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#2168817 - 10/20/13 08:08 AM Some help with sight reading polyphonic music
JosephAC Offline
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Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
I am currently doing some sight reading and I come across Gavotte by Bach in G major and in cut time. I am not sure how to do sight reading some of the measures of this piece. For example, the top staff of the second measure has a half a note and a quarter note above it. I am not sure how to do the subdivision as the counting would be different.

Thanks in advance.

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#2168893 - 10/20/13 11:24 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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I looked up the score to see what you were talking about.


Play the A D notes together as it is written.

But the A key is held while playing the E and F#. A is sustained while playing D E F#.

Likely, if you treated "A" as a Qtr. Note it would make sense right? And, if you just played it that way it would still pretty much sound the same. Get the feel of that first and then try holding down the A key when playing the E F#.

The "A" note is just being sustained for half the time in the measure or two beats, since it's 4/4 time.

So that's about it. The A key is being held down for the 2nd beat while playing E-F# for the 2nd beat.

Like I said: You could pretend that "A" is just a quarter note being played with "D" until you get the feel for the whole measure. Then, once you have the feel for measure try holding down the "A" for the first two beats instead of just the first beat.

Does what I said make any sense?

Hope this helps!
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#2168899 - 10/20/13 11:42 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
Morodiene Offline
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Russ is correct, you play the notes simultaneously but hold them each for the value given. Basically you are splitting your hand into two voices here. This is a common thing in polyphonic music, especially in Baroque.
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#2168900 - 10/20/13 11:42 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
keystring Online   content
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In addition to the above, also be aware of what the music is doing. In Polyphonic music, you have several melodies going on at the same time, as if you had three or four singers, each singing his or her own line of music. You're playing more than one "melody" with one hand.

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#2168910 - 10/20/13 12:05 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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It seemed like JosephAC was only confused about a 1/4 note sitting on top of a 1/2 note which probably through off his sense of timing.

I tried plugging the measure into Finale and it would not let me write a 1/4 note on top of a 1/2 note without layering.
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#2168913 - 10/20/13 12:31 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
It seemed like JosephAC was only confused about a 1/4 note sitting on top of a 1/2 note which probably through off his sense of timing.
Which is what keystring and I were also speaking of. If you follow each "voice" it will make perfect sense why you have one note a half note and the other a quarter note.

Quote:
I tried plugging the measure into Finale and it would not let me write a 1/4 note on top of a 1/2 note without layering.
That is what the layering in Finale is for, by the way. This is how I have done it in the past, and any rests that I don't want I just shrink them down to 0% smile
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#2168926 - 10/20/13 01:03 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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One of things I've ranted about, and I've done a lot of ranting about anything with music that didn't make good sense, is the fact that written music doesn't always present a good linear visual representation of real time horizontally.

For example: I've seen music where 1/8th notes would possess the same physical spacing as 1/4 notes. Well, for the experienced reader queuing on the little flaggies, no problem, but for the beginner, this can be added source of frustration. Measures alone can be grossly spaced differently. Written music should at least provide for a better representation of actual time by spacing notes appropriately in regard to their value.

If measures were horizontally evenly spaced including the value of notes, written music would present a much clearer picture of timing for beginners. There is plenty of space to establish that real-time representation.

Agree with me, don't agree with me. That's fine...

Just my music rant for the day!
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#2168981 - 10/20/13 03:08 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
tangleweeds Offline

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Registered: 12/21/08
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Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
Written music should at least provide for a better representation of actual time by spacing notes appropriately in regard to their value.

Maybe it's because I buy modern printed scores, generally at the late-elementary/early-intermediate level, but just about all my music is printed so as to indicate note duration. I like this.

This may not be the case for free stuff downloaded on the internet, or more advanced material.
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#2168984 - 10/20/13 03:10 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
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Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Thanks all for your explanation. It is a beauty. I was frustrated yesterday.

As a beginner, I played monophone only ie one hand plays only one note/chord at a time. Here I understand that I have to split my RH into 2 separate voices. Whille holding A with one finger, I play D, E and F# in the other fingers of the same hand. I am paraphrasing my understanding for your feedback.

However, now I am confused now about the time signature. Russ Shettle, you said it is written in 4/4. The first measure has the time signature cut time. This means 2/2 that is to say a grouping of 2 beats and half note gets one beat.

