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Filtering by Tag: Scott Joplin

Vernon Taranto, Jr. -- Composer Extraordinaire

Cory Hall

BachScholar Publishing, LLC, is happy to announce the newest composer whose piano music has been accepted for publication: Vernon Taranto, Jr. Paramount to BachScholar's mission is to publish and promote the highest quality piano music being written by our finest composers today, and Dr. Taranto certainly fits this bill. To read more about Dr. Taranto, please CLICK HERE! Below is my performance of Taranto's work that will soon be published:


In just seven months in business as of this writing, BachScholar Publishing already has a roster of five featured composers whose piano works have been accepted for publication and are currently in production. These distinguished composers' works vary from classical to jazz and from sacred to secular. Five Vignettes by Vernon Taranto, Jr. offers pianists an exciting adventure into space, the stars, and our galaxy. Philip Kim has composed some awesome arrangements of traditional Christian hymns and patriotic songs that pianists are sure to love. Jeremiah Bornfield has penned some outstanding neo-Baroque and Bachian style works for piano. Tiago Videira has graced us with some highly original and inventive impressionist-style piano pieces. And last but not least, GRAMMY winner Norman Henry Mamey will put a smile on pianists' faces with his well-crafted and catchy jazz pieces for students and professionals of all levels. To read more about BachScholar's Featured Composers, CLICK HERE!


1. Vernon Taranto, Jr. (ASCAP) 2. Philip Kim (ASCAP) 3. Jeremiah Bornfield (BMI) 4. Tiago Videira (SPA-Portugal, ASCAP affiliate) 5. Norman Henry Mamey -- GRAMMY winner! (ASCAP)



Established in 2011 and making its debut on the internet in September 2012, BachScholar Publishing, LLC, produces quality digital sheet music for pianists. With an emphasis on clean and accurate "Urtext" editions, each BachScholar™ score is meticulously engraved with staves up to a full inch longer than conventional sheet music resulting in exceptionally clear and easy-to-read manuscripts. All scores -- formatted for "letter" and "A4" paper sizes -- are delivered via PDF files for instant downloading, printing, or saving for future reference. BachScholar™ is the first and only publisher in the world to publish and produce exclusively digital sheet music. (Please note that all of the most popular digital sheet music companies on the internet today are retailers rather than publishers.)

BachScholar Publishing holds publishing memberships in both ASCAP and BMI (the latter, doing business as "BachScholar Global Publishing"), permitting composers belonging to either performing rights organization to officially register and publish their works through BachScholar's ASCAP or BMI affiliations. Benefits of publishing with BachScholar™ include: one-on-one personal interaction with the editor and publisher, highest quality musical manuscripts, marketing on YouTube, music presented and sold on a high-quality e-commerce website, royalties for each copy sold. One of BachScholar's missions is to publish and promote the highest quality piano music being written by our finest composers today.

In addition to publishing and producing the highest quality digital piano sheet music on the internet today, BachScholar™ also offers Piano Lessons via Skype to students worldwide. Dr. Hall is a devoted piano teacher with over 30 years' teaching experience who welcomes students of all ages and levels. BachScholar's website also offers a large selection of musical instruments and CDs by popular, worldwide artists. BachScholar Publishing, LLC, is fully accredited by the Better Business Bureau of the United States and Canada.

Developing a Classical Piano Repertoire and Building a Music Library

Cory Hall

One need not be a concert pianist to take the time and effort to develop a substantial repertoire. What does "repertoire" mean anyway? In short, repertoire is a body of works that forms the pianist's core or foundation. Many pianists believe that one must keep all pieces "under the fingers" or readily playable at all times and that this constitutes one's repertoire. I believe, however, that repertoire implies something more all-encompassing. Let us now examine the term and explore the most efficient ways to develop, expand, and nurture it: Five Golden Rules of Building a Substantial Piano Repertoire 1. Practice, practice, practice 2. Micro-cycle works you are currently practicing 3. Macro-cycle works throughout your life 4. Consider that no work is ever "finished" 5. Constantly add books and sheet music to your library

The first rule of practicing hardly needs explaining. To become better and more proficient at anything, one must do it, do it often, and love doing it with all one's heart and soul. Tiger Woods did not become a great golfer by nibbling on snacks and watching TV. The world's best surgeons did not get there by hanging out in bars and drinking beer. Likewise, an aspiring pianist wishing to have fun and success playing hundreds of pieces will never get there by neglecting to practice on a regular basis. Ideally, one should practice not out of obligation, but rather out of the love of music and heart-burning desire to improve.

The second rule of micro-cycling works constitutes the pianist's short-term plan, which may range anywhere from a few weeks to several months or perhaps a year at the most. This is what most people imply with the word "repertoire," since it is the timeframe in which one could sit down at any time and play (preferably from memory) a set number of works. I have found the best results for micro-cycling by focusing on about five works at a time. For example, I will often spend an entire week practicing exclusively one work (like a Joplin rag), the next week exclusively another work (like a Mozart sonata), and the next week exclusively another work (like a Liszt étude). Then, I may not even touch them at all for two months and, upon returning to one of them, it feels like "meeting an old friend" which accelerates its re-learning phase. What once took a week to accomplish now takes only a couple days. Ideally, the pianist should strive to learn, forget, and then relearn works in monthly, weekly, and daily cycles. This is the eternal and never-ending plan I follow when practicing and preparing for my YouTube videos.

