Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 52
A meditative gem
he Song of Twilight,"
by Japanese composer
Yoshinao Nakada (Frederick
Harris Celebration Series:
Piano Repertoire, Level 3), is
an accessible and motivating
piece for the late-elementary
pianist. When I prepared students
for the Royal Conservatory Music
Development Program, many students chose this
piece as their finale because of its soaring melody and
Nakada (1923-2000) made a significant contribution
to the piano pedagogy field; his compositions were
recognized and discussed in pedagogy textbooks by
James Bastien, Maurice Hinson, and Jane Magrath.1 Most
of his compositions were written for children; hence,
they were short, with simple motivic ideas, and avoided
overstretching of the hands. Furthermore, Nakada
integrated Japanese musical styles with the western
harmonic language, introducing young pianists to an
"The Song of Twilight" is in ABA form. The A section
consists of two phrases of four measures each and is in
A-major tonality, and the bottom notes of the left-hand
chords outline the descending scale in A major. The first
phrase ends with a half cadence, as seen in measures 1-4.
The second phrase concludes with a perfect authentic
cadence. The primary challenge throughout lies in the
balance between the melody and the pulsing chordal
accompaniment. To achieve a singing quality in the
right hand, finger legato is necessary. However, keeping
the arm and forearm light is crucial, too. Students also
should practice blocking the left-hand chords before
attempting to use the pedal.
When using an A-major pentatonic scale (right-hand
melody A, B, C-sharp, E, and F-sharp) with a traditional
Western harmonic structure (V-I) in the left hand, a meditative
twilight atmosphere is created, as seen in measures 5-8.
When the A section repeats, students can create
a darker tone contrast by experimenting with
The B section is four measures long and is in the
relative minor of F-sharp. The right hand is in a
higher register, and the mood is more mournful. An
unresolved feeling comes from a lack of the leading
tone (E-sharp) and the use of second-inversion tonic
chord (F-sharp minor) in the left hand. At measures
9-12, this section ends abruptly with staccato notes.
This piece requires sensitive touch, smooth
pedaling, and acute listening for balance and
direction. Practicing these skills in a piece of music
rather than in an exercise will definitely keep the
student's interest. Furthermore, learning this gem
gives students an opportunity to broaden their
understanding and appreciation of different cultures
by introducing a composer of a different heritage.
-Wei Chen (Bruce) Lin
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Wei Chen (Bruce) Lin, D.M.A., holds degrees from
University of British Columbia, Westminster Choir
College, and West Virginia University. An active performer,
collaborator, and adjudicator, Lin is Assistant Professor of
Piano at Texas Lutheran University.
Kanamaru, Tomoko. (2006). The Pedagogical Implications of
Yoshinao Nakada's Japanese Festival. University of Cincinnati:
DMA diss., p. 26.
Ibid., p. 24.