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#2014470 - 01/14/13 03:03 PM Starting out with analysis, all invited  
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Several people have commented at various times that they are interested in analysis, but the current Sonata Analysis thread is too hard for them. Also people have occasionally asked, "what is analysis for?", and I hope this thread can persuade some people to dip a toe in and find out.

To me, analysis is studying a piece with an eye to understanding how it is put together. For people with a practical bent, it also includes finding ways to improve learning, practicing, playing (and optionally memorizing) a piece, in particular by understanding the structure and subtleties of a piece.

I would like to start this thread to re-visit analysis from the most basic level. The idea is for a thread where everyone feels they can learn something, and no prior knowledge is required, and every question is acceptable. (We tried to start the other analysis thread that way too, but clearly we didn't quite succeed.)

OK, I'm making the opening post short and sweet to get you interested. Next post will propose some details.


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#2014478 - 01/14/13 03:19 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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I'm interested, even if I don't know if I can really give a contribution.
I tried to catch up with the Sonata Analysis thread but it was... too much!



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#2014482 - 01/14/13 03:22 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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I'm trying to start out with no (or almost no) assumptions, but I'm sure I and others will inadvertently make assumptions along the way. So please, if you're interested in this topic, please raise any questions that arise. For example "I don't know how to tell the key" or "what does that note that's just a plain circle mean again" or "how do you find the meolody in this welter of notes" or "how do you read the rhythm of this piece" or etc.

In a way this is applied music theory. We will be introducing a lot of the basics of music theory as they become necessary. I anticipate a possibly leisurely pace with lots of digressions to explore these areas.

I call it applied music theory because we will be looking at specific pieces to learn how to analyze them, and to learn music theory that applies to them as we go.

Some ideas of pieces to start with are Burgmüller's Opus 100, the Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook, and/or arrangements of existing songs specially composed for the thread (I'm not an expert composer, but I could come up with arrangements of anthems and folksongs to illustrate various points. First up, Happy Birthday...). I don't play a lot of non-classical music, but if people have ideas for popular or other pieces to look at, that's fair game too, and I may start doing some research among my rock books looking for pieces to illustrate certain ideas. Ideally we would look at pieces where the score is available for free on the internet.

Alfred's method book doesn't fit the category of "free on the internet", but we might occasionally do a piece from there if people are interested, if those without the book are willing to be patient during occasional Alfred interludes. Or some of the pieces in Alfred's can be found, perhaps in a slightly different arrangement, on the internet.

For me personally, it's not so important to be able to play the pieces we analyse, but that perhaps betrays two things: I have a strong purely theoretical streak, and I know enough at the piano to be able to pick out melody and bass lines enough to give me a flavour of what a piece is like. So I would be interested to know other people's wishes in this matter. There may be a piece you are working on that you would like us to look at, or you may find that your interest and learning will be improved by using pieces that you can learn at your level.

The next post will ask for introductions. I'm breaking this up into three posts to try to avoid TL:DR, but who knows if this will work smile .


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#2014484 - 01/14/13 03:25 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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torquenale, welcome to the thread! Can you say anything about what was too much about the Sonata Analysis thread? Asking questions can be an excellent contribution; without questions we won't know on this thread when we're assuming too much and/or making things too hard.

For people who are interested, what do you think about the ideas in my previous post, of pieces to use? What interests you about this topic? If you have tried to follow the Sonata Analysis thread, can you say what made it too hard? What level would you say you are with piano (pieces you're playing, topics covered in lessons or on your own, affinity for reading or memorizing, whatever)? Feel free to PM me if you feel too shy to answer any of these questions in public.

(Or you can just lurk, but the more we know about people participating, the more we can shape the thread to meet people's needs.)

Last edited by PianoStudent88; 01/14/13 03:29 PM.

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#2014498 - 01/14/13 03:54 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Can you say anything about what was too much about the Sonata Analysis thread?


