25 Easy and Progressive Etudes


17. La Babillarde (The Chatterbox) in F Major

La babillarde (Chatterbox) is a tuneful and humorous study in repeated notes, useful because both hands get the chance to develop this important skill. Only 35 bars long, there is great value in observing the repeats once the study has been mastered. Allegretto tells us the tempo is lively, but not too fast. The original French edition gives a tempo of 72 per dotted crotchet, rather on the fast side. I suggest experimenting with various different tempi starting from 60 per dotted crotchet.

It is not always the case that repeated notes must be played with a change of finger, but in this study it is absolutely called for. Players often seem to retract their fingers into the palm of the hand when repeating the same key with another finger, rather than allowing the finger that has just played to move across the keyboard while keeping in close contact with the surface of the keys (much more efficient).

There is a knack to managing repeated notes without tension; you might invent some preliminary exercises and practise them from memory, so all the attention can be focussed on the matter at hand. The LH repeated notes (from bar 15) are not difficult if played with forearm rotation. The rotations are easy to feel if you first practise a trill version (low C-middle C-B natural-C-B-C, etc.) as an exercise. Then see if you can replicate the same motions as you repeat the C as it appears in the score (you’ll need to find a place for both thumb and 2nd finger on the C after the octave jump – make sure to have the elbow a little higher and keep it in one spot as you repeat the note).

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