Overview

Chapter 2 is a logical continuation and deeper exploration of the fundamentals of tonality and keyboard harmony first introduced in Chapter 1. An enriched palette in harmony and improvisation — seventh chord, predominant chord, augmented sixth chord, enharmonic modulation, phrase treatment, variation, and cadenza — not only allows a student to handle a broader range of styles of music in a functional keyboard context, but it also increases a student’s artistic appetite. An increased appetite would hopefully motivate a student to discover more repertoire for the piano, in chamber music, and in various corners and eras that at first seem musically exotic. After a slightly baroque-centric approach in Chapter 1, this chapter naturally moves on to offer more classical and romantic repertoire. Modules 2.1 to 2.4 are devoted to building chord repertoire; therefore, it would be ideal if the progress of this course shadows the theory curriculum offered to the student. However, should these new chords seem foreign to the student, the instructor may at first need separate sessions to cover their theoretical concepts. Module 2.5 will revisit the concept of harmonic reduction, which was first introduced in Module 1.5.

The slower movements of Beethoven’s 10 Sonatas for violin and piano are chosen in Module 2.6, as seeds for this chapter’s final improvisational performance (Module 2.11). These 10 sonatas are masterworks by Beethoven, who looked for innovative ways to break away from the classical mould. They stand on a very important ground, in terms of the genre of chamber music (i.e., these sonatas first appeared as piano pieces with violin obligato) and the composer’s creative and stylistic developments. Students are encouraged to immerse themselves into the chosen movement by listening to recordings, and by studying sections and phrases beyond the main themes excerpted in this chapter. Modules 2.7 to 2.10 give the student multiple options to make the improvisation more original and creative.

Having these Beethoven excerpts as the basis for the cadenza project is beneficial for the functional keyboard class instructor, who may otherwise have concerns imposing the steep requirements of a piano concerto. The three-staff scoring of a violin-piano duo gives the student a glimpse of what skills can be further developed and trained in subsequent chapters. The Beethoven excerpts are by no means the only recommended non-concerto material for cadenza exploration and demonstration. Other equally useful canons for these purposes are Mozart’s Piano Sonatas and Sonatas for Piano and Violin, and other classical sonatinas and sonatas.




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