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Solfeggietto in C Minor

Walkthrough - Practising Aspects (4)

This video looks at how to go about learning and practicing CPE Bach's Solfegietto in C Minor: Resources & links Click here to download a PDF version of the score with each of the instances of the theme...


Tom Bowling

Phrasing and Accent

Phrasing and Accent In music, because of the hierarchy of beats, the first beat of the bar is naturally stressed. Broadly speaking, long notes tend to receive more weight than short ones, and (in melodic lines) higher notes more emphasis than lower ones. Additionally, there are other types of accent,...


Impromptus D899 (Op. 90)

Impromptu in E-Flat Major - Walkthrough (2) FREE

Spring off the first-beat crotchet of bars 6, 7 and 8 and enjoy the syncopation as you land on the chord, where a touch of pedal adds resonance. Play more legato in f – deeper into the key, very lyrically, and always with melodic shaping....


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Worksheet (1)

The introductory chords set the scene for the Nocturne to follow, and need to be played with attention to mood and atmosphere, tonal balance (voicing) and pedalling. A sense of timing is also vital. The top note of each chord in the progression forms a melodic...


A Crash Course in Music Theory

Back to the 18th and the 17th centuries

Our crash course begins somewhere around 1600 at the beginning of the 17th century. That coincides with the Baroque period which falls more or less into the years between 1600 and 1750. Classicism is usually assigned a beginning at or around 1750. Meanwhile, we can date a bridging style between...


Romanze from Eine kleine Nachtmusiek

Introduction

This arrangement for piano by Clem Virgo is from the first part of the second movement of Mozart’s popular orchestral serenade, Eine kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music), written in 1787. “Romanze” (romance) is a simple vocal-type of piece for voice or instruments, often with a...


Solfeggietto in C Minor

Walkthrough - Introduction (1)

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714 – 1788) was the second son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. He was an influential and prolific composer who was writing at a time of transition between the baroque style and the classical style. His personal approach has come to be called...


The Girl with the Flaxen Hair

Introduction FREE

This walkthrough and accompanying Annotated Study Edition was kindly commissioned for the Online Academy by Caroline Bailey. La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) is among Debussy’s best-loved works for the piano. It is the eighth piece from the first book of Préludes and...


Black Eyes

Coda (Bar 44-52)

Now you get the chance to use the chromatic scale you’ve been practising for your scale requirements in one of your pieces! The LH features a three-octave descending scale from F to F, the RH supplying harmony once per bar. To help fit this passage together, here...


A Crash Course in Music Theory

Overtone and undertone series

We often think about pitches as they're represented by the keys on a piano. But, that's only one way to think about the tones that we know and hear. For a different point of view, we can turn to the acoustical foundations upon which music in the Western art music...


The Girl with the Flaxen Hair

Practice Worksheet

Begin by practising each of the four voices in turn, as legato as possible (S, A, T, B) before combining in pairs (RH alone = SA; LH alone = TB, but try SB and AT, for example) Then practise the following formulae, with each hand separately – no pedal...


Lyric Pieces, Op.54

Nocturne (1) FREE

Grieg wrote his famous Nocturne (Night Piece) in the summer of 1891 during his annual country retreat to the Norwegian mountains and fjords. Along with five other pieces, he included the Nocturne in Book V of his Lyric Pieces, Op. 54. In 1894, Anton Seidl, the conductor of the New...


Fantasy in D Minor K397

Walkthrough - Fantasy in D Minor K397

This video provides a section by section waltkthrough of Mozart's Fantasy in D Minor K397 (sometimes referred to as Fantasia): ...


Black Eyes

First Section (Bars 4-20)

The first thing to do is to sing the tune, making it as expressive as possible. If you like, you can play the underlying chords as you sing. Notice how expressive the Db sounds as it leans against the dominant 7th chord and then against the tonic...


A Crash Course in Music Theory

From hearing to phrasing to key and chords

Let's experiment some more. We'll begin with simple connections among a few pitches — C, B, and D will do to start. To be sure, the advantage of working with extremely simple things in the beginning is from them we get to draw very solid conclusions. Our sequence So,...


