Showing posts with label Keyboard Instruments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Keyboard Instruments. Show all posts

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The History of the PIANO

dusted
Photo  by ercwttmn 
Many people do not realize that the PIANO is a stringed instrument. Because the strings are hidden away inside of the piano, and out of sight, it is not generally realized that strings are used to create the sounds of the piano. Because of its stringed quality, the forerunners to the piano include such instruments as the dulcimer (which was played by hitting stretched strings of different lengths with a hammer). But all of it began in the annals of prehistory when humans noticed that a stretched animal-gut string created different sounds depending on length and tautness.

Keyed instruments that resembled some sort of a keyboard first appeared in the middle of the 12th Century. It was called the monochord. Eventually, enough keyed strings developed into the clavichord. This instrument was unique, in that having keyed strings better facilitated the ability to strike more than one string at a time. This meant that it was possible to produce two sounds, or notes, at once. It until a couple of centuries later, in the 14th Century, that metal wires was used in place of strings for many instruments, including the keyboard instruments.

The harpsichord came into being before the piano did (sometime in the 14th Century). It was based more on the old instrument called the psaltery. A psaltery was a simple instrument where the strings were placed in a box and then plucked with the finger, or with an instrument called plectra. When the keys of a harpsichord were struck, plectra pulled on the sting, plucking it. However, the harpsichord was incapable of creating changes in volume.

It is unclear exactly when a truly hammered keyboard instrument appeared. There are letters indicating that an instrument that could play both loud and soft was available in 1598, but historians are unsure as to whether this was a hammered piano or a cleverly rigged harpsichord. In any case, most historians agree that what can actually be called the "pianoforte" did not make an appearance until 1709. This instrument was capable of a wide range of artistic expression.

The name piano is a derivative of the term pianoforte. "Piano" is a term that means "soft," and "forte" is one that means "loud" or "strong." The name given the piano originally is quite descriptive. It basically means "soft-loud" and describes the feat of being able to play a keyboard instrument with varying degrees of volume. Originally, there was little interest in the pianoforte. However, as an article written about the new keyboard invention was translated into different languages made its way across the European continent, makers of clavichords and harpsichords began also to make pianos.


As the piano evolved, it began to take different forms, including upright grand (1739), upright (1800), and different styles of grands and uprights, including those that expanded to include more octaves. While the keyboard arrangement has not changed much since the 14th Century, keyboard instruments have expanded to include more than one sounding board and several octaves.



Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Well-Tempered Clavier by J S BACH

Well-Tempered Clavier MuseScore edition
Photo  by MuseScore 
The Well-Tempered Clavier is generally referred to as the pianists' "Old Testament of Western music", also in Barenboim's fingers, it definitely has an "Old World" condition to it. Seen in its entirety, the performance brings to mind Edwin Fischer's recording from the thirties: great pianism, frequently elegant playing, notably by means of the liberal use of the pedals.

This is, needless to say, planets independent of the incisive, razor-sharp resolution that Glenn Gould, as well as Mehmet Okonsar, brought to these works. As opposed to concentrating on offering the spectacular complexity as well as the polyphonic aspect of those compositions, Barenboim is without a doubt more happy putting together an abundant harmonic texture to each piece, magnificently experienced on a contemporary Steinway.

I'm a tremendous fan of Bach. He was simply a fabulous genius and far in advance of his time period and the Well-Tempered Clavier is just mind-blowing. As a recreational piano player, I discover his music a genuine treasure. The complexity and beauty of his music continue to be so incredibly inspiring.

There are considerable records to support Bach's claim that he employed the Well-Tempered Clavier as part of his lessons, nevertheless, the work accomplishes so many purposes that it must be an easy task to overlook its part as a teaching tool. Obviously, the most crucial feature of the Well-Tempered Clavier is that its full of sublime music from cover to cover.

The fact that it illustrates Werckmeister's "well-tuned" technique pertaining to keyboard instruments seems incidental to us all right now, however, it was outstanding in Bach's day. We still wonder at the genius which expended each prelude and fugue using a unique musical style, drawing on a multitude of compositional processes to shed light on his students. The idea sounds dry, having a piece in every key in ascending arrangement from C major, however, the result could not end up being closer to excellence.

Fugues are usually said to be in a number of voices or parts (the term voices may be used whether or not the fugue has not been written with regard to singers), which is, self-sufficient melodic lines. Fugues are generally in from three to five parts, however, eight and even ten parts are achievable in large choral or orchestral fugues. Fugues in fewer than 3 parts tend to be rare since with 2 parts the actual subject is only able to jump back and forth between the upper and lower part. The best-known illustration of a two-voice work is certainly the E minor fugue out of Book 1.

