Lesson 268

Minuet in G Major: Artistry

You must be logged in to comment.

Loading comments

Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman,
and in this lesson we're going to be learning ways to play "Minuet in G Major" with artistry.
For this lesson I'm assuming that you've already learned both the right hand and left hand parts for the entire piece,
and that you've already gotten started learning it hands together too.
Let's get started by revisiting the score.
Now one thing I want you to recognize about pieces from the baroque period,
and this piece is from the baroque period, which was from about 1600 to the year 1750.
Any pieces coming from that time period tend to have very few markings in them.
Now in this score, you see dynamic marks, you see a tempo indication, but I was the one who added those in.
If you look at the original manuscript from the original Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook,
you'll see no tempo indication,
no dynamics,
no staccatos, no accent marks,
any kind of articulations, just the notes and a couple of ornaments like the mordants that we've talked about.
So if you ever see a piece from the baroque period and you see dynamic marks or staccati,
just know that those were placed in later by an editor.
In this case, I was the editor for this piece so I added finger numbers, I added some dynamics,
I chose a tempo indication,
but it doesn't have to be allegretto.
I've heard this piece
played at more of an andante or moderato speed.
I just happen to like it
a little bit more lively which is why I picked allegretto.
So with baroque pieces you get to make a lot of choices.
If you see a mezzo piano mark, remember I put that there not Bach,
and so you could take the liberty of choosing something else. Maybe you want to start mezzo forte instead of mezzo piano.
The important thing is to figure out what is the character or mood of the piece and try to convey that mood.
Sometimes I like to make a list of mood words at the top of my piece, and for this piece I think of it as a happy piece.
So I might write happy, or other words that come to mind
are beautiful or flowing,
and you might have other words that come to mind for you,
but it's important to know what is the mood you're trying to create so you can make it tell the right kind of story.
Another important job I think is finding the phrases within a piece.
Again, later composers after the baroque period would start marking phrases with phrase marks,
but baroque composers often again left that to the performer,
but I think of these first two measures as a phrase.
The nice thing about deciding your phrase is then you can decide how to shape it.
Most often phrases crescendo to some climax point in the middle,
or near the middle, or sometimes towards the end.
But I kind of think of this note as our climax note, and then as you near the end of a phrase you usually decrescendo.
It might be a nice way to phrase that.
And then I think of this as another phrase.
And then you have to think about how those two phrases interact with each other.
Is this phrase louder than this one or softer than this one?
Well, since this time the phrase
hits an even higher point than this phrase,
I like to think of this phrase maybe crescendoing even a little louder.
And then once again I'm going to get gentle on those two repeated G's.
Getting softer there to round out the phrase.
What about the very first note?
You might think, well since it's the start of a crescendo we want to make this pretty soft, but it's also beat 1.
And remember in our time signature rules, beat 1 is generally a slightly stronger beat
than the other beat. So I might play this one a little bit stronger,
then drop softer here, build back up, then get softer again here.
Then play a little bit stronger there again, grow even louder, and then get softer again here.
The music is always in flux.
A rule of thumb that I like to keep in mind is no two notes in a row should ever sound the same.
They're always in motion. Always getting softer or louder, then softer again.
That's how you keep the music interesting.
Always think of the notes being alive and in motion.
Now, I'd like you to pause the video and practice playing just right hand alone and experiment
with the phrasing of this. See how beautiful you can make each phrase, and then press play to go on.
Now on line two I think of these as shorter phrases.
I think of this measure
as a phrase, and
I like to do a little quick crescendo, decrescendo on those moving eighth notes just to give them some life.
Notice I'm making this measure a phrase all by itself with a crescendo, decrescendo. It has to happen pretty fast.
And I like to think of this as one longer phrase this time.
And then a cool thing happens here. The left hand finally has something interesting. So far in the piece the right hand has been clearly the melody,
but here I think the left hand gets a short moment to be the melody,
and so think of this
as its own little mini phrase that the left hand gets to do with its own crescendo decrescendo.
So make sure those notes sound interesting and not just.
Don't make them boring.
Give it a shape.
The left hand gets a moment to do something exciting, so let those notes sing out there.
So the right hand is going to do something fun here,
then the left hand gets a turn.
Now I'd phrase these next two lines pretty much the same.
Now I'm not going to put in all the crescendos and decrescendos. I think you get the idea that inside every phrase
there is a little mini crescendo, decrescendo.
Now can you find another place that the left hand is doing something
interesting that we might want to turn into a little mini phrase?
Point to it.
If you're pointing right here, you're correct.
Here the notes get interesting again in the left hand.
So I'm going to think of that as a phrase and do a little crescendo, decrescendo on those notes.
While the right hand is playing softly on these two G's, the left hand's
actually going to get louder here than the right hand.
For most of the piece, the right hand will be louder than the left hand
because the right hand has the melody,
but here we're going to switch roles
and let the right hand get softer while the left hand has its moment in the spotlight.
And then the right hand will step back into the spotlight
for the last line of the A section.
Now, I'd like you to pause the video at this point and do some work on phrasing.
Do one time through just right hand alone, one time through just left hand alone maybe just focusing on
