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Cello Lessons: “Minuet” by Boccherini

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In this classical curriculum,
I'm not gonna be teaching you
the pieces by ear, phrase by phrase.
You're gonna have to
download the sheet music for
this piece and
start learning it on your own.
And if you are new to reading music,
almost everything here we
do in the Artist Works Cello School
doesn't require it.
But there's a music theory tab
in the Artist Works Website.
And you can start to learn how to
learn to read all the basic signs and
markings you'll see in written music.
If you're playing cello,
chances are you already read music.
Because that's generally
the background that we come from.
So I just wanted to put that
out there before we dive in.
That you'll need to have the music
printed out for this piece.
The minuet, by Luigi Boccherini.
He was an Italian composer from
the early part of the classical period.
Boccherini was actually
a virtuosic cello player.
He wrote a bunch of cello concertos and
some cello sonatas.
And so I was really excited to
be able to play a piece by him.
This minuet is actually a movement
from a string quartet he wrote.
So we're gonna touch on different
forms of classical music.
The string quartet is one of the main
roles for cello in classical music and
became really popular in
the classical period.
The minuet, although it's a baroque dance,
it's actually a French dance.
It became a big part of
classical composition.
And in a four movement classical symphony,
the third movement is
usually a minuet slash trio.
And this piece that we're playing
here is also a minuet slash trio.
What does a trio mean?
Well, it's just actually a second
minuet after the first minuet.
And historically,
the second minuet was scored.
It was orchestrated for just three
musicians, so they called it The Trio.
But really it's just
a contrasting second minuet.
If we keep going back the baroque dance,
the history of the minuet.
Yes, it's actually a six count dance.
And the emphasis in the dance are in one,
two, three, four, five, six.
One, two, three, four, five, six.
By the time we get to the classical
period, the steps of the baroque dance
are not really influencing
the composition as much.
However, all of these phrases
are gonna be two bars long.
And because our bars are in three, four,
we're still kind of maintaining
this six count phrase length.
So after you've started to
learn the notes in this piece,
I'm gonna put all of my
recommended fingerings and
bowings in the PDF
download that you'll have.
Once you start learning the notes, I wanna
sort of give you some musical guidance and
some technical tips.
That will make it sound better
before you submit a performance,
as a video exchange for me to check out.
One of the fundamental principles of
this piece is this idea of an echo.
An echo is obviously just
something that is repeated softer.
So for example, in bar one, two,
three, four, five.
In the fifth bar of this piece,
we have this phrase.
So the dynamics are gonna be written in
here to make it clear when to
play quieter for the echo.
But, that's just a stylistic convention.
Even if it wasn't written in to play
the first phrase mezzo-forte and
the second phrase piano.
Oftentimes, when you have repeated
phrases in classical music,
you'll treat it as an echo and
play the second one quieter.
Another important part of this
melody is the idea of appoggiaturas.
Appoggiatura is a really
fun Italian to say.
And it literally means
to lean on something.
And this melody is full of appoggiaturas.
So we've got the first one
on the downbeat of bar two.
And then we have the next one
on the downbeat of bar four.
Right there.
What makes it an appoggiatura is that,
we're accenting the note one step
above where the melody should go,
in order to be in line with the harmony.
Okay, so you can see [SOUND] that we're
leaning on the A to delay
the arrival of the G.
[SOUND] And as the name would suggest,
we always wanna lean on a appoggiatura.
And so, these appoggiaturas are spaced
every two bars in the middle
of our six count phrases.
So we're always going to
be leading to bar two.
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
Those are actually some appoggiaturas on
each of those echo bars two.
So the reason I'm pointing these out is,
cuz those are gonna be our goal points for
every single phrase in this piece.
So what I don't necessarily
think will work as well,
is if you accent the opening upbeats.
I don't think that this melody
supports a shape like that.
So we actually wanna start not too loud.
So that we can grow and
land on the appoggiatura.
Even within that echo phrase,
we're still gonna lean
on the appoggiatura.
There are some other appoggiaturas,
but they mostly really come
out in that A section melody.
Over all, this idea of
leaning on the non-harmonic
note of the appoggiatura.
This is a fundamental principle, and
it's about leaning on any dissonance.
Dissonance or tension in classical music
is something that you wanna bring out.
And so you,
what we're gonna start on the one chord,
the D major, which is not dissonant,
it's very peaceful.
[SOUND] But now, when we get here [SOUND],
we're on the seventh scale
degree of the five chord.