Hi PianoStudent, my problem with the Sonata Analysis Thread was that I started reading it when the discussion was already well developed. The first piece was, if I remember, one of Clementi's Sonatinas; I have the score and tried to read everything in one evening. I was a bit discouraged so I left the thread.
I'm sure that if I follow on a day by day basis it will be easier.

I agree that we can use mainly scores available for free on the net, and occasionally also some arrangements of existing song.

Thank you very much for your idea!


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#2014501 - 01/14/13 03:59 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Holy smokes...I am new here but that thread was displaying as "starting out with anal" Not sure why it cut off like that but I was nervous what I got myself into. Lol

#2014511 - 01/14/13 04:18 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Nice way to introduce yourself, Rocket Man ^^

I'm interested in learning to play and understand classical music and theory. I started taking lessons a little over half a year ago. The pieces discussed in the sonata analysis thread are way beyond me. I don't know many of the musical terms and cannot hope to play the pieces within years. Tried plucking along the melody of the Chopin Nocturne. It's sort of doable while ignoring the trills, until you run into the fast 32nd notes in bar 16, which I can barely even read. Something a little easier would be nice.

I've played one of the menuets from Anna Magdalena Bach's notebook, so something around or a little over that level would definitely work for me.

Last edited by Allard; 01/14/13 04:19 PM. Reason: typo

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#2014519 - 01/14/13 04:54 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Excellent idea! I will join!
Is a question like this acceptable for this thread? I am still wondering if this piece is originally written for 4 hands. I can see in the bass clef almost the same melody than in the treble clef, just a little bit delayed: And a little bit shortened, it is not a canon in the end. Members in the forum explained me about "voices", and I now see this. Anyway, my "4 hand" question is still not answered. Actually, having voices, and each of them is even individually a nice one, would point even more towards a 4-hand idea, or? Each player stays with a similar melodie!

#2014523 - 01/14/13 05:07 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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The key (pun intended), will be picking pieces that people real love and want to learn. Best of luck, should be an interesting thread.

#2014527 - 01/14/13 05:13 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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#2014531 - 01/14/13 05:20 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Welcome, Rocket Man, Allard, Marco M., Mark..., neildradford.

Rocket Man, lol, I'm going to have to start counting letters carefully before making thread titles!

Marco M., lots of specific questions about pieces will still perhaps be best on their own thread. Among other things, they might get more attention that way, if more advanced players aren't following this thread. Let's see how it goes. I have an idea for your voices/4 hands question which I'll put over on the original thread, and make a note to think about taking up voices at some point in this thread, but not right away.

Mark... it's very interesting to me that for some people learning analysis is closely linked to wanting to learn a piece, while for other people an alternate approach might be to use any pieces to learn the basic principles. I'm of the latter mind myself, but I'm aware that many people are very practical minded and want a piece to be learning, so I'm trying to reign in my inner didactic theoretician here smile and find pieces that will be both learnable and interesting. I hope people will be willing to join in the analysis even if a particular piece isn't their favorite, or if it's a little too hard to learn completely (but can still be plinked out in part to get the ideas), or a little too easy to be much challenge. Having people nominate the kinds of pieces, or specific pieces, that will be of interest will help us try to meet everyone's wishes at least some of the time!


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#2014539 - 01/14/13 05:46 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Great thread, I'm in! I like music theory a lot but I don't know nothing about applying it to complex classical scores. I look for key signatures, chords, patterns, etc. in my Alfred's songs but that's it. I'll be happy to follow along!


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#2014548 - 01/14/13 06:06 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Welcome to the thread, sinophilia! I see from your .sig that you're in Alfred 2. Where are you up to?

Last edited by PianoStudent88; 01/14/13 06:08 PM.

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#2014566 - 01/14/13 06:46 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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I'm in, too! Obviously I am starting out. I look forward to learning music theory. Thank you PianoStudent88 for this great idea.


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#2014597 - 01/14/13 07:59 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Hi PS88,

Please include me in the group as it's obvious that I'll learn something here while hopefully increasing my focus and accelerating my learning curve. Also a beginner, I started taking lessons this past year. That being said, how does a beginner contribute to this project? Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge.

