Saturday, July 12, 2014

I Fall Out of the Barline Trap!

Yesterday I had the rare privilege of teaching a young adult student how to approach the rhythm in that famous Clementi Sonatina in C, the one I refer to all the time, being the one everyone "knows."

Last movement, 3/8 with a repetitive left hand three note figure, over and over and over, starting each bar with the same tone.  The right hand agrees, no?

Well, not if you know anything about how to read Vivace rhythms.  These are not the same as Allegro rhythms, which tend to organize according to quarter notes.  Vivaces are definitely trickier.  I describe the difference as having more to do with series than with divisions.*

In bars 3 - 4 of this movement we have the perfect example of how this works.  There are six eighth notes spread over these two bars: D F B C G G .  Conventionally they are played with the accents as follows:       D f b  C g g,  This way the line goes Up Down Up Down.

Played this way:    D f B c G g  The line goes in one direction, down, from D to B to G.

And it does so in a most amusing way:  Each step is ornamented with an upward tease, i.e., a note that doesn't REALLY go up at all.  And consider what happens then:

              Not only do the strong notes (D B G) produce a wonderful G triad, but the added joke
is that those deceptive rises play another game:
                  D f (a third  3 )   B c (a second  2)  G g (a unison  1)
It sounds so much better.

It is also much harder, given the temptation to allow the left hand to reduce everything to its most oring terms.....

*What Might It Mean? An Uncommon Glossary of Musical Terms and Concepts for the Stuck, Bored, and Curious, by Nancy Garniez, published by Tonal Refraction, NYC, 1999