Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 95: Habit Forming

I have managed to get up early for the past couple of days and, even though I don't want to stick to it, I pushed through each hour of practice yesterday and today.  I try to warm up with some Czerny or Hanon first and will break up my practicing of Clair de lune by going back to Maple Leaf Rag and some of the other pieces I have learned so far.

I move on to measures 15 through 26 this morning.  Tomorrow and Sunday, I will focus on measures 1-26 before moving on to measures 27-50 next week.  I will also intersperse each practice with focus on rough parts of the previous pieces I have picked back up as well as finishing off Maple Leaf Rag. A completion video will follow when I'm ready there (the piece is 90% ready as-is).  Since moving on to measures 15-26 of Clair de lune, I have some additional notation to bring to your attention!

First of all, see the "tempo rubato?"  This means that you may take liberty in how quickly or slowly you play the notes in these measures, but they must still each finish in nine beats.  It is Debussy's way of telling the pianist to interpret this how you wish, within the bounds of the time signature.  An eighth note does not necessarily have to be held for one count, but if you hold one longer, the rest have to be more hurried.  Also, my music is not marked like my original score I owned, but the initial notes of each measure here in the bass clef are sustained throughout each measure using the middle pedal on the piano.  And you thought that pedal was just there to separate the damping and sustaining pedal, didn't you?

I also did not mention in my overview of the first few measures of this piece an important piece of musical notation: the tie. You will notice several sideways parenthesis-looking marks between some notes.  This means the note is supposed to be held, not re-played.  For instance, if two eighth notes are tied, then the notes played are held for two beats, even though you see the same notes written twice.  There are several spots in the first few measures where Debussy wrote only one note of a chord tied, so it carries over to the next chord.  This promotes the flowing sound of the piece very well.

Also note here that the very lowest note of the chords in the bass clef and the very highest note of the chords in the treble clef are marked with a horizontal bar.  This is meant to remind the pianist to emphasize these notes most of all out of all the others in the chord.  Top and bottom notes carry the melody.

Lastly, you will note the French phrase: Peu a peu cresc. et anime.  This literally means to get louder little by little, while playing animatedly. There is also a notation that you cannot see in the picture above towards the end of measures 15-26 of dim. molto.  Dim. molto means get a lot softer.  Dim. is often a notation used for softer and molto means a lot.

Whew!  Lots of education out of such a few short measures, huh?

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