These forty-eight preludes and fugues in all the major and minor keys have got very little related to public virtuosos, stages or even audiences. Like a lot of Bach's work -- especially the music written, or at least put together when it comes to the ending of his existence -- the ''Well-Tempered'' makes statements, advances concepts, draws together bodies of expertise. Moreover, its lessons happen to be learned, and its particular messages attained, in the home.

The Bach preludes and fugues are actually, to utilize Schumann's well-known explanation, the keyboard player's "everyday bread." All musicians exercise however rarely perform them. Wrapping one's ears and fingers around these pieces amount to both an undergraduate and a postgraduate training: what things to make visible, what you should render as background, how to make the load of the finger interact to the control from the ear and so forth.

My commitment to the original issue of Gould's performance of the Well-Tempered Clavier was sizable however by the time Okonsar's recording emerged it had wanted to some degree.

There was (and still is) no doubt Gould's awesome proficiency to managing, varying as well as diverse touch in clarifying textures through 'orchestration', however Okonsar's reading of the work and the eschewing all forms of obvious pianism remained (and remains) a new testimony to his faithfulness to representing this kind of music, as he observed it, devoid of seeking back to the harpsichord or forward to the nineteenth-century piano.

As numerous reviewers at that time excited, Gould's was an impressive success, yet the cautiously calculated however communicative as well as packed with feelings playing of Okonsar, along with some idiosyncrasies added up to an analytical as well as a human performance of it.

The actual doubts began to find their way in, and retrospectively, with Prelude I of Book 1: the varying articulation of the last few notes of each group speaks of Gould as well as Okonsar, but what does it say of Bach? Echo answered as it did to other, subsequent concerns.


The actual harpsichord cannot provide more weight to any one line, nor is there any proof that players of Bach's period employed severe variations of articulation pertaining to such a function, notably in the ready-balanced texture and consistency of a fugue; such 'painting by way of numbers' is an anachronistic imposition.

Amongst the currently available piano versions of the 48 Schiff's on Decca remains, in my opinion, the most effective and the freest from excess; its pluses and minuses were broadly mentioned. Keith Jarrett's recording (ECM/New Note) is all that particular may well reasonably desire. That both occupy simply three discs may encourage a few readers to purchase Gould's and/or Okonsar's sets, both amaze as well as irritates by turns, and also over which controversy will certainly likely carry on for a long period in the future.

    Although I am a literary person and a novel editor classical music is always there when I work for publishers. As a side effect, I started to provide some reviews and articles on a couple of classical music papers as well. My favorite Bach interpreters are Glenn Gould and Mehmet Okonsar.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

HARPSICHORD - Music-Instruments of the World

Harpsichord



Monday, July 24, 2017

The Pucky Sounds of the Classical HARPSICHORD

The harpsichord is related to the organ and the piano, to mention a couple that has been created with the same idea of the harpsichord. The harpsichord was developed around the same time that the clavichord came around, which was sometime during the 16th century. It is a stringed instrument that is played by pressing the keys. When each key is pressed, it strikes the string and this is what causes the string to vibrate in order to make a sound.

Harpsichord, angle view
Harpsichord- Photo   by     Princess Ruto
For a while, the harpsichord was a popular instrument that was often used during the baroque music period. Its popularity may have been maintained had it not been for the creation of the piano. Once the piano was created, popularity fell from the harpsichord as the piano became the preferred instrument.
The harpsichords design is not too different from that of the piano, probably because the basic design of the piano originated from the harpsichord. The sounds produced from the strings of the harpsichord alone are not very loud. In order to enhance the sound, each string is set over a bridge that allowed the string to vibrate freely. The harpsichord also resembles the piano in appearance when one takes the time to compare the two.

With such similarities, one might wonder why most would abandon the harpsichord for the piano when the piano was invented. It could have been that the piano was more efficient and more versatile than the harpsichord, though the harpsichord is still played today in modern music. While it may never again be anywhere near as popular as it once was, the harpsichord appears to still have a place in music and it might never be obsolete. While it shares similarities with the piano, it is still its own unique instrument that offers its own unique sound.

While most will favor the piano over the harpsichord, there are some who play the harpsichord because they like the sound. It is not an overly complicated instrument to learn how to play. Someone who has interest in learning how to play it and finds a good teacher will have little trouble. The sheet music is also fairly basic and few will have much difficulty in gaining good control of the instrument. Someone who is familiar with playing the piano will have even less difficulty because the basics are more or less the same.


Finding a harpsichord to play might not be as easy as finding a piano, but they are still being constructed. Finding a used one might the best idea for someone who is new to playing the instrument because a new one can be quite expensive. Finding a teacher who can teach the harpsichord may also prove easier than one would think. Again, the basics of playing the harpsichord are not too different from the basics of playing the piano. They are related instruments and share many similarities that make it possible for one to have little trouble in playing both. The harpsichord is certainly an instrument that is worth the effort for anyone interested enough to give it a try.