Black Eyes

Introduction Section (Bars 1 - 3)

In the introduction, I suggest a legato touch for the RH with the LH crotchets detached. Here are some preliminary exercises that will be helpful in order to manage the turn around the thumb E in the RH (bar 1): Firstly, play the C and E together...


Aria in F

Walkthrough - Phrase 4

Here is the last phrase. We’re going to work on it in exactly the same ways as we did before. 1 Here is the first part of the phrase in the right hand. Notice how the music journeys up from C to...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 3rd Movement (3)

Practise the RH line until you are completely happy with how you want to shape and shade it. This section demands the utmost delicacy of touch (semiquavers are leggiero, as though staccato), combined with sensitivity of the right foot (shallow pedals for resonance with transparency)....


Black Eyes

Third Section (Bars 37-43)

Notice that the tempo at the molto appassionato is slower than the other sections in the piece. It needs to be played with lots of passion and freedom, taking plenty of time on the tenuto upbeats (tease us here!) and at the commas (which indicate a break)....


Romanze from Eine kleine Nachtmusiek

Spot the Difference

You have probably played those "Spot the Difference" games in magazines, where two versions of the same picture are shown side by side and you must find all the differences between them. It is quite fun and very useful to do this with musical phrases that are based on the...


The Girl with the Flaxen Hair

Walkthrough (2)

The next two bars need to be played clearly, avoiding smudges from the pedal. Although a little fiddly to begin with (sometimes fingers will need to go over or under other fingers), it is worth striving for an absolute finger legato in this bar. Thinking...


Aria in F

Walkthrough - Practice Suggestions

The way you practise determines how you end up playing in your performance. If you practise with lots of mistakes, you’re not going to be at all secure when you perform. What counts as a mistake? Here are the basic ones: Wrong notes Wrong rhythms (including hesitations and unplanned...


The Merry Farmer

Introduction

Schumann’s piano music is a joy to play – it is full of inspiration, fantastic contrasts in mood and character as well as beautiful melodies and breathtakingly beautiful harmonies. He wrote Album for the Young for his three daughters in 1848. It contains 43 short pieces suitable for the beginner...


Black Eyes

Introduction

Black Eyes (or Dark Eyes as it is often called) is probably the most famous Russian romance song. The lyrics were written by the Ukrainian poet Yevhen Hrebinka, and the melody relates to a piece called Valse Hommage by Florian Hermann. The words are translated as follows: ...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 3rd Movement (2)

Flutter the pedal in this bar to thin out resonance gradually in the diminuendo. The Agité section needs very light, shallow pedalling to avoid it sounding muddy. Hold low F sharp basses as long as comfortable, and work towards a finger legato in the upper...


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Walkthrough (4)

Bars 49 - 51 Build towards the final climax (bars 53-58). Bars 58 - 59 The 8-bar coda is full of beautiful moments, not least the magical fioritura groups in the RH. Fitting the hands together is not as...


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Walkthrough (2)

The last RH C# is the end of the phrase, and needs to be shaded off. Take great care to spread out the notes of the RH triplet evenly, creating a proper two-against-three cross rhythm between the hands. Many players fudge this spot! The two...


The Girl with the Flaxen Hair

Walkthrough (1)

Very calm and gently expressive (sans rigeur = freely). Fill up the first long note with a subdivision that you imagine, such as the example given (or something else) to help connect it to the rest of the phrase. The wrist needs to be very...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 1st Movement (1)

This walkthrough and accompanying Annotated Study Edition was kindly commissioned for the Online Academy by Rachel Woodhouse. The texture is very delicate and transparent. Aim to make legato connections by hand and then use shallow touches of pedal for resonance and colour. The movement...


The Merry Farmer

Practice Suggestions

Left Hand: The melody is, of course, in the left hand. Project the line with a solid forte tone but don’t forget to give it shape. You will probably find the climax of the phrase is around the top F in bar 2. Try singing the melody, making up your...


