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Ten Children's Pieces, Vol. 1

for solo piano

Year:  2020

Year:  2020

Andrew Portman

Composer:   Andrew Portman

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: Page 1 (Skippity Dippity Doo Dah), 2 (Carousel), 5 (Nigel, the 3 Legged Octopus), 7 (Afternoon Tea, With A Twist), 8 (Medley of tunes), 11 (The Russian's Pie), and 12 (The Origami Dragon)

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This volume of pieces is like a biographical compilation of some of my childhood experiences and interests. The titles are intended to invite the performer to think about the relationship between the music and the title. Some of the pieces are written with a short range of notes, while others require the pianist to take risks with moving to the higher and lower registers of the piano.

Following the dynamic markings will help guide the student to play with expression. The tempo markings for most of these pieces are meant as a guide. The student does have flexibility in choosing the tempo that’s right for them. The last piece is played mostly on the black notes. But hidden in it are three white notes, can you find them? I arranged the pieces in this particular order, as though they were chapters of a story; like we were following a child experiencing them for the first time.

Skippity Dippity Doo Dah
Skipping is one of childhood’s joys. Why walk when you can skip? The left and right hands are meant to mirror the skipping style of the left and right legs. This is in A-B-A form. The B section has a different and contrasting skipping rhythm to the A section. The key of C major and also the absence of any sharps, flats, or accidentals, conveys the simplicity and carefree nature of skipping.

When I was taken to fairgrounds as a child, I loved the lights, colour and music of the carousel. The Waltz feel depicts the animals’ rising and falling as a dance like movement. The first section is from the perspective of an onlooker. The repeated 8 bars is like the carousel going around twice. The second section now has the onlooker riding in the carousel. The rit.e dim. brings the Carousel to an end, 7 bars instead of 8 as for the beginning; indicating that the ride has come to an end a little too soon.

The Junior Womble’s Jaunt
I watched a lot of T.V. as a child and the Womble’s was one of my favourite shows. This piece follows a young Womble discovering things to bring back home. This jaunt will take Junior down pathways, going up and down steps, to see what can be gathered. The opening theme is not repeated, which may indicate that they didn’t get back home by the end of the piece due to Junior being distracted by something that caught their eye.

Nigel, The Three legged Octopus
The connection between the music and the title lies with the time signature; The 8 of the time signature refers to the normal family of octopus having eight legs, and the 3 is connected with Nigel only having 3 legs! Which leads to these questions; did Nigel have an accident where he had lost five legs, or was Nigel born with 3 legs? Whichever is the right answer, Nigel remains upbeat about only having 3 legs. Hence the performance direction to be played “with swagger.” The key opens and ends in G major, which comes from the middle letter of Nigel. The second section moves to the relative minor of G; E minor. This minor key may indicate one of Nigel’s relatives being a relative pain about Nigel’s condition. Nigel lets them have their say, but he has the last word on the matter and ends on a positive note.

Wind Chimes
From my childhood, I remember a lot of homes had wind chimes; some wooden, and others metallic. Part of their charm for me is the random note order of the chimes. One performance direction I hadn’t written onto the score, but I’ll mention it here; play the left and right hands “slightly not together.” Perhaps play the left hand note a fraction before the right hand. I know this will conflict with “both hands strictly together,” but if tried, lends itself to a similar effect to that of the wind chime.

Afternoon Tea, With A Twist…
As a youngster, my mother would treat me to outings which included either a morning or afternoon tea. They were special times. This piece adds a musical accompaniment to those memories. The “twist” is the ad.lib. ending with some jazzy sounding chords. Here, the performer may change the dynamics, such as a crescendo to the end, or a diminuendo. Or a combination cresc. & dim. The timing of the minims can be altered to be played like tempo rubato. The final crotchets could be played staccato, with an appropriate change to the pedalling to support this. So then, there are several options for the performer to try out and how they might play the ending “with a twist.”

Medley of tunes from the Gumwuddle & Morglitch Song Book
Firstly, I need to say that this is a fictitious song book, a product of my imagination. Its title is meant to invoke a mystical (Scottish like) world with its own strange language. The tunes have a mild Scottish feel about them. Each tune is to be played with a degree of lightness to the sound, as if one heard their song drifting through the air, uphill or down dale. The shortness of the phrases conveys this lightness. The Oontwinkle’s Whistle is a reference to my Dad who always whistled a tune when he worked. Fardinweehay in the Gloaming introduces a hint of syncopation in bars 21 & 22. There are also some Grand Pauses to let the ends of those phrases linger a little longer. It ends on a Ic - V7 cadence, much like a question in a conversation. Then the answer comes with the reprise of Sam Ballygad’s Ballad. There are some slight changes to the left hand, compared to the opening Ballad that opens this medley.

The Chrome-Attic
There wasn’t an attic in my childhood home, but my Dad did have an amazing workshop full of tools and various knick knacks. It was the perfect space for a young boy’s mind to daydream about things to make. The Chrome part of the title refers to the staccato notes. The short sounds give the piece a sparkle, thus portraying the shiny look of chrome. The Attic is the magical place for discovering things. What may be hidden in boxes or corners? The chromatic movement refers to taking small steps, or looking at things that are close together.

The Russian’s Pie
The title is intended to be heard as: The Russian Spy. Part of being a spy is having two identities. Black notes have two identities (names) like that of a spy. There is one black note, that for the most part is written as C#. But the other name for C# is found only in 2 bars. That is where the spy’s other name is revealed. Can you find it?

The Origami Dragon
One of my many T.V. programmes I watched as a youngster, was about the art of origami, folding paper into a great variety of things. The man who demonstrated this, was very precise with the folds and making the creases. Hence the title’s direction to be played “with precision” refers. One art of origami is making hidden folds; hidden from the casual glance of the viewer, but known by the origami master! One type of fold is characterised by the interval of a perfect 4th, but there is another interval, hidden. Can you see where it is? Both hands are played on the black notes, mostly. Can you also find the hidden white note(s)? The repeated notes represent the repeated movements needed to make a precise fold. Can you find where the dragon makes its first appearance?

Difficulty note

These pieces are suitable for children, or the young at heart beginner.

Text note

Piece #7, The Gumwuddle & Morglitch Song Book is fictional and does not exist. It is a product of my imagination.