Painting a picture of the artistic image of piano songs, making an attempt on Turkish March
I remember watching cartoons on TV as a child, when Mozart’s Turkish March was the music played to which a cat chased a mouse around. Of course at the time I had no idea who Mozart was or the title of the song, but the tune was etched in my mind permanently.
Decades later when I began taking piano lessons, I found it amusing that all this while I was under the impression that it was merely a mindlessly made music for a cartoon - how the uninformed can be so oblivious to the existence of such masterpiece composed by one of the greatest figures in history.
To make amends, I have set out on a quest to conquer this song. Only this time, to give the song its due respect, instead of plunging immediately into practice I am embarking on a mission to understand its artistic image first.
What is artistic image?
I would define it as the composition’s personality and character. The meaning of its contents, the story it is conveying and the subtleties in the manner it is conveyed.
To understand the said story the theory around which it revolves; as in the music theory has to be understood. Much like trying to uncover the mysteries of the universe the laws of physics has to be understood.
Here is an example taken from Turkish March, shown in Image 1.
The song is written in the key of A major, having that information we can expect to find combination of chords consisting of notes that make up the key of A major. The hassle of decoding each and every note on the music score and then locating them on the piano is simplified when the pianist knows this. For example, in Image 1 the tonic triad chord of A Major appears on numerous occasions as marked in red circles.
The pianist can focus her hands on a smaller specific area, allowing her fingers to land on the correct keys accurately with better control and timing. When her mind is freed from wasteful thoughts, she can have the luxury of expressing her creativity and experiment with articulation to get the artistic image just right. It takes time and lots of practice to remember all the key signatures in piano songs, but it is an investment worth making.
In a way, it was probably fate that drew me to watch that cartoon show. As a consequence, the rhythm of Turkish March was now already in my possession, I have been carrying it inside my head for years.
So much so that when I began to play the first line, I could already hear in my mind what was coming next. Its artistic image vivid in its form for me to see as I traced the notes in the composition with my eyes while practicing.
For those who could not, all is not lost. Learning rhythm is about listening and counting the beat - a crotchet beat 1 count, quaver ½ count, minim 2 counts and so on.
Listen to the song as many times as you can to absorb the rhythm, in the unlikely case that your sense of rhythm is severely under developed pick an easy song that you know well, ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ for example. Clap along to the beat as you listen. If you drift off of the beat pause to listen and return to it once you sensed you have caught up.
Turkish March is played in the tempo of 126 crotchet beats in a minute as shown in the red circle in Image 2. This indication is helpful in giving us a sense of the speed of the song and timing of going from one beat to the next.
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