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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:55 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
For now, you may be right, since my recent interest on Bach was mainly awaken by my frustration from the quite unsuccessful practicing of that Bach-Rach piece. I practiced and practiced, but I can hardly see any technical improvement between the recording in my last post on AR and my playing now. At first I thought I have to include some etudes in my daily practicing. But which etudes? Then it occurred to me it could be a Bach, Bach in original.


Ah that was the trigger, I see. Well, I think it's normal that a difficult piece cannot be mastered the first time you approach it (at least, that is what happens to me everytime). When you feel that there's no further improvement on a piano piece, it is time to give it a rest, especially if you have been working exclusively on it.

Re which etudes can be useful to reinforce the kind of technique required by that transcription I recommend: some of the 2 Clav.variations from the Goldbergs (ex: V, XI, XIV, XVII, XX, XXIII, XXVI), some Scarlatti sonatas with jumps and crossings like the K.28 (but there dozens with jumps and crossings).

hyenal wrote:
The word "finger substitution" caught my attention! I usually use that technique to play flowing legato. In what kinds of situations could it be applied on Bach? And do you mean by "finger crossing" here just that of 4th and 5th fingers or are there another cases?


Finger substitution/changing on the same note is ubiquitous in Bach's keyboard music, particularly in the contrapuntally denser works. But you can use it every time you must or want to keep the music clean of the pedal. Finger crossing is when a finger of 'lower numeral' crosses over a finger of 'higher numeral' in a direction away from the thumb or viceversa (a 'higher' finger over a 'lower' one towards the thumb). It's very useful to obtain an otherwise unachievable legato and, in many cases, I prefer it to 'thumb under' in order to keep the hand perpendicular to the keyboard. Both finger substitution and finger crossing are helpful when you 'run out' of fingers and cannot or don't want to employ the thumb. The finger crossing piece par excellence is Chopin's Etude Op.10/2 of course.

Look at these 2 examples of finger crossing from the Bach-Rach Gigue (the second one is my fingering, probably others would put the thumb on the E#).

Image

Image


hyenal wrote:
That is what I usually do. But you know, I find very often my inner clock is disturbed by the fright in front of the recorder! Once I turned on my digital metronom in "mute" (so that I can only "see" the beats") and restarted recording the same thing. And the result was much better. But somehow I felt as if I'm cheating... I don't know...



I don’t think it’s cheating, but a bit bewildering (me). :roll:


Terez wrote:
The easier Chopin pieces did not in any way prepare me for the more difficult Chopin pieces


Well, this is true for every composer, isn't it? However what's really remarkable in Chopin is that virtually all the difficult passages in his music are entirely included in his 2 sets of etudes. Only Scriabin, to an extent, did something like that.

Terez wrote:
The prelude introduces a technique that Chopin was very fond of, because Chopin was enormously fond of functional counterpoint, but he had either a distaste for writing strict counterpoint or an insecurity complex about writing it (which would be understandable, in the face of Bach...Bach leaves the impression that any attempt on our part to do what he did with strict counterpoint would be, at best, redundant).


No biedermaier or early romantic composer would have possibly written music in the strict style à la Bach (apart sometimes Mendelssohn, clearly an exception). In the best case, the goal was to assimilate the techniques of the old masters, blending them in a new style.

Terez wrote:
Alf mentioned the WTC as didactic works, but the suites and the Goldberg variations were all published under the title Klavier-Übung


Don’t mix up the original destination of those works in their aesthetic frame of reference with the didactic use that piano teaching has historically made of them. Bach published the Partitas as (the first volume of the) Clavier-Uebung after Kuhnau’s C-U, itself a collection of suites in 2 volumes. The ‘Uebung’ here is a concept that has more to do with the composer activity than the player’s.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:16 pm 
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I don't see that, in the end, there is much difference, though. Both the WTC and the suites are both have the same sort of technical problems and the same sort of compositional approach, on the per-movement scale. Most of the suites have at least one fugue if I am not mistaken (though it would have to be in the gigues in the French Suites, and some of those are not fugal), and some suites have two, and then there are fugato and accompanied-fugue types of thing like the capriccio of the c minor partita (which is just like a gigue, double fugue with the second exposition being the inversion of the subject in the B section, and not like an accompanied one as there are no extra voices, but all three voices are in play from the beginning). All of the preludes of the WTC are classifiable as genre examples, though some are less clear than others: allemande, french overture, sarabande, etc. The suites just have more movements, and are more balanced toward the non-fugal writing; also, the opening movements of the partitas and English suites are more large-scale than the typical WTC prelude.

