Lesson 264

Minuet in G Major: A Section: Right Hand

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Hello and welcome back.
I'm Joseph Hoffman and today we're going back to one of my favorite collections of music.
The notebook for Ana Magdalena Bach.
You may recall that this notebook is a collection of musical pieces
hand written by various members of the Bach family for Ana Magdalena,
who was the second wife of the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Bach family had exceptional musical taste,
and so the pieces that were chosen to be included in Anna Magdalena's notebook are beautiful and delightful pieces
like "The Prelude in C Major" that we're listening to now.
We used to think that most of the pieces in the Ana Magdalena notebook were composed by J.S. Bach himself,
but thanks to research done by music historians or musicologists,
we now realize that many of the pieces were actually by other composers.
Pieces that the Bach family discovered and simply copied into Ana Magdalena's notebook.
Copying music by hand like that was a common practice in Bach's day
since actual printed music was somewhat rare and expensive to buy.
The piece we're going to begin learning today is "Minuet in G Major" from the Ana Magdalena Bach notebook,
a piece which musicologists have now confirmed as being composed by Christian Petzold.
Here's the sheet music, or score, for "Minuet in G Major".
Let's do our usual checklist. What's our tempo indication?
If you said allegretto, you're correct. A medium fast tempo.
Always check our clefs, treble and bass.
You might think, why do we need to check those? There's always treble and bass.
Well, not true. Every once in a while the composer may put both hands in the treble staff,
or both hands in the bass staff like we had for "The Bear". It's always important to check that,
and what's our time signature?
3/4 is correct telling us we have 3 beats, 3 quarter note beats per measure,
and what key are we in? Well,
the title of the piece kind of gives it away "Minuet in G Major".
And we can confirm that by seeing we have one sharp in the key signature.
We start with this G major chord, and we end with a G major first inversion chord, and G D
G in the left hand. So pretty obviously
all signs are pointing to G major for our key.
Those are the things I always want to check before learning a piece. The tempo,
the clefs, key signature, time signature.
Now that we've checked in with those things, tell me what you notice about the first line of music.
You probably are noticing a new symbol.
This kind of zigzaggy line with a slash right through the middle is called a mordant.
A mordant is a kind of embellishment.
Embellishments are fancy little things that composers a long time ago love to put in their music.
Especially composers who lived around the time of Bach in what's called the baroque era.
Embellishments make music sound interesting and fancy.
What a mordant does is if you place it over a note like right here, this mordant is placed over the note C.
Treble C.
When you see a mordant, you're going to play the note you see and then quickly play the note below it and then go right back to it.
And that's called a mordant.
See how I play the C, I play a B just a step below,
and then I step back to the C and that's all done quickly.
Makes kind of a fancy sound.
I'll play that whole measure.
See how fancy that mordant can sound?
Playing a mordant is going to look like this.
Notice the fingering. Let's do that in slow motion. 3,
2, and then finger 1 is going to play the C at the end. C B C with fingers 3 2 1, and the reason we end on a 1 is if we keep going in that measure
we're going to need all five fingers to get up to that high B at the start, sorry, high G in the start of measure four.
Okay, so let's try that mordant in slow motion.
Try finger 3 on C, step down to B, then finger 1 on C.
And then to do it quickly, here's a few tips. You need to stay relaxed,
use a gentle touch.
If you try to play it really loud, your fingers are going to move slower not quicker.
Sometimes when you want to do something fast it makes you want to do it louder,
but that's not how it works with piano.
To play quick sometimes it helps to try and play more gently,
and just think of key staying really relaxed and loose,
and keep your fingers close to the keys.
It almost feels just like you're wiggling your fingers. Try doing this for a second just take all your fingers and just kind of gently wiggle them.
Okay, and the mordant will sound best if it's just a gentle wiggle. Keep your fingers close to the keys,
and just try this a few times with fingers 3 2 1.
Pause the video and work on that for a little bit,
and be patient with yourself.
Doing ornaments like this sometimes can take weeks and weeks, even months of practice to get the sound just the way you want.
Remember to stay loose and relaxed.
Good piano posture is super important.
Having a nice comfortable handshake, and then just give yourself time to experiment.
It's going to feel like a wiggle.
A quick relaxed wiggle when you get it right.
So pause to practice that mordant for a little bit, then press play to go on.
Now let's take a look at playing all of line one.
A few things I want you to notice about this.
When you have these eighth notes stepping up,
remember to make that a beautiful phrase. Don't hammer through each notes. Play it very legato with a beautiful tone.
And then on these repeated G's, this is the end of a phrase.
You can kind of think of these first two measures as a phrase.
There's the climax of the phrase,
and then those last two notes need to be very gentle as you repeat those G's
because it's the end of the phrase you don't want to pound it out like a stomping rhinoceros.
You want to be gentle.
Same with those two G's at the end of line one in measure four. Play those really gently as well. Note that in measure three we start with the finger 5, which lets finger 3 land on that C. You have the mordant, and then you need to finish your mordant on a finger 1 so you can go up those eighth notes to the G.
