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PRACTICE TIPS #68: Principles of Phrasing, part 2  Brent Hugh
 Feb 20, 2002 22:10 PST 
PRACTICE TIPS is an occasional email newsletter with practical
piano practice tips and ideas, by Brent Hugh

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PRACTICE TIPS #68: Principles of Phrasing, part 2
Last week we talked about how to tell where the points of
intensity/relaxation are in a phrase (in brief: listen to the harmony, the
rhythmic activity, and the melodic contour).

Now, how do you communicate the shape of the phrase to the listener?

Three Ways to Communicate Intensity/Relaxation in Performance

** 1. Dynamics **
The "typical" phrase starts softer, crescendos to a high point, and
diminuendos to the end.

Typical uses:
   * Cresc. to show greater intensity; dim. to show lower intensity
   * Accentuate a dissonance, dim. into its resolution

** 2. Tempo/Time/Rhythm **
The "typical" phrase starts slightly slower, pushes the tempo slightly in
the middle, and relaxes (slows) the tempo slightly at the end.

Typical uses:
   * Push forward the tempo to show greater intensity
   * Hold back the tempo (rit.) to show lessening of intensity.
   * "Agogic" accent an accent made through time/rhythm. In agogic accent,
you highlight a note, not by playing it louder or softer, but by holding it
slightly longer or shorter, or making it come slightly before or after it
normally would.

** 3. Articulation how connected or separated the notes are **
In the "typical" phrase, you connect all the notes of the phrase and lift
(take a "breath") at the end of the phrase.

Typical uses:
   * Group notesand separate one group of notes from another groupby the
use of legato and staccato (remember that there are an infinite number of
gradations between legatissimo and staccatissimouse them all!)
   * The way notes are connected/separated emphasizes and de-emphasizes
certain notes and gives notes life and musical meaning--this is the very
essence of what is meant by "phrasing"

In this message, we have talked about the "typical" use of dynamics, tempo,
and articulation to communicate the shape of a phrase.

Next time: Phrasing in Real Life.

Happy practicing!


PRACTICE TIPS is by pianist, teacher, composer, and internet nerd
Brent Hugh. Brent knows about practicing mostly because he *does*
it, and in fact is toddling off to do some of it just about now . . .

Please remember that this tip is but a small white hair near the
elephant's left eyelid--it's not even close to the whole
elephant that is "how everyone in the whole world should practice
the piano".

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+++++++++++++++++ Brent Hugh / bhu-@mwsc.edu +++++++++++++++++
+ Missouri Western St College Dept of Music, St. Joseph, MO +
+            Piano Home Page : http://www.mwsc.edu/~bhugh     +
+             Music IQ Songs : http://mp3.com/MusicIQ         +
++ Music of the Human Genome : http://mp3.com/brent_d_hugh ++++
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