Piano Music Perspective

Many times people ask me – Roksana how many instruments do you play? They are a bit surprised when I say all. It is hard to believe but piano music includes the whole orchestra. The piano is the only instrument which has this kind of quality.

You can transcribe any orchestral part and this brilliant instrument will be able to play it. Piano music itself has the capacity to sound like an orchestra due to it’s advanced harmonic structure.

Many times people choose this instrument because it is one of the easiest to get the sound.

Ironically, however, with time it gets harder and harder to get a good quality of sound.

There are many people who play the piano but not that many who can fully express themselves through playing it. Music written for piano is very challenging due to 2 clefs which means that a pianist has to read 2 melody lines at the same time. Usually the right hand plays a melody and the left hand an accompaniment. As a result piano music sounds very fulfilling.

The down side is that sight-reading piano music is more challenging than sight-reading for all other instruments. This is not only because of the double amount of notes which a pianist has to read for right and left hand but also because the most complicated aspect of piano music is the rhythmic side. The right hand has its own rhythm as well as the left hand and the relation between the 2 hands creates an extra layer. This basically means that a pianist has to play 3 rhythms at the same time.

Piano is often classified as a percussion instrument and therefore, a pianist should devote much more time to rhythm training than any other instrumentalist. In reality it rarely happens. This is due to the beauty of piano music. The melody line is usually so catchy that people slightly compromise little rhythmic imperfections. They seem to forget about the principle of music as “an art of sound in time”.

If the time is not there what is left? Is it still music or something else?

Many times I have witnessed an argument about the flexibility of rhythm in classical music related to rubato – rhythmic flexibility within a phrase or measure, a relaxation of strict time.

It is definitely one of the key elements in piano music but probably more often used as an excuse for poor timing. What makes piano music very beautiful and interesting is a contrast between strict timing and rubato. If strict timing is not as strict as it meant to be due to a lack of rhythmic training rubato wouldn’t sound like rubato.

Until next time.

Roksana Wawrzyniecka