My deduction was the first measure was an incomplete measure, counting 2 e + a and all the subsequent measures are complete 2/2 with counting 1 e + a 2 e + a. And the last measure is incomplete to complement the first one.

Can you correct me and clarify.

Once again, thank you all


Edited by JosephAC (10/20/13 03:12 PM)

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#2169028 - 10/20/13 04:49 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
keystring Online   content
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Deleted - I was looking at the wrong piece.


Edited by keystring (10/20/13 06:06 PM)

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#2169055 - 10/20/13 06:09 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
One of things I've ranted about, and I've done a lot of ranting about anything with music that didn't make good sense, is the fact that written music doesn't always present a good linear visual representation of real time horizontally.

Russ do you have a link to the specific score you were looking it. If IMSLP, is there a particular version?

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#2169063 - 10/20/13 06:37 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: keystring]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
One of things I've ranted about, and I've done a lot of ranting about anything with music that didn't make good sense, is the fact that written music doesn't always present a good linear visual representation of real time horizontally.

Russ do you have a link to the specific score you were looking it. If IMSLP, is there a particular version?


Yes, a site that wants money for the whole thing but since we were only looking at the second measure, this would do for me.

http://www.sheetmusicdirect.com/se/ID_No/25987/Product.aspx
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#2169072 - 10/20/13 07:05 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
keystring Online   content
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The spacing to that one actually looks ok, but I don't like what it did to the stems. It should be showing the upper "soprano" voice with stems up, and the lower "alto" voice with stems down. I found this in IMSLP.

Measure 1 starts the next bar over where you have D in the top voice, since that is the first fully measure having all the beats. smile In this score, each voice is designated by stem direction.

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#2169093 - 10/20/13 07:46 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 291
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: JosephAC
Thanks all for your explanation. It is a beauty. I was frustrated yesterday.

As a beginner, I played monophone only ie one hand plays only one note/chord at a time. Here I understand that I have to split my RH into 2 separate voices. Whille holding A with one finger, I play D, E and F# in the other fingers of the same hand. I am paraphrasing my understanding for your feedback.

However, now I am confused now about the time signature. Russ Shettle, you said it is written in 4/4. The first measure has the time signature cut time. This means 2/2 that is to say a grouping of 2 beats and half note gets one beat.

My deduction was the first measure was an incomplete measure, counting 2 e + a and all the subsequent measures are complete 2/2 with counting 1 e + a 2 e + a. And the last measure is incomplete to complement the first one.

Can you correct me and clarify.

Once again, thank you all


Joseph,

You may be correct. The symbol I saw had me believing it was 4/4 time and if that were true you would have virtually the same thing. 1/4 notes would get one beat instead of 1/2 notes but you would also have 4 beats per measure so the timing comes out to be the same.

Looking at the way this score is written, I would want it to be 4/4 time. There are a lot of 1/4 notes with 1/8 notes. It just looks like it should be 4/4.

If I had written this I would definetly have made it 4/4.

By the way: Playing 2 notes together is much like just playing a chord in the RH with 3 notes.

Now: The A DEF# thing: I tried this myself. I hit the A and D together using my thumb and middle finger and while leaving my thumb on "A" I then use my ring finger and baby finger to hit E then F#. So for finger numbers:

1 3 hits AD together... then... 4 5 to hit E then F#.

Think of it this way as well. D E F# are going to be played like a scale while keeping your thumb on A but E F# are played faster.

2/2 time? I just do not like for this score but I know you have to go by what you see for time signature. 4/4 time, due to the note values involved would make far more sense in my opinion. 1 2 3 4.

I know you're just a beginner trying to do the right thing but if I were you I would just make it 4/4 rather than 2/2 because with either one you still have the same ratio of time. Just something to think about.

The first measure is just a lead-in measure. Right, it's not a complete measure.

Are you sure it's 2/2 time?


Edited by RUSS SHETTLE (10/20/13 07:51 PM)
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#2169101 - 10/20/13 07:56 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: keystring]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 291
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: keystring
The spacing to that one actually looks ok, but I don't like what it did to the stems. It should be showing the upper "soprano" voice with stems up, and the lower "alto" voice with stems down. I found this in IMSLP.

