Lesson 193

Minuet in C

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Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman, and in this lesson we're going to learn how to play the right hand part for a piece by Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Rameau was a French composer and music theorist who lived with his wife and four children, two girls and two boys, in Paris, France.
He lived way back in the first half of the 18th century.
that's before the United States of America became a country, about 300 years ago.
He lived and composed during what we called the Baroque era of music.
In fact, what we're listening to right now is an example of Baroque music composed by Rameau for harpsichord.
When Rameau first started composing, the piano hadn't even been invented yet.
Instead, this instrument called the harpsichord was the most popular keyboard instrument of his day.
As you can see, the harpsichord often had black keys where we have white keys, and white keys where we have black keys.
It's kind of backward to us,
but remember that the harpsichord was invented first,
so Rameau would probably say it's our pianos that are backwards.
The piece we're going to learn today is called minuet in C.
A minuet was a popular dance from the Baroque era with a 3/4 time signature.
Let's check out the score to start learning minuet in C.
First thing I always like to check out in a score is the tempo indication.
Here we have allegretto.
Kind of a comfortably medium fast tempo.
Our treble and bass clef, and our time signature is 3/4.
That top number tells us we'll have 3 beats per measure.
Now, let's check out the right hand part.
We can see we're starting up here on this treble G just a step above that flag F line,
and finger 5 is on G. Our key signature, you can see, we have no sharps or flats.
And so, well, that's funny that we start on a G, but if we look at the left hand we see that we start on a C,
and here, if we look at the fine, we see that we end on a C as well as a low C in the bass clef part.
So that tells us we're going to be in the key of C.
C major I should say.
Now, let's check out how the notes of the right hand are moving.
If you scan this first line, you'll see a lot of these eighth notes all beamed together. Just a steady stream of TI-TI TI-TI TI-TI TI-TI TI-TI TI-TI
All the way to the last note of this first long phrase that ends with a quarter note.
Now at first, it may just look like a random jumble of notes, but we always want to look for patterns in music.
that will make it faster to learn and help you understand what's going on with the music.
So let's look. Can you tell me the steps, skip, repeat pattern of this first measure?
Try to say it with me. Start, step down, step down, step up, skip down, or down a third, step up.
So let's kind of draw lines to show the shape of those notes. We have two step downs, then a step up,
then a skip down. I'll write a three there to show that skip down of a third, and then another step up.
Now, will you take a look at measure two and tell me what you notice. Can you see any patterns in relationship to measure one?
Well to discover this pattern, let's look at the steps, skips, repeats again.
We have a step down, step down,
then a step up, then a skip down of a third, then a step up.
Aha, do you notice anything?
Do you notice it's the exact same patterns of steps and skips,
but what is different?
We've started one note lower.
Remember in music, this is a common technique called a sequence,
where we have the same pattern that repeats itself just one step lower, or sometimes one step higher.
Now, let's check out the next measure, measure three. Can you tell me the steps, skips, repeats?
Let's say it together. Start, skip up, step down, step down, step down, step down.
Here's a new pattern.
And then if we carry on from there we have step up, step down, step down, step down, step down.
Now, let's try to play this on the piano.
So as we mentioned, the first note is this high treble G.
Here's my middle C. We come all the way up here. Here's the flag F. We're a step above that with finger 5 on that G.
So our right hand will fall into our C major pentascale.
Now I'd like you, now that you're such a advanced note reader, by this time I'd like you to go ahead
and press pause and see if you can figure out the first measure on your own.
Play it two or three times to get comfortable with it, then press play and we'll try it together.
Okay, what you should have played was this G F E F D E.
Can you play that with me? And let's say the letter names out loud.
At that speed. Ready, go.
Good, now looking ahead to the next measure, remember we have the same pattern but now starting on F. We have: F
step down, step down, step up, skip down, step up.
Now, press pause and work on the next measure, measure two, on your own, then press play and we'll try it ...