    By Victor Epand
    Victor Epand is an expert consultant for used CDs, autographed CDs, and used musical instruments.
    Article Source: EzineArtilces


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Keyboard Technique - Playing BAROQUE PIANO Compositions

Baroque music is formed in large part from contrapuntal textures (having two or more independent but harmonically related melodic parts sounding together). Written for the harpsichord, these textures aren't as well suited to the modern piano's thicker tone and rich, low harmonies. So, special care has to be taken when you interpret Baroque period music on the piano.

An upright pedal piano by Challen
An upright pedal piano by Challen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In contrapuntal music, the individual parts are of equal importance, even though their inter-relationship is continually shifting. To reproduce this type of texture well, you need to train your mind, ears and fingers to follow the course of individual contrapuntal lines, as well as their combined texture, so the pianist presents a picture of an ever-changing whole.

Pianist H. Ferguson gives this analogy: You can think of the music as a kind of conversation, in which the voice shifts continually from person to person, as each person makes a contribution without unduly raising his tone. The dynamic range shouldn't be too great (a true fortissimo is rare, since several people shouting different things at the same time will never make themselves understood); and touch and tone should be lighter than in homophonic music typical of the later 19th century.

A semi-legato is more usual than a legatissimo, especially if the notes are quick-moving, since it promotes clarity. It also allows freer play for the subtle kaleidoscopic changes of thought and mood particularly characteristic of Bach. The sustaining pedal should be used sparingly; it should never be allowed to obscure the line, or produce the kind of impressionistic haze that is only heard in modern music such as Debussy.

So, when you interpret Baroque music during piano instruction, try to avoid the thickness of sound that is characteristic of the piano, yet was foreign to the harpsichord. This is especially important with close-position chords in the bass. These sound clear and transparent on the early instrument, but on the thicker-toned piano of today they should be played carefully to avoid a muddy sound. One solution is to lighten the middle notes of the chord, so they are less prominent than the octave played by the fifth finger and thumb. Sometimes it helps to break the chord slightly and play it as a quick arpeggio.



Occasionally in Baroque music there are passages that would have been comparatively easy with the light and shallow touch of earlier instruments, but now are extremely difficult, or impossible, with the deeper and heavier key-action of today. For instance, the repeated triplet octaves in the right hand part of Schubert's song 'Der Erlkonig' were originally not terribly hard to play, but for the modern pianist they have become a virtuoso athletic feat.

In playing fugal music, then, you might find the following points helpful:
  • Characterize all parts of fugue with carefully defined articulation.
  • Make sure that the articulation for the main part is contrasted with that required by the counterpoint, and by parts 2 and 3 if the fugue happens to be double or triple. This ensures that each part remains distinct when several occur together.
  • Characterize the episodes of the fugue in the same sort of way.
  • Keep the texture as light as possible, particularly the top and bottom lines.
  • Don't feel that the part must always stand out as though it were played on a solo blaring horn. The other parts are equally important.
  • If you do want to bring out a particular part, stress it only very slightly. Its characterization, coupled with the generally light texture, will do the rest.
  • A moving part will always stand out more clearly than a static one; if an even balance is required, the part that moves most needs the least stress.
  • Always aim for clarity.

    By Barbara A. Ehrlich
    Barbara Ehrlich is a private piano teacher based in Bedminster, NJ with a roster of current young piano students that includes a broad array of student ages, cultures and backgrounds. New Jersey Piano Lessons works closely with parents to oversee and coordinate music activities in a variety of areas, including piano lessons, technique, theory, ear training, and sight-reading.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Musicnotes.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS - Organs, Harpsichords, Pianos, Keyboards & Synthesizers

Even non-musicians are familiar with keyboard instruments. Few people reach adulthood without having had at least one opportunity to bang on a keyboard of some type. However, many people (including musicians) aren't aware of the history behind keyboard instruments. Their evolution is both fascinating and surprising.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Giovanni Battista Boni, Cortona, 1619 - clavecin. 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Many people mistakenly believe that the harpsichord was the earliest keyboard instrument. Harpsichords were undoubtedly a precursor to the piano. However, the pipe organ actually predates the harpsichord by some 1100 years. In fact, the pipe organ was the only keyboard instrument until the invention of the clavichord and the harpsichord.

The earliest pipe organs were massive structures. Upon their emergence, few companies actually made pipe organs. Even fewer people were trained to install and repair them. Their size and complexity made them difficult to work with, although the sound they produced was magnificent. Pipe organs often contained multiple keyboards to operate the many pipes and produce the rich sounds that the instrument is associated with. Naturally, this was not the type of instrument that the average person played at home. Most pipe organs were located in churches and concert halls.

