Presto Largo

by John Riggio

In the recent tradition of our other music teaching tunes - "Forte Piano," "Legato Staccato," and "4/4 Meter" - we present "Presto Largo," a song of extremes. And when we say extremes, we mean 176 bpm off the top, then screeching to 44 bpm at measure 21. It's a lot of fun. Really.

"Speed Metal Polka" best describes the presto sections of the piece, 'cause, well, that's what it is: Really fast boom-chick rhythm and lots of thrashing by our wacky rhythm section at measure 13. Then, at measure 21 when it becomes largo, it does so all of a sudden. The Rachmaninoff-inspired piano part is played masterfully by Steve Millikan, who had some fun with it. Not to be outdone on the fun-o-meter was Dane Clark on drums, who got to scream, "ONE TWO THREE FOUR!" between the largo and presto sections (which is a very helpful cue). It should be noted that in the largo section, Dane plays a sixteenth note beat on high hat, which adds stability to the beat and gives the illusion that things are moving faster than they really are. Rest assured, it's only an illusion. The kids are singing quarter notes, which is the actual beat. The largo section is only 6 measures long, but takes a while to complete because of its tempo! Learning this along with the CD will definitely help.

Fortunately, there are no tricky rhythms or melody lines here. About the toughest thing lyrically is at measure 13, where your singers need to enunciate, "Really really very truly super mondo fast!," making it both intelligible and not rushing the beat (which even our studio singers struggled with). One other potentially challenging moment is the optional divisi in measure 26. But we did say optional, so do what works!

Initially, John had written "whoo!" in the holes after each 4-bar phrase starting at measure 5, then later changed his mind and wanted more nonsensical sound effects. The sharp turns and dips of a roller coaster came to mind as we heard what our singers came up with. Gathering the best linguists from around the world (or in fact, local to Milwaukee, WI), we have done our best to interpret these nonsensical effects in case you and yours wish to duplicate them. Though we can't imagine why.

  • 1st time in m. 8: "Whoo!"
  • 1st time in m. 12: "Eeeyaah!" (with some vibrato)
  • 2nd time in m. 8: "Whoopee!"
  • 2nd time in m. 12: "Aaaah!" (short a - like apple)
  • 3rd time in m. 8: "Whoohoo!"
  • 3rd time in m. 12: "Ah ha ha huh!"
  • last measure: "Wowww!" (with exuberance)

(Note: Check our Indexes or give us a call, and we'll tell you where to find our other music teaching tunes.)

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.