Piano Song - Souvenirs D'Enfance

There are a few things that remind me of my chidhood everytime I see them, marbles, kites, rickshaws and the abandoned dilapidated cinema downtown. These are things I used to play with and places my father took me to on weekends - priceless memories to cherish for rest of my life.

There is a piano song that celebrates the fond memories of our childhood. It is called ‘Souvenirs D'Enfance’ composed by Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint. I learned this song early during my first year of piano lessons so that is in itself a hint that this is not a difficult piano song to play.

What would seem like a bit of a challenge is getting used to the faster pace of the song. The time signature indicated is 4/8 or 6/8 in the opening segment of the song – much more hurried than the usual 4/4 most beginners are familiar with. As you continue playing to reach the songs inner depths it gets even faster, some phrases are to be played at 12/8.

Start off with the first bar sweetly, it is a repetition of the notes D, B and G. The recurring melody has an effect to stir nostalgia to anyone listening – it reminds us to recall the innocence of our childhood. The same urge to reminisce occurs again in the next bar but this time at a higher pitch with the notes E, C and G.

What you will need to take precaution on here is the switching of the fingers used to hit the keys from D.B,G to E,C,G. It becomes tricky because D,B,G have been repeated three times in the previous bar forcing you to suddenly break the pattern. When they have settled into a monotonous pattern the fingers can be resistant to change.

Looking at the music sheet of this piano song an obvious trait is noticeable – there are phrase marks in almost every bar. Phrase marks are the lines above the notes in a musical phrase. It tells us that the phrase has to be played smoothly without a hitch anywhere, more commonly referred to by its italian term legato.

One way to be able to play legato well that I know of, is to not lift the finger from one key too soon before the other finger plays the following key. Hit the next key first then quickly lift the finger off the key preceding it. This way you will be able to make the piano sing in an unbroken flowing legato.

I mentioned earlier that as the song progresses, it shall reach a segment that has to be played very fast. We arrive at that segment at the third bar of the third line of the song. From here onwards there are eighteen semiquavers in a bar that escalates from 9/8 to 12/8 in time signature. Do you get the idea of how fast the phrase has to be played?

Worry not though, getting up to speed is the only challenge. The fingering is not complicated and the melody is made up of notes rushing down the piano beginning from the B two actaves higher from the middle C, no lifting of the arms is involved just keep you hands close to the keys.

The thrilling manoeuvre of the fingers at high speed is an adrenaline rush, such a beauty of a song – there is no need to play Chopin’s etude ( for now anyway ) to show off a glimps of our virtuositic potential.

This segment that offered the oppurtunity for some showmanship leads us to the next stage of the song. The mood starting in the second bar of the fifth line changes abruptly as everthing seems to calm down, the pace is slower, a quick glance at the score explains why – the time signature has changed to 4/4.

While a semibreve completes the bar in the treble clef, the left hand works the piano. It is the only one that continues to do so for the next three bars as the right hand remains idle to play the rest. Make sure you count the rests correctly, do not rest for too long or too short because as explained to me once by a celebrated orchestra conductor “Without silence there is no music. Play the rests.”

The concluding line of this piano song is almost an echo of its middle parts, towards the end it sings at an elevated pitch as the melody is transposed an octave higher. Slow down as you approach the last note and hold it for a few seconds longer before lifting your hands off the piano to give it the ending it deserves.

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