#2014636 - 01/14/13 10:02 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Thanks so much for starting this thread, Pianostudent88! smile I'm happy to see that so many other people are also interested in this topic. I'll have a look at those links for the music for possible analysis. For me, it would be ok to start with some really easy/basic examples, even if the music is easier than what I would usually play.

One of the reasons I'm interested in music analysis is because I think it would make it easier to learn and memorize pieces. Sometimes when I'm trying to memorize pieces, I have to try to remember the notes in weird and not very effective ways because i don't understand the relationships between the note changes, or between the notes in a chord or arpeggio etc.




#2014639 - 01/14/13 10:11 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: Valencia]  
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I'm interested too.

What do you think about starting a new thread with each new piece or group of pieces? It can be intimidating for people to jump in on a thread with 87 pages of history.


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#2014671 - 01/14/13 11:39 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Welcome scorpio, venice1, Valencia, malkin.

malkin, I'm definitely taking your idea on-board for new threads per piece or set of pieces.

venice1, lots of room to contribute at any level. This is a discussion course, not a lecture course smile. Answering questions, asking questions, reporting on what you see/hear in a piece, proposing pieces or areas for further investigation; sharing what you're learning in your lessons. The list goes on!


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#2014721 - 01/15/13 03:07 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Welcome to the thread, sinophilia! I see from your .sig that you're in Alfred 2. Where are you up to?


I'm working on the last ten pages smile


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#2014757 - 01/15/13 05:16 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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I'm certainly interested in learning more about theory and analysis, but starting from pretty much zero with very easy stuff -- to be sure to catch the gaps is my knowledge.

As a starting point, how about "Lili Marlene" -- it has a lot of the 1-2-5-1 and 1-4-1 stuff I've heard a little about. Then for examples that I think are deeper because I'm clueless at this point -- Cole Porter's "Night and Day", David Rose's "The Stripper".....

I've been using the free open source "MuseScore" notation program, could it be helpful in creating examples?


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#2014815 - 01/15/13 09:06 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by Valencia
One of the reasons I'm interested in music analysis is because I think it would make it easier to learn and memorize pieces. Sometimes when I'm trying to memorize pieces, I have to try to remember the notes in weird and not very effective ways because i don't understand the relationships between the note changes, or between the notes in a chord or arpeggio etc.
Spot on, Valencia.

Aesthetic benefits
When music appeals to us it's interesting to find out why. When good music doesn't appeal an educated study can change your appreciation. Analysis helps understand why a piece works, why it might not appeal, and why or how the composer wrote it. It can change what we like and don't like.

Intellectual benefits
Theory and analysis go hand in hand. Music theory is not a set of rules we apply arbitrarily. It is a distillation of what has worked over the years and what hasn't. It is, in effect, good practise, codified. When you learn theory from studying a piece of music you learn not just the 'rule' in a glass case that we forget next week, but why it's there and how it works and that makes it not just easy to remember but understood and applied as part of our musical make-up.

Practical benefits
Analysis looks at music the way an artist looks at the figure. We examine the form and the structure, break it down into a skeleton, musculature and flesh, study the proportions, and in the realisation bring out the spirit, the personality, the expression and the emotion.

When learning a new piece of music it makes it easier understand as a piece, easier to interpret and make it our own. We get to know it intimately, like a close friend, and it helps us to see inside the mind of the composer.

It can speed up and simplify the learning process. It can suggest easier ways to go about learning a piece and makes it easier to memorise and become part of us. And memorised pieces are the best way to develop and maintain technical facility. With memorised pieces our technique can be maintained without practising at the piano and restored in very short order even after many years away from the piano.



Richard
#2014853 - 01/15/13 10:42 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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This sounds very interesting and I will most certainly follow this thread.
I don't know if it's the right place to post this, but I have found a nice resource on youtube teaching the basis of counterpoint and harmony and I guess this is relevant to this thread since it might help people to get started on understanding what happens in a piece: http://www.youtube.com/user/artofcounterpoint


- Please, forgive my bad English smile

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#2015215 - 01/16/13 01:44 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: zrtf90]  
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Originally Posted by Valencia
One of the reasons I'm interested in music analysis is because I think it would make it easier to learn and memorize pieces. Sometimes when I'm trying to memorize pieces, I have to try to remember the notes in weird and not very effective ways because i don't understand the relationships between the note changes, or between the notes in a chord or arpeggio etc.
Spot on, Valencia.

