Caprice No. 15, 26 Little Caprices, Op. 37, Joachim Andersen

Lesson Focus: Mordents

Find the music for this one HERE.

I found this etude to be a nice little oasis somehow. I suspect my brain enjoyed the key signature after the previous few etudes required more concentration in that arena. The tempo of this etude is also very manageable and I found it relaxing to practice after I had worked out all the accidentals in the middle section.

The main point of focus for this lesson will be on the mordents. I believe this is what Andersen was thinking as he chose the relaxed tempo for this melody.

STEP 1: Understand what a mordent is

A mordent is like a very short trill that only contains one movement to the neighboring note instead of many. The mordents in this etude go by very quickly as they are on an eight note. It is helpful to think of them notated as a 16th note triplet as notated below.

All of the mordents in this etude are to the upper note. Mordents notated to the lower note contain a slash through the symbol as shown below.

Mordent to the note below

Mordents will follow the key signature unless otherwise marked. Accidentals written above the mordent symbol apply to the upper note of the mordent.

STEP 2: Understand the timing

Mordents can become confused with grace notes as the two can sound very similar. Mordents are definitely NOT the same as grace notes because of how they fall into the rhythm. Mordents begin on the beat, grace notes end on the beat. It is best to start slowly with a metronome, being absolutely sure to maintain the click where it needs to be.  As this becomes more familiar you can increase the tempo.

As I always say, please feel free to reach out and ask questions of you should have any. I am happy to help you understand any of the ideas I have laid out here more clearly. I hope this etude helps you with your mordents going forward, it certainly gives you the opportunity to play quite a lot of them! Happy practicing everyone!

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