Eventually, more compact versions were invented. Pipe organs evolved into regular organs, which most people of today are familiar with. They were more easily afforded by smaller parishes and even private owners. They were also much more compact and easier to repair.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Various keyboard instruments (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The clavichord entered the scene in the early 15th century. It first emerged as a "practice instrument." Since not all musicians could afford or had easy access to an organ, the clavichord became a convenient alternative. It provided organists a means for practicing at home without having to go to a church or other location to find an organ. Clavichords were smaller than today's piano and may be compared to today's smaller keyboard synthesizers, minus the need for electricity.

It was likely very shortly after that the harpsichord was invented. The harpsichord more closely resembled today's piano. This may be part of the reason that people believe the harpsichord was the first keyboard instrument. Modern pianos are based on a very similar design to its predecessors. Harpsichords, however, were much smaller (though larger than the clavichord). The harpsichord had many variations that operated on the same basic musical principles. Some of these include the virginal, the spinet and the clavicytherium.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Hieronymus Albrecht Hass, Hamburg, 1734 - clavecin.
 (Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Like music trends always do, the harpsichord fell out of fashion upon the advent of the piano. The piano, though usually a bit larger, produced a cleaner sound. Harpsichords became all but obsolete within just a few decades. Ironically, harpsichords have come back into fashion in recent years because of their unique and distinctive sound. They are often heard as part of the backup for many contemporary songs, though relatively few people actually own a genuine harpsichord.

The piano is by far the most common keyboard instrument today. They are found in nearly every school and church in North America, as well as in millions of private homes. Most every music student has at least some piano training. They are one of the easiest instruments to learn to play and provide a good musical basis for learning other instruments.

Of course, with an electronics-loving society came the natural evolution of the piano to a plug-in version. These are commonly referred to as synthesizers. Aside from the obvious difference from the piano in the requirement of electricity, synthesizers are capable of mimicking many different instruments. Even the most rudimentary of synthesizers usually have several different instrument modes. The more complex the machine, the more sounds it is able to reproduce. More expensive models are extremely complex and technical. Their technology is of such quality that it can be difficult to distinguish their sound from the actual instrument they are mimicking.

New advances in technology, especially in computers, are being made every year. How this will affect the further evolution of keyboard instruments remains to be seen. It appears, though, that the good old fashioned piano is here to stay for awhile.

    Duane Shinn is the author of the popular online newsletter on piano chords, available free at Exciting Piano Chords & Chord Progressions! [http://www.playpiano.com/WhyYouShouldTakeDuane]
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Monday, December 26, 2016

How to Play PIANO TABS - An Easy to Use Technique to Quickly Get Better at Playing Piano Tabs

Learning how to play piano tabs is great for beginner piano players who don't know how to read sheet music. These tabs will give you the ability to read music without having to look at or use a manuscript paper.

To learn how to play piano tabs you can do so by playing a song with a traditional piano tab line. One such song is the "mary had a little lamb" song, as it has one of the most basic tab line for the piano.



Get the tab line from this song and practice playing the song. To start playing the song you should begin on the fourth octave of the piano.

The fourth octave of the keyboard is what the number 4 represents in the beginning line of this song. The numbers are instructing what octave to play in the beginning with the lowest "c" on your keyboard.

Now the next step is to count the beats in each measure. The dash marks in the tab represent a half step. You should begin at the "c" which is at the first line. Now you must count each note and dash mark. Take the note of the horizontal lines and these lines separate each measure.

When you count the dashes and letters you will notice that the line above has four counts for every measure. Read the notes in the piano tab as the notes you'll play. Every lower case letter in a tab represents the exact note.

Every upper case letter you see in the tabs of the piano represent a sharp note. Practicing the tab line in this basic song is an easy and effective technique to learn how to play piano tabs.

    To learn how to play the piano quick and easy----> Click Here

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Monday, December 19, 2016

PLAY PIANO in a Flash – Is it Possible?

Is it really possible to learn to play piano in a flash? That would be impossible because according to some expert pianists, it took them years to learn their lessons and play effectively. However, there is one way to improve your learning process in a flash.

You might be wondering how, right? Well, it is really simple. You have to take note of your posture. This is very important when playing the piano. Try to observe pianists; they have great postures and they seem to play with ease at all times. Without proper posture, you will not learn the basic playing techniques and even if you do, you can’t play the instrument comfortably.

Piano, keys
Piano, keys (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some say that it is easier to teach children when it comes to posture but even if you’re an adult, you can still improve your posture. If you can do this, you can play comfortably and with flexibility.

1. Try to imagine yourself sitting and you’re about to play the piano. See yourself as a giraffe; feeling as if your neck and head can reach the ceiling.

2. The next thing that you have to do is to stretch your arms. Try to imagine that the arms are the wings of an angel. Stretch your arms to the sides until your elbows are horizontally pointed.

3. Now, focus your attention to your hands. Look at your fingers. Move them just like the legs of a spider. Walk each of your fingers to the piano keys.

4. You have to sit on the bench with ease and confidence. Try to think that you’re the best pianist there is and that you know all your pieces well.