Alf wrote:
No biedermaier or early romantic composer would have possibly written music in the strict style à la Bach (apart sometimes Mendelssohn, clearly an exception).

Yes, but not every early romantic composer was as obsessed with Bach as Chopin seemed to be. Mendelssohn obviously being an exception. But yes, I already indicated earlier that hardly anyone wrote that way for keyboard after the piano became popular, but there were few composers who benefited as much from Bach's counterpoint lessons as Chopin did, and there lies the contrast.

Alf wrote:
Well, this is true for every composer, isn't it?

Except for Bach. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:51 pm 
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Terez wrote:
I don't see that, in the end, there is much difference, though.


That's in fact my point. Ex post, there's clearly a progressive path of difficulty in Bach's 'piano' works, from the 2-part Inventions to the Goldbergs, but it's not correct to state as you said that, for instance, the Goldbergs are a didactic work because are 'Uebungen'.

Terez wrote:
Alf wrote:
No biedermaier or early romantic composer would have possibly written music in the strict style à la Bach (apart sometimes Mendelssohn, clearly an exception).


Yes, but not every early romantic composer was as obsessed with Bach as Chopin seemed to be.


Simon Sechter was even more obsessed than Chopin with Bach and counterpoint, but nobody seems to care... :P

Terez wrote:
Alf wrote:
Well, this is true for every composer, isn't it?

Except for Bach. :wink:


Of course not, since a 2-part invention doesn't 'prepare' you for the Goldbergs or even a spot hard movement from the Partitas. This sounds quite plain to me.

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Alfonso Bertazzi, amateur pianist.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:12 pm 
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Terez wrote:
PS - I have been practicing that Chopin etude, the 25/1, with the metronome on 4 16ths per beat.


FOUR 16ths per beat in the 25/1 means that for example at bar 29 LH plays 2.(6) notes per beat, on the first beat. That is for sure a creative way to use a metronome. :P

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"A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking" - Anonymous

Alfonso Bertazzi, amateur pianist.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:25 am 
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hyenal wrote:
But you know... I'm afraid to say I didn't understand what is the "forward toward-the-fallboard motion" :oops:

I'm sorry, I don't think I explained that very well! :oops: Hopefully this clip will explain it better than words can (I exaggerated the motion so it's more visible).

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 Post subject: Re: How should I restart studying Bach?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:02 pm 
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Location: toronto
Hey Hye-Jin!

wow you have a pretty good musical foundation if your piano teacher got you to learn all the 2 and 3 part inventions at such a young age.
Surely that must have played a positive role in your musical development.


Funny thing about bach, people play it in so many different ways, different ideas of articulation/dynamics/phrasing/tempo. Ive always found the safest bet when all else fails is to simply be very subtle/clear and let the music speak for itself. The music itself I feel is so beautiful and survives so many different interpretations and instruments.

My attitude on repertoire has always been to simply play the music which you want to play! In the case of Bach there is really so much music and different styles of music, one could easily spend their entire life on it.


b.t.w. some may be surprised that I am actually a big believer in the use of the metronome, though I am also at times fearfull of it. I believe it is important to build an internal sense of time and expression, I also know of no other way of correcting or identifying an inconsistent tempo then by the use of a metronome. Funny thing is though, the metronome as far as I know was invented in 1810 long after the death of Bach! Makes me wonder what people did back then :)


