I’m about to fly off to a Skype lesson in UK, but while grounded here in Berkeley, I want to share epiphanies about spinning long melodic lines in the Romantic era genre.
Using Schumann’s supposedly less complex “Melody” from his Album for the Young, I found myself exploring physical motions that needed to be synthesized with the melodic line.
Not such a simple task. It was easy to fall into multiple wrist dips, until I realized that humming long 4-measure phrases of quarters then 8ths, against rippling 8th notes in the bass, needed more of an overall curve, so SINGING the line first, was my best introduction to how to sculpt notes.
Next, I found it invaluable to play the principle notes of the bass line (without the repeated, common tones) along with the treble line (melody) so the harmonic flow between two voices gave a further glimpse into shaping the melody.
While this is a piece with just two voices, harmonic movement is still crystal clear and various progressions suggest a lean/less approach, as in dominant to tonic cadences or resting points.
After all was said and done, I experimented with motions that supported a longer melodic strand and allowed dynamic variation as well, always keeping supple wrists, and an uninterrupted flow of energy funneled down relaxed arms.