Posts Tagged 'music notes'

Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: The New New Testament of Piano Repertoire

BeethovenVonRichardWagner1870 marked the 100th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. After denying the invitation from the “Beethoven Committee of Vienna” to appear onstage together with Liszt, Joachim and Clara Schumann to celebrate the event, Richard Wagner decided to write an essay instead. While this essay is notable as a broader investigation of Wagner’s aesthetic philosophy and ideals, it also remains an insightful exploration of both the artistic significance and enduring popularity of Beethoven’s music. For Wagner Beethoven’s music isn’t merely beautiful, a concept that is for him constrained by convention and subject to changing tastes and fashions, but sublime. Beethoven reveals a sort of Platonic ideal of melody, thereby liberating it from its historical moment, and connecting his listeners with a timeless, universal human truth. For Wagner it is Beethoven’s radical defiance against tradition and his intense emotional expressions that make his music a vehicle for revelation.

Though these strains are apparent across Beethoven’s entire oeuvre, it is in his piano sonatas that Beethoven’s boldest thoughts and gestures shine most brightly. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Beethoven was widely known as a brilliant pianist in his own right, giving him the natural freedom to stretch the boundaries of the instrument. Perhaps, though, it is also due to the nature of the piano itself: a solo instrument that lends itself to the realm of the personal and inward, even the diaristic, and one that, by allowing tones only to be struck and not sustained or driven forward, abstracts music into its most intellectually pure form, making it a prime medium for musical exploration and innovation.

Beethoven2

Ludwig van Beethoven

To explore Beethoven’s piano sonatas is to explore Beethoven’s musical innovations. In these 32 pieces, we see the concentrated version of the familiar trajectory guiding us from the Classical era into the Romantic: the experimental mimicry of his early years, the ego-driven defiance of his middle years where, at the height of his compositional powers, he most fully challenges convention, and finally his late years where, fully deaf, he introspectively explores the mysteries of life and death. Continue reading ‘Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: The New New Testament of Piano Repertoire’

Learn How to Read Sheet Music: Dynamics, Articulations and Tempo

So you may be thinking to yourself, “I know how to read and play notes and rhythms, but how do I make it sound more interesting?” That’s where dynamics, articulations and tempo come in. Dynamics tell you how soft or loud the music should be played; articulations tell you how short, long or strong a note should be played, and tempo tells you how slow or fast to play the music. Most sheet music will have more than just the notes and rhythms; it will have symbols and terms for dynamics, articulations and tempo as well. It is like learning a whole new language. We’ve outlined the basics to help get you started.

Continue reading ‘Learn How to Read Sheet Music: Dynamics, Articulations and Tempo’

Learn How to Read Sheet Music: Rhythms

Rhythm is one of the most important elements of the musical language, arguably even more so than melody and harmony. Try this: without singing, clap the rhythm of “Happy Birthday.” I bet you could ask someone what you are clapping and they would be able to guess “Happy Birthday.” Now try singing “Happy Birthday” without rhythm. I don’t mean with the wrong rhythm; I mean completely without any duration or strong and weak beats. You can’t do it. That is why rhythm is so essential to the musical language.

Continue reading ‘Learn How to Read Sheet Music: Rhythms’

Glossary of Non-Italian Musical Terms

By Charles Moehnke

As musicians we all are familiar with Italian musical terminology. From our first glimpse of sheet music we are exposed to words like andante, crescendo, accelerando and meno mosso until they become a natural part of our lexicon.
However, many composers choose to write instructions in their native language, which can lead to Continue reading ‘Glossary of Non-Italian Musical Terms’


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