Today’s piece is something a little bit different – often I make sheet music arrangements for popular songs, simplifying them for beginners. But sometimes it’s nice to learn a piece in its pure, unadultered form. Few masterful compositions can be played by beginners, but some have simpler parts. Who says you have to learn the whole (extremely difficult) Fantasia in D minor? Why not just the intro?
Fantasia in D minor, K 397, intro
Fantasia in D minor – backstory
Not only is the word ‘Fantasia’ awesome, it’s basically a composition based on improvisation, so it doesn’t have a formal structure like some other song types (like sonatas or concertos).
This was Mozart’s third Fantasia, written in 1782. He died about 10 years later but left this piece unfinished – despite that, it’s one of his most famous piano pieces. So the ending of this isn’t actually written by Mozart, it was written by one of his admirers, Eberhard Muller.
Here’s the full version of his Fantasia in D minor (we’re only learning the introduction today). Definitely check it out!
- Key signature: The title declares this is in the key of D minor, which we can confirm by the single flat in the key signature, and the fact that the piece opens on a D minor chord. You can check out the D minor scale if you’d like to get better acquainted with this key.
- Italian: ‘Andante’ means ‘walking speed’ – take that literally. Walk around your room and you’ll know exactly how fast you should play this piece (assuming you walk at a normal pace).
‘Con pedale’ means ‘with pedal’, and it uses the syncopated pedal technique we learned in a previous video (click the link if you need a refresher).
A note on the sheet music
So the way this is written looks crazy, I know. Why is there the same letter in an 8th note overlapping with a dotted half note? It’s to show how the piano is representing different parts. The low, held D can be thought of as our bass line. The eighth note part moves from the LH to the RH and back, so think of that as a second part, a type of melody. These two Ds are played at the exact same time, but that bass note must be held down by the pinky while all these other notes occur atop it.
Rhythm of Fantasia in D minor
Even though the rhythm in this looks really complicated, with all the rests and ties and stuff, it’s actually very straightforward. Our time signature is 6/8, which means we’re counting six 8th notes in each bar. The sound is continuous because there is a note being pressed on every single beat. So there is no pausing or weird counting, just one note after the other in a constant flow.
Okay so you’ve got the first two lines going smoothly – then you hit the third line, and fourth line – the danger zone. Line #3 is difficult because your bass line moves more quickly now – the notes change in rapid succession. Follow the finger numbers carefully and get a sense of each hand’s movement before putting it hands together.
In the fourth line, the first half is actually just one big arpeggio – look at the opening notes. A – C# – E, which outlines an A major chord. And you’ll notice those three notes keep repeating and repeating.
The next half is a little more difficult, but totally doable – you’ve got this stepping pattern. Rises a semitone, drops a third. Rises a semitone, drops a 4th. Rises a semitone, drops a 5th. Up a semitone, down a third. Up a semitone, down a 4th. Look for the pattern to learn this more easily.
Even though Mozart’s Fantasia in D minor is far too difficult to learn as a beginner (in full), it’s still fun to learn this introduction. I hope you enjoyed it as well!