Measure 1 starts the next bar over where you have D in the top voice, since that is the first fully measure having all the beats. smile In this score, each voice is designated by stem direction.


Keystring, what is the time signature? 2/2 or 4/4?


Edited by RUSS SHETTLE (10/20/13 08:11 PM)
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#2169118 - 10/20/13 08:36 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
keystring Online   content
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It's cut time. I found a good explanation here. It looks like the "C" which means 4/4, but there is a line through it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alla_breve

I would have liked to find musical examples, tutorials (anything).

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#2169127 - 10/20/13 09:02 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: keystring]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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Posts: 291
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Originally Posted By: keystring
It's cut time. I found a good explanation here. It looks like the "C" which means 4/4, but there is a line through it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alla_breve

I would have liked to find musical examples, tutorials (anything).


Yea, I did find that out. I just don't agree with the score being in split time or 2/2. There are several measures that have just 4 quarter notes in the bass clef. The score should be in 4/4 time in my opinion. I would like to know what you think.
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#2169181 - 10/20/13 11:01 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
JosephAC Offline
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Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Once again. Thanks all for the further clarification. I have further questions though.

1. you say that irrespective whether it is2/2 or 4/4, the relative relationship is the same. As a beginner, I always understood that the difference will be in the down beat note i.e the first note will be accented. If this is the case, it will make a difference if it is marked 2/2 or 4/4.

2. In other music pieces, i have seen say, a quarter note above a quarter silence in the top staff and it never made sense to me.
This has been a source of frustration.

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#2169192 - 10/20/13 11:31 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
tangleweeds Offline

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Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
The symbol I saw had me believing it was 4/4 time and if that were true you would have virtually the same thing. 1/4 notes would get one beat instead of 1/2 notes but you would also have 4 beats per measure so the timing comes out to be the same.


I also disagree, and feel that 4/4 and 2/2 are accented differently. But they can look the same on the staff (aside from the time signature symbol).
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#2169204 - 10/21/13 12:14 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
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Registered: 01/14/11
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Originally Posted By: JosephAC
Once again. Thanks all for the further clarification. I have further questions though.

1. you say that irrespective whether it is2/2 or 4/4, the relative relationship is the same. As a beginner, I always understood that the difference will be in the down beat note i.e the first note will be accented. If this is the case, it will make a difference if it is marked 2/2 or 4/4.

2. In other music pieces, i have seen say, a quarter note above a quarter silence in the top staff and it never made sense to me.
This has been a source of frustration.


Joseph, I'm sure you are perfectly correct about the down beat requirement of this particular piece. I'm not familiar with this piece. I've not heard it played yet so I don't know what it's suppose to sound like to warrant a 2/2 signature. 2/2 is the correct signature according to the split symbol. No argument there.

I didn't even look or take notice of the symbol before I declared it to be 4/4 just by looking at it. There are several measures in the bass clef where you have four 1/4 notes and many other measures where you have a pair of 8th notes in conjunction with three 1/4 notes to complete the measure.

It just looked like perfect standard 4/4 time to me. It was a no-brainer. I was dead sure of it until you posted back about the split symbol and 2/2 signature and sure enough, there it was, to my surprise. You were correct.

So is 2/2 technically the same as 4/4 in regard to time and note value? Yes. If 2 half notes fill a measure in 2/2 time then 4 - 1/4 notes in 4/4 time will also fill the measure and in many measures you do have 4 - 1/4 notes doing just that. The difference being only the number of beats.

The difference as you say will be in the down beat. It must be in the way the music has to sway and you know that better than me and so there must be that reason for the score to be given 2/2 for its signature so don't listen to me.

You say: "In other music pieces, I have seen say, a quarter note above a quarter silence in the top staff and it never made sense to me"

A quarter silence? Sorry Joseph, I don't know what that is exactly! I'm still learning myself and I've never heard of this. Is it like a "rest"?
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#2169205 - 10/21/13 12:19 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
The difference as you say will be in the down beat. It must be in the way the music has to sway and you know that better than me and so there must be that reason for the score to be given 2/2 for its signature so don't listen to me.

