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Cello Lessons: “Yanguan”

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[MUSIC]
Yanguan is an ancient Chinese
song that's associated with
the mountain pass called Yanguan.
It was a southern mountain pass
that was the last mountain pass
that Chinese travelers would go
through when they left China.
So it's known as sort of like a farewell
song, and it's got a sad quality to it.
It has its roots in the 600s,
that's a long time ago.
And over various dynasties and various
centuries, It's evolved, but stayed,
actually, very popular, and it's one
of the most well-known songs in China.
Let's learn it!
This song is in the D minor Pentatonic
scale, just like Cluck, Old Hen was.
And we're gonna learn it phrase by phrase.
It's gonna start with a D minor arpeggio.
[MUSIC]
And I'm slurring it, down,
up [SOUND] Let's try that.
Ready play.
[MUSIC]
Good.
And I'll add to that.
[MUSIC]
Ready,
play.
[MUSIC]
Did you catch my slur,
my upslur on the way down?
Check it out one more time.
[MUSIC]
Up, down.
Let's try that together with both slurs,
ready, play.
[MUSI And we can add vibrato on
all the notes really, but
specifically, the long notes.
[MUSIC]
Ready, play.
[MUSIC]
Okay, I'm gonna add
a couple notes to that.
[MUSIC]
I added
two Gs.
Let's try the whole thing.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Good,
let's sing it together, and
then we'll play it together one more time.
Ready, and.
One, two, O, four,
two, four, four.
Let's play it and.
[MUSIC]
Then we're gonna retake
our bow with a big bow circle for
the start of the second phrase.
This one starts second
finger on the A string.
[MUSIC]
That's the first part.
Let's play that together.
Two, four, two.
Ready.
Play.
[MUSIC]
Okay, I'm gonna add to that.
[MUSIC]
Ready,
and play and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Now, I'm gonna add two notes on
an upslur to the last note that we
were just playing.
Listen to it at the end.
[MUSIC]
So we have a couple slurs
already in this second phrase.
We have slur, up,
another slur, down, up.
Three notes on that last slur.
Let's try it together, and
really try and do the same bowing as I am.
Ready, and play.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let's sing the bow directions again,
and then we'll play it.
So, we can air bow while we sing.
Down, up,
down, up.
Now let's play that, ready, and play and.
[MUSIC]
Down,
up, down up.
And then we're gonna add three
notes to finish this phrase.
[MUSIC]
Two, four, four.
Let's play it together.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
Let me play you the whole second phrase.
I want you to sing along the first time
and we'll play it the second time.
[MUSIC]
Ready,
play, and.
[MUSIC]
Let's
do it again.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Remember, you'll have
to retake the bow to start at the frog so
the second phrase starts downbow.
Let's play the first and
second phrases together.
Sing along first time,
play the second time.
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
Let's
play that
together.
Three and four and.
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
The third
phrase goes
like this.
[MUSIC]
That's down, up, up.
Let's try that together.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Up, up.
Those are two separate ups.
It's not really a slur,
and it's not too harsh.
[MUSIC]
But it's kind of like a soft repeat.
Let's play that phrase one more time.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
And
then it will end with another three notes.
[MUSIC]
Just a C,
D, D.
Let's play that.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
>> Good.
Let's see,
at the end of that long D string,
if we can lift the bow in
the air while it's still moving.
That'll give the sound a nice resonance.
Listen and see what I mean.
Lift!
[MUSIC]
Do you hear the strings still ringing?
If I don't lift the bow, and
I just stop it, it'll sound like this.
[MUSIC]
That's not as beautiful.
We want this resonance.
So let's try it one last time, and
we're gonna lift the bow off the string
while the bow is still moving.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Lift, beautiful.
Let's play the whole last phrase.
Let's sing along once,
and then we'll play it.
[MUSIC]
Nice.
Let's play it.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
Good.
That's the whole first
section of this melody.
Let's play it all together, from the top.
Remember the beginning
[MUSIC]
sounds like that.
Okay, from the top.
One, two, three, four.
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
Lift,
retake.
[MUSIC]
Lift.
Good.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC].
The second section of Yanguan,
starts with the same first
phrase as the first section.
So let's just play that so
we keep our place.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Then,
there's a new part.
A very dramatic, emotional part
that goes from a low D to a high D.
And on the high D,
we're gonna vibrate really fast.
It goes like this.
[MUSIC]
We're gonna kind of whip the end so
it's really strong.
[MUSIC]
You're gonna speed up the bow right at
the end.
That will happen twice.
Let's do it twice together.
Down, up, really strong.
Three and
four and
[MUSIC]
Yes.
Okay, then we're gonna stay up there, and
we're gonna have a passionate
phrase on the A string.
[MUSIC]
And at the end of each phrase,
I'm lifting the bow
while it's still moving,
so we get a lot of resonance.
Let me teach this phrase to you.
It goes four, two, four.
[MUSIC]
Let's play that.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
And then the next part is.
[MUSIC]
Two,
four.