Von fremden Ländern und Menschen

Walkthrough (3)

The Right Hand The main difficulty with the right hand is keeping the melody on a separate plane from the accompaniment notes. The heavy thumb of the accompaniment can easily insinuate itself into the melody, giving a false impression of the tune: The A in measure 2,...


Skeleton Practice

Deconstructing the Score (2) FREE

Blocking is the most obvious way to group note patterns into solids. It helps us see and feel the bigger picture more easily. We can also use it for technical reasons by securing hand positions. Bach: Prelude in C Major (WTC Book 1) A very obvious and extremely neat...


La donna è mobile (The woman is fickle)

Introduction

La donna è mobile (“woman is fickle”) is a tenor aria from Act 3 of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. After the premiere of the opera in 1851, this tune caught on immediately and became incredibly popular with the public. In more recent times the tune has been used as a...


From the Ground Up

Index of Works FREE

Preview: Schumann - Von fremden Ländern und Menschen (from Kinderszenen) Bach - Little Prelude in F (from the Notebook for Wilhelm Friedrich Bach) Beethoven - Sonatina in G Chopin - Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9, no. 2 Grieg - Arietta (Lyric Pieces, Op. 12,...


The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

Walkthrough - Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (3)

The bass line is interesting here: bringing out the marked notes by slightly overholding them gives a more musical result than accenting. The suggested articulation emphasises the change of pattern over the next two bars. Don’t overdo the accents; if you prefer, you can overhold...


La donna è mobile (The woman is fickle)

Hands Together

The fun starts when we put the hands together and combine the staccato notes with the slurs between the hands. It’s not easy at first! Here are some useful preliminary exercises using a five-finger position. What are the benefits of beginning with a very basic exercise like this? It...


Sostenuto in E flat

Walkthrough (2)

Here is my suggested plan for the opening eight-bar phrase. Hairpin crescendos and diminuendos should not be too exaggerated. The short squiggle indicates a very slight relaxing of the tempo. Tenutos indicate more weight, and the fermatas suggest magic moments where you can linger a little. Arrows suggest a movement...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 1st Movement (4)

In the absence of harmonic support from the bass it is challenging to create an effective ff here. As before, aim for brilliance in the top line and practise each RH line alone to ensure the RH is well coordinated. My fingering, which appears odd...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 2nd Movement (1)

The tempo is restrained; feel three beats in each bar, and not too fast. Play the melody line legato; gently lift lower notes out of the keyboard for the mezzo staccato touch while lightly pedalling quaver beats. Experiment here – some players prefer a more...


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Walkthrough (3)

Bars 24 - 26 Aim for finger legato in the upper voice, with light thumbs underneath. This exercise will help: There is yet another colour here, another key change (F# minor) and a change of mood; the sotto voce tells us to...


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Worksheet (2)

In performance of this piece the trills should sound and feel free, but since trills are always made up of a finite number of notes it is a good idea to organise them rhythmically by practising a variety of different measured possibilities. Then, when you perform,...


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Introduction FREE

This walkthrough and accompanying Annotated Study Edition was kindly commissioned for the Online Academy by Rachel Woodhouse. Chopin wrote the Nocturne in C-sharp minor, op. posth. in 1830, but it was only published in 1870. He dedicated the work to his sister, Ludwika “as an exercise before beginning the...


The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

Walkthrough - Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (4)

This chord should come as something of a surprise. You may play a solid chord, or spread it from the bass up, or even arpeggiate it down and then back up if you wish: ...


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Worksheet (4) - The Coda

Don’t be intimidated by the long groups of fast notes in the RH (otherwise known as fioritura). I hope I will be able to show you that they are not nearly as difficult to fit together with the LH as may first appear. There are two...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 1st Movement (2)

The RH is awkward here. Practise the top line alone with the fingering you will use in performance, and experiment with the following practice formulae. En dehors tells us to project the top melody line (violin 1). This line needs...


