Piano songs - Rondo Alla Turca

Piano songs including Turkish March are rendered more beatiful by understanding each phrase's musical conception and learning to connect them well

A musical phrases in piano songs are built from several smaller, shorter conceptions of music. A line of musical phrase would probably be built from 2 or 3 conceptions. For example, let us take a look at this line from Rondo Alla Turca as shown in Image 1 below.


Musical conception in piano songs

In my opinion it is made up of 3 musical concepts, not because there are three bars in it, but the pattern in the combination of the notes and their arrangements within each bar is distinct. The distinction is what I meant as musical conception.

To put it in perspective, I see an identical pattern in the phrase shown in Image 2, therefore it is made up of 1 musical conception.


Connections maketh the piano songs

Connecting the conception into a smooth flowing sound is what makes a musical phrase successful. I give myself a pat on the back if I am able to connect them well enough that the emotional and poetic elements of the phrase are clear – my definition of ‘successful’.

Failure is when the notes are played one at time, like the ‘tik…tok… tik…tok’ sound of a clock or a metronome. You may be playing in time, but it is discreet time. Good time is not a zombie but alive and elastic. Blending the sense of flowing time with the music is an instinct required to unravel the pianist’s artistic intention.

Fingering is a big factor when it comes to how effective a musical conception is connected to the next one within a phrase. While fingering is important, it is not important to adhere strictly to the fingering instructions that appear in printed edition of a piano score, they are merely suggestions. You have the freedom to decide on what is best on your own.

Having said that though, once you have decided on a certain fingering it is important to stick to it. Reason : automation – through regular practice the body will remember. It can’t if you keep changing the fingering because the automation process is hindered.

Most of the time the fingering comes naturally, playing a scale phrase of AABCDEFGA for example, you would naturally start with the thumb on A, use the thumb under manoeuver to land on D and continue so on. As shown in Image 3.


Special fingering

But there are times when a musical conception in a phrase calls for an articulation that a natural fingering just will not do.

For example, the note A shown in the latter bar below needs to be soft. To be able to control it well enough so that the desired effect is achieved, I substituted my fifth finger on the A in the previous bar with my 4th finger so that I could make the connection smoother.


The point being, fingering is not a matter of assigning what finger to which key, it is not that simple and piano playing is not as artless as that. The end result of the sound one wishes to create is considered too when deciding on it.

Forgive me for going off topic a bit, the next example in Image 5 is not from Rondo Alla Turca but another one of Mozart's composition nonetheless, Piano Sonata in A Major No.11.

For example, the melody shown in Image 5 is made up of 2 groups of short phrases. Here a tiny bit of adjustment in the fingering by using the same finger twice, in this case the 3rd finger (middle finger) to make a little pause. It allows you to separate the 2 groups without lifting the hands. Resulting in a very brief - almost a split second pause between them. A listener noticing the pause will no doubt appreciate such finely detailed articulation.


Connecting each musical conception with one another smoothly in flowing time with the occasional extra special articulation is how to bring out your artistic intention. It can be achieved with suitable fingering which you have the freedom to decide on, after which should be strictly maintained in regular practice and when performing so that the automation process kicks in.

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