Here's where fingering is so important because if you do a different fingering you're going to run out of fingers
and have to do something crazy to bail out at the end.
If you use the correct fingering, you'll have just the right number of fingers to get to the top of that G.
So pause the work out line one on your own, and then press play to go on.
Now let's check out line two on the score.
Do you notice any other embellishments on this line?
That's right, right here there's another mordant that we get to play.
Another interesting thing to notice is take a look at measure five and then compare it to measure six.
Can you tell me what you notice about those two measures?
Here's a sequence. Remember when you have the same pattern start, step up, step down, step down, step down,
then we have that same pattern again but one note lower, and we call that a sequence.
The same pattern repeated but down a step, or sometimes it's up a step.
Now, since you already know how to do a mordant, and notice that we've got this little helper up here
just in case. Now you won't always see this helper. Sometimes you'll just see the mordant and you'll have to figure it out. but since you're new to mordants, we placed in the music this little helper to show you that C B C
and the fingering,
and I'd like you to try teaching yourself how to play line two.
Be careful of all the notes, be careful of the finger numbers.
Remember, as we're getting to more advanced music your hand is going to be shifting around,
and sometimes like right here this finger 2 you're going to cross over finger 2 to F-sharp,
but your finger 1 is going to stay on that G, and after you've crossed over to the F-sharp
you'll kind of come back to a G major pentascale position.
So pause the video, try and learn line two on your own, and then we'll look at it together.
Now this time on our mordant we're going to use a 3 2 3
we need this time to be stepping down. So we don't want to switch to a 1 or we're going to run out of fingers in the other direction.
So this time practice a mordant where we're just going 3 2 3,
and I when I have a back and forth mordant like this where I land on the same finger I started,
I kind of like to think of just rocking my hand quickly side to side.
It's a very small and subtle motion.
Just practice that a few times.
3 2 3, remember gentle and quick like a little wiggle,
and then putting that together with the rest of the measure.
And don't forget to switch to a finger 3 here on beat 1 of measure six,
because that will give you enough fingers to get down to here and then finger 2 crosses over on the downbeat of measure seven, but keep your finger 1 on G.
And whenever you have a note at the end of a slur like this, remember to decrescendo at the end of that two-note slur.
So let's hear that whole line.
Now pause the video if you need more practice with line two to make it sound like that,
but if you're ready to go on, let's go back to the score.
Let's check out lines three and four of the score.
Taking a look at line three, what do you notice?
You probably notice that it looks the same as line one.
Remember it's important to check every single note.
But if we look through every note we can see it's exactly the same as line one
even with the mordant.
So let's go on and check out line four.
What do you notice about line four?
Is it the same as line two or different?
Well, it's a little bit the same a little bit different, right? Measure one starts off the same, or I should say measure thirteen starts off the same as measure five from before,
but keep going and tell me where it changes.
If you're pointing right here, you're correct. Starting here in measure fifteen instead of a step down
before we step down to F-sharp this time we step up to A
and it has a special ending, and that brings us to the end of the A section
followed by a repeat sign which brings us back to measure one and we do the entire A section again.
Now once again I want to see if you can teach yourself these notes.
You already know this line because it's the same as line one, but go on and now try and play both lines three and four.
Remember it's going to be a little different here.
Try and teach yourself these two lines and then we'll check it out together.
Here are lines three and four of the A section.
Now remember, at the end of a phrase
do not hit the note. That's very unmusical.
You want to always have
a gentle ending to your phrases in lyrical pieces like this.
I think of this "Minuet in G Major" as a very lyrical flowing beautiful piece, and so I try to make all my phrases
very legato
and beautiful.
Then when we get to the end of measure sixteen, what do you notice?
It's a repeat sign, so that brings us all the way back to measure one and we get to do the whole page again.
Now with these mordants,
you have a new challenge,
and again be patient with yourself if your mordants don't sound the way you want them to yet.
Just do a little bit of practice every day.
Remember to keep your fingers close to the keys,
keep it gentle.
It's just like a little wiggle.
Just think of moving your fingers like this.
It's going to start to feel more and more natural with just a little bit of practicing every day.
Be patient
until it sounds as beautiful as you want it to sound.
So be sure to practice every day on this page just right hand alone, and in our next lesson we'll take a look at the left hand.
Great work today learning how to play the right hand part of the A section of "Minuet in G Major" by Christian Petzold.
Happy practicing, and see you next time!
[Scuba singing]
Uh, Scuba? Are you feeling okay?
Uh, yep!
Uh, what are you doing?
Just practicing my mordant.
How so?
Well, Mr. Hoffman said to stay relaxed and do a quick wiggle.
So that's what I'm doing. Practicing my quick wiggle!
I think I'm going to go look for a book in the library, wanna come?
Too busy practicing!
Hey Princess! Did you hear that? It worked!
I'm going to be a mordant master!
[Scuba singing and playing]