The previous modules in this workbook have explored two pairs of chords using the Musicarta Easy Piano Style. This module uses exactly the same principles to produce a keyboard composition covering three positions (chords): A minor, E minor and D major.
A minor and E minor are a fourth apart, hence the title. The 'pair' is E minor and D, from Lesson Two.
Download the lesson notes and MS for this module here.
Here is the performance video of the final-version module study, called The Vigil. It is a series of variations
on the basic fourth-plus-a-pair movement.
Here's the chord sequence for that performance.
The first, eight-bar phrase repeats four times, with variations, before the second line extended ending.
The piece is in E minor – key signature, F sharp - so the first, A minor chord, is not the tonic chord. Note that the music for both hands is in the treble clef.
Here are the keyboard diagrams for the piece.
The left hand finds the MEPS root-5th-octave LH notes according to the chord symbol. The right finds the third - minor for Am and Em and major for D.
Note: The A minor position is further up the keyboard (higher, to the right) than the E minor position.
Here's the teaching video for the first part of the lesson.
Here is the basic movement, walking down and up between the A minor and E minor positions (the fourth) and finishing off between E minor and D (the pair).
The left hand plays six quavers, and stops on count 4, which is when the right hand walks between the minor third of A minor (C) and the minor third of E minor (G), and to F sharp, but ending on E minor root E.
(The right hand surrenders the last E quickly for the left hand to play it, as shown by the tiny brackets.)
Try playing from the audio file. It's set to loop, so keep up!
Now, introduce anticipation in the right hand. The left hand plays one fewer quavers.
Here's the teaching video for this variation.
Here are the lesson notes and virtual piano performance for this part.
Some practice suggestions:
Extend the right hand run as far as the root of the E minor chord, and carry the pattern over into the D major bar.
Here's the teaching video for this section.
Here's the music and virtual keyboard performance.
Here’s the same right hand (plus one more anticipated quaver) with a different left hand.
Look at the new left hand pattern: R-5-R and 5-8-5. There are three quavers at the start of the bar and three at the end.
There are more 'shared notes' - where both hands have to give up notes quickly for the other hand. Use your sustain pedal or reverb to smooth it over.
This teaching video concentrates mainly on coaching the left hand.
Here's the music and a straight-up virtual keyboard video to absorb.
Or use the audio and read through the music. Even if you don't read very well, you can still learn a lot like this.
Here, the right hand has brought the note D above the A minor third into play, and turns back at the F sharp - fewer shared notes to worry about!
Watch through the teaching video for this variation.
Here's the music and the virtual keyboard video/audio.
Here are two bars of that pattern with the TLR (together/left/right) analysis.
Follow the practice-speed video until your performance is secure.
The final development of your pattern is the introduction of some rhythmic 'smoothing' (as in the 'Second Pair' module).
Here's a brief teaching video.
Here's the music for the 'smoothed' performance.
Placing the adjusted notes requires a close look at 'what comes with what'. Here's a practice-speed demo of the first two bars (the delayed-note pattern) of the music.
The first two-bar pattern has the dotted lines and counts to show exactly where the in-between right hand notes fall. All the other right hand notes are in the same place as before.
You should see, in order, TLRL-R-TLRL. Your muscles have to feel 'right' with this; you can add the rhythm afterwards.
Once you’ve mastered the smoothed rhythm, you can apply it to any of the patterns. Remember that this rhythmic smoothing is optional. Your performance will sound fine with the original crotchet-plus-quaver pairs.
Being aware of melodic contour – and deliberately varying it – is an important part of the improviser’s skill. (By ‘contour’, we mean whether the melody goes up or down or stays the same.)
Listen to the previous version paying close attention to the melodic contour arrows in the last line until you can hear what you see.
Now, here’s the last line of the previous study with a
different up/down contour.
Here’s another melodic contour variation.
Play this segment on repeat and listen to it carefully until you can hear the up/down pattern and point out where it varies from the previous one. (This is an invaluable exercise in ‘playing by ear’.)
Here is a video demonstration of those three different melodic 'contours'.
Feel free to experiment with the up/down choices and see if you come up with a combination you prefer.
Here's another possibility.
Here’s the finished module study again.
If you listen carefully, you will hear that, in the repeat of the first section, the right hand in bars 10 and 12 has the ‘smoothed’ rhythm. Variations like this in repeated material keep it sounding fresh, and often creep into performance by themselves, as your feeling for the music deepens.
Introduce rhythmic ('smoothing') and melodic ('contour') variations at will.
Here's just the first section.
'Composing at the keyboard' means you can play what you feel and how you like. Here's that same phrase with more 'smoothing'. Listen carefully and compare with the previous performance, then try yourself.
Now go back to the pre-smoothed version, with a different melodic variation right at the end. Can you hear it? Play it? Which combination do you prefer?