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 bass clef.
Rather than being off centered the whole time, I'm actually gonna slide my bench over
and center my body down in this low bass clef area of the piano. Here's my middle C,
and my right hand begins way down here, and I want you to feel comfortable, so go ahead and slide your bench over
and get in a comfortable position to play these low notes that we need to be playing.
So left hand sorry, right hand finger 3 is on this B, an octave plus a note below middle C,
and let's take a look at our rhythm.
We have TA TA TI-TI TA, again we're in this whole tone scale of F G A B C-sharp D-sharp F.
Those are the only notes the right hand is going to be using, and it centers kind of right here. So this is
kind of the position your right hand needs to be worried about, okay? So again we have: B B C-sharp C-sharp B,
and then A A G A B B B.
And remember that this is marked pesante, and so you're going to use arm weight
to drop heavily into each note. I don't want you to use tension, you know,
use just the natural weight of your arm to get a nice strong sound.
I'm just kind of falling on those keys my fingers stay relaxed,
but firm enough to give me a good strong sound.
Now press pause and work on those first four measures
beginning at measure three, so you're going measures three through six on your own, then press play to go on.
Now I'd like you to analyze seven through ten.
Remember, you can download this sheet music from our website, which I highly recommend so you can be analyzing this on your own.
Look at measures seven through ten. This is the second phrase of the piece,
and see if you can tell is this the same as phrase one or different?
It's mostly the same,
but as I've said in the past you have to be very careful and check every single note, because sometimes a composer will change just one note.
In this case, every notes the same except one or two. Can you find and point out the difference?
The  first one's right here in measure eight.
Before we had to C-sharps in a row, then a B on those two eighth notes this time we have C-sharp B B.
So we have, back to measure seven, B B C B B, then this is the same,
but then this one in measure ten now we have a whole, sorry, a half note
so we'll hold it for those 2 beats, okay?
So starting at measure seven again we have TA TA TI-TI TA TI-TI TI-TI TWO-OO.
Now, press pause and try measure seven to ten on your own, then press play to go on.
Now, let's put those two phrases together. Going back to measure three we have:
Press pause and try that section on your own, then press play to go on.
Now at measure eleven, things get a little bit more intense.
Now you'll notice we have a D-flat and an F, so we need these two keys played with fingers 2 and 4.
Can you try that? Fingers 2 and 4 on D-flat and F.
Two quarter notes. TA TA Now you try.
Good.
Now look at the next measure. We have an E-flat and a G played with fingers 3 and 5, and then it steps back down to D-flat and F.
Now that fingering is very important. Don't go like that.
That is kind of a sloppy fingering. I want you to use fingers 3 and 5,
and then shift to fingers 2 and 4. So then you don't have to move your hand position, and it's better for developing finger coordination.
So use fingers 3 and 5 on E-flat and G. Try that,
and then try D-flat F. This practice going back and forth. E-flat G with fingers 3 and 5, back to D-flat F with fingers 2 and 4.
Now that measure sounds like this: TI-TI TA, TI-TI TA.
Now let's put that together with measure eleven.
Back to measure eleven we have TA TA TI-TI TA
I'd like you to press pause, and try that like four or five times on your own. Make sure you get the fingering correct, then press play to go on.
Now let's go on to measure thirteen.
Here we have a B, and on top we have a D-sharp.
We're moving in thirds here, but through the whole tone scale. Remember our whole tone scale we're only using these
using these keys in this section, okay?
So here we have B and D-sharp with Fingers 1 and 3, play that twice, now you try.
Try it one more time.
Good, and then notice it steps down to A and C-sharp, but we're out of fingers so our thumb's just going to shift down,
but use our finger 2 because our finger 2 is already in position to handle that C-sharp.
So try that. Play A and C-sharp with fingers 1 and 2, then it steps back up to B and D-sharp.
So let's focus just on measure thirteen right now. We have: TI-TI TI-TI
I want you to be very careful with the fingering. Use this fingering. Don't make up some other fingering. Don't do
this because that will make it sound choppy.
See, by using your finger 2, you can make it a little more smooth sounding 1-& 2-&.
Press pause and try that several times on your own, then press play to go on.
Okay, after we do measure thirteen, it steps back up
to D-flat and F with fingers 2 and 4.
We have TI-TI TA. Now you try.
Good, now let's connect that with measure thirteen.
So, we're going back to our B and D-sharp with fingers 1 and 3. TI-TI TI-TI TI-TI TA.
Now that might feel a little tricky at first. It looks simple, but because you're using these two note chords with these shifting fingerings,
it may take you like ten, fifteen, twenty times to really master that. Watch it again. We have: TI-TI TI-TI TI-TI TA
I'd like you to press pause and try that as many times as you need to to feel confident, then press play to go on.
Now, let's connect that all the way back to measure eleven. We have: TA TA TI-TI TA TI-TI TI-TI TI-TI TA
And then looking ahead in measure fifteen we have, TA TA TI-TI TA. That's the exact same this time, and then
TI-TI TI-TI TWO-OO. The only change this time is we end with that half note.
So, on your own I'd like you to press pause and take a good amount of time to practice measures eleven through eighteen on your own.
Practice that until your right hand feels confident.
It may take you not just today, but it may take you a couple days to really feel good about that.
Don't fudge or cheat on the fingerings, use the fingerings exactly as I showed you,
and take some time to work on that, then press play to go on.
Now, let's check out measure nineteen to the end of the piece.
What do you notice about these notes starting at measure nineteen?
If you notice it's just like the beginning, you're correct!
You could say the overall form of this piece is A B A.
We have this contrasting middle section with these thirds,
but then at measure nineteen, we go back to the A section.
The only difference you might have noticed is the articulations are marked a little differently.
Instead of just tenutos, sometimes we have a staccato with a tenuto marked,
and that means you'll detach those notes a little bit more.
When you have a staccato with a tenuto, it's not the same as playing a staccato,
because the tenuto actually means to stretch out the note generally.
A staccato means to shorten it. So, in a sense they're kind of contradictory. What that really means is it should be detached, not legato.
So a bit stretched out, but also a bit detached kind of a middle ground.
Kind of staccato, but kind of not. Just heavy and solid sounding, but some detachment between the notes.
Now I'd like you to press pause and play through the entire piece just right hand alone,
and then press play and I'll demonstrate the whole thing, and you can try playing along with me.
But right now, some time to practice the whole piece right hand alone on your own.
Now I'll demo the right hand, and you're welcome to play along with me
if you feel up for the challenge, or you can just listen it's up to you.
I'll start in measure three, and I'll count 2 beats before we start.
1 2
Great job learning the right hand part of "The Bear".
Be sure to practice diligently every day so you can be ready to add the left-hand part soon.
Happy practicing, and see you next time!
Hey Scuba?
Yes?
Why do panda bears like old movies?
I don't know, why?
Because they're in black and white.
Haha, that's pretty good. Okay, how about this?
What is a bear's favorite drink?
Hmm, what?
Coca-koala! Haha, nice one!
All right, what do Mexican bears like to eat?
What?
Bearritos! Haha.
Wow, we better paws so I could catch my breath.
I know, I can hardly bear it myself.