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Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven - Early Intermediate Version

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Hello and welcome to this early intermediate level piano tutorial for Beethoven's famous "Moonlight Sonata", first movement.
Let's come to the piano to start learning.
Let me demonstrate the entire piece for you.
Here's the score for "Moonlight Sonata", and by the way, did you know that "Moonlight Sonata" is not
what Beethoven called this piece.
When he wrote it, he just called it Sonata Opus 27 Number Two,
but someone in the audience, one of his first performances,
who was a music critic, heard it and said oh it sounded like moonlight on a lake,
and when this critic published their article, everyone thought ooh, "Moonlight Sonata" and that became its nickname but again, not
Beethoven's original name, but it's a good nickname so it's always stuck.
Let's check out our tempo indication. Adagio means slow.
We're in treble and bass clef, and what key are we?
We have one flat, which could be
F major,
or it could be D minor. How do we tell?
Well, let's look at our first note. We start on a D,
and the right hand is playing a D minor broken triad.
So, that tells us we're in the key of D minor.
So be on the lookout for B-flats. In fact, if you want to, pause and find all the flats.
Either circle them or put a little flat symbol in front of them like this B right here is flat, B-flat, B-flat
Make sure you're not going to forget to flat those B's because of the key signature.
Now, let's check out our time signature.
Cut time. Remember that C with a slash means cut time, which could be written as 2/2. Either of these mean the same thing.
And 2/2 means two half note beats per measure.
Usually we see 4 quarter note beats per measure, right, with 4/4. That's what we're most used to.
2/2 means now instead of a quarter note getting a beat we're going to feel the beat every half note. So everything kind of gets cut in half.
Whole notes now are only worth 2 beats.
Half notes, which normally are 2 beats are only worth 1 beat. So we have a beat here,
and then a half note later we get another beat.
So wherever you see this x, that's where a beat is occurring.
And some of you might think, well why not just think 4 beats per measure? 1 2 3 4
Cut time looks a lot like 4/4. In fact, just looking at it you can't even technically tell the difference.
But the difference is we don't, Beethoven didn't want a beat, beat, beat, beat. That would feel too boring. 1 2 3 4
It's too repetitive. He wanted these to flow together more like all six of these. 1 2 See how if I feel it that way, that all six of these are part of 1 beat. 1 2 That's a lot more beautiful than 1 2 3 4. See what I mean?
So it's how you feel those notes all in a group.
And that's why it's in cut time and not 4/4.
But when you're learning it you can still think in 4 beats, but just remember as you start to play it and perform it, to try and group these in groups of six.
Now let's talk about some tricks for learning this.
In learning the right hand, look for patterns!
We've got A D F, and so let's learn these as block chords,
because it's a lot of time to go duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh....
It's just the same pattern. So just do block. Try this with me. With fingers 1 3 5 play this as a block.
Another block, another block, another block, another block, check each one, and then notice we get a new block. Now we get B-flat D F, so play that as a block with fingers 1 3 5.
That block repeats, and then we get a B-flat, E-flat, G with fingers 1 3 5. Play that as a block. That block repeats because remember the E is still flat. Flats live up to the bar line when placed in the music.
And then here's a new block: A C-sharp G, play that as a block.
And then we get A D F, play that as a block,
then A D E, 1 4 5, play that as a block, and then G, now a lot of you are going to play this as a C, but that's not correct! Why?
Look way back here we had a C-sharp. Remember, sharps placed in the music live all the way through the whole measure
and die at the bar line.
So this C is still sharp
up until the bar line. So G C-sharp E. You might want to mark that in music so you don't forget. G C-sharp E, play that as a block,
and then three ledger lines down
F A D play that as a block.
Now, what's the trickiest part?
Right here, right? Because the block is changing every beat. So let's practice this again. And again, playing these as blocks
will really help your fingers get used to these positions,
and then you can play broken.
I'd suggest doing it as a block a lot. Many, many repetitions.
Until you feel really confident with that, and then when you do broken your fingers will just know where to go.