5. When sitting on the bench, your elbows should be located right in front of the stomach. Stretch your arms until your fingers touch the piano keys. Never scoot forward. Sit as if you’re glued to the bench.

Did you notice anything on the five posture pointers mentioned? Which word is used many times? The word ‘imagine’ is used most of the time. This is very effective especially if you’re still a child but it can also work for adults. Try using your imagination. This way, your body and mind will connect instantly and you can play naturally.

The next time you practice on your piano, try follow these pointers. Follow them one by one until you finally learn. These pointers are truly effective if you can follow properly. Even your piano teacher or instruction manuals will say the same thing. Here’s a question for you – have you ever seen a pianist who slouch? That would be quite funny and irritating, right?



Start by learning to have a good posture. This is one of the starting points to learn to play the piano in a flash. But all the other lessons should be taken one step at a time. You have to retain all the lessons. That is why you have to review your past lessons often to make sure that you still know them. You can’t simply forget past lessons because you will need them in the future lessons that you’re going to have.

The truth is, you can’t play piano in a flash. But with a little improvement in terms of your posture, you can go a long way. Take note of your posture now and check if you have a good one.


Rocket Piano - Learn Piano

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Have A Better Understanding Of PIANO MUSIC Theory

Having a solid understanding of piano music theory is something that will put you above the rest as you learn to play the piano. Musicians who can recognize chord patterns, note values, rhythmic structures, and scales are immediately more successful when it comes to learning new music easily and playing along with other musicians. This is because theory is the backbone of all music, and being able to understand these basic concepts is vital to learning and mastering all styles of playing.

A piano
A piano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are simply interested in gaining a new skill and enriching your artistic capabilities, learning to play the piano can be one of the most calming and satisfying things you do in your life. Music is a great way to escape from stressful things that are one your mind and focus on something that you really want to do. Finding the right musical instrument to play is a great way to try something new and experience music from a different perspective. Try out a few lessons and soon you’ll be hooked on the beautiful sounds you make while sitting in front of the piano.

Learning the piano while also taking piano music theory courses is a great way to incorporate theory while you are learning to play new songs. This way you can focus on the particular chords, notes, and scales that apply to individual songs. Understanding the mechanisms of each piece of music you play will become easier the more you practice and learn over time. Then you will be able to assess each song or piece of music before you try to play it because you will be able to understand the notes and rhythms within the music.

All it takes is a few music theory lessons and you will be well on your way to experiencing a difference in the way you learn and play the piano. You may also find that you are more confident when tackling new styles of playing or more difficult pieces once you have mastered basic theory concepts.



Above all, make sure that when you are learning online you move at your own pace. Once you have mastered one concept in music theory, then move on to the next. Piano music theory is essential to your growth as a musician, and it will help you succeed at playing anything you choose to tackle down the road.

At Hear and Play, we offer a variety of online courses designed to help you improve your piano playing skills including theory courses and programs that will help you learn how to play by ear. Contact us today at http://www.hearandplay.com to learn more.




Musicnotes.com

Friday, November 25, 2016

Playing The BEETHOVEN PIANO SONATAS

English: Photograph of bust statue of Ludwig v...
Photograph of bust statue of Ludwig van Beethoven by Hugo Hagen  

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There are many series, suites and cycles of pieces which can be considered "up there" in the pianist's standard repertoire: Bach's '48', Schubert's Impromptus and Moments Musicaux, Schuman's Carnaval and Kreisleriana, Chopin's Etudes and Preludes, Liszt's Années or the Transcendental Studies, but none can quite come close to Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas, usually referred to as the 'New Testament' of piano music (the WTC is the 'Old Testament'!). Perhaps the primary appeal of these pieces, aside from the sheer Herculean effort of learning and absorbing them, is that they offer both a far-reaching overview of Beethoven's musical style and a glimpse into the inner workings of his compositional life and personality. Urban legend has it that Beethoven was a rough, irascible, grumpy and unapproachable sod, but this does not tell us much about his music. Living with his music, spending time with it to understand what makes it special, allows a more honest, rounded view of him, and, perhaps of all his music, the piano sonatas offer a really candid autobiography.

As pianists, whether amateur or professional, advanced or intermediate, or even just beginning on the great journey of exploration, we have all come across Beethoven's piano music, and many of us have played at least one of his sonatas during our years of study. As an early student, a taster of a proper sonata in the form of one of his Sonatinas (something my father is grappling with at the moment - and refusing any helpful advice from me!). Later on, we might encounter one of the "easier" piano sonatas, such as the pair of two-movement sonatas that form the Opus 49 (nos. 19 and 20), which are roughly Grade 5-6 standard (but don't be fooled by the comparatively "easy" notes!). As part of my Grade 8 repertoire, I learnt the No. 5 (Opus 10, No. 1, in C minor), which prefigures the far more well-known and well-loved Pathétique in the flourish of its opening measures, the "beautiful melody" of its slow movement, and its febrile final movement. A quick glance through the Diploma repertoire lists for any of the exam boards (Trinity, ABRSM, RAM etc) and there is a generous handful of sonatas to choose from, from well-known to less popular, to suit each level of Diploma right up to Fellow.

