Today I'm going to talk about how can you discover what kind of key is in your organ composition that you are practicing right now.
When you open your music score and want to practice this piece, I recommend you first analyze it, by looking at its structure, modulations, cadences, and chords. And the first step in doing all this is finding out the key. Without knowing what the key is, there is a danger of not understanding how the piece is put together.
Sometimes composer writes the key in the title of the piece like "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". But often the key has to be discovered by the organist. For some people this task is quite complicated. I recorded this video in order to help you understand exactly how to do it.
Have you ever tried to analyze harmony in some of your organ pieces? Not a general structure, form, thematic development and tonal plan but actual functions of each chord. I don't think there are too many people doing it.
There are 3 major reasons - lack of time, lack of knowledge, and lack of motivation. Let's take a closer look at each of them.
Lack of time. Here I don't mean that a person doesn't have time to practice. No, instead he/she would play so many new pieces that looking deeply at some of them is too much trouble. Of course, some people don't even find enough time to play their pieces, not to mention doing careful analysis. When they do practice, they usually only play the pieces they are working on.
Lack of knowledge. Obviously that's a big issue. In order to examine the chords, harmonies and modulations, you have to have a certain training in music theory. Not necessarily in advanced music theory but some basic skills. I think that a lot of people simply wouldn't know how to do it (curiously, not even every music teacher has adequate training in music theory).
Lack of motivation. If you are to do something as obscure as analyzing chords in your organ piece, you certainly have to have enough motivation to do it. A proper motivation comes from seeing the value of chordal analysis which in person's mind has to be greater than the trouble of this procedure.
We as teachers sometimes are guilty of making the process of analysis look too difficult and too intimidating to the student. Sometimes the assignments are too dry and theoretical with little practical application which may take away all the motivation and curiosity from the student for years to come.
Because very few people choose to go through the trouble of examining each chord, you would be in an advantageous position, if you would do it. Precisely because of that you could become a person whom your peers could look up to. Your organ playing will change, too, because you will start to think like a composer.
When we look at organ pieces of various composers, it often seems that many of them cultivated long and complicated musical forms. However, there is a form which is considered to be the shortest and smallest of all musical forms.
This is a period - the smallest musical form which has only one complete musical idea. Let's break this sentence into several segments and you'll see what I mean with this definition.
The period can be a complete musical composition or it can be a part of a longer piece. The length of the period can be anywhere from 4 to 64 measures. The most commonly found periods are 8-16 measures long.
The period has to have only one musical idea and it has to be complete. For example, if there are several contrasting musical fragments in the piece, chances are that the form of such piece is more complex than a period.
Also the musical idea has to be complete. For example, if you hear a fragment of the piece after which follows it's repetition (exact or with a different ending) - it's not two periods but only one (because the musical idea is the same in this case).
Now take your organ piece which you are working on right now and try to identify the first period in it. Post your answer in the comments bellow. Write in the composer's name, title of the piece and measure numbers of the first period.
By the way, do you want to learn my special powerful techniques which help me to master any piece of organ music up to 10 times faster? If so, download my video Organ Practice Guide.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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