Lesson 188

The Bear

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Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman,
and today we are going to learn the right hand part for a piano piece called "The Bear", by Vladimir Rebikov.
Rebikov was a composer who was born in Siberia, an area in eastern Russia known for its long and bitter cold winters.
There the temperatures can stay well below freezing for five straight months.
As a child, Rebikov learned piano lessons from his mother, but then went on to study music at the famous Moscow Conservatory.
Rebikov lived during a time when composers were experimenting a lot   with new kinds of scales and harmony.
In his own music, Rebikov also liked experimenting with new kinds of sounds.
For example, in "The Bear", Rebikov uses a special kind of scale called the whole-tone scale, a scale built purely on whole tones, no half steps.
Which, gives it a very distinctive sound.
let's listen to "The Bear" so you can see for yourself the unique sound of the whole tone scale.
Now let's check out how the whole-tone scale is built.
I'm going to start the whole-tone scale on F for right now.
You can really start on any key, but let's start on F, and build up by only whole steps.
Which is what makes the whole-tone scale.
So what is a whole step above F?
Well, a half step would be F-sharp and two half steps equals a whole step. So, it would bring us to G.
Basically a whole step always will skip one key, black or white.
So, a whole step would bring us to G. Now point to the next whole step up.
If you're pointing here, you're correct.
Then let's go another whole step up.
From A would bring us to B,
and now what's another whole step above B?
We can't point to C, because that's just a half step.
For a whole step, we need two half steps. So that would bring us all the way up to C-sharp,
and then another whole step would be D-sharp or E-flat.
Either one could be correct to say.
And then one more whole step would bring us all the way back to F which is one octave above from where we started.
So this is a whole tone scale, and it has that unique sound that you just heard in "The Bear". Let's try playing it.
With your right hand, the fingering will go 1 2 3, finger 1 will come under to B, and then C-sharp, D-sharp, and then finger 4 will play F.
The interesting thing about the whole tone scale, unlike a major scale which has eight keys to build a full octave,
because we've only done whole steps, we can actually get a full octave with only seven notes.
So your finger 5 won't have anything to do today. Sorry pinkie.
So, it's just going to be 1 2 3, 1 2 3 4, and then you can come back down.
Okay, press pause and practice the whole tone scale on your own. And as you do it, I'd like you to really listen to the sound.
Listen to that unique sound of the whole tone scale, unlike any scale we've played so far.
So press pause and experiment with that scale on your own, and then press play to go on.
The whole tone scale has lots of interesting uses, you know, you can hear composers use it to create this dreamy sound, like: See, I'm just holding down the pedal and just quickly going up and down that whole tone scale.
And they're like, oh we're going into dreamland or crazy land.
Composers can also use whole tones to kind of create like a spacey futuristic sound.
It has kind of an edgy or bizarre sound, and in pieces like "The Bear",
you can hear it creates this kind of ominous, strong, grizzly kind of sound.
Let's take a look at the score for "The Bear".
I always start by checking out our tempo indication, which says andante,
which means kind of a medium, relaxed, comfortable pace.
This bear is going to be walking, not running,
and our time signature is 2/4. We have treble and bass clef as we expect, but looking down line one we get the surprise,
where we change the treble clef to a bass clef.
Now, they could have put the bass clef back here in the score,
but Rebikov decided to throw it in here, and that's telling us our right hand has to come below middle C down into bass clef land.
He's trying to create the sound of this growling surly bear, and so we're going to be using the low notes of the piano.
Here we are in bass clef starting down on this low B just a skip above ground G.
Now let's check out some other things. We have this Italian term pesante. Pesante means heavily.
So we're going to play these notes with arm weight to give it kind of a strong, again, bear like sound.
Also notice these tenutos we have
throughout this first phrase of the right hand, and a tenuto remember means to play that note with a little extra strength.
It's not as strong as an accent, but it just gives that note weight now let's come to the piano to try playing it.
Now in "The Bear", because the right hand is playing down in the bass clef and your left hand if you look ahead
you can see it's playing really low in the ...