Cascading piano


by Alexis Ffrench

Image credit: Robert Lukeman


Alexis Ffrench studied at the Purcell School, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Royal Academy in London.  Ffrench wants to change perceptions about classical music by making it more inclusive and relevant.  On Spotify, Ffrench has had over 75 million streams – pretty unusual for a classical musician!

Waterfalls comes from his debut album, Evolution.

Find out more about Alexis Ffrench here.

Listen For:

  • Begins in 3/4 time with a 1-in-a-bar feel. This time signature and anacrusis (upbeat) gives lightness and a sense of fluidity to the music.
  • The left hand begins with a repeated minor third interval which widens to a perfect 4th.
  • The right-hand melody mainly consists of stepwise movement.
  • The opening melody is repeated several times. At 00:51 listen out for the violin counter-melody.

What is a counter-melody?

A counter-melody is a secondary tune which is heard at the same time as the main melody.

The counter-melody consists of more sustained notes taken from the accompanying chords.

  • The music builds up to a climactic moment at 02:01 where the piano note values are halved, creating a cascading feel (like a waterfall)
  • The string counter-melody returns, this time bolder (at 02:20)
  • At 02:40 listen out for the mark tree (see image below).








As you continue listening, think about how the image of a waterfall is effectively portrayed in this music.

Things To Consider:

  • How could you use water as a starting point for a composition?

Think about the different states we find water in (for example ice and steam)

  • Which instruments and techniques could you use to portray water?

For example, pizzicato (plucked) strings could be effective in portraying raindrops.