Popular Music Lesson

In the Hall of the Mountain King

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Hello and welcome back.
I'm Joseph Hoffman. Today we're going to
be learning a piece of music called, "In
the Hall of the Mountain King." This music
was composed over a hundred years ago by
a Norwegian composer named Edvard
Grieg. Grieg was asked to compose this as
incidental music for a famous Norwegian
play called Peer Gynt. Incidental music
simply means music that is meant to be heard
while you watch a play or movie. In the
part of the play where you hear this
music, Peer Gynt, the main character of
the story, dreams of traveling into a
majestic cave inside a mountain where he
discovers a kingdom of goblins, gnomes, and trolls,
and there he meets the Troll King.
Let's take a look at the score for, "In
the Hall of the Mountain King." Here we
have the sheet music for the main theme
of "In the Hall of the Mountain King."
Let's check it out. We have a key
signature here telling us we're going to
have a B flat,
also we have our time signature, four four,
telling us there will be four beats per measure.
Now if you scan you'll see ,wow, we have a
lot of rests here in the treble clef
staff, so our right hand will be just
hanging out until we get over here. Our
left hand is going to be taking care of
most of the action.
Now let's try speaking the rhythm
together of this melody. Whenever you
have eighth notes, like these four notes,
these two notes, we'll say ti ti, and if you
have a quarter note we'll say tah.
Let's try saying the rhythm together,
ready, go.
Ti ti ti ti ti ti tah, ti ti tah, ti ti tah, ti ti ti ti ti ti, now pause here, we've got a ti,
you see if we have this flag that makes
it an eighth note, and then the melody
passes up to the right hand. We have
another eighth note.
So this is ti ti. It's the same rhythm as
this, ti ti, it is just split into two parts. So
we have two eighth notes, ti ti ti ti ti ti tu-u.
Here we have a half note so we'll say tu-u,
to remember that it's two beats long.
Good, now let's go back and try this part
one more time.
Ready, go, ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti tu-u. All right, now let's check out how the notes are moving.
Can you say for me if the notes are
stepping, skipping, or repeating?
Let's try it together. We'll say start for
the first note.
Try it with me. Start, step up, step up,
step up, step up, skip down, skip up.
Now you try it by yourself, ready, go.
Now before we try to play that on the
you probably have noticed all these
little black dots over the note heads,
also under the note heads. A black dot
over or under a note head means to play
it staccato. Staccato sounds like this. It means to play the note with a quick release.
The opposite of staccato would be legato,
played like this.
That doesn't create nearly the
mysterious feel we need, which is why
Edvard Grieg uses staccato in this piece.
Now let's try to play this first measure
on the piano.
If you look at the score you'll see the
first note is D played with finger five
of the left hand, so we'll place the
left-hand finger five on this D below
middle C, which is right here on my piano.
Go ahead and place your left hand in
position on your piano.
I'll take a turn first and then you take
a turn. Let's just play the first five
notes with a good staccato sound.
Now your turn.
Good. Remember, to get a good staccato
sound you want to lift from the wrist
but keep the fingers on the keys, like
Now you try.
Now, after you step up those five notes,
then it skips down to F and then
skips back to A, so let's add those two
more notes.
My turn. Your turn.
Next measure, after we have bum bum bum,
now we have a step down and a sharp, so
we were on A, we're going to step down to
G sharp, skip down to E, then back to G
sharp, so we have G sharp, E, G sharp, and
then we have another G, but this time we
have a natural sign, so that tells us
will have G natural, E flat, G natural.
Let's see what that looks like on the
piano. Now for measure two, since it says
we need a G sharp we're going to take
our finger two and move it to G sharp. It
was on a G, now we move it to G sharp, so
we play G sharp, E, G sharp. Will you
practice that once? So we'll have a black key here, G sharp, finger four on E, G sharp, E, G sharp.
Your turn. Good, now
finger two has to move to G natural and
finger four has to move to E flat.
So notice we had a black and white key,
now we have a white and a black key, so
we have G sharp, E, G sharp, move your
G, E flat, G, now you try.
Good, let's put those two together.
G sharp, E, G sharp, G, E flat, G. Press
pause and practice that three times on
your own, then press play when you're
ready to go on.
Good, now let's put measures one and two
together. I'll show you once and then you
take a turn. My turn first.
Great, now press pause and try that three times, then press play when you're ready to go on.
In the next two measures we start
with the same thing we had in measure
one, bum bum bum bum bum bum bum but then
the melody goes up to the right hand,
bum bum bum bum bum bum. So right hand has to help out with finger two on D, step
down to C, then skip down to A, skip
down to F, skip back to A, skip back to
Let's check that out on the piano. Ok, for
measures three and four we'll need the right
hand and left hand, so make sure your
right hand is in position.
Our first note that the right hand plays
is finger two on D, so kind of feel like
your right hand is in the C major
position with the left hand still here
in the D minor position, so the left hand
will play the same notes as before and
then when we get there the right hand
plays D, C.
So will you try that once? We're gonna go
bum bum bum bum bum bum bum
D, C, your turn. Good, now after your
right hand and plays D, C,then the left hand plays A, skip down to F, skip up to A, and then
skip up to the right hand again on C.
So you'll notice it kind of forms a pattern with
these three notes, after the right hand
plays D, C, then the left hand goes A, F,
A, C, just skipping, skipping
down and then skipping up.
So let's practice just this one part
from where the right hand plays D, C, A, F
A, C. Now your turn.
Good, let's try that one more time, D, C,
A, F, A, C, your turn.
Good, now let's put the two measures
together. We'll have