Now pause, and I want you to work on the right hand
playing you know you can just put all of these into one big block.
Just practice each individual block for the right hand part, and then press play to go on.
Now let's check out what the left hand is doing.
You'll notice we have these tenuto marks. This flat line is called a tenuto, and it means to play that note with extra emphasis.
Composers will use tenuto marks to show which note is the melody, which notes are the most important.
So the right hand
is a little bit boring. It's just doing this
this repeating pattern. So it's the left hand that we want to bring out here.
Notice the left-hand note.
Notice I'm bringing out these notes with the tenuto to make it a little more interesting.
And then notice way over here the right hand is going to take over the melody here. And so the left hand here gets very soft as it takes over these
repeating patterns which we could call the accompaniment, and then the right hand is going to take over the melody.
And then finally notice this with pedal marking. So we're going to use damper petal, and put the pedal down at the start, and then pretty much every time there's a change
see because this is all the same chord, you can just leave the damper pedal down
the entire measure and it's going to sound kind of magical like that moonlight on the lake that the one critic imagined.
And then nothing's changing here. The left hand moved down which is why we'll do an up-down there,
and then we can do an up-down every time the harmony changes.
So like if the right hand has a new block or the left hand note changes, we need to do an up-down.
We'll need to do an up-down here because this block changes and it will start to sound blurry
if you have this block mixing with that block.
That's why we do pedal lifts to keep the notes from sounding blurry, okay?
And then we can lift there
to start the melody of the right hand part.
Now, pause again and learn the left hand part if you want to try playing some of this hands together you can.
It's up to you, and then press play and we'll check out the next section.
Okay, let's check out this next section. So our right hand just took over the melody
in the beat right before we go into measure six here.
And then notice the left hand changes our block here to a C-sharp G A. Try playing that as a block.
A block that repeats, repeats, repeats, and then we go back to this D F A. Play this as a block,
repeat and then here we get D G, don't forget the key signature, B-flat.
A B-flat there. Also B-flat
the block changes to this 5 2 1, repeats and then another block here: E B-flat
C. Repeat, and then we get this, this, this, this. Try playing this along with me. We go back to this chord again repeat, repeat, repeat. And then back to this, this, and then here's an interesting pattern: E G A, and then D F A.
Okay, pause and work on just the left hand alone.
Play, again I really suggest you learn these as block chords first, and then it's going to be so easy to turn that into broken
once your fingers get used to those positions. So pause to work on the left hand, then press play to go on.
Now let's check out the right hand part. Notice we've still got these tenuto marks, tenuto marks, that's telling us this is the melody.
These are the important notes.
And then simile is a composer's way of saying I'm bored of telling you the symbols or the articulations. Just keep doing that.
Okay, when you see simile in music it means just keep doing what we've been doing. In other words, just imagine that these all have
tenuto marks as well.
It's like the composer was saying: I got bored, just keep doing that same thing, okay?
So, the right hand needs to be played out much louder than the left hand here. I'm going to start right here:
Notice how I bring out that melody in the right hand. The left hand's very gentle.
And also notice these phrase marks. So we want to feel all those notes connect and grow in the middle.
And then usually the last note of a phrase gets softer, so we're going to decrescendo as we go to this last note,
and then these also imagine tenuto marks. The right hand is going to continue to be the melody line here.
And notice that sixteenth note has to sneak in after the triplet.
TRI-PL-ET bum bum,
okay that note
squeezes in between this C and this note.
Make sure that sixteenth note lands somewhere in between those notes.
Okay, pause and work on the right hand part. If you want to try it hands together you can it's up to you.
And then press play and we'll go on.
Okay, let's tackle this next section.
Once again, learning the left hand in blocks, we have C-sharp G A with fingers 5 2 1. Play that as a block, repeat,
and then D F A, and the suggested fingering is 4 2 1, and that's to get your finger 5 ready for this big stretch down that repeats.
Then 5 remember B's are always flat.