Sonatina in G

Walkthrough (3)

REMEMBER: Practise BBB+1 hands separately as well as hands together. Phrase 1 Here is the BBB+1 for the first phrase. Observe fingerings as well as the repeat marks (three times is a good number to start forming muscular habits). You can practise BBB+1 slowly as...


Sostenuto in E flat

Introduction

The sole source for this piece is a manuscript in Chopin’s hand from the album of his friend Émile Gaillard, dated 20 July, 1840. It was discovered as recently as 1941, by the Director of the Paris Conservatoire, Dr. Jacques Chailley. Because the work has no title, Dr. Chailley suggested...


The Girl with the Flaxen Hair

Walkthrough (3)

Don’t voice the Cb chord too much to the top. Hold the pedal through to bar 31 (you will be tempted to change it on bar 30 but resist, or you will lose your bass). 19. Another moment where careful pedalling is essential. Here is...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 3rd Movement (1)

General: it is often not possible to achieve a true finger legato in notes under slurs. Joining by hand where possible is a good general rule for any passage to be played legato (it gives the best control of sound and phrasing); where it is awkward or...


Solfeggietto in C Minor

Walkthrough - Analysis (2)

This video provides an introductory analysis to CPE Bach's Solfegietto in C Minor: Resources & links Click here to download a PDF version of the score with each of the instances of the theme highlighted. ...


From the Ground Up

Series Introduction FREE

Learning a piece of music – building an interpretation of it – is in many ways like building a house. We have a blueprint – the score, which may be more or less detailed – but it takes skill, understanding, and imagination to transform this written document into a house,...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 1st Movement (3)

The octave Es (lower stave) are usually played by the LH (passing underneath the RH) but may be played using both hands (LH takes the lower note, RH the upper). The section from bar 31-34 is somewhat awkward; if playing according to the score layout,...


Black Eyes

Second Section (Bars 21-36)

Before learning the notes, you can get a sense of the waltz feeling by playing the harmonic progression as in this example. Feel free to add octaves in the LH if you wish, and touches of pedal on the bass notes. Hands Separately We...


The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

Walkthrough - Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (1) FREE

The underlying harmonic progression gives a sense of how to shape the constant stream of semiquavers (16th notes). To discover the harmonic framework, play the first two notes in each half bar together thus: Give more weight to the first and third...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 3rd Movement (5)

Use light (shallow) pedals in this section, changing each bar. Bars 142 - 143 If it helps, take the lowest RH note on the last beat with the LH. Bars 159 - 161 ...


Von fremden Ländern und Menschen

Walkthrough (1) FREE

Introduction Schumann’s Scenes of Childhood are a tender evocation of the world of children – their games, dreams, fantasies, and fears. While most of these thirteen pieces fall within the technical ability of intermediate players (Schumann himself goes so far as to call them “Easy Piano Pieces” in his subtitle),...


Impromptus D899 (Op. 90)

Impromptu in E-Flat Major – Walkthrough (1) FREE

The A section looks like an etude for the RH – fast, relentless triplets spanning the upper registers of the keyboard. However, don’t play the figuration mechanically at any point. The opening, marked p, lends itself to a delicate leggiero played from the fingertips supported by...


Two Short Pieces

Walkthrough - The Sea is Angry

This video provides a walk-through of William Alwyn's The Sea is Angry which is an excellent piece for intermediate pianists who want to play something that will expand their sound: Resources & links Click here to purchase...


Sostenuto in E flat

Walkthrough (1)

Legato Cantabile Touch Cultivation of a beautiful singing tone is essential for Chopin’s music. Indeed, he insisted that his own students learn how to do this not by going to hear other pianists but by attending the opera and listening to the great singers of the day. How do...


Aria in F

Walkthrough - Phrase 2

Now you’re getting the idea of practising in small sections. Remember these points and you will learn deeply and securely: Clap and count aloud the rhythm of each hand before playing on the piano. Practise each hand alone three times correctly in a row before you put the hands...


Tom Bowling

Pedal

As a general principle, we pianists make connections between sounds manually wherever possible in a legato context, joining by finger. Sometimes, finger substitutions help us to achieve an even better legato (such as the “3-5” in the LH of bar 17). We can also side from a black note to...


