Piano songs - Canon in D

Play piano songs with high density of notes by mastering the principles, making use the possibilities in the combination of dynamics, tempo, volume, and tone


The diverse density of notes in the bars of the phrase from Canon in D below intrigued me. The open spaces between crotchets when narrowed by semiquavers heightened the pace of the rhythm, drew my concentration closer. More action on the keys of the piano energized the movement of my fingers, the arms and hands came alive as well in joining the excitement.

Density of notes in piano songs


Density of notes in piano songs is one of several indicators of the songs' difficulty. When I was a beginner piano student, I was introduced to a simplified version of Canon in D. I liked it so much that I wanted to learn the original composition. The density of notes and the fingering combination that came with them were insurmountable.

KEY POINTS:

  • What? - Density of notes
  • Why? – High density more difficult
  • How? – Master principles first

A few years later, as I progressed with my piano lessons, I noticed that once I grasped the rhythm, I was pretty much on my own in my attempts to articulate it. My piano teacher had already embedded in me all the principles required to play the piano. It was up to me to polish my skills and express my creativity. I realized then, I could learn any song if I dedicated the time and energy in comprehending the rhythm,

adjusting the tempo, and solving the problems I had in tone production. The question I have been struggling with recently is how do I express creativity in my piano playing? Unlike a composer who composes his own original songs, which is without doubt an exercise in creativity, am I not merely reproducing what has already been created.

Piano songs played creatively


I do suppose in rubato style, I was allowed some leeway in expressing my creativity with regards to the tempo. There was a time when I played Dudek’s sonatina my use of the sustaining pedal and the dynamic contrast I affected earned praise from my teacher although initially she cautioned that I was not adhering faithfully to the written score. Therefore, in articulation and expression of a composition there are opportunities to express creativity in piano playing.

KEY POINTS:

  • What? – Playing creatively
  • Why? – Play a rich, lively rendition
  • How? – Combination of dynamics, volume, pedal

Such opportunities are visible only to the educated eye. If you have been well taught in reading music, have deep understanding of the rules governing it you can bend some of them and push the boundaries of others without actually deviating too much from the written composition. In doing so, its artistic image, content and mood remain intact.

For example, I chose to flick the sustaining pedal on the E shown in the phrase in Image 1 below.

There is no indication to do so and usually the pedal is pressed and released at the end of a phrase and the beginning of a new one to articulate the transition of musical ideas. By flicking the pedal mid-phrase on E, I made the group of the ascending semiquavers more pronounced. As if a contour was added to the surface of the phrase enriching its landscape or so to speak.

This can be complimented by inserting dynamics into it by playing the E soft compared to the D before it. Increasing the strength of the tone gradually in a crescendo albeit a brief one until the last note in the group, B has been played.

There are parameters within which I must stay in when exploring my creativity. To not tarnish what are beautifully written works of music. They are beautiful because they are in harmony with the physics of sound production such as phonics, cadence, and pitch. If the laws of physics are broken for the sake of being creative, what is created is noise instead of music.

I have stumbled upon a way to explore my creativity in piano playing which is safe; that is to play the songs in every key possible. Another way is in practice, while maintaining strict adherence to the melody, the accompaniment played by the left could be changed with other arrangements. The result is a same song played in countless different ways.

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