Twenty Four Little Melodious Studies. Marcel Moyse
On my first visit to the legendary Marcel Moyse master classes in Boswil, Switzerland in 1965, I listened for several days to players of all kinds playing repertoire. One afternoon, Moyse said, ‘Nobody is playing studies, only pieces’. After a long silence, he pointed to me and said ‘My Twenty- Four studies. You. Tonight!’
At the evening class I started off with number two. After a lesson on it, he said ‘Next!’. This continued until, after nearly 2 hours, I was playing number 24. When I had finished it, he said, ‘Now the difficult one!’
In the 1920’s Moyse often deputised for Philippe Gaubert at the Paris Conservatoire, who was occupied in composing and conducting as well as performing on the flute. Moyse found that many students failed to understand the fundamentals of music making and phrasing:- The dominance of the first beat of the bar; the meaning of the slur; the way to play syncopation; clarity of articulation; the meaning of the appoggiatura. He wrote these small studies both to illustrate those points and to help the students to overcome any difficulties. It is interesting to remember that they were not written for beginners but for Conservatoire students.
I have used these studies constantly since about 1961 in my teaching and never tired of them.
The letters CPE have been bracketed. They refer to the teaching of CPE Bach, (His book:- The Interpretation on Music) said by Mozart to be the ‘…greatest teacher we have ever had. Anyone who doesn’t believe that is a ****!. Moyse was unaware of CPE’s book but taught his principles, seemingly by instinct. My friends and I often refer to CPE as ‘Kipper!’
Most of the 16 bar studies follow the common phrasing pattern of 2 bars, 2 bars and 4 bars repeated.
No.1. A deceptively difficult study for phrasing, intonation and to convey to the listener the simplicity of this lovely tune. The first bar crescendos only to piano. A slur is a diminuendo. It is always a diminuendo…except sometimes! The second bar is an appoggiatura, a diminuendo to the second note. (CPE) Notice the harmony on the first beat of that bar. In the 6th bar, there is no diminuendo as the phase goes on…
Variation: A slur with dots below is an upbow on the violin and this sign was often used in French music to encourage continuity of the phrase.
No.2. The lips hardly move for the first two notes resulting in a tonal smoothness: in the second bar, it should sound the same. The third bar is harder. Don’t anticipate the octave.
Variation: as in No.1
No.3. In three-four time, if the second note is longer than the first, the first is made shorter. (CPE) It makes sense as it sounds better that way, but the second note is also accented. That makes for a problem in establishing the correct ¾ rhythm
Variations: A slur is a diminuendo. (CPE). 2nd Var: The 1st and 2nd beats need emphasing but not the third.
No.4. The slur and dots again, exercising your ability at keeping a continuity of the melodic line without too many silences.
Variation: The second note is to be played softer than the first. A slur is a diminuendo. (CPE)
No.5. A light and happy staccato study! Be sure that the rhythmic relationship is correct between the first and second notes. (2 to 1)
No.6. An opportunity to show changes of tone colour between the first phrase (G minor) and the second (Bb major) The second bar is an appoggiatura as is the eighth bar. An appoggiatura signifies stress on the first and a diminuendo to the second note. (CPE)
No.7. A happy tune. Very little marks of phrasing so the usual 2 bar, 2 bars and 4 bars.
1st.Var: Dotted notes: usually better slightly over dotted rather than under. (CPE). The line over the note indicates a slight accent, but tenuto, common in French music of Taffanel, Gaubert, Hue etc. Avoid triplets. The first is long, the next two staccato. 2nd. Var: staccato first note.
No.8. Follow the expression marks carefully to get good phrasing. Not too slowly. Show the tune in the variation. 2nd. Var: Faster still: phrase the same way as in the melody.
No. 9. Double dotting signifies a ratio of 7 to 1. Ben cantato: well sung. 1st Var: Slurred pairs of notes require a small diminuendo to the second note. 2nd Var: rather an odd one. Follow the articulation while trying to maintain to correct beats in a bar.
No. 10. The words mean Slowly, hammered and sustained with a full rich tone. Beginners usually play softer when going down and louder when going up, the exact opposite to most other musical instruments! This study is for practising the opposite: cresendo as you descend to observe the phrasing. 1st Var: Each note with a sustained accent. 2nd Var: Octave playing as on a piano; the second note softer!
A piano accompaniment is available here::-
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