Aria in F

Walkthrough - Introduction

In the Baroque Period composers did not mark very many performance details in the score, leaving many decisions about dynamics and articulation to the judgment and good taste of the performer. You will notice some slurs and some staccato notes from the composer, and we need to observe these directions carefully. As to the unmarked crotchets, you might play them legato or slightly detached – or a mixture of the two. It is up to you, and there is no one right answer. The same is true of the dynamics. The markings that you find in the ABRSM edition are suggestions only, and come from the editor and not the composer. You are completely free to use your own dynamic scheme if you wish. The important thing is to add colour and shading to the music to bring it to life – a flat, level performance of any piece of music is boring! Experiment a bit until you settle on a way the music feels right to you.

The time signature of 2/2 (alla breve) tells us to feel two beats in a bar, rather than four. The effect of this is to make the articulation lighter and the tempo flow.

Make sure not to stop for the double bar line in the middle of the piece, or take any extra time there. This is a repeat sign, placed three quarters of the way through this bar, telling you to repeat each half of the piece. We don’t do repeats in our exam, however – the ABRSM rules tell us to leave out the repeats even though the composer wrote them in. Count bar 7 carefully.

Before you start learning the notes, it is important to have an idea of how the music sounds and what character it has. When you listen to a performance (from a recording or played by your teacher), see if you can come up with a few words that describe what you heard. Does the music paint a picture or tell a story? Use your imagination and have fun seeing what you come up with! If the music makes you want to dance, clap or move your body that is fine too.

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