Piano songs - Rondo Alla Turca
(Turkish March)

Piano songs artistic imagery achieved through varying touches such as staccatos and dynamics such as crescendos explained.


You can even get an accurate sense of the tempo by practicing directly on the piano thanks to it. Pick any note and play it as a quaver for 1 minute and count to see if you can get exactly 120 of them. After you are done, repeat the exercise in staccato, because Turkish March is almost entirely played this way. The dots above the notes indicate as such. Example shown in Image 1.

Staccato touch in piano songs

IMAGE 1

Staccato – as in short and detached signals an upbeat tone in the music. It is full of energy, marching forward in quick successive burst of momentum. Express the music with equal energy. The nature of your rendition should mirror the nature of the content of the song.

The Oxford Dictionary of English @ Oxford University Press 2010, 2017 defines ‘Staccato’ as; chiefly music with each sound or note sharply detached or separated from the others.

I can show how it is played on the piano and you would be able to understand and repeat it yourself in an instant. But trying to describe how to play staccato with words in a sentence is hard. Should I say one has to tap the keys? Or is it flick the keys? Thump the keys maybe?

Language aside, here is how I play staccato. Instead of using the arms to hit the keys, I use my wrists and they have to be flexible. My fingers are always already in position in contact with the keys before I attempt the staccato. Like a fulcrum, I let my wrists flex the fingers to press and spring off the keys. Picture a diver jumping off a springboard, it is a similar concept.

One mistake a beginner often makes, which I was also guilty of is to use the arms to play staccato. The arms are big and heavy, therefore do not have the speed to produce a crisp staccato. Ignoring this fact only creates tension in the muscles and it is painful. The wrist however is a lean, mean staccato machine. When unlocked and separate from the arm its nimbleness produces a firm and lively staccato.

Inserting dynamics in piano songs


The next hurdle is to connect the staccatos, and there are so many of them in this song, into a continuous phrase with the appropriate musical articulation inserted. For example, the phrase shown in Image 2, begins in mezzo piano therefore it has to start off rather soft, but as the phrase progresses from CE to A in a rising sequence you can pronounce it in a crescendo before landing on the G in a gradual descending diminuendo for a brilliant listening effect.

IMAGE 2

It is a short phrase and the brief diminuendo on the A may not seem much, however even when recreating a simple melody, it should be made expressive. Why? You may ask. It is because these simple phrases and brief moments combine and sum up the poetic elements of a song.

Training to express the emotions within them should begin in the early stages of learning to play the piano. Although I found them boring to the point of being almost unbearable, folk tunes are a good place to start, because in them the emotional and poetic elements are laid in plain sight making it easier for the beginner to express. Meaning to say, a sad folk tune should be played sad, a merry one played merry.

Varying the touches when playing a piano song, in Rondo Alla Turca they are mostly staccatos even then there are sections when playing in legato can be mixed in to articulate the romantic imagery of the song. Crisps staccatos are produced using flexible wrists not the strength of the arms. In addition to varying touches, making use the full range of dynamics such as a crescendo in a rising sequence of notes intensifies the emotional impact of a musical phrase.

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