Aesthetic benefits
When music appeals to us it's interesting to find out why. When good music doesn't appeal an educated study can change your appreciation. Analysis helps understand why a piece works, why it might not appeal, and why or how the composer wrote it. It can change what we like and don't like.

Intellectual benefits
Theory and analysis go hand in hand. Music theory is not a set of rules we apply arbitrarily. It is a distillation of what has worked over the years and what hasn't. It is, in effect, good practise, codified. When you learn theory from studying a piece of music you learn not just the 'rule' in a glass case that we forget next week, but why it's there and how it works and that makes it not just easy to remember but understood and applied as part of our musical make-up.

Practical benefits
Analysis looks at music the way an artist looks at the figure. We examine the form and the structure, break it down into a skeleton, musculature and flesh, study the proportions, and in the realisation bring out the spirit, the personality, the expression and the emotion.

When learning a new piece of music it makes it easier understand as a piece, easier to interpret and make it our own. We get to know it intimately, like a close friend, and it helps us to see inside the mind of the composer.

It can speed up and simplify the learning process. It can suggest easier ways to go about learning a piece and makes it easier to memorise and become part of us. And memorised pieces are the best way to develop and maintain technical facility. With memorised pieces our technique can be maintained without practising at the piano and restored in very short order even after many years away from the piano.



Great post! I'll simply add that with understanding comes appreciation - as touched on - which is why music theorists and more experienced musicians will appreciate and tend to enjoy Bach while those less knowledgeable will often find him hard to listen to or perhaps "overrated."


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#2015407 - 01/16/13 11:56 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Welcome, JohnSprung, zrtf90 (Richard), Bobpickle. Et bienvenu Jean-Luc.

sinophilia, congratualtions on your progress in Alfred 2.

JohnSprung, thank you for the non-classical suggestions.

I have MuseScore, and also the free version of Finale. Haven't quite decided which I like better, and am considering buying notation software, perhaps even as extravagant as full Finale. I might be able to get an educational discount, since I work at a college.

Jean-Luc, thank you for the counterpoint link. I hope people will watch it and share what they think or what they learn from it. (Or what is challenging about it, and why.)

I'll post up the first piece later today. For starters: I'm thinking we'll start with some arrangements of Happy Birthday, just to cover a few introductory points about analysis, and then move to Burgmüller Opus 100 for at least a few pieces, and look at the popular pieces suggested by JohnSprung.


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#2015708 - 01/16/13 07:50 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Cool. Very good idea

Forstergirl

#2015964 - 01/17/13 08:08 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
For starters: I'm thinking we'll start with some arrangements of Happy Birthday, just to cover a few introductory points about analysis, and then move to Burgmüller Opus 100 for at least a few pieces, and look at the popular pieces suggested by JohnSprung.


Sounds good to me! smile


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To create a beautiful sound, one must imagine it at first and then learn to produce fluid physical motions that breathe life into music. (Shirley Kirsten)
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#2016027 - 01/17/13 11:11 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Welcome, Forstergirl.

Here is the first arrangement of Happy Birthday: Happy Birthday 1

It is not a very good arrangement, but serviceable for the initial questions I want us to look at. Please feel free to ask if you're not sure about any of these, or if you're not even sure what the words mean! We're all starting at different levels, and we can all learn from each other.

For those just starting out, the leger lines (short horizontal lines supporting notes above or below the staff) may be new, or you may not have learned all the notes on the staff yet. Or other things may be new that I'm not even realizing! Ask about these, or other aspects of the score, and we can go over them.