It is generally accepted pianistic wisdom that Beethoven composed the piano sonatas during three distinct periods of his life, and as such, like the Duo Sonatas for Piano and 'Cello (read my earlier post here), offer a fascinating overview of his compositional development. Setting aside the three "Electoral" sonatas, which are not usually included in the traditional cycle of 32 (though Beethoven authority, Professor Barry Cooper, who has edited new the ABRSM edition of the sonatas, argues that there is a case for including the three sonatas that Beethoven wrote when he was 12 in a complete edition), the early sonatas are, like the early duo sonatas (for violin and for 'cello), virtuosic works, reminding us that Beethoven was a fine pianist. While the faster movements may nod back to his teacher, Haydn (though Beethoven would strenuously deny any influence!), it is the slow movements which demonstrate Beethoven's deep understanding of the capabilities of the piano, and its ability, through textures and colours, moods and contrasts, to transform into any instrument he wishes it to be. Some of the writing could be for string quartet (Op. 2 No. 2). In the early sonatas, Beethoven's mastery of the form is already clear, and many look forward to the greater, more complex, and more revolutionary sonatas of his 'middle' period. His distinctive musical personality is already stamped very firmly on these early works.

The sonatas from the middle period are some of the most famous:

The 'Tempest' and 'La Chasse' (Op. 30, Nos. 2 and 3). The first with its stormy, passionate opening movement, the second of the opus rollicking and somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

The 'Moonlight' (Op. 27, No. 2): the first piano sonata to open with a slow movement. Too often the subject of clichéd, lugubriously romantic renderings, this twilight first movement shimmers and shifts. An amazing gesture, created by a composer poised on the threshold of change.



The 'Waldstein' (Op. 53). Throbbing quavers signal the opening of one of the greatest of all of Beethoven's piano sonatas, while the final movement begins with a sweetly consoling melody which quickly transforms into daring octave scales in the left hand and a continuous trill in the right hand. This is Beethoven at his most heroic.

'Les Adieux' (Op. 81a). Suggested to be early 'programme' music in its telling of a story (Napoleon's attack on the city of Vienna which forced Beethoven's patron, Archduke Rudolph, to leave the city, though this remains the subject of some discussion still). It is true that Beethoven himself named the three movements "Lebewohl," "Abwesenheit," and "Wiedersehen". One of the most challenging sonatas because of its mature emotions and technical difficulties, it bridges the gap between Beethoven's middle and late periods.

Late period:
The 'Hammerklavier' (Op. 106), with its infamous and perilously daring grand leap of an octave and a half at the opening (which, of course, should be played with one hand!); its slow movement of infinite sadness and great suffering; its finale, a finger-twisting fugue, the cumulative effect of which is overwhelming: an expression of huge power and logic.

The Last Sonatas (Opp. 109, 110, 111). I have written about these sonatas previously. They are considered to be some of the most profoundly philosophical music, music which "puts us in touch with something we know about ourselves that we might otherwise struggle to find words to describe" (Paul Lewis), which speaks of shared values, and what it is to be a sentient, thinking human being. From the memorable, lyrical opening of the Op. 109 to the final fugue, that most life-affirming and solid of musical devices, of the Op 110, that peaen of praise, to the "ethereal halo" that is contained in some of the writing of the Arietta of the Op 111, the message and intent of this music is clear. And this is Beethoven's great skill throughout the entire cycle of his piano sonatas.

So, what is the perennial attraction of performing a Beethoven Sonata Cycle? Glance through concert programmes around the world and it is clear that these sonatas continue to fascinate performers and audiences alike, and no sooner has one series ended than another begins, or overlaps with another. Playing the Sonatas in a cycle is the pianistic equivalent of reading Shakespeare, Plato, or Dante, and for the performer, it offers the chance to get right to the heart of the music, peeling back the layers on a continuous journey of discovery, always finding something new behind the familiar. One does not have favourites; just as when one has children, one should never have favourites, though certain sonatas will have a special resonance. The sonatas are like a family, they all belong together - and they are needed, ready to be rediscovered by each new generation. You can play the sonatas for over a quarter of a century, half a century, and yet there are still many things in these wonderful works to be explored and understood, things which still have the power to surprise and fascinate.