Let's play that together, three, four.
[MUSIC]
Do the whole phrase,
sing along the first time.
Play the second time.
One, and
[MUSIC].
Lets play it and the first two
notes are slurred on a down bow.
Ready and play and.
[MUSIC]
One
more time.
Ready?
Play.
[MUSIC]
Good.
You can whip the end of that note, too.
Let's play the whole second section.
Why don't you sing along
the first time and
then we'll play it
together the second time.
[MUSIC]
Whip
it.
Okay, let's play it together.
One and two and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Those are the first two sections.
Let's go to the last section.
Last section will start
a little more relaxed.
[MUSIC]
Let's play those notes.
Two, four, four.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
Let's play it again.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Then we're gonna have an echo.
We're gonna play a very similar phrase.
Quieter, and it's actually going
to be varied a little bit.
It sounds like this.
[MUSIC]
So it's quieter.
We're using less bow speed, slower bow.
And a smaller amount of bow.
And it's got a little slur.
Up, down.
Up.
Let's play the echo.
Ready, and.
Down, up, down, up.
Good, let's play the first phrase and
the echo.
Sing it with me and then we'll play it.
[MUSIC]
Echo.
[MUSIC]
Let's play it.
And
[MUSIC]
Echo.
[MUSIC]
And the last phrase of
the piece is strong again.
[MUSIC]
Let's
play that much.
Two, four.
And
[MUSIC]
I'm gonna tag it with
two ending notes.
[MUSIC]
I'm gonna lift the bow again,
so we end with a lot of resonance.
Let's play the last phrase together.
Ready, strong.
[MUSIC]
Lift,
good.
Let's play the whole last phrase.
Actually, I'll play it, you sing it,
then we'll play it together.
Same old thing.
Ready, sing.
[MUSIC]
Echo.
[MUSIC]
Loud again.
[MUSIC]
Lift.
And actually,
if you wanna lift like a professional,
you wanna smell your armpit
at the end of that note.
[MUSIC]
Lift.
Make a big gesture, it's very dramatic.
A great way to end.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC].
The second section of Yanguan,
starts with the same first
phrase as the first section.
So let's just play that so
we keep our place.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Then,
there's a new part.
A very dramatic, emotional part
that goes from a low D to a high D.
And on the high D,
we're gonna vibrate really fast.
It goes like this.
[MUSIC]
We're gonna kind of whip the end so
it's really strong.
[MUSIC]
You're gonna speed up the bow right at
the end.
That will happen twice.
Let's do it twice together.
Down, up, really strong.
Three and
four and
[MUSIC]
Yes.
Okay, then we're gonna stay up there, and
we're gonna have a passionate
phrase on the A string.
[MUSIC]
And at the end of each phrase,
I'm lifting the bow
while it's still moving,
so we get a lot of resonance.
Let me teach this phrase to you.
It goes four, two, four.
[MUSIC]
Let's play that.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
And then the next part is.
[MUSIC]
Two,
four.
Let's play that together, three, four.
[MUSIC]
Do the whole phrase,
sing along the first time.
Play the second time.
One, and
[MUSIC].
Lets play it and the first two
notes are slurred on a down bow.
Ready and play and.
[MUSIC]
One
more time.
Ready?
Play.
[MUSIC]
Good.
You can whip the end of that note, too.
Let's play the whole second section.
Why don't you sing along
the first time and
then we'll play it
together the second time.
[MUSIC]
Whip
it.
Okay, let's play it together.
One and two and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Those are the first two sections.
Let's go to the last section.
Last section will start
a little more relaxed.
[MUSIC]
Let's play those notes.
Two, four, four.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
Let's play it again.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Then we're gonna have an echo.
We're gonna play a very similar phrase.
Quieter, and it's actually going
to be varied a little bit.
It sounds like this.
[MUSIC]
So it's quieter.
We're using less bow speed, slower bow.
And a smaller amount of bow.
And it's got a little slur.
Up, down.
Up.
Let's play the echo.
Ready, and.
Down, up, down, up.
Good, let's play the first phrase and
the echo.
Sing it with me and then we'll play it.
[MUSIC]
Echo.
[MUSIC]
Let's play it.
And
[MUSIC]
Echo.
[MUSIC]
And the last phrase of
the piece is strong again.
[MUSIC]
Let's
play that much.
Two, four.
And
[MUSIC]
I'm gonna tag it with
two ending notes.
[MUSIC]
I'm gonna lift the bow again,
so we end with a lot of resonance.
Let's play the last phrase together.
Ready, strong.
[MUSIC]
Lift,
good.
Let's play the whole last phrase.
Actually, I'll play it, you sing it,
then we'll play it together.
Same old thing.
Ready, sing.
[MUSIC]
Echo.
[MUSIC]
Loud again.
[MUSIC]
Lift.
And actually,
if you wanna lift like a professional,
you wanna smell your armpit
at the end of that note.
[MUSIC]
Lift.
Make a big gesture, it's very dramatic.