Now you try measures three and four by yourself.
Good, now let's listen to all of the
first phrase, or line one, together. This
is measures one through four.
My turn.
Now press pause and try all of that
first phrase by yourself.
Press play when you're ready to go on to
line two.
Now some of you might be wondering what is this alligator mouth looking thing here.
Well, it's called a crescendo, and a
crescendo means each note that you play
gradually gets louder, finishing at a
mezzo piano level, so the song begins
piano which means quiet,
so we'll play quietly, mysteriously. When
we get to this crescendo it will build a
little bit in volume, bringing us to
mezzo piano, which means kind of medium
soft, then on line two we're going to start
off mezzo forte, which means kind of
medium strong or medium loud. We'll play
and you'll notice these notes are the
same that we had up here, every note is
identical, until we get to this last
measure. Once again we crescendo, we get
to a forte, and then the D steps down
instead to C sharp, we play an A, goes
back to C, now remember that A sharp
sign lives the whole measure long, so if
this C is sharp, this C will also be sharp.
We have C sharp, A, C sharp, skip up to E,
step down to D, repeat D,
while the left hand plays a D and A
You'll notice this note has a staccato
and an accent,
a little alligator mouth that points
this way is called an accent, and it
means to play that note with extra
strength, so we'll have bum bum bum bum
bum bum. A nice, strong finale to the piece.
Let's try that on the piano, line two, or
the second phrase of, "Hall of the
Mountain King" starts off the same as
before, but in the second half of the
phrase now instead of D, C we play D, C
sharp, so to play finger one on the black
keys you're going to have to move your
hand in towards the piano,
D, C sharp, then the left hand plays A, you
play the C sharp again, then skip up to E,
skip up to E, then step down to D, and
then you play another D with a chord
in the left.
So watch that again ,here are the last
two measures of "Hall of the Mountain
King." We have bum bum bum bum bum bum bum D, C sharp, A, C sharp, E, D,
Now let's look at that slowly and
practice it. We play D, C sharp,
now your turn.
Good, then a C sharp, your turn,
good, that's left hand, right hand,
Let's put those four notes together so
we have D, C sharp, A, C sharp, your turn.
Good, then after that it skips up to E, D,
and then D with the chord, and the
chord is just D and A in the left
hand with D in the right hand.
So, again it's E, D, chord.
Now your turn. Now let's put those notes
together, so we have D, C sharp, A, C sharp, E,
D, chord.
Press pause and play that three times by
yourself, then press play when you're
ready to go on.
Now I will demonstrate
all eight measures of "Hall of the
Mountain King" for you. If you feel ready
you can try playing along, or you can
just listen.
One, two, three, go.
Now if you want to have some more fun
with this piece,
let me show you a more advanced way you
can do it. If you study the original
orchestra score for "In the Hall of the
Mountain King" you'll notice that Greig
starts off using the low instruments,
like the bassoons, and the double basses,
and celli, and so let's start off
playing down low here on the piano.
He also marked to start very quietly
then as the song goes it builds and it
builds and he marks in the score an accelerando, which means to gradually
speed up.
So what we can do instead of starting on
this base D we can go one D lower, right
here, and start off slower and quieter
like this.
Then we'll move up an octave.
This is kind of like the trolls and
goblins are starting to gather, and then
we do it again, we repeat that same line
again, we go up another octave and repeat
line one one more time,
even louder, this time, and a little faster,
and then last of all we go up one more
octave, this is our fourth time now, and
this will be the loudest and fastest, and
finally we're going to play line two to
finish it, and that's the finish of the
party, all the goblins and trolls have
just had a great time.
So let's listen to the whole thing now.
So we'll start down low.
I hope you enjoyed learning to play the
main theme from "In the Hall of the
Mountain King. For an extra challenge,
why don't you see if you can compose
some incidental music
that could be a part of your own play or
It could be a movie you know or a
pretend movie that you make up the story
for. Your incidental music that you
compose should help to tell the story
and create the right mood whether it be
mysterious peaceful or exciting.
If you like you can share your
incidental music with me
by sharing a video on our Facebook page.
Thanks for watching and see you next
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