Piano songs - Canon in D

Play piano songs well by recognizing the patterns of each layer in the arrangement of notes in a textured composition be it monophonic, homophonic, or polyphonic


Rotating through my usual practice routine revolving from finger exercises, sight reading exercises to classical compositions, it occurred to me that the texture of each was unique. The uniqueness of the sounds being made by each of the different works on the piano was profound.

I was wondering why I was more attracted to Canon in D compared to the exercises. I brushed it off to the fact one was a real song while the others were not. It was the resulting texture from the arrangement of notes in a composition and the finger, sight-reading exercises that made the listening experience of each vastly different.

Monophonic, homophonic
and polyphonic piano songs


Hanon exercises are my preferred choice for training the fingers, the ones I have been working on were monophonic in nature. There exists only one layer of voice in each exercise. Even when playing with both hands, each hand played the same rhythm overlapping each other.

KEY POINTS:

  • What? - Monophonic, homophonic, polyphonic
  • Why? - Layering textured music
  • How? - Unique voices sing in harmony

For sight reading practice, I have been using Czerny’s exercises. The right hand played the melody while the left the accompaniment. Because the rhythm of each are unique, when performed together they produce a homophonic texture in the resulting sound. In other words, the right hand produced a voice, the left hand produced another voice which is different from the voice produced by the right.

When the two voices sing together, one is layered over the other resulting in a textured sound.

The example shown in Image 1 below identifies the different voices present in one of its phrases. Isolate and practice them separately so that each of the voices could be heard. When I was studying under a teacher, I was taught to do this. But I could not appreciate the value and benefit of such practice. Besides, as a working adult I did not have the luxury, which was a shame.

Consequently, my rendition lacked conviction. Despite producing sounds, I have always felt like someone who uttered words without believing my own words.

Hearing the voices in textured piano songs


Since then I promised myself that when circumstances permit, I would re-learn the songs focusing more on the artistry and musicality in them. By design after making adjustment in my daily routine I could now dedicate 30 minutes of my time every day to work on my music.

Unlike before when my priority was to be able to play a song from start to finish in the shortest time, instead I have been spending a lot of time in absorbing the listening experience of every bar practiced. Picking out the tiniest nuance in the tempo, tone gradation and rhythm.

KEY POINTS:

  • What? - Harmonizing voices
  • Why? - Effect beautiful texture 
  • How? - Recognize, isolate, practice separately

Recognize patterns in the arrangement of notes to hear each of the voices in the texture that make up a polyphonic composition. Isolate and practice them separately to thoroughly grasp the tempo, tone, rhythm, and nuance of each voice. A tedious process indeed, albeit an undertaking you would come to appreciate later.

Struggling to get the subtlest nuance perfect has turned out to be the exciting part of practicing a familiar bar repeatedly. It is astonishing to discover how different the tempo of a bar and tone of a note was heard today compared to yesterday after you have worked on the nuance. Just when I thought the familiar bar could no longer surprise me, the stored-up value of regular practice manifested.

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