Cross-Stringed Ornaments 1

When I was just starting to broaden my ears to the brilliance of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonatas, I heard one of my early teachers, Robert Squires, play through Scarlatti’s Sonata in A Minor, K.54 (L.241). He played all of the trills cross-stringed and his reasoning was that a harpsichord would also perform the ornaments cross-stringed. Whatever the reason, it sounded so wonderful to hear the crispness and clarity of the trills played this way. Since then, I have worked on a lot of sonatas and have found that regularly practicing the following right hand formulas really help to develop and maintain this skill. There is a lot of beauty in playing trills with slurs but in a lot of baroque keyboard music, performing trills and ornaments across strings is worth the work.

right hand ornaments


Romanza (Anonimo)

This is a beautiful piece and a very useful one for students wishing to work on vibrato, shifts, bars, and ami.

Practice Tips:

  • try to use a rest-stroke on to bring out the melodic line
  • do not accent the first note after any shift unless you mean to do so musically
  • do not cut off the last note before any shift
  • try inverting the pattern to aim for variety and fun
  • you can explore more right hand patterns using the form of the piece