Mozart’s Minuet in F Major: Piano Tutorial
In today’s tutorial on Mozart’s Minuet in F Major, K2, we’re going to smoosh together some learning points from previous videos. We’re going to dissect this difficult grade 1-level piece and look at the theory behind it, then figure out how to play it.
Here is the sheet music PDF for Minuet in F Major:
Minuet in F Major sheet music
*There are several versions on this page – I prefer the one at the very bottom, by Pierre Gouin.
Let’s get started!
Notebook for Nannerl
Piano. Composed by Leopold Mozart (1719-1787). Edited by Stefan Simon. Schott. Classical. Softcover. 80 pages. Schott Music #ED9006. Published by Schott Music (HL.49008268).
Backstory of Minuet in F Major
So much of the music that Mozart wrote is pretty advanced in difficulty, but luckily, he also wrote a lot of shorter pieces as a child that we can play and learn from.
This piece, Minuet in F Major, K 2, was composed when Mozart was 6 or so. But before you go and get too excited, it’s pretty likely that his father wrote down the composition for little Mozart, maybe even making some minor corrections. Okay, that’s still pretty impressive.
This piece is from a book called “Notebook for Nannerl,” who was Mozart’s sister. For more information about Mozart – he was an interesting guy – check out the video on a Brief History of Mozart, as well as the Music of Mozart.
So Minuet in F Major was written in January, 1762, and Mozart would have written it for the harpsichord, meaning this piece still has a lot of Baroque characteristics despite Mozart being a Classical composer.
The Minuet Style
The next thing I want to discuss with Mozart’s Minuet in F major is what a Minuet is. Lots of older songs were based on dances and dance styles, and the Minuet was one of those. Let’s just talk about some of the basic characteristics of this dance style:
-Slow to moderate rhythm (not fast)
-3/4 time signature
-Simple rhythms and a light character
Check out the video to listen to Mozart’s Minuet in F Major – try to pinpoint these characteristics while you listen!
What is a motif?
We haven’t talked about motifs before on this channel, and I think this is as good a place to start as any. Just so I don’t butcher the definition, Wikipedia tells us that a motif is:
A short musical idea, a recurring figure, a musical fragment that is characteristic of a composition.
A good example of a motif is from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – the famous opening lines (imitate) that are threaded over and over again throughout the song. I could probably do a whole video on this but I’ll keep to the point.
There’s a very simple 1-bar rhythmic motif running through Minuet in F Major – two 8th notes followed by two quarter notes. Just quickly scanning through the piece, you can see that 1-bar pattern is constant throughout the whole piece, and it’s been twisted and turned in all sorts of directions.
A couple weeks ago, we talked about the appoggiatura, that little melodic device that gives the melody some tension. You can check out that video if you missed it. This piece is a great study of appoggiaturas, because they’re all over the place.
An appoggiatura is where the resolution note is delayed. You’ll notice an appoggiatura at the end of every four bars in this piece – check out the video to hear how it creates tension.
Binary and Rounded Binary Form
The next thing I want to take a look at is song format. Since minuets are generally very neat and tidy and symmetrical, the format is easy to find. But I want you to think about this for a moment – does this piece look like it’s in binary form, or rounded binary form?
It’s rounded binary. We have two parts – the A section in the beginning, the part that changes in the middle (B), and then the tune from the beginning comes back again (A). Binary form is when you go A-B, whereas rounded binary means going A-B-A.
So now we have to talk about cadences. Check out the video on cadences if you missed that – I told you we’d be putting together a lot of information today! – and everything is also linked below in the description bar.
Cadences are musical sentence-enders, like periods and commas. They usually come at the end of a phrase (which is another way of marking a musical sentence), like punctuation.
In minuets, the cadences are also easy to find because everything tends to be very symmetrical – cadences tend to happen after every 4 bars.
So we can easily find the cadences by counting in groups of 4 bars. The appoggiaturas are also located at the cadences.
I’m going to get technical here, so if you’re not caught up on your cadences I might lose you.
Our first cadence is a perfect cadence, which is typical – perfect cadences are the strongest, mightiest cadence, and putting it at the beginning of the piece reinforces the song’s key (which is F). I know it’s a perfect cadence because the harmony moves from C to F (From V – I).
And if we take a quick look at the end of the piece, we see the same thing – again, it’s very common for a piece to end with a perfect cadence because it gives you that feeling of complete resolution.
In the second cadence, these chords are reversed – this time it goes from an F harmony to a C harmony. This is our imperfect cadence, creating a sense of “more”. There’s more to the piece. It creates anticipation.
When you’re in binary form, especially with simple dances like the minuet, you’re generally going to go through a key change right before, or after, the B section. So looking at the next cadence, this time our harmony is moving from D major to G minor! This is another perfect cadence, but now we’re in the key of G minor.
But by the fourth line we’ve come out of that dark G minor patch and now we’re back to our regular perfect cadence in the key of F.
But wait, there’s more! A deceptive cadence! These are the ones where it moves from V – vi (in this case, C to Dm). It’s like a trick. You expect it to resolve to F major like a perfect cadence, but it doesn’t. It deceives you and goes to a minor chord instead.
Check out today’s video for some examples of the cadences.
A note on articulation and fingering
One thing that’s really important in dance music is careful articulation. What I mean by that is following the page markings carefully – there aren’t any staccatos/accents in this piece, but you need to pay special attention that you’re not inventing slurs where there are none.
The two downbeats in every bar need to be steady like a drum (imagine someone trying to dance to your playing), and they absolutely MUST NOT be slurred. A common accident I hear with dance music is a slur from the last beat of the bar, to the first beat of the next bar. Doing that ruins the whole dance vibe, making the beat mellower and less defined. So discipline your fingers, because usually accidental slurs is a result of lazy playing.
Another piece of advice I want to give you is, since this copy of the piece has no finger markings, it’s up to you to figure out your own fingering plan. What I usually do is move finger 3 to the beginning of each bar with 8th notes. There might be an exception or two but that’s how I remember what I’m doing.
So far this is the third Mozart piece we’ve done on PianoTV – we’ve also done his Alla Turca (simplified), and the introduction to his Fantasia K 397 – basically just the first 30 seconds or so, because after that it gets super crazy.
I hope you enjoyed today’s video! Practice hard, and catch you next time. 🙂