Sunday, June 30, 2013

Irony in Rhythm

Some of the best music for teaching reading are in Schumann's Album for the Young.  Schumann was fascinated by fairy tales and what are they if not situations in which more is going on than meets the eye.

Take Chorale:  All half note chords.  Ah!  But with a melody which, when played legato, produces a kind of beat which becomes more intense as it lengthens.  Ironically the sound decays as the intensity of ear and fingers increases.  

Contrast that with Soldier's March: All (or at least, mostly) eighth note chords with rests in between--the exact opposite of the Chorale.  But here the demand is to finger the chords as if they will be played legato so that one can release and attack precisely on time.  This gets particularly hard (and fun) when, at the end, the movement between final quarter note and the penultimate chord must be achieved with no break at all!

You might say that the subject of reading rhythm in these two pieces is the essence of musical rhythm, which is timing much more than the superficial beat.