A great way to end.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay, let's play that last phrase
all one more time before
we put the piece together.
One, two, ready, play.
[MUSIC]
Nice
lets play
the whole
tune from
the beginning.
Trying to think so, the things that I
want you to think about are vibrating.
And also getting a smooth sound making
sure we have strong parts and soft parts.
From the beginning.
One, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
Left.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
Nice.
So, before we leave this tune,
now that you've learned the melody I wanna
use this tune to work on finding some
more expressive sounds with our bow and
also finding some more expressive vibrato.
So, let's just try a couple crescendos and
dae crescendos with our bow.
When I say crescendo, that's the standard
Italian word in classical music for
getting louder.
Let's see if we can get
louder on a down bow.
That means we're gonna move the bow
faster as we get to the tip, and
we're gonna let more arm weight sink in.
And it will sound like this.
[MUSIC]
You can whip the end.
Let's try that together.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let's try another crescendo on an up-bow.
So we'll start at the tip and
as we get to the frog,
we'll speed up the bow and
add more weight.
[MUSIC]
Let's try that together, ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let's try some dae crescendos,
which means we're getting softer.
Let's try a dae crescendo on a down bow.
So were going to start strong and
then slow down on the bow towards the tip.
We have to start with a lot of arm weight.
Let's try that together.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Now, this is possibly the hardest one.
We're gonna try a dae
crescendo from the tip.
So it's a little harder to send all
of your arm weight into the tip, and
that's why we have to pronate.
We talked about that in our long tones.
So, starting at the tip,
we're gonna start pronated, and
we're gonna dae crescendo
as we get to the frog.
[MUSIC]
Let's try that together.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Let's try it one more time.
Set the bow on the string, at the tip.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
You can try these crescendo and
dae crescendo notes on both down and
up bows in a scale.
You can try it in a pentatonic
minor scale or the major scale.
And it'll give you a good
opportunity to get used to it.
In the melody of Yanguan
we're going to crescendo, and
dae crescendo in order to give our
melodic line a nice shape to it.
Let me demonstrate that
in the opening line.
[MUSIC]
Did you hear
how I kind of went,
getting louder,
softer, still?
I was doing that with bow speed,
and with arm weight.
So I'm kind of crescendoing here
[MUSIC].
Then I'm landing here.
Getting softer
[MUSIC]
let's try that together.
Ready, and getting louder.
[MUSIC]
And land here.
Then it gets quieter.
[MUSIC]
In the next phrase let's see
how that feels.
[MUSIC]
I'm getting quieter at the end
of that phrase, and I'm kind of
crescendoing from the beginning.
[MUSIC]
And landing here.
[MUSIC]
That was the loudest part.
[MUSIC]
Let's try that together.
And
[MUSIC]
and land.
[MUSIC]
Now get softer.
Slow the bow.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Last phrase is pretty strong.
[MUSIC]
I'm not doing much with that shape,
except the last note dae crescendos.
Everything else was kinda strong.
Just the last note, dae crescendos.
Let's try that together.
Ready and
[MUSIC]
I don't need to walk you through the whole
piece because you can sort of watch
my performance video to get exactly
how I'm expressing with the bow.
And actually, I want you to find
the shapes that you like with this piece,
as well.
But before we leave it,
I want to talk about the vibrato, too,
because all of the things that we just did
with the bow, we can also do with vibrato.
We can speed the vibrato up and
we can slow it down.
Let's play a second
finger on the D string.
Let's just play a default
kind of medium speed vibrato.
[MUSIC]
Now, let's try and
speed the vibrato up on the down bow.
And then I'll slow it down on the up bow,
okay?
It'll sound like this.
[MUSIC]
Make sure not to get too tense
we're just rotating your arm extra fast.
It doesn't require any more strength,
just speed.
Let's try it together.
Ready, And.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let's try the opposite.
Let's start really fast and
then we'll slow down to nothing
at the end of the down bow and then we'll
speed up again as we go to the frog.
[MUSIC]
I'm kind of crescendoing with the bow too,
cuz they're very linked,
your vibrato and your bow.
So they kind of help each other.
Let's try that together.
We're gonna start fast,
we'll slow down at the tip and
we'll speed up again towards the frog.
Ready, and
[MUSIC].
You can practice your slow and
fast vibrato in scales.
So that might sound like this.
[MUSIC]
Here we have a fast vibrato.
[MUSIC]
And on the way down I'll go slow.
[MUSIC]
It's much more subtle on the way down.
[MUSIC]
I want to see if you can
develop three different types of vibrato.
Our default medium vibrato as
well as a slow and a fast speed.
And if you combine that with the
crescendos and dae crescendos that we make
in our bow, it's gonna give us
a lot of expressive possibilities.
And this song is a great,
great medium to explore this with.
Because we're gonna practice
this song with a drone.
There's no groove to this song, so
you can take as much time as you want
to create the sound that you want.
And I really look forward to hearing your
expressive sound in your video submission.
[MUSIC]