Aria in F

Walkthrough - Introduction FREE

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...


Skeleton Practice

Deconstructing the Score (3)

Here is the opening of Mozart’s Sonata Facile, K545, where we might begin by blocking out the LH: Beethoven: Pathétique Sonata, Op. 13 In the second subject of Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata, Op. 13 (1st movement), blocking the LH chord shapes temporarily simplifies the requirements of...


A Crash Course in Music Theory

Metaphors

A good way to illustrate a new point of view on anything is to use metaphors. Let's try that out. We'll revisit the idea of tonic/dominant harmony and polarity through a few metaphors. Complements We know already: I and V7 are a yin and yang. Is there anything...


Impromptus D899 (Op. 90)

Impromptu in E-Flat Major – Walkthrough (4) FREE

Bars 37 and 39 require a new pedal on the last beat, as the dissonant E double flats in the tenor and alto parts resolve to the D flats. Exaggerate Schubert’s fp marking. Feel the LH C flat resolve to the B...


Skeleton Practice

Deconstructing the Score (1) FREE

Music is made up of three main elements - melody, harmony and rhythm. Apart from grace notes (traditionally in smaller notation), there is little a composer can do to distinguish between background, foreground and middle ground of the composition, and it can be difficult to make a path through the...


The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

Walkthrough - Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (5)

The character of the subject is in the spirit of a polonaise, lively yet restrained. I suggest a moderate tempo (the given tempo band represents an average) with light articulations. Whether you decide on my articulations or come up with your own be consistent throughout. I...


A Crash Course in Music Theory

Welcome! FREE

Of course! You've arrived here because of your interest in music theory! What, how, why? Our course is designed help you develop your skills in theory and to have fun at the same time. It comes out of the box with broad, ambitious goals, a practical agenda, and a gentle...


La donna è mobile (The woman is fickle)

Touch and Articulation

We find legato and staccato touches, and two- three- and four-note slurs. Unmarked notes (bar 14, and 17-18) may be separated. Articulating the different touches clearly is challenging in this piece, because one hand is often called on to play differently from the other. Independence between the hands is such...


Sonatina in G

Practice Suggestions (1) FREE

The way you practise determines how you end up playing in your performance. If you practise with lots of mistakes, you’re not going to be at all secure when you perform. What counts as a mistake? Here are the basic ones: Wrong notes Wrong rhythms (including hesitations and unplanned...


The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

Walkthrough - Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (6)

The subject reappears, now in the more open and heroic colours of E-Flat major. The second episode modulates back to C minor. There are many different ways to articulate the lower voices; playing sixteen successive quavers (eighth notes) the same way is not interesting. My...


A Crash Course in Music Theory

Permutations and shapes

Let's move on to another experiment with our { C B C D } sequence. Here we use those notes to generate twenty-four permutations. That is, we re-order those four notes in twenty-four different ways. The formula behind the number of possible permutations is 4! (four factorial or 4 x...


Romanze from Eine kleine Nachtmusiek

Double Thirds

The RH double thirds (bars 2 and 3) pose a technical challenge. Since the melody line is on the top, the “weaker” outer fingers (4th and 5th) need to be stronger than the “strong” inner fingers (3rd, 2nd and thumb) as well as equally coordinated and agile. This is why...


Aria in F

Walkthrough - Phrase 3

The first half of our piece took the music to the dominant key of C (this is very common in a Baroque or Classical piece in two halves); the second half takes us back to the tonic key of F. We know as soon as we reach the Bb in...


Romanze from Eine kleine Nachtmusiek

Articulation

Long, uninterrupted legato lines did not come into musical expression until the Romantic period, although we see Beethoven and Schubert heading in that direction. In a slowish piece such as this, short staccatos and abrupt phrase and slur ends would sound choppy and out of place. Nonetheless, composers from the...