these little mini phrase sections.
Work on some beautiful phrasing.
Remember, no two phrases should sound the same.
Even though these two look like maybe they're going to be the same, which one do you want to make louder?
Remember, the rule of thumb that no two notes, and I could even say no two phrases
or two notes in a row should sound the same.
That's the life of music is it's always growing or coming back down to rest.
You're telling a story. Make your story interesting.
Pause the video to work on phrasing in the right hand and left hand, and then press play to go on.
Now, when you're performing this you're going to go through the A section and then
what do we have?
A repeat sign.
So we're going to go back and play the A section again.
Well, this also follows my rule of thumb
saying that you never do the same thing twice in a row.
Never two notes in a row the same, never two phrases in a row the same,
and we're also when we do the repeat, we're not going to play it the same the second time.
Think of something that you can vary.
One of the most common things that performers do
is to vary the dynamics, and sometimes that's shown with a dash and then maybe the second time through you want to play it forte.
Or maybe the second time through you want to play it
piano like an echo.
There's no one right or wrong way to do it,
but I encourage you to think of something to do different the second time through.
Maybe you're going to add more of those sticky staccatos.
you'll, maybe you'll make these a little bit more detached instead of legato like we did the first time.
Another thing that baroque performers very often did on the repeat
was to improvise with the melody.
You're going to keep most aspects of the melody the same, but every once in a while you can do something fancy.
Like listen to how I might improvise on the first two measures.
See, instead of doing TA TA TA, I did TA TI-KI-TI-KI TA,
and just added in some extra notes there for fun, but I kept most of it the same.
Now listen what I do here.
Instead of going down the full octave as a skip,
I just turned it into a G major scale.
And there's no one right or wrong way to do that. I just found some fun places I could
mess around. What could we do here?
See I turn this into a little triplet,
and I can add a trill on that F-sharp maybe.
And see I added a mordant right there on that B.
You can have some fun with it on the second time through and improvise on the melody.
Now I'd like you to pause the video again and just experiment. Choose two measures,
one measure, and just find one little thing you can do to improvise with it. Change the notes somehow.
Don't completely rewrite it,
find just one or two little things you can do to embellish it.
There's no right or wrong.
Just experiment, and then press play to go on.
Now on page two I'm not going to draw in the phrase marks for you. I'd like you to figure out how you feel the phrases.
Remember, there's not one right way to think about a phrase.
Like for example, one performer might think of this measure all one phrase by itself.
Or you could think of it maybe as a two measure phrase, or maybe you're going to feel this entire line as one long phrase.
One of the great things about music is it's open to different possible interpretations.
So go through page two on your own
and figure out how you feel the phrases. Draw it in. Maybe add in some crescendos and decrescendos.
I was the editor of this piece, so I chose to make this section forte
because the note, the melody in the right hand soars up so high here.
I wanted to bring this out and make it forte,
but you don't have to do it that way.
You could also play mezzo piano or piano.
Pianissimo for that matter.
Find something that works for you, and then down here I feel like this section
feels so peaceful that I wanted it to be mezzo piano,
but I've seen another editor of this same piece put a forte here.
For someone else that felt like a forte section,
but that doesn't work for me, which is why I put mezzo piano.
But again, because I wasn't the composer of this piece, you have my full permission to change these dynamics.
I want you to make this piece your own.
Find your way that you like to interpret it and to express it.
When you get to the repeat sign, what are you going to do?
Maybe you did it forte the first time, but how do you want to play it the second time?
Is it an echo this time?
It's all the way up to you.
So many fun choices to make in music.
The important thing is that you try to find the essence of this piece and make sure that you're expressing that core essence.
Once you feel like you have this piece mastered hands together and playing it artistically,
I encourage you to make a video and share it with your friends, share it online with me.
Let the world enjoy your original creation of this piece.
Great work today learning about playing "Minuet in G Major" with artistry.
I hope you enjoy making this piece your own,
and once you feel prepared, I hope you enjoy sharing it with someone else.
Happy practicing, and see you next time
That was the hardest thing I've ever done!
I've lost Sharky, and I made it to the top of this mountain!
I can finally find my ninja--
Monkey? What are you doing here?
Of course you're obviously breathing!
I mean, what are you doing all alone at the top of this 10,000 foot mountain?
How did you even get here?
One step at a time?
Okay, why do you keep giving me these short cryptic answers like you're some kind of wise oracle?
You know, I'm worried about you Monkey.
It's really cold up here. You don't have any food. You're all alone. Come on, I better take you back down.
Hey! I'm pinned! Okay, I give up! I give up!
Wait a minute...
Monkey, are you the ninja master?
My goodness, this is too crazy!
You? A ninja master?
Wow, okay, you gotta teach me some moves! Let's start the training!
What are we gonna do first? Ninja stars?
Night stealth?
Oh I know! Teach me how to disappear in shadows!
You want me to breathe.
Uh, how long are we breathing for?
Oh, my mind is clear.
I'm clear as crystal. Clear as a clear blue sky with no clouds.
Oh, I'm chattering again. Wow, my mind really isn't focused. Okay.
I get it. I'm going to breathe until my mind is clear no matter how long it takes!
Three days! But...
Scuba, if you want to become a master you must follow the master's instructions.
This is gonna be so boring!
Oh, nothing. I mean, I said I can feel my mind clearing already.