Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 472 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. In this question, William writes:
“I worked on Meditation of Vierne. Not used to playing double flats. It was fun.”
V: What do you think, Ausra, about double flats?
A: Well, I think they are the same as double sharps!
V: Easier or harder?
A: Actually, it doesn’t matter if you understand the harmony well enough, and you are accustomed to keys that have more than a few accidentals.
V: In which cases do they write double sharps, and in which cases double flats?
A: Well, it depends on which way the melody moves, and well, if we are in a major key, then it’s more likely that we will have double flats, and if it’s a minor key, then it’s more likely that we will have double sharps. But of course, if you are playing in a key such as C major, then I doubt that you will encounter either double flats or double sharps.
A: Usually, double sharps and double flats start in the keys with 5 accidentals.
V: That’s right.
A: And, when you have double accidentals, usually it’s either a chromatic line when you need to fill out the gap between two notes, or it’s related with melodic minor or harmonic major.
V: I see.
A: That’s most often the keys in music when you use double flats and double sharps.
V: So, when William is encountering double flats in Meditation of Vierne, this means that probably this piece has more than 5 flats, right?
A: Yes! Or at least some spots, because the keys might change in the middle of the piece, and change for a few times in a piece, or even more.
V: What I meant is, in that spot where double flats are, it is a key with more than 5 accidentals, probably.
A: Yes. You know, the thing that makes me wonder is that for some people it’s still such a joy to find double flats, because do you play much attention to double flats when you are playing music?
V: Not anymore, but I wouldn’t say it was a joy. It was, I would say, frustrating for me, those double accidentals, at first. What about you?
A: True! Out of both, the most frustration is that some of my students still don’t know how to write them down.
V: They ask you, right, “How to write double sharp? How to write double flat?”
A: Yes. That’s right.
V: Usually, they know how to write double Flat, because they write two flats.
A: Yes, that’s what they want to do with sharps, too.
A: Yes, double sharps, too… just to write two sharps.
V: You can learn so much from your students.
V: So many new things! Excellent. So, it takes time, probably, to master those accidentals, and master those keys. If it gives trouble to William and anybody else, I would suggest working on scales, practicing scales with many accidentals; sharps and flats, and then you will encounter double flats and double sharps this way. Right?
A: That’s right.
V: And then arpeggios, and chords in those keys, on the piano probably would be a more natural way to play scales, but on the organ, you can also play scales as well. Right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: So, in general, you need to practice and have lots of experience with keys with many accidentals, and then things like double flats and double sharps will become a normal thing. Not a sort of extraordinary, frustrating thing, but part of the musical language the composer uses.
V: Okay guys! We hope this was useful to you. Please apply our tips in your practice; they really work for people who are action takers, and send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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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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