Napoléon Coste Lesson 24
In this lesson we’ll look at Lesson 24 by Napoléon Coste. This piece comes from Coste’s revised edition of Sor’s Method and has a beautiful melody in D minor. Here we’ll focus on expression by looking at fingerings, dynamics, rubato, articulation, and tempo.
The piece is marked Andante, which is around a walking pace. We should point out, however, that every piece of music has a range of tempos. I like this particular piece at a slower andante pace. This allows a much broader range of expression than a faster, dance-like tempo.
Tempo choice is up to you as a musician and your choice will affect the whole piece.
The slow tempo gives a melancholic feel to the piece. To make sure you capture the feel of the piece correctly, make sure to pay attention to the anacrusis at the beginning. An anacrusis is a pickup or off-beat note.
Another important component of the feel is the harmonic motion. The harmony moves from D minor to G minor and back to D minor. Thus, we move from a state of relaxation to tension and back to relaxation. Giving appropriate stress and release to this motion will help you bring out the feel.
Finally, bass stopping at rests offers a nice punctuation in the bass line that adds to the melancholic feel of the music. Yes, this brings a greater challenge, but it’s worth it musically.
There are many longer lines that have an almost vocal quality. We can maximize the vocal element by use of portamentos, slurs, and stopping additional notes from sounding. Likewise we can use vibrato to imitate the voice and there are many opportunities to add vibrato.
Following some of these lyrical lines, we can add articulation to create contrast. We can do this by making the chords at the end of measure 3 staccato.
Tempo rubato, or stolen time, allows us to add to and take away energy from the music. In some places we can speed up in a subtle way. Following on from that we can take away energy by slowing down. The way I like to think of this is being elastic with time. You might think of it like a rollercoaster going up a hill and then rushing down the hill it’s just climbed.
Finally, when we combine tempo rubato with the use dynamics, crescendi and decrescendi, we add drama to the effect of elasticity.