Somewhere underneath the Alps in Europe, physicists are slowly unravelling the secret of our universe. There is a very large science laboratory built under the mountains to carry out experiments looking for a particle called the Higgs boson. They have successfully discovered it too. Built at a cost of almost 10 billion Euros, I just can not imagine what would happen if they didn’t.
Closer to home I made a small personal discovery as well. I discovered (again) why I loved playing the piano. I did not need a 10 billion Euro laboratory to make the discovery. What I needed was a heart lifting romantic piano song.
More accurately, the 5th bar of ‘La Petite e’Toile’ was what led me to this revelation. The mellifluous melody beginning in this particular bar, extending until the 8th bar is a breathtaking line of musical awesomeness. It is so beautiful a chill ran down my spine the first time I played it.
The bar is the start of the piano song’s romantic persona. We are now just beginning to hear its true voice.
Feel its hidden passion by starting the 5th bar with an A in the bass clef, begin the bar with the accompaniment. Observe the small semiquaver rest in the treble clef that silences the melody in the right hand just for a moment while the LH coax the A out of the piano.
Follow the A instantaneouly with an A in the RH to start a spectacular descending phrase in the treble clef. The A in the RH is one octave higher from middle A and it descends to return to the middle A.
But this descending phrase is a special one. You are required to to land on every note in between the two As separated by an octave twice - as in AA, G#G#, F#F# and so on.
When travelling down the keyboard keep the momentum moving at a hurried pace as the phrase is made up of semiquavers while maintaining an unbroken legato line. Use your wrist to move the hand in the right direction to help guide the fingers as they carry out their tasks of hitting the keys twice.
Use the fourth finger on the A in the RH to play it. Throughout my years of learning the piano, especially when studying classical songs I have been trained to alternate fingers when playing repeated notes, for this phrase though there is no such need. Keeping the fluidity of the legato line is of higher significance.
The only time you are required to switch fingers is when you have arrived on middle A. Quickly alternate from landing on the middle A with the index finger to hitting it with the thumb the second time. We are asked to do this not for showmanship but for the practical reason of having the manouverabilty to stretch the hand to reach the next note that comes after - one that resides somewhere in the higher octave.
The note that comes after is an A one octave higher. Apparently the next bar mirrors the 5th bar almost in entirety. There is a noticeable difference - as the phrase nears its end descending down the keyboard, it diverges away the previously established pattern. In the fifth bar, the end sang BB,AA. Now in the 6th bar, it has blossomed into AA,BB instead. That small difference injects a whole new character with a reinvigorating dose of energy into the melody of the piano song.
During this wonderful musical experience the LH does its part to enrich it. The string of quaver accompanying the faster notes in the treble clef illuminates their beauty. But the quavers in the bass clef are not merely regular quavers. Can you see the short line above some of them? These are stressed notes. Press them down with a bit of pressure when playing them. Use a little strength in the fingers when pressing on them. Continue reading part 4 of 'Piano Song - La Petite e'Toile'.