Every pianist worth his or her salt knows that presenting a Beethoven sonata cycle represents a pinnacle in one's artistic career (ditto the five Piano Concertos) and an important stepping stone to other great cycles (Schubert's sonatas, for example, which are, perhaps, less satisfying to play than Beethoven's because of problems such as incomplete or different versions of the same work), but once a cycle is complete, one cannot truly say one has conquered the highest Himalayan peak. And that is what is so special about this music: you can never truly say you have "arrived" with it, while its endless scope continues to reward, inspire and fulfil.

I have never heard a complete Beethoven cycle performed by a single performer, but I have heard plenty of concerts which form part of the whole: in the 1980s, it was John Lill, now one of the "elder statesmen" of British pianism; before him, my parents would have heard Brendel and Barenboim. Following in their footsteps, I heard some of Barenboim's concerts when he played a complete cycle at the Festival Hall three year's ago. At the same time, Paul Lewis was just finishing his own cycle at the Wigmore Hall (and beyond). I heard him play Nos. 15-18, some of the early sonatas, and the Last Sonatas. Then there was Till Fellner, a young Austrian with a clean, fresh approach, whose cycle began in 2008. On LP, I had Lill's complete cycle, released the same year as I heard him at RFH. On CD I have Arrau, whose account is hard to match. But I also have recordings of favourites, such as the Opus 10's, played by Angela Hewitt, or the Opus 110 (my absolute favourite), played by Glenn Gould and Mitsuko Uchida (whose Mozart playing I adore).

In concert, the sonatas are presented in halls large and small, famous and lesser known. The size of the hall can affect one's appreciation and understanding of the works. For example, sometimes the earlier sonatas, which were written for the salon, can be lost in a venue as big as the Royal Festival Hall. One's connection to the music is also affected, of course, by the performer. Lill, I remember, brought an extraordinary closeness and intimacy, something I have never forgotten, a sense that it was an entirely shared experience; while with Barenboim it felt as if an invisible barrier had been erected between us, the audience, and him the performer (I suspect he neither intended nor engineered this; rather, the over-awed audience brought it upon themselves!).

Further reading
Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas - Robert Taub. "Offers the insights of a passionate musician who performs all 32 of Beethoven's well-loved piano sonatas in concert worldwide. This book presents his intimate understanding of these works with listeners and players alike." (Amazon)
The Beethoven Sonatas and the Creative Experience - Kenneth Drake. "Drake groups the Beethoven piano sonatas according to their musical qualities, rather than their chronology. He explores the interpretive implications of rhythm, dynamics, slurs, harmonic effects, and melodic development and identifies specific measures where Beethoven skillfully employs these compositional devices." (Amazon)

Beethoven's Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion - Charles Rosen. A very readable analysis of all 32 sonatas by respected pianist and writer.




Rocket Piano - Learn Piano

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Clean your PIANO keys

I am sure that many of you would be passionate about music and might be having some of the music instrument to enjoy this pleasant joy given to us. There are different sort of music instruments that people usually owe such as guitar, trumpet, drum, woodwinds, strings or piano. Out of these pianos is the one that is not easy to play and also to maintain in comparison to the other ones mentioned.

Upright piano from ca. 1900 (A. Jaschinsky) , ...
Upright piano from ca. 1900 (A. Jaschinsky) , inside. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So if you have a badly stained piano and you want to care for it then it doesn't require any professional cleaner or polisher but all you need is a regular soft buff with a lint free cloth. Any sprays or harsh chemicals will damage the surface of the delicate keys and shall also make the instrument look older and worn than what actually it is.

For cleaning the ivory keys you should not:
1. Immerse in water
2. Scrub with a brush or even a scouring pad
3. Use any type of chemicals or even washing up liquid can damage the previous surface
4. Spray with furniture polish
5. Use air-freshener anywhere near the keys or piano

Ivory should be gently wiped with a soft clean cloth and for stubborn marks or fingerprints you should first wash your hands and thereafter you can use a mild non-colored toothpaste on a damp cloth but ensure that you gently rub and never scrub. Rinse with fresh milk with another lint free cloth and buff well.

You should leave the piano open on sunny days so that the keys stay bleached and don't turn yellow. Keys that are badly discolored or stained should be scraped and recovered by any professional piano cleaner.



For cleaning plastic keys you should not:
1. Use chemicals
2. Leave the piano open for long period of time as this shall cause discoloration of the keys
3. Use furniture polish as this could be very harsh

Dust regularly and wipe occasionally with a soft solution of warm water and vinegar on clean chamois leather. Then buff well for added shine. If you want to clean the casework that usually gets very dusty you can use a vacuum cleaner attachment to get rid of any cobwebs or dust. It can take some time but it will surely be worth and remember not to use any water or liquid to clean the casework. For stains and marks you can consult a professional piano cleaner or tuner.


Musicnotes.com


Sunday, October 9, 2016

How To MEMORIZE A SONG The Easy Way

Do you always need to have the sheet music to play a song? Do you wish you could sit down at the piano and just play like your favorite performers do?

Well, you are not alone. Most pianists feel the same way as you do.

