SOPP649: I thought that if there is a pickup measure in a song that the last measure of the song and the first measure should add up to one measure
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A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
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Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 649 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Bob, and he’s taking our Melodic Dictation Course Level 1. He writes,
I have a question about 4 kl. 280 in Melodic Dictation Week 9.
I thought that if there is a pickup measure in a song that the last measure of the song and the first measure should add up to one measure. But in this case there is a rest contained in the last measure, so the two measures do not add up to one measure. How do I decide whether I should add the rest or not? Or is it one of those times that it does not matter?
V: Well, first of all, this is not a song, because song has to have either words or to be a vocal piece.
V: So it’s an exercise then.
A: That’s right.
V: More correct word. But you see what he means, there is a pickup and a full measure in the…
A: Well, I get these kind of questions from my students all the time. And because that’s how we teach them how the pickup is. And we say that if there is a pickup, then with the last measure it should be one whole measure. But it’s not always the case, and as it is in this case, it’s not. And it’s okay. It’s perfectly normal. It would be perfectly normal even if in this last measure there would be a half step - half note - yes? And there would still be a pickup of eighth note at the beginning. It’s fine. You could find it both ways in music. It’s perfectly normal.
A: Actually no - and that last note, if it’s like quarter, dotted quarter note, or it would be a half note, it wouldn’t matter so much, because in general if we are talking about piano, and I believe you probably played this dictation on the piano, the sound dies while holding it, so. But often you cannot tell precisely how long the last note actually was because of that specification of the piano sound dying. It’s not like the organ.
V: You are correct, and also we have to keep in mind that this basically foundational understanding - that if you have a pickup, then the last measure should not be complete - is only taught basically in the first grade so that kindergarten or very early schoolchildren should understand this concept: pickup is part of the last measure. But then when you get to real pieces, real musical compositions or longer exercises, you get all kinds of things. For example, just before we started recording this conversation, I was downloading my own video, “Nine Steps in Mastering Schumann’s Canon in B Major, Opus 56, No. 6.” And I have this long, an hour-long video, and I wanted to cut the last part, the last step basically, and make it a complete short video demonstration of this wonderful canon. And guess what? This canon does have a pickup of a beat, one quarter note in the beginning. And while we were talking right here, I looked up the score, and the last measure, look - this is a complete measure, not two - one half note and a final barline, but dotted half note like ¾ meter complete measure.
A: Yes, that’s often the case. So it’s not an exception actually, it’s quite normal.
V: Yes. But as Ausra said, when you play it on the piano, it’s difficult to understand when exactly the sound ends, especially at the end, when the last note is sounding. If you had like 3-note or 4-note chord playing with both hands, it’s easier, because more sounds are depressed all sounding at the same time, right? And you then can pick up the ending of the sound more easily.
A: Well if I would be a teacher that would have to grade this dictation, I would find it correctly if it would be written half note at the end, or as is given in this case where it’s a quarter note with a dot and then the rest of eighth, and even if it would be only dotted quarter note, it would be fine with me.
V: Mmhm. I see. You could say that this measure could be complete, incomplete - either way is fine, right?
V: I agree. I guess Bob can find many more exercises like this in this Melodic Dictation Course, and he seems to enjoy writing those dictations. Do your students enjoy writing dictations, Ausra?
A: Some of them do, but most of them don’t.
V: Why not?
A: Well, they can’t do it very well.
V: Can’t or can?
V: So they don’t want to improve?
A: Sure. Especially now when we have online teaching. You know, just like two days ago I asked them if they could tell me which way they like my dictations more, because I was using two different programs. One, at the beginning I was actually using the Rode Mic, and was recording them with my phone. Later I switched to recording through OBS Studio and was using our new mic, very powerful one; and later I switched to Piano Tech program. And then I asked them if they could tell the difference between Piano Tech and the earlier recordings with the mic. Only one of my students could tell me why she liked Piano Tech more, that the recording is better quality and she might do it as loud as she wishes. Everybody else couldn’t tell the difference. So I realized they would just keep rewriting these dictations from somebody else.
V: They’re not listening to your dictations.
V: That’s terrible.
A: And all this effort that I put in and all those hours that I spent recording those dictations they are just going nowhere.
V: Except when you’re telling it. Now maybe if somebody from our subscribers can go to your channel on YouTube and start writing these dictations, yes?
A: Sure. Yes, there are multiple choices, because I have big list starting from last spring. There are dictations that I listed like A, B, C, D, E Levels dictations, A being the easiest, one voice dictations, B and C two voice dictations, and then D and E being the three-part dictations, so, and there was also a section of ear training on my YouTube channel, where you can also find various types of dictations.
V: So you just have to find a playlist called “Ear Training,” right?
V: And obviously, for obvious reasons, there is no music, score on the screen for people to look at while they are writing dictations so that they only use their ear, but if you would like to write dictations and then have answer key, then check out my Melodic Dictation Master Course, Level 1. The one that Bob is taking. And then you will have not only all your files, but also answer keys with scores.
V: All right guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
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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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