Think 2/4 with augmented rhythms.
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#2169211 - 10/21/13 12:50 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
keystring Online   content
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The piece is a Gavotte, which is a dance that began in the Renaissance era, and was further developed in the Baroque. It is part of a "suite" of four dances: the suites were organized into alternating slow and fast dances. Eventually pieces in dance form were developed purely as instrumental music, but the general character was still there.

Here is a danced Gavotte:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9b6ldKKqu0

Here is a slow "dance form" piece which I've taken at random, a Sarabande by Handel. Notice the strong but slow rhythm.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsbUt0T1Pw8

Back to our Gavotte: Do you hear the strong beats and a kind of upbeat thingy?

Here is another Bach Gavotte:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L05xsjRvFEw

Again - a strong rhythm.

Here is another:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9oaS-zvIm8

Here is our Gavotte. That same rhythm can be heard in the way she plays it.:







Edited by keystring (10/21/13 01:00 AM)

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#2169225 - 10/21/13 01:32 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
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I will listen to these vids when I get home tonight.
Let me correct my earlier wording:
In other music pieces, I have seen say, a quarter note above a quarter rest in the same staff and it never made sense to me. What is it all about ?

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#2169227 - 10/21/13 01:38 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: JosephAC

In other music pieces, I have seen say, a quarter note above a quarter rest in the same staff and it never made sense to me. What is it all about ?

Imagine two female singers, an alto Abby singing a melody below a soprano Sophy. Sophy begins singing on beat 1 and she has a half note. Abby is silent in beat 1 but she comes in on beat 2. We need to indicate Abby's silence in the first beat so we have that quarter rest. You are playing both Abby's and Sophy's lines.

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#2169301 - 10/21/13 08:07 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: JosephAC
I will listen to these vids when I get home tonight.
Let me correct my earlier wording:
In other music pieces, I have seen say, a quarter note above a quarter rest in the same staff and it never made sense to me. What is it all about ?
It is the same situation where you have two notes of different values on the same beat (or portion of beat). Two different voices, one is silent, the other is playing. The rest there implies that either before or after, you had 2 or more simultaneous voices, so look at the notes before and after to find that "voice". Usually separate voices are separated visually by stems up or stems down regardless of where they lie on the staff.
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#2169332 - 10/21/13 08:52 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
Andy Platt Offline
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Something I don't see mentioned in this thread: If you are sight reading, you should pick material that is below your reading level. It sounds like a good grounding in Baroque music in general, Bach in particular, would be an excellent way of developing your knowledge and reading before trying to sight read this kind of material.
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#2169335 - 10/21/13 08:57 AM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: Andy Platt]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Something I don't see mentioned in this thread: If you are sight reading, you should pick material that is below your reading level. It sounds like a good grounding in Baroque music in general, Bach in particular, would be an excellent way of developing your knowledge and reading before trying to sight read this kind of material.
An excellent point, Andy. If these are things you don't understand, then perhaps you shouldn't be choosing this material just yet for sight reading. Instead familiarize yourself with Baroque/polyphonic music by learning pieces at your level.
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#2169550 - 10/21/13 02:44 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Because people use "sight reading" so vaguely on this board, we don't know if the OP means sight reading (prima vista) or just plain reading (with practice).
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#2169577 - 10/21/13 03:27 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE


I tried plugging the measure into Finale and it would not let me write a 1/4 note on top of a 1/2 note without layering.


I don't have Finale, but the program I use (NWC) requires me to write the 1/4 note first then add the 1/2 note below it.

I don't know why but it makes me write the smaller divisions first.
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#2169714 - 10/21/13 07:06 PM Re: Some help with sight reading polyphonic music [Re: JosephAC]
keystring Online   content
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PianoStudent88 made an important point about "sight reading".

We want to learn to read music, and everything that entails. Meanwhile there is also a specialized skill consisting of playing a new piece of music never before seen, at tempo. It is a skill needed by accompanists and such. I don't think we need that skill first.

Reading music entails a number of other skills. There is the act of seeing the note on the page and relating it to the spot on the keyboard. You understand key signatures, maybe listen for the tonic, get used to the sound and feel of V7-I cadences. Understanding the music, such as the questions that popped up in this piece, is also part of it. I don't think that any part of learning to understand unfamiliar things in music is bad. It all contributes.

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An original piece on home-made electric guitar
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