PArt 14 Play­ing a piece

This month Char­lie Grif­fiths ex­tends his read­ing mu­sic se­ries, be­gin­ning with a full piece that will test your skills not only in play­ing the right notes but also chang­ing key!

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON: ROCKSCHOOL -

The first thing to note about this piece is the use of mul­ti­ple key sig­na­tures. the key sig­na­ture is shown at the be­gin­ning of the stave in the form of sharp or flat sym­bols placed on the stave. The sharps and flats de­noted at the be­gin­ning of the line are obeyed for the re­main­der of the piece un­less oth­er­wise in­di­cated. the ab­sence of any sharps or flats at the be­gin­ning of a piece means that it’s in the key of C ma­jor or A mi­nor; the only two keys which do not con­tain sharps or flats. This piece in fact starts in the key of C and re­mains so for the en­tire first line. Upon reach­ing the sec­ond line you will see the in­tro­duc­tion of one sharp sym­bol placed on the ‘F’ line and fur­ther­more the third line has two sharps, the fourth line has three sharps and the fi­nal line has four sharps; put sim­ply, the piece changes key at the be­gin­ning of each line. Your job is to trans­late the num­ber sharps shown in the key into some­thing mean­ing­ful and use­ful for read­ing the mu­sic. For this we need to re­mind our­selves of the ‘cy­cle of fifths’ as this re­lates di­rectly to ‘sharp keys’.

As we have seen, the key of C ma­jor has no sharps, but adding a sharp puts us in the key of G, which is a 5th above C. two sharps takes us up a fur­ther 5th to the key of D and so on un­til the max­i­mum amount of seven sharps is reached. those seven dif­fer­ent keys are C G D A e B F# C# with a sharp be­ing added each time. With prac­tice you will au­to­mat­i­cally see two sharps and think ‘key of D’, or im­me­di­ately equate four sharps to the ‘key of e’.

rhyth­mi­cally, this piece re­vis­its four dif­fer­ent sub­di­vi­sions: the first bar has four quar­ter-notes, which are played at ex­actly the same rate as the tempo of the piece. Fol­low­ing this there are eighth-notes, which go by at twice the rate of quar­ter-notes and then 16th-notes which are twice the speed of eighth-notes. Fi­nally we have eighth-note triplets, which are played at a rate of three notes per beat.

Once you are able to play the right notes at the right time, you can safely move on to the next level of de­tail - the or­na­men­ta­tions and dy­nam­ics. In this piece the notes are given a more ex­pres­sive el­e­ment us­ing: ‘vi­brato’, which is a quick suc­ces­sion of puls­ing bends added to the note; ‘trills’, which are a quick suc­ces­sion of ham­mer-ons and pull-offs and; ‘grace notes’, which are very quick notes pre­ced­ing a longer note.

Fi­nally we have dy­namic mark­ings, which tell you how loud, quiet or in­tense the part should be played. through­out the piece there is ‘mf’, ‘p,’ ‘f’ which stand for mezzo forte (mod­er­ately loud), pi­ano (qui­etly) and forte (loudly) as well as a crescendo which is a grad­ual in­crease in vol­ume.

Once you are able to play the right note at the right time, you can safely move on to the next level of de­tail or­na­ments and dy­nam­ics.

Can you nav­i­gate all the key changes in this month’s piece?

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