shame that he met his death quite early. He would have changed the school of piano, more so. ‘Deed he would have.
The man wrote and played from his heart and soul… a true rarity. A genius. For all of Chopin’s oeuvre can touch the heart and soul of man. It is personal, to its effect. Not something merely trussed-up, and packaged like romanticism in its strictest sense. All emotion, with no substance. Chopin knew, that to engage the listener one must strip music down to its core basis of communication. Fear, and desire… and of course, longing
And that, my friends… is why I have the hots for Chopin. It isn’t the way he looks–although… that’s nice too. It’s what was in that man’s soul. For he longed to touch what was beyond, the beyond.
He loved his mazurkas. Writing over 59, to the remaining (154) of his oeuvre on piano.
I love Chopin, therefore here are some of my favorites from him:
Nocturne Op. 9, No.1. (Hell yeah, THIS ONE)
Nocturne Op. 9, No.2.
Nocturne Op. 37, in G Major. Andante.
Etude Op. 25, No. 11.
Fantaisie Impromptu, Op. 66.
Nocturne Op. 9. No. 3.
Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante Op.22.
I’ll write an essay on Hadyn, in good-time too. Hadyn is a complex fellow indeed.
Side note: My viola instructor has contributed in giving me a better music taste. Until next lesson!