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Worksheet (3)

The LH is so much more than just the accompaniment. In addition to providing the harmony, the broken chords also supply movement backwards and forwards (this ebb and flow is known as rubato), and the LH is integral to mood and colour. Make sure to shape...


Two Short Pieces

Walkthrough - The Sun is Setting FREE

This video provides a walk-through of William Alwyn's The Sun is Setting which is a popular piece for intermediate pianists. Resources & links Click here to purchase sheet music for this piece (external link). ...


Tom Bowling

Miming

One of the challenges of Tom Bowling is controlling the RH where it divides into two parts (bars 3-4, 7, and 15-16). The so-called weaker fingers need to be able to project the tune while the strong thumb needs to play very lightly as it is called upon to add...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 2nd Movement (2)

Respect the value of the dotted crotchet chords over the next three bars by avoiding a change of pedal on the downbeat of bar 14. Make an adjustment if you really need to, but retain the bass F (the accented Fs are important; project...


Sostenuto in E flat

Walkthrough (3)

There is another awkward place in Sostenuto, where the RH has double notes (bars 14-15). This will require some careful organisation, and some thorough practice. Once you have settled on a fingering, write it in your score and stick to it. The given fingering is actually very...


Impromptus D899 (Op. 90)

Impromptu in E-Flat Major - Walkthrough (3) FREE

The music now becomes harmonically and melodically richer as Schubert moves into E flat minor, using a chord progression based on a full descending fifth sequence (the bass line is E flat - A flat - D flat - G flat - C flat -...


Sonatina in G

Practice Suggestions (2)

Looping is a way of managing repetitions without interrupting the rhythmic flow – without actually stopping the pulse. When we repeat, we count the rests at the end of the phrase as well as any that we might find at the start. You’ll notice there are repeat signs in all...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 2nd Movement (3)

Do not return to the tempo yet – this section is slightly slower. Ravel achieves yet another magical sound world here – allow the glassy top RH to ring out gently, bringing out clearly the canon in augmention in the top notes of the...


Tom Bowling

Introduction

Charles Dibdin was born in Southampton in 1745 and died in London in 1814. He wrote over 600 popular songs, which reflect pride behind British traditions (interestingly, he contributed to the development of the pantomime tradition). They were extremely popular in his day not only in England but...


The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

Walkthrough - Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (2)

Grouping the semiquavers (16th notes) 1234 1234 emphasises the main beats in the most obvious and square way: Grouping them differently allows interesting patterns to emerge. It is more the way we feel or think the groupings than doing anything too obvious...


Sonatine

Walkthrough - 3rd Movement (4)

You might think of the next 11 bars as a pedal texture, experimenting with a long, partial pedal all the way to bar 71. Because this low A can be present throughout, the amount of tone you give it needs to be judged carefully....


Aria in F

Walkthrough - Phrase 1

Start by choosing a slow tempo to work at. It will be easier to feel crotchet beats when you are practising slowly, rather than the minim beats you’ll want to feel when playing up to speed. Set your metronome to =60...


Von fremden Ländern und Menschen

Walkthrough (2)

Harmony The next step is to reduce all three strands of the texture to solid chords. This is particularly helpful in assimilating the piece quickly, as it gives us not only the essential harmony, but all the corresponding hand positions as well. Play this reduction with pedal and good voicing...


Solfeggietto in C Minor

Walkthrough - Performance Aspects (3)

This video focusses on the performance aspects of CPE Bach's Solfegietto in C Minor: Resources & links Click here to download a PDF version of the score with each of the instances of the theme highlighted. ...


Nocturne in C-sharp Minor

Walkthrough (1)

Lento con gran espressione means ‘slowly, with grand expression’. The introduction needs to be played with gravitas – grandly and expansively. Marked piano, these introductory bars set the stage for the Nocturne, and need to contain the kernel of the dark, sad feelings the...


The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

Walkthrough - Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (7)

The fourth episode parallels the first (from bar 9). Fugue: Bars 29 - 31 Play the tonic pedal C octave firmly. If you prefer, you can make a diminuendo to the end (matching the upper voices to the gradual...