MU­SIc READ­INg

Con­tin­u­ing his se­ries on read­ing mu­sic, Char­lie Grif­fiths looks at read­ing a com­plete mu­si­cal piece that con­tains a num­ber of dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal el­e­ments, terms and signs.

Guitar Techniques - - NEWS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths con­tin­ues his se­ries with more full pieces for you to tackle.

In this read­ing study we will con­tinue to re­vise some of the skills you will have pre­vi­ously learned in this se­ries, in­clud­ing: key sig­na­tures, notes, rests, ties, ar­tic­u­la­tions, di­rec­tions and sign posts. although we have looked at all of these el­e­ments in iso­la­tion be­fore, in­te­grat­ing them into an en­tire piece will give you the op­por­tu­nity to test your skills in a more re­al­is­tic set­ting.

as al­ways, we have pro­vided a back­ing track for you to play along with and this time we have set the tempo at 120bpm, which means that the quar­ter-notes are played at the same rate as the down­beats. this speed is set out at the be­gin­ning of the track with a one bar count. As soon as you hear the first stick click, get into the groove as soon as you can. this might mean tap­ping your foot on the down­beat, or even rock­ing your body to em­pha­sise your in­ter­nal feel­ing of the tempo. It is also use­ful to feel the con­stant tempo in your pick­ing hand. What­ever the main sub­di­vi­sion of the bar may be; quar­ter-notes, eighth-notes or triplets, you should keep your hand con­stantly mov­ing to match that sub­di­vi­sion. this not only im­proves the feel of what you are play­ing, but it can re­duce a lot of the con­scious ef­fort of count­ing through rhythms; in the main, your hand will in­ci­sively know what to play, even though you may not have con­sciously thought it through. a use­ful thing to do when look­ing at a score for the first time is to ig­nore the pitches and play through it rhyth­mi­cally only to find the trick­ier ar­eas you might need to fo­cus on.

Once you are sat­is­fied from a rhyth­mic point of view, we can look at the notes and the first port of call is to check the key sig­na­ture. at the be­gin­ning of this piece there are no sharps or flat shown, so we know that we are in the key of ei­ther C ma­jor or its rel­a­tive key – a mi­nor. as this melody starts on the note a, there is a good chance that we are in a mi­nor; this is con­firmed by play­ing the piece which has a mi­nor flavour through­out.

Upon reach­ing the sec­ond line you will see the in­tro­duc­tion of one flat sym­bol placed on the mid­dle line, which means that all B notes should be played as Bb un­less oth­er­wise shown with a nat­u­ral sym­bol be­fore it. a sin­gle flat in the key puts us in the key of D mi­nor. You will see that the third line has two flats and the fourth line has three flats. With ev­ery flat added the key moves up a fourth as per the ‘cy­cle of fourths’; two flats is G mi­nor and three flats is C mi­nor.

this piece makes use of tra­di­tional Ital­ian di­rec­tions and sign posts, which are there to guide you through the form of the song. ‘d.s.’ means ‘re­turn to the sign’, ‘al Coda’ in­structs you to go to the Coda when spec­i­fied and ‘da Coda’ trans­lates to mean ‘go to the Coda’. Make sure you can fol­low these sym­bols like a road map – oth­er­wise you may take a wrong turn!

Fi­nally, you can add the or­na­men­ta­tions to the notes. In this piece there are ‘turns’, which add a note above and be­low the writ­ten note to pro­duce a five-note phrase: the writ­ten note it­self, fol­lowed by the note above it, then the note it­self again, fol­lowed by the note be­low it and fi­nally re­turn­ing to the writ­ten note; the two added notes should be di­a­tonic and ad­ja­cent to the orig­i­nal note. We also have stac­cato marks, which in­di­cate that the notes should be played short and de­tached from each other; tremolo mark­ings, which de­note that you should al­ter­nate pick each note as fast as pos­si­ble and, fi­nally, there are ac­cents, which are played louder than the other sur­round­ing notes.

When look­ing at a score for the first time, ig­nore the pitches and play through it rhyth­mi­cally.

With ev­ery flat added, the key moves up a 4th

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