Progressive Grammar 2: Music

“Progressive grammar” is a way of breaking up sentences into their most basic parts and then adding non-essential words one by one. The idea behind this is to work with bitesize chunks of one’s target language – to not overwhelm oneself with sentences that introduced too much that was unfamiliar at once.

We can do a similar thing with music.  If you run into a passage that’s too difficult initially, strip out peripheral notes, and just play the most basic, skeletal rhythm. For example, you might encounter

The trill (written out for clarity), for example, might cause a player difficulties with the overall rhythm, especially if it wasn’t something he’d come across before.  There are various ways of overcoming this – playing super-slowly or getting someone else to play it for you several times would work just fine.

An alternative strategy though would be to initially leave out some of the notes, thus:

Then, you can add back in the semiquavers, having gotten the hang of the general rhythm:

Then it’s only a case of fitting in the trill, which would bring the player to the music as written.  I always find that when there difficult-to-time phrases involving (say) quintuplets or trills, it’s best to start simple and work your way up.

Removing notes can also serve as a starting point for improvisations – it can be a way of making improvisations more structured, without losing the overall shape of the phrase.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for a decent and free score editor, I wrote the above notes quite easily using Denemo, on Fedora, although I don’t know if it’s available on other OSs or Linux distributions.  It’s not as mature as Sibelius, but then, it is open sauce and it is free.

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One thought on “Progressive Grammar 2: Music

  1. Pingback: Mission II « Thousand Mile Journey

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