Seventh Bassoon Lesson, Part 2


Dynamics and phrasing. Studies by A Tune a Day, Rubank, and Weissenborn. By Terry B. Ewell. BDP#196.

<Intro Music: “Home Sweet Home” from A Tune a Day, lesson 29 number 6.>

So let’s now apply our use of crescendo and diminuendo to musical examples. Changing the volume of the music gives direction to the music, the musical motion. This is what we call musicality.  “Crescendoing,”  “diminuendoing” is one part of musicality.  We need to master that. So let’s look at these examples here.

Rubank  Lesson 7, number 6 features four measure phrasing. I am going to aim to go to measure 3 in this first line.

<Example: Rubank  Lesson 7, number 6>

Rubank 7 #6

In what we call Common Practice music, that is music from Western Europe and even America, you find that in the Classical, Romantic, and even the 20th century; you find even measures of phrases. That is two, four, or even eight measures. These tend to be most typical.

In the first one in Rubank we had four measure phrases. I phrased to the middle of that phrase. It is usually towards the middle or near the end of the phrase that you will find the arrival point or the climax.

In this A Tune a Day lesson 16, number 5 we will see that “Yankee Doodle”  is set up as two two-bar phrases followed by a four bar phrase. So I am going to phrase in that way. Creating nice unified gestures.  

<Example: A Tune a Day lesson 16, number 5>

Yankee Doodle

Did you notice that my phrases, the arrival points coincided with downbeats. That is fairly typical. We find usually that the highlight (goal) of the phrase often is metrically stressed. A downbeat is metrically stressed or even harmonically stressed. Often in Common Practice music there will be chord changes, very significant changes, that occur on downbeats.

Now the last one I want to play for you is from the Weissenborn, Bassoon-School, page 10, Minuetto. Now, this is interesting. We have four bar phrases, but we have upbeats into the phrases. This is also what we can an “anacrusis.” Upbeat.  So our four bar phrases instead of coinciding with measure lines, they are just a little bit askew. They start one beat early and end one beat early.

Here is the first line of that:

< Example: Weissenborn, Bassoon-School, page 10, Minuetto>

Weissenborn P. 10

Let me play that for you slowly.

< Example: Weissenborn, Bassoon-School, page 10, Minuetto>

Music is like conversation. It has meaning to it. It has gestures; it has motion. So, try to speak through your music.

As you become more familiar with music, you will learn where to phrase in the music. A good place to start your understanding of phrasing is with my video for Weissenborn’s Study #38.

I also have videos in three languages on phrasing that are linked on my website Check them out:

<Closing Music: “Home Sweet Home” from A Tune a Day, lesson 29 number 6.>


Copyright (c) 2016 By Terry B. Ewell. All rights reserved.