Anon (Anna Magdalena Notebook) - March
Interpreting the Music
Teaching & Learning the Piece
Anon (Anna Magdalena Notebook): March
• E flat major
• Confident march style
• Some awkward shapes for fingering
• Trill ornaments and triplets
• RH carries the interest throughout
• Repeated notes need care and shaping
• Minimal editorial dynamics given - more needed
• Suitable but not easy for small hands (octave jumps/stretches)
This cheerful march will appeal to a student who likes honest, straightforward music. However, it is not without its subtleties, especially in the rhythmic switches between duplets and triplets. The repeated chords will also need a light hand to prevent a clumsy effect.
Dynamics given are all editorial. There is repetition and harmonic movement in the music which can suggest different approaches. On the harpsichord, which is unable to make gradual dynamic changes or accent individual notes, players would emphasise a note by placing a silence before it – hence the detached articulation which most people favour today even when playing on the piano.
If the harpsichord had a second manual (keyboard) or settings for sound effects such as plucking a different part of the string, these would be used to contrast one section with another. Composers could also create crescendo effects by thickening the texture and moving down the keyboard (as in bar 24) - and doing the opposite for diminuendo. One alternative dynamic scheme would be as follows: Bar 1 f, bar 4 last beat mp, bar 7 f, bar 9 diminuendo, bar 11 p, bar 12 last beat mf, bar 14 last beat p, bar 15-16 crescendo, bar 18 f diminuendo, bar 20-21 crescendo, bar 22 last beat p, bar 24 crescendo, bar 26 f. Naturally others are possible according to the performer’s own reactions to the flow of the music.
Slurs are also editorial. There is a range of possible articulation choices to be made. However, a well-shaped legato performance of this piece would not be “wrong”. Some suggested articulation which are at example 4A1/1
A student with a keen memory for the rules of music theory may ask why this piece breaks a rule by beaming quavers across the middle of the bar! You may need to explain that these rules have been codified over a long period and are meant to ensure clarity. In this case the editor has decided that the original beaming is quite clear enough and it is preferable to stay as close as possible to the way it was originally written.
Fingering in this key is quite awkward. Choices will depend on whether the student prefers to avoid putting a thumb on a black note. In places this is unavoidable (any LH B flat octave, for example). Hand size will also need to be considered. Example 4A1/2 has a suggested fingering for both hands in bar 1 – the RH is an alternative to the given fingering. A further alternative for small hands is given, but there are quite a lot of stretches which could make this piece strenuous for those with small hands. However, the detached articulation does mean that small-handed students can attempt this piece – as long as they are confident at leaping.
The ornaments, as always, must be relaxed and never disrupt the flow of the music – better to leave them out than allow them to become a stumbling block. However, by grade 4 it would be odd to find all ornaments omitted in performance. Even a grace note (acciaccatura) may enhance the note where tr is marked. The “improvised” quality of authentic ornament playing is in fact the product of careful slow practice and measuring the notes into the beat. In this copy, the tr marking stands for several different interpretations but only three are written out; the others must be deduced from context. So: bar 9 is copied in bar 27; bar 12 is copied in bars 14 and 20; bar 17 is only used once.
In bars 9 and 27 the beat has been subdivided into triplets so it could well be easier to play six semiquavers instead of the four suggested (example 4A1/3). The ornament in bars 12, 14 and 20 could start from above (example 4A1/4) without really adding any difficulty and would sound more authentic.
In performance, bear in mind the fact that this is a March. It should sound bold and confident throughout, with crisp and steady beats and a sense of military precision. The repeated notes which are such a compositional feature should not be monotonous, but nor should they be too expressive. The overall effect should be of well-controlled confidence.