Oriol - Ne tirez pas sur le pianist!

Teaching & Learning the Piece

Oriol: Ne tirez pas sur le pianist!

  • F major

  • Lively, jazzy, humorous style

  • LH jumping accompaniment

  • Agile RH semiquavers

  • Chromatic twists

  • Small hands may struggle

The title of the piece refers to a film "Tirez sur le pianiste - Shoot the Piano Player" made in 1960. An unconventional film in its day, combining different moods and styles, it was based on a novel about a former concert pianist who becomes mixed up in gangster activities. The film-maker, Francois Truffaut, realised half way through making the film that he detested gangsters, but as they were such an important part of the story he would have to carry on using these characters. His cure for the problem was to make the gangsters more comical as the film went on.

This piece picks up the comedy aspect. Composed in a ragtime style with its leaping LH and syncopated RH rhythms, it will suit a student who likes jazzy styles and has plenty of confidence when performing. A really successful performance will bring out the humour and fun with complete technical security.

To get a feel for the style, listen with your student to some of Joplin’s ragtime classics such as Maple Leaf Rag or Magnetic Rag Oriol’s music follows very similar patterns in both hands.

Fingerings are important for fluency. The RH semiquavers twist around and repositioning is needed, whatever fingerings are chosen. Take special care between bars 12 and 13, where the line break coincides with a tricky move up to C sharp in the RH. So often at this type of awkward moment, an initial loss of fluency in sight reading through the music becomes a permanent hesitation because it is not practised thoroughly and early enough.

There is no obvious "best" way to finger the movement from B flat to A flat in bars 15-16. The given fingering seems to imply keeping a thumb on the B flat and turning a 4 over it on to the A flat. This does not feel very safe but does line up the hand for the rest of bar 16. Bars 16-17 can be practised like a finger exercise!

Be careful to avoid misreadings in the LH, as Middle C/A looks very much like Middle C/E on first glance.
Bar 18 RH is impossible to play for all but the largest hands. The lower E flat can be omitted, or, for a better impression, played with the LH – although the sound will not be held through, the accent on the note will give it enough presence to deceive the hearer.

The LH leaps are a major practising task. Break them down into patterns that can be easily understood. It is not helpful to have a mental picture of continuous zigzag movements of different sizes. Instead, have your student play the LH with both hands, the RH taking the upper chords. This way they can start to see how the bass notes form a fairly predictable pattern, and the RH often returns to the same notes or ones very close by. Some theory points can be used too, depending on the level of harmony that is being taught. Tonic and dominant (and dominant seventh) chords can be picked out, although in some places the harmony becomes too chromatic to be easily labelled.

Dynamics are carefully marked in, and the f marking in the first 10 bars will naturally rise and fall a little with the shape of the phrases: the tied crotchet every second bar (bar 4 etc) will slightly die away and then the new impetus of the semiquavers in the next bar will seem a little louder. The drop to mp in bar 11 can be exploited for comic effect and the music grows back to ff by the end. This is a good time to bear in mind the tempo marking "joyeux" (joyful) and give the final bars an air of triumph.

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