B-flat, E-flat, play that as a block, repeat, and then A E natural, the natural cancels that flat. Remember,
this E is still flat, and it would be flat all the way up to the bar line unless it gets canceled by this natural
A E G. Play that as a block.
Repeat, and then back to D F A our D minor triad then
it becomes D major. This is one of my favorite places is the F still sharp here?
Yes it is. It lives up to the bar line, so that is still F-sharp, and then the left hand
is going to temporarily, look tenuto marks!
That's a clue the left hand gets a melody line here.
D G B-flat G, something's interesting happening. We get crescendo, decrescendo mark.
So we're going to really make this interesting here in the left hand.
And then we go back to D major block, D major, D major, D major, of course
we're going to play it broken eventually, but when we're learning
let's try it as a block, and then we get this little melody line again with the tenuto marks, so be sure to bring out those notes.
They sound beautiful and interesting, okay?
Pause and now just work on the left hand alone on your own, then press play and we'll check out the right hand.
Okay, one interesting thing to note about the right hand is here we've got this E-flat going to a C-sharp
which looks like a third, but if you look on the piano that's only a whole step away.
So they're going to feel very close to each other. E-flat to C-sharp to D.
And then D switch to finger 4 here, and then wow here it looks a little crazy. So let's figure this out.
This is what's called a poly rhythm where you have two rhythms going on at the same time.
Your finger 5 is going to play this E-flat,
and then while that note is holding down there's another rhythm going on with your fingers 1 and 2.
You have this triplet rest buh buh, rest, buh buh, rest buh buh, rest, buh buh. Let's check that out on the piano.
Notice how in the right hand here in measure fifteen you have to hold down that E-flat while fingers 1 and 2 are doing these
inner voice triplets.
1-&-a 2 keep that E-flat down, and then it switches to this C-sharp.
Okay, pause to work on just measure fifteen. Work on right hand alone. Work on left hand alone.
Maybe try putting it together.
You're going to do a pedal lift on every quarter note in this measure.
So pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, and then you can hold it.
Okay, pause to work on measure fifteen, then press play to go on.
So let's see what this section sounds like. So starting here in measure fourteen we have:
and then we go to D major.
So I think it's really important to try and bring out that melody on this top voice. That D going to the E-flat.
I really lean into that E-flat, and then keep these two notes, the G and the B-flat, really gentle so then the left hand
can have a moment in the spotlight doing this little counter melody.
Left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand, left hand,
So notice how the hands take turns here. Really important to be careful of this. The right hand already on that D
notice it's notated down here in the bass clef part
just so you can see how it all flows together, then the left hand plays these three,
then this little curved line is telling you that the right hand is going to play those notes.
The left hand comes down here, then we go left, right, left,
and then the left hand comes all the way down to this low D, and then these very sad solemn chords for the ending.
Notice all the chord changes the left hand has to do starting in the pickup to measure twenty. On this last group of three
we've got this F major triad, then
we come down to here. B-flat major first inversion, E diminished,
an A7 chord to D minor.
So practice all these as a block. Try this with me. Here's the last three notes of measure nineteen.
First three, first group of three in measure twenty.
Play this along with me.
And then let's keep going to measure twenty-one.
We've got this as our first group of three and our second group of three, and then this,
and measure twenty-two for the first 2 beats, and then
This is one of my favorite chord progressions in the whole piece.
I just love that.
Okay, so I highly suggest you practice these as block chords.
And then when you do broken it's going to feel so much easier, trust me.
So pause to work on this left hand part just as block chords here in measures twenty and twenty-one, and then press play to go on.
And then together with the right hand we get:
Decrescendo down to piano.
Great job getting started learning Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" first movement today.
Thanks for watching and learning with me, and happy practicing!
You know what I just realized?
The difference between being under the moonlight and out in the sun is simply night and day.
Oh, brother.
What, not even a groan?
There it is! Thank you, that's all I need!
Simple groan of appreciation.
They say a comic in his own land. Oh well. Hey Chef!