But don’t give up just yet:

There is an easy way for you to conquer this problem, and it’s guaranteed to work.


The 3 x 5 Method

Part 1: Creating Your Tool In 5 Simple Steps:

All you need is a 3 x 5 index card to get started.

1. Mark off 4 empty measures evenly spaced across your index card (from left to right)

2. Place the chords for each measure between the bar lines.

3. Continue doing this for the entire song: always staying with 4 measures per line.

4. Use repeat signs as well as 1st and 2nd endings to save space as well as to simplify.

5. If the song has a bridge (middle section), draw a horizontal line below the verses and then place the chords in the same way as you did for the other measures.

Note: Many songs have 3rd verses that are the same or nearly the same as the 2nd.
No need to write these chords on the card.

Part 2: Using Your Index Card as Your Ticket to Success

1. Put the index card on the piano and play the chords with your left hand in time (slowly) as you look at them on the card instead of on the sheet music.

2. Next, focus exclusively on the first 4 measures. Look at the index card as you play the chords with your left hand and the melody with the right hand. You will surprise yourself at how easily you’ll be able to play the melody without music after a few minutes.

3. Repeat step #2 without the index card this time. Even if you need to refer to the card a couple of times, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll be able to memorize this section.

4. Every time you practice, review the part of the song that you have already memorized. Once you can play this with confidence, follow the same process to memorize more of the song—always concentrate on 4 measure sections.

5. Carry your index card with you in your pocket or purse at all times. Anytime that you have a free moment—standing in line at the grocery store, sitting traffic, waiting for your meal to be served—pull out the card and review the names of the chords in order.
Remember to focus on 4 measure sections before moving ahead.

Part 3: Free at Last

1. Once you have the first song memorized, play your newly memorized song on as many pianos and keyboards as possible. You may need to refer to the index card occasionally. That’s okay. You’ll still be building up your confidence.

2. Start working on another song and follow this same method. This will actually help you play your first memorized song better, because you’re now developing this habit.

3. Set a goal such as: “I play 5 songs beautifully and confidently from memory by…pick a date.” Review this goal 2 or 3 times every day.

4. Use visualization to help you: picture yourself playing the piano effortlessly a concert stage, as the center of attention at a party or just sitting in your living room alone.

The instrument is clear of all traces of music, and you are smiling from ear to ear.

5. Listen to recordings of your memorized song by great performers to inspire you.

Action Exercises

Here are three things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, spend part of your daily practice sessions working on your songs to be memorized. Your investment of a few minutes every day will yield powerful results.

Second, copy the chords onto an index card for each song you want to memorize. The act of writing alone helps to imprint the chords into your memory.

Third, review the chords on your 3 x 5 card every time you have a free moment. Your time away from the piano will become a turbo charger for your time at the piano.




Saturday, August 27, 2016

Step By Step PIANO LESSONS

If you are new to learning the piano and you’re not sure quite where to start, then you will be needing some really excellent step by step piano lessons to help you get you started.

The news is all good. Such a system is not hard to find, especially in today’s world with the internet being readily available to most of us.

English: One APEX kid teaching another what he...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, there can be a problem! There are several downloadable courses on the internet which offer tuition on teaching you to learn to play the piano. Most of them offer good value - some better than others. Most of them will also allow you access to some free lessons to get you started.

So what - you want to know - is this problem?  The problem is in finding step by step piano lessons that will be suited to you in particular. What should you be looking for? What is the  cost of the course? What length of time will the course take?

Here are some pointers for you to consider.

1. Does the course contain lessons for beginners.
2. Does the course proceed with lessons for intermediate students and
advanced students.
3. Will some free lessons be offered to you before you part with your money.
4. How long does the course take to complete.
5. Does the course provide lessons on how to read sheet music.
6. Can the lessons be adapted for both keyboard and acoustic piano.
7. Are the step by step piano lessons simple to understand and to follow.
8. Is the price of the course reasonable and good value for money.

Another important consideration is that the course should contain an element of fun! It is very important that the course contains some light hearted aspects, so that boredom doesn’t set in and you feel like giving up.

And yet another consideration is - are you are able to complete these step by step piano lessons at your own speed, so that you don’t feel pressure or stress. This is a commonly heard complaint when it comes to taking conventional piano lessons off line, so be sure that there are no time limits for finishing the course.

There are many courses available for download on line, so do your research based on your own individual needs, and your particular financial ability. Step by step piano lessons are a really good idea as they are usually quite simple to follow, and geared towards getting you to the stage of an accomplished advanced pianist with minimal stress.

Lynda Mekalick is an internet marketer from "down under" - New Zealand. A passionate pianist, Lynda highly recommends the Rocket Piano system of learning for anyone wishing to learn to play the piano well while having fun along the way. Go grab your first lessons free now at http://www.rocketpiano1.com