Questions:

1. Overview: Are there any things in this score that you don't know what they are? Ask here!

2. Time signature: What is the time signature? What does that mean?

3. Key: What key is this in? How do you know?

4. Melody: What phrases (smaller groups) does the melody divide into? Where would you put slight pauses in playing it? Where is the climax? Would you play any parts of it louder or softer?

5. Harmony: What are the names of the chords in each measure? For this initial piece, just consider the notes in the bass clef. (Later on we'll ask about the notes in the treble clef too.) What is the first chord? What is the last chord?

6. Playing: Can you play or pick out parts or all of this, even if very slowly? If it seems daunting: try just the melody alone, with just one finger if you want. Try just the lowest notes in the bass clef. Try finding all the notes of each chord.

These are the kinds of questions we'll be asking for every piece. As we proceed, we will find more details to investigate in each area, and maybe add some areas.

I will tend to take the approach of asking questions first, and then using people's answers and questions to decide what to fill in and say more about.

I'd like us to have a recording of this. I can probably post a recording this evening, but if someone else wants to and can post one, please do.

Last edited by PianoStudent88; 01/17/13 12:09 PM. Reason: clarify #5.

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#2016102 - 01/17/13 01:17 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Lets also talk about stems up vs down please.

#2016104 - 01/17/13 01:18 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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I'd like to start by pointing out some issues:
- There is no tempo indication. Of course, everyone knows how this song should sound.
- The time signature is 3/4, or three quarter notes per measure. The first measure has only one beat. What is this called in English? Anyway, this means the last measure should have only two beats, so the two rests at the end are unnecessary.
- Chord progression is awkward when arranged for a beginner. It requires a lot of left hand movement. The high C major chord in measure 5 touches the same key (g) the right hand just played, which is physically possible but just feels awkward.
- Not an issue per se, but the score could use some fingering marks. This should be an early point to touch on when analysing a score you plan to play. In this case, you should probably start with 1 on g, so that the first right hand movement will be at the octave stretch in measure 5 (with 5 on the high g). I would then play the e with 4, c with 3, b with 2 and a with 1.


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#2016114 - 01/17/13 01:40 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: Allard]  
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Originally Posted by Allard
I'd like to start by pointing out some issues:

Good points all, Allard!

Quote
- There is no tempo indication. Of course, everyone knows how this song should sound.

Yes, I was so completely mesmerized by "of course everyone knows how this goes" that a tempo indication never occurred to me.

Of course maybe everyone does not know this. Do they sing this "Happy Birthday" song in the Netherlands? Are there Dutch words for it?

OK, analysts: what tempo indication would you suggest?

Quote
- The time signature is 3/4, or three quarter notes per measure. The first measure has only one beat. What is this called in English?

Pickup notes, and pickup measure.

Quote
Anyway, this means the last measure should have only two beats, so the two rests at the end are unnecessary.

Yes, I would much rather have left those rests out, but I couldn't figure out how to do that in MuseScore. Anyone know how to do that?

This is one of the reasons I'm considering buying Finale.

Quote
- Chord progression is awkward when arranged for a beginner. It requires a lot of left hand movement.

Yes, that's one of the crap things about this as an arrangement. For ease of analysis, I wanted almost all the chords to be in root position, so that trumped ease of playing.

Quote
- The high C major chord in measure 5 touches the same key (g) the right hand just played, which is physically possible but just feels awkward.

Ack! (Now I have to confess: I actually haven't played this, and arranged it entirely by eye and by theory.)

Quote
- Not an issue per se, but the score could use some fingering marks. This should be an early point to touch on when analysing a score you plan to play. In this case, you should probably start with 1 on g, so that the first right hand movement will be at the octave stretch in measure 5 (with 5 on the high g). I would then play the e with 4, c with 3, b with 2 and a with 1.

I had a fleeting thought about fingering somewhere along the way, and then I dismissed it for I don't know what reason. I'll put up a new version showing the fingering I use.

You're right, working out the fingering is one of the first things I do when learning a piece. Then I start doing the actual learning work in small sections, using the worked-out fingering.

Thank you for your comments! As an inexperienced arranger and notator, I find this very helpful.


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