The third rule of macro-cycling works constitutes the pianist's long-term plan, which may range anywhere from one to ten years. A thirteen-year-old just starting out usually does not realize that what is learned in these formative years sets his/her musical foundation for life. I am constantly amazed at just how resilient and powerful the human brain really is. For example, a few years ago when I began practicing Mendelssohn's Rondo Capriccioso after it had lain dormant and totally untouched for 27 years and I was shocked when it came back to me memorized again in only three days. What took as long as three months to learn well at the age of 20 took me only three days to relearn as well or better at the age of 47. This is one of the intriguingly satisfying aspects about music and piano repertoire. All music ultimately remains in your conscience and forms your "musical identity" until the day you leave this earth. It is never too late to learn piano, develop a repertoire, and tap into the power of one's musical memories.

The logical successor to the third rule of macro-cycling is the fourth rule of considering a work to never be finished. When I was a freshman music major in college at the young age of 18, I thought works became "finished" after performing them in a recital or concert. My usual plan of action was to work on a set number of pieces for a semester or year, "finish" them, and then move on to the next pieces my professor assigned. Now at 47 I can't help but smirk at my youthful innocence. As demonstrated with my "Rondo Capriccioso" experience, I have learned through time that no work will ever be finished. Never. Micro- and macro-cycling piano repertoire is the bread of the pianist's musical life. These cycles continue until the end just like food and water. I am constantly resurrecting works once thought to be finished, and never have I been more content with my musical evolution and progress.

While the first four rules constitute the mental or immaterial components of developing a large piano repertoire, the fifth rule of constantly adding books and sheet music to one's library constitutes the physical or material component. Just as one cannot wash dishes without first buying or acquiring plates, cups, and utensils, a pianist will never succeed in developing a large repertoire without buying or acquiring printed music. Books last a lifetime and can be used and reused until the end of one's life. Relying exclusively on free downloads is like eating from paper plates and plastic utensils; however, paying a little money for high-quality, custom digital piano music, like from BachScholar Publishing, is something entirely different. Ultimately, the pianist will never formidably expand his/her repertoire without acquiring the physical accessories (i.e. books and high-quality digital sheet music).

So there it is in a nutshell: practice, micro-cycle, macro-cycle, no work is ever finished, constantly add music to one's library. These are the five golden rules of building a substantial piano repertoire. Happy practicing, fellow pianists!


Gottschalk's Great "Souvenir de Porto Rico, Op. 31"

Cory Hall

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869) was a great American composer who incorporated Creole, Latin American, and Afro-Cuban elements into his unique and exciting music, which many consider to be the earliest forerunner of ragtime. I remember first being introduced to Gottschalk around the age of 12 by my piano teacher at the time, Aline Asmundsen. She was a very nice "older" lady who taught piano and happened to live just a few blocks away from me. I remember riding my bike to lessons every week to Mrs. Asmundsen's house. I had already been playing ragtime for at least a couple years and remember around this time playing Maple Leaf Rag for my 6th grade music class in school. Mrs. Asmundsen introduced Gottschalk's music to me from a record and then we decided I work on Tournament Galop, an exciting "solon" virtuoso piece. I remember wearing out our old upright piano with Tournament Galop. Here is a performance of it, much later at around age 46 when I decided to revive it for one of my YouTube videos: [youtube]

Many pianists and musicologists consider Gottschalk's greatest solo piano work to be Souvenir de Porto Rico, Op. 31, composed in 1857 and published in 1860. It bears the subtitle "Marche de Gibaros," "Gibaros" referring to the Puerto Rican peasants of the time. What I find interesting and that I was not aware of for many years is that the work is based on the Christmas folk song Si me dan pasteles, denmelos calientes (Wikipedia). Another remarkable trait about Souvenir de Porto Rico is that "The piece makes free use of Latin and Afro-American melodies and rhythms almost fifty years before early ragtime and jazz would popularize its use" (Wikipedia).

Not only is Souvenir de Porto Rico remarkable because of its infectious, quasi-ragtime style rhythms, but its highly unique form also contributes much to its success. It consists of only two sections -- "A" and "B" -- which are repeated a total of six times, in a sense, much like a theme and variations. It begins calmly and with each successive repetition of the "AB" section it gains more energy and momentum by Gottschalk's ingenious and effective use of additive note values. After the climactic fourth section, replete with bravura-style octaves, the piece begins winding down until the music simply dissipates into an identically calm atmosphere of the beginning. The overall effect of this symmetrical form is hypnotic and mesmerizing. Here is a visual layout of the large-scale form:

AB (calm), AB (more), AB (yet more!), AB (climax!), AB (winds down), AB (winds down more), Coda

I have my own strong opinions about its performance. I believe that the more one changes tempos throughout the variations, the more the piece suffers in its musical effectiveness. There is no reason to begin slowly and speed up the second and third variations up to a "presto" style fourth section and then slow down gradually until the calm ending. In fact, I believe this popular approach (taken by most pianists I have heard) ruins the music because most of the hypnotic and mesmerizing effect is created through unity in tempo. In my performance, I stick to one tempo from beginning to end with perhaps a slight accelerando into the climactic octave section. This is the main way in which my general conception and performance differs from most other pianists. I hope you enjoy it!