Piano songs - Ballade Pour Adeline

Piano songs can be expressed with emotion once patterns in the arrangement of notes are recognized, played in legato together with the sustaining pedal


The music school I attended was a small one. It had rooms with thin walls separating them, so music emanating from other rooms could penetrate the walls and we could hear each other playing. I was obsessed about getting better at the piano that I never noticed other students playing their instruments in the other rooms but apparently, they noticed me.

I had an audience unbeknownst to me. Passive audience they were not either, after a while their reviews of my hidden performance (or so I thought were hidden) began circulating back to me.

Emotions in piano songs


Progress was painstakingly slow in learning a new song on the piano. Sometimes I took a whole week just to get one phrase right. When I did, wishing to stay loyal to the composition in its original form, I never neglected to inject emotion and expression into my rendition. Wanting to warm up before my teacher arrived for our lesson, I would practice for an hour at school. It was during this hour, in my oblivion there were listeners.

They appreciated the emotion and expression palpable as the music reverberated through the walls, unintentionally interrupting their own lessons and conversations. Such were the impact of a heartfelt articulation. I made it possible by recognizing the patterns in the piano songs I was playing. A group of notes for example, a string of semiquavers as shown in Image 1, possess traits that determine the rhythm created.

The pattern in Image 1 is repeated in a later part of the song, express this phrase with one emotion and articulate with another emotion when playing a different pattern, such as the one shown in Image 2.

Language of music in piano songs


Music itself is a legitimate language that is comprehensible when heard. A joyful phrase should be played joyful, a solemn one played solemn, the emotion injected in the music is projected through the sound the piano helped to create. Similar to spoken words, expressed accurately the listeners most certainly would understand, moved and be touched by the emotions with which they accompanied.

Romantic songs are almost always entirely played in legato and ‘Ballade Pour Adeline’ too is no exception. A binding legato keeps the expression consistent without which a phrase may sound disjointed midpoint. The hands are responsible in making it a success by holding a key until the last moment before lifting away from it. It is a fundamental skill to execute the legato with the motion of the hands and strokes of the fingers to connect the notes, instead of trying to bluff your way through by using the sustaining pedal.

A well-connected legato phrase deftly executed by trained hands and fingers combined with precisely timed use of the sustaining pedal result in an added acoustic effect - enriching the expression the pianist is trying to convey.

When the foot presses the sustaining pedal the damping mechanism is lifted off the strings. Otherwise it prevents the strings of un-played notes from vibrating. If the pedal is pressed while even a single note is played, all the strings inside the piano are free to vibrate at varying intensity depending on their position, allowing the note of that one single key struck to produce a sound that is subtly extra exquisite.

Express a song with the right emotions by recognizing the patterns in the arrangement of notes within its phrases. They determine the rhythm produced, upon hearing them know when and how to sprinkle happiness or pour a sense of sadness into the rendition. Play with a binding legato coordinated with good use of the sustaining pedal to get a lovely sonorous effect.

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