We've landed on the five chord,
and the five chord,
the dominant chord, is the primary
tension place for classical music.
Five always resolves to one and so
we always wanna lean on the five chord.
And that is coincidentally lined
up with where our appoggiatura is.
So that's another reason why
we wanna lean towards bar two.
And bar two is gonna be
bigger than bar one.
[SOUND] Now the interesting thing
about this phrase is the harmonic
analysis would be one bar of D,
one bar of A7, the five chord,
then a second bar of A7 back to D.
So we wanna keep our sound energetic
through the whole five chord.
So the first four bars
are gonna have kind of an arc.
We're gonna grow into the five chord.
We're gonna stay high at the third bar and
then we're gonna relax when we
return to the D chord in bar four.
Let me play a four bar shape
to the opening of the Minuet.
[SOUND] So even, it's really
about like different levels
of tension and dissonance.
On the small level, we've got these
appoggiaturas that we wanna lean on.
But in the bigger picture,
we actually wanna lean on the whole
dominant harmony of bars two and
three, and so this is the crux
of classical interpretation.
When you look at the score, you wanna sort
of figure out what are the high points,
and what are the low points?
And how can you create a shape
out of these little black
dots on a piece of paper?
Okay, that's like, that's the life
of a classical musician, and
it's a good life, a good life.
In addition to thinking about tensions and
I want us to think about the character
that we can bring out for
any given group of notes in this piece.
I feel like this Boccherini Minuet
is particularly good at
bringing out the contrast between
the short notes and long notes.
Really making our articulations clear,
that's what we,
the word articulation refers to
the length and attack of a note.
And so when we look, why don't we go
to the trio part of this movement.
That's bar 21.
[SOUND] It says trio,
it should be pretty clear.
But, so we've got all of these dots.
[SOUND] We wanna make sure that
these notes are really short, and
that they really sparkle, and
they have a lot of lift to them.
[SOUND] And the way that I like
to do think about accomplishing
that is by engaging my
fingers a little more.
[SOUND] So I'm gonna [SOUND],
still use the arm [SOUND] but
kind of like pulling in with
the fingers a little bit more.
[SOUND] You can get a little
more lift in your sound.
And if you contrast that lift.
[SOUND] Within like
a more arm-based stroke.
[SOUND] Then you're gonna get these nice
contrasted slurred notes and short notes.
And that's really what's gonna make
a piece like this come to life.
We can apply this same concept in measure
nine of the piece where we go to minor.
[SOUND] We're going back and forth between
these slurred notes and these short notes.
Slur, short, short, slur,
slur, short, short, slur,
slur, short, short, slur, slur.
If you can really use a smooth arm
stroke [SOUND] for the slurs and
then actually just [SOUND]
use the fingers [SOUND] for
the short notes,
I think it'll bring it out really nice.
[SOUND] Yeah, so think about character,
and particularly, about having some
contrasting articulations
with these different phrases.
I wanna just talk through
the final section of the piece.
There's a part where,
in the second half of the trio,
the piano actually plays the melody and
we're gonna play an accompanimental part.
And it goes like this.
Three, and one.
And so this is a really nice thing.
I want,
I want us to create shapes to this, okay.
We can't just play every note the same.
[SOUND] If we play [SOUND]
every note the same.
[SOUND] Then we're not
really expressing anything.
And interpreting a classical piece
is really about creating shapes.
So I'm gonna lean [SOUND] through
the first note [SOUND] to the top note.
[SOUND] And then from there,
I'm gonna sort of back away
from the next two short notes.
[SOUND] And now I'm gonna kinda
lean towards that accented note.
After the down beat it's cool that it's
like not on the strong beat, that accent.
[SOUND] But I'm sort of still
thinking about the contrast of slur,
short, short, slur, short,
short, slur, short,
short, short, short, accent, short, short.
For a lot of those short notes
you can use the finger muscles.
And for a lot of the slurs,
you gonna wanna feel the arm leaning for
most of that.
I think those are a lot of
really important phrasing ideas
that you can work on for this piece.
And the way classical teaching works is
I want you to submit a video exchange
of you performing this piece.
And we'll go back and
forth a few times, really honing some
of the technical considerations, and
also refining our sense of phrasing and
musicality with this piece.
So don't feel like once you learn
the piece, and you've worked on some
of these phrasing things, don't wait
too long to send a video exchange.
I wanna hear you play and help to keep
you moving in getting better, and we'll
probably do a couple exchanges on this
piece before we move on to another piece.