Thursday, June 3, 2010

Climbing with Alkan!

After posting the climbing with modes examples, I immediately thought of this excerpt from Charles-Valentin Alkan's Piano Trio Op. 30. This section comes from the blistering finale in 6/8, which is a prolonged perpetuum mobile for piano, violin and cello. Alkan was an extremely interesting personality who composed many novel works during his lifetime (1813-1888) and was a close friend of both Chopin and Liszt.

Like the modal climbing, this can be played with a combination of raking and alternate picking. The ascending passage hovers around the key center of Bb major, the relative major to the opening G Minor, and goes through a few scales. The first G Aeolian then, A Locrian, Bb Ionian, C Dorian, D Phrygian, E Lydian, a modulation to an F# Altered bb7 (7th mode of the Harmonic Minor scale), G Minor, A Locrian #6 (2nd mode of the Harmonic Minor scale) and finally a diminished passage to top it off which we can say for argument's sake is in the key of C. The opening segment comes back into play after that passage a perfect fifth higher in the key of G Minor.

This time the preferred fingerings are in there and so are the picking instructions. The tempo is around 130 Bpm but I would start slow and build it up to speed, the ending can be tricky because of how limited your fretting space becomes. The key here is evenness.

Here is a post of mine where I play the piece in its entirety, although I recorded it in two segments.

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