hyenal wrote:
(I bet I'll get replies from at least three persons among: Chris, Terez, Alfonso, Andreas and Stan (maybe Sarah, too?) :lol: )
Everytime I read discussions on our forums, I think I must study Bach... Bach seems to be THE solution to every kind of problem :wink:
Here is my personal history concerning Bach (and my piano playing). I started piano playing at the age of 5 and if I remember correctly I learned all the inventions and sinfonias as an elementary school kid. It was a great fun and I prefered the sinfonias to the inventions. After several years I quit the piano lessons at the age of 13 and the first P&F from WTC were the last pieces. I found the fugue very difficult and never tried to learn alone the WTC further (even though I learned many Chopins for myself). As an undergraduate I restarted to get lessons and played the second English Suite with that teacher. I remenber a slow movement was very beautiful and that is all I can say now :oops: A long break again and I restarted with lessons again here in Germany. My teacher had me once asked if I ever played Bach's partitas and let me learn the fourth and the fifth partitas. In the fourth I began to warm toward Bach's keyboard music again but my LH and the difficulty of detached touch let me much frustrated. From the fifth only the Praeambulum and the Gigue appealed to me. The others were boring... (sorry for the disability to estimate the novel music :wink:). And the LH trills in the Gigue... that sucks :x That's my last Bach and it was in the year 2007. Now I don't take lessons anymore since I have a young baby and it seems I have to teach myself if I start to study Bach again.
And here is my experience with Bach outside of keyboard pieces: I love to listen to solo violin pieces above all and like the cello suites, too. (Compared to them listening to keyboard music of Bach is rather boring at many times... I mean from a whole CD... I do like to listen to your Bach, guys :) ) Besides I had sung in a church choir here (about four years) and learned quite a few Bach cantatas. And of course heard many Bach for organ in that church, too :wink: That choir experience was very important to me - studying vocal works helped me immensely in understanding polyphony in general. As the last thing I like his Matthäus-Passion a lot but find the Christmas Oratorio boring :p

Now my questions:
Is it possible for me with such a poor experience with Bach to learn Bach alone? (Anyway I never had a teacher who is specialized in Bach-technique or Bach-interpretation, even though my German teacher is a Gouldmania.)
With which piece schould I start?
Which practice-methode is recommendable to benefit from Bach technically?

Of course any other tips around Bach much appreciated!! :D


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:37 pm 
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Terez wrote:
I posted that recital a while back, but I posted it on the General forum, because none of it (not even one movement!) was good enough for the audition room. :lol: (It was in this thread, but not in the first post.....the links to the recital videos are further down.) One day I will get there, but I'm pretty patient in that area. Maybe I will get some recording equipment one day and record something decent when I'm not shaking in front of the audience. You should be able to see from those videos that I am pretty challenged on piano. I'm not happy with how the recital turned out, but nevertheless, I'm proud of the progress I made. I was really in horrible shape when I returned to school.

Terez, sorry for this delayed comeback. Before you made my baby poo-poo :lol: :lol: :wink: , I had watched your whole recital and I must say your Bach was really impressive! Even though I'm not familiar with that partita, I can still notice how profound your musical ideas are from your performance. You are saying that you're not satisfied with that recital and I think you are so, because you have worked on that set very intensively and you could not show all of that on that day. But you know, what you prepared for a public performance (even a part of that) must be revealed to a mature audience (including me? :lol:) Of course, you made some wrong notes, but if you hadn't correct them, those recordings are already very good! BTW it was very cunning of you to have posted that on the General forum! Do you know how many times I used the "Search" funtion to find your recordings in AR? :roll:

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:44 pm 
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alf wrote:
Terez wrote:
RSPIll wrote:
Bach possibly avoided using the metronome because Maelzel was born to invent it yet. :wink:

Shhhh, Alf is trying to be funny! :lol:


:o

The good news is that, after 1-thousand plus posts here, I can still get surprised. :lol:

:lol: :lol:
BTW I reached the 500 posts!!! :D (This is the 505th)

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:59 pm 
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@Chris, Alfonso and Terez:
Thanks for the informations around the edition things! Now I think I have to pay something for good scores... What I have here in Germany is only partitas on Henle. Before I bought it my teacher showed me two scores: Bärenreiter(NBA) and Henle. He recommended the NBA, but said Henle is ok, too. I saw in NBA there is no fingering, so I decided for Henle :lol: It's funny of me that I always have preferred scores with fingering than without it, even though I must change many fingering of it at last. As Terez said, it is still interesting to compare mine with other's. (Thanks for the score example for finger substitions, Alfonso. I think your own fingering for that Gigue (3 instead of 1) very good, of which I didn't think yet)
As final question, what do you think guys is the advantage of NBA against Henle? Chris mentioned only Henle and Alfonso/Terez only NBA.

