Saturday, September 12, 2009

Piano Pieces to Try

Prelude 1 in C Major by Bach

By Espie Estrella, About.com

Learning a new music piece to play is very exciting and challenging at the same time. Many styles of music exist, each coming from a specific period or influence. Thus, if you're a beginner who is looking to add more music pieces to your repertoire, whether it be for personal enjoyment or to further your education, the choices are limitless.

Let's look at several piano pieces that, aside from being beautiful compositions, are easy to learn and also helps improve dexterity. We'll start off with Prelude 1 in C Major by Bach.

About the Composer

The Bach family is one of the most notable German musicians in history. Out of this lineage comes the celebrated composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Read this article which traces the Bach genealogy from their great, great grandfather, Veit Bach, to the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach and his 20 children.

About the Composition

The Prelude 1 in C Major comes from Bach's most famous work called "The Well-Tempered Clavier". "The Well-Tempered Clavier" is divided into two parts, each part conists of 24 preludes and fugues in each of the major and minor key with Prelude 1 in C Major being the first prelude in Part 1. The pattern is simple to play and uses arpeggiated chords. The left hand plays only two notes while the right hand plays three notes that are repeated.

Music Sample and Sheet Music

It would be helpful to listen to the piece before studying it so that you'll know how it is played. Garden of Praise has a music sample and music score of Prelude 1 in C Major. Make sure to master each part before moving on to the next and start slowly, you will build speed as you become comfortable with the piece. Lastly, play the music sample and see if you can play along with it as this will help you maintain a steady beat.

About the Composer

Johann Pachelbel was a German composer and well-respected organ teacher. He was a friend of the Bach family and was even asked by Johann Ambrosius Bach to be Johanna Juditha's godfather. He also taught other members of the Bach family, including Johann Christoph. Get to know more about him through this profile.

About the Composition

Pachelbel's most famous work is undoubtedly the Canon in D Major. It is one of the most recognizable pieces of classical music and is a favorite choice of those who are getting married. It was originally written for three violins and basso continuo but has since been adapted for other instruments. The chord progression is quite simple and yet has been used countless of times especially in popular music.

Music Sample and Sheet Music

There are many different versions of this piece; from the simplest to the most elaborate arrangements. You can do a search online and listen to music samples to see which arrangement you'd want to learn. 8notes has a simple yet beautiful arrangement of this piece, also listen to the midi sample so you can hear what it sounds like on the piano/keyboard.

About the Composer

Ludwig van Beethoven is considered a musical genius. He received early instruction on the piano and violin from his father (Johann) and was later taught by van den Eeden (keyboard), Franz Rovantini (viola and violin), Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer (piano) and Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (counterpoint). It is also believed that he received brief instruction from Mozart and Haydn. Beethoven became deaf when he was in his 20's but managed to rise above it creating some of the most beautfiul and lasting music pieces in history.

About the Composition

Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 was composed by Beethoven in 1801. He dedicated it to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom he fell in love. This piece earned the famous title Moonlight Sonata after a music critic named Ludwig Rellstab wrote that it reminded him of the moonlight reflected off Lake Lucerne.

The Moonlight Sonata has three movements:

  • The first movement is played "adagio soustenuto" (slow sustain), and based on Beethoven's instruction, should be played senza sordini or "without dampers". It is the most well known among the three movements of the Moonlight Sonata
  • The second movement is a dance and is played "allegretto" (moderately fast).
  • The third movement is played "presto agitato" (very fast and exciting) and is probably the most challenging to play among the three movements.

    Music Sample and Sheet Music

    For this article we will concentrate on learning Moonlight Sonata, 1st movement as it is not that challenging for beginners to learn. musopen has a music clip of this piece. Listen to this hauntingly beautiful music and note the tempo by which it is played, then look at the sheet music available at the same web site. Since this piece is in C# minor, remember that there are 4 notes that are sharped, namely C#, D#, F# and G#.

  • About the Composer
    Mozart was a child prodigy who, at the age of 5, already wrote a miniature allegro (K. 1b) and andante (K. 1a). His father, Leopold, was instrumental in the young composers' musical development. By 1762, Leopold took Wolfgang Amadeus and his equally gifted sister, Maria Anna, on a performance tour to various countries. At 14, the young Mozart wrote an opera which became a huge success. Among his famous works are Symphony No. 35 Haffner, K. 385 - D Major, Così fan tutte, K. 588 and Requiem Mass, K. 626 - d minor

    About the Composition
    Piano Sonata no. 11 in A Major, K331 has three movements:
  • The first movement is played andante grazioso (moderately slow and graceful) and has 6 variations.
  • The second movement is a menuetto or a minuet.
  • The third movement is played allegretto (moderately fast) and is the most well-known among the three movements. It is more popularly known as "Alla Turca," "Turkish March" or "Turkish Rondo"

    Music Sample and Sheet Music

    For this article we will concentrate on the third movement as it is really fun to play. Listen to the music sample of Alla Turca, don't be intimidated by how fast it is supposed to be played. There is also sheet music available at Free Scores.Com, you can download it for free. Don't be too concerned about the tempo, start off slow. Eventually as you learn the piece you will become comfortable to play it faster.

  • From http://musiced.about.com/od/tablatures/a/bachprelude1.htm

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