Harmony in piano songs is obtained by sensing rhythm accurately and projecting its artistic image based on correct interpretation of the musical score
Making progress in learning a new piano song can be a really slow process for some people. Even at my most productive, when I was pushing myself to log in 2 hours of practice time after a tiring day at work I could only gain an additional 2 bars in a session.
Unrealistic expectation was a problem, gaining an extra 2 bars a day was actually a commendable achievement, that was 10 bars in 5 days.
Almost one complete page of a song in some instances.
Impatience was a terrible vice I had. Just had to be able to play the whole song perfectly now!
Therein laid the problem, expecting to be able to play a whole page of a new piano song that I was just starting to learn within the first 2 hours was unrealistic. Instead of volume as in how many bars have I played well today? I modified my approach to practising by asking myself have I played the 2 bars that I gained today in harmony? Have I performed the 2 little bars with a sense of the whole be that as it may for only 2 bars? Prioritizing substance over volume is better.
In piano music, harmony is a substantial part of the substance. What is harmony? – The quality of agreeing, being suitable and appropriate of parts with one another and with the whole [reference WordWeb version 3.7.1]. In piano playing among many others, the parts are tone, tempo, expression, articulation, rhythm and much more.
Is it not obvious then, that there are plenty for me to be pleased about were I to be able to render 2 bars with all of the parts mentioned played with excellence?
Take the task of delving into the development of rhythm for example, at the beginning I do not even know how a bar would sound. Guided by symbols on the music score, through laborious process of trial and error a language began to take form. Erratic at first but with time through practice, the sounds harmonizes itself as its parts harmonizes with each other to sing in a language we are all so familiar with recognized as music.
How do we get harmony?
Since the very definition of harmony is having the parts of the whole to agree with each other. We shall start there. In piano playing there is not much to work with without first acquiring the rhythm. Symbols on the music score have to be decoded accurately to project the correct artistic image of the song as the composer intended – a portion of which is projected through the rhythm.
In my opinion, the other portion is articulation. Once accurate rhythm has been acquired, the way it is interpreted resulting in music that perfectly expresses the artistic image of the song is how harmony between rhythm and articulation is achieved.
Power of interpretation of the music score comes from extensive knowledge of music theory and piano performance. Therefore it will take years to possess that power. But be not in despair, instead take pleasure in perfecting the harmony between the rhythm and articulation in the 2 short bars of the song you are learning now like I am. While I pursue the ultimate goal of interpreting the best and most prestigious of music such as works by Mozart, Beethoven and Bach.
Valuable knowledge lies among the notes, between staves in a bar of a piano composition. Interpreting a bar of a song I already knew well, on numerous occasions I have found myself amazed at the new insight I discovered whenever I re-visited the song. The mind unfolds to reveal something I did not notice before. Similar to reading a book the second or third time, you shall notice bits of information in the story here and there that you missed in the first reading.