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


Last edited by hyenal on Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:04 pm 
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sarah wrote:
hyenal wrote:
But you know... I'm afraid to say I didn't understand what is the "forward toward-the-fallboard motion" :oops:

I'm sorry, I don't think I explained that very well! :oops: Hopefully this clip will explain it better than words can (I exaggerated the motion so it's more visible).

Sarah, it is very endearing of you that you made that video! Thanks very much. The technique you showed help me even on that Bach-Rach set (in the Gavotte en Rondeau) :D BTW your hands on that video look pretty :)

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: How should I restart studying Bach?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:20 pm 
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Stan wrote:
Ive always found the safest bet when all else fails is to simply be very subtle/clear and let the music speak for itself.

Hi Stan! Thank you very much for your advice :D Your view seems to say something very important, but I'm not sure if I understood it :oops: May I ask what you meant by "be subtle/clear"?
s_winitsky wrote:
wow you have a pretty good musical foundation if your piano teacher got you to learn all the 2 and 3 part inventions at such a young age.
Surely that must have played a positive role in your musical development.

Hopefully it did that :wink: This would be the general advantage of playing "classics" at young age, but at that age one cannot appreciate the musical qualities of them properly :roll:

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: How should I restart studying Bach?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:12 pm 
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Ah yes it does sound like a contradiction doesn't it? :) Subtle in terms of the expressive devices one would use such as rubato, accents, dynamics, even articulations. Clear in terms of playing each separate voice precisely, making sure to hold each note for the correct duration and making sure they have relative equal prominence in terms of volume. In my case I try to give a voice just a bit of prominence if it has what you might call the main melody part, or when a voice enters while other voices are playing.

In terms of dynamics/rubatos/accents I simply try to consider the start and end of my phrases as I would with anything else, except in this case there is usually 3 or 4 independent voices to consider. Each voice may start and end at different spots.

In the case of articulations, I really find less is better then more. I much prefer no articulation to random/inconsistent articulation. Also articulation is often used as a device to distinguish between voices when the voices are very close to each other on the piano. But I think it should not sound like you articulating unless it is really somehow part of the music phrase/idea. Rather it should sound like independent voices (perhaps as you might hear it sung with the human voice.) Otherwise it makes it too evident to the listener that you are playing piano music and not music that spans many instruments. Just my opinion though :) I know there are many rules about articulation which are also very relevant.

Even in this case, I found many pros exagerate articulations, dynamics, expressions, tempo etc. They sometimes make one voice exteremely prominent etc. For me the above ideas is kind of a safe way or starting point for an interpretation.

Anyway most of this is really just my opinion, and at the end of the day, I really just like playing bach for fun!


hyenal wrote:
Hi Stan! Thank you very much for your advice :D Your view seems to say something very important, but I'm not sure if I understood it :oops: May I ask what you meant by "be subtle/clear"?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:55 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
Sarah, it is very endearing of you that you made that video! Thanks very much. The technique you showed help me even on that Bach-Rach set (in the Gavotte en Rondeau) :D BTW your hands on that video look pretty :)

I am so glad the video was useful! Thank you for the kind compliment... :D

And my congratulations on getting over 500 posts on PS! I will try to emulate your good example. :wink:

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:49 pm 
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@Stan: Thank you very much for that detailed explanation, Stan. Now I see what you meant. You said you like playing Bach just for fun, but you have very clear concepts about interpreting Bach! I want to have such a solid view on my own, too. One must find it by oneself in playing Bach, right?
@Sarah: Thanks Sarah, but '500 posts' is nothing, compared to Terez' or Alf's over 1000, or Chris' over 6000!!! On the other side I think I was indeed very diligent in participating in the discussions here even though it's always not so easy for me to write something in English :D

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:55 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
...it was very cunning of you to have posted that on the General forum! Do you know how many times I used the "Search" funtion to find your recordings in AR? :roll:

LOL, I am flattered that you took the trouble. But I suppose not surprised. I do talk an awful lot don't I? And everyone is probably thinking, 'gee, she thinks she knows everything, but can she play?' :lol: No, I can't! So there.

Thank you for your kind comments, though, and thank you for listening to the whole recital. I don't think anyone else did. :wink:

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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