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How to study Bach's BWV 847
#1974038 10/16/12 10:52 AM
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I normally focus on the hard parts and try to memorize them BUT with BWV 847 that simply doesn't apply since it is hard from the first note to the last.

So I was wondering the there is a different tactical approach to work on pieces like this ?, something like memorizing the chords of each measure and only practice chord changes or something like that ?

By now what I have done is to memorize segments of 4 measures each hand individually first and then try to memorize both at the same time since looking at the score and play is impossible for me at this time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GXHjxvSi24

http://www.allpianoscores.com/free_scores.php?id=34

Thanks in advance

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Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974075 10/16/12 11:56 AM
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1. Improve your reading.

2. Practice slowly, hands together. Even slower than what you think "slowly" is. While reading. You won't improve your reading if you don't practice reading.

3. Practice in blocked chords, to find the hand positions and the transitions between them.


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Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974078 10/16/12 12:03 PM
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Weird. I'm actually just finishing learning this piece. How did I do it? First I played through the whole thing, just sight reading. Then, every day, I would work on a section of 4-8 measures. I memorized it just by playing it over and over again. The main thing for me was to make sure that going from one measure to the other was smooth. So I would take the second half of one measure and the first half of the next and practice just that section over and over again, then go on to the next. This is only for the first part, before you get to the part where it's only one hand at a time.

Once I had that first part all ready, I had to practice the entire first part over and over and over. At times there were still trouble areas, so I'd focus in on those for a few minutes or so, and then I'd practice the whole first part again once I ironed out the kinks.

Next, I practiced the next part, which I think is pretty easy--it's all one hand at a time until you get to the really hard part.

The hardest part is where the hands come back together again and they're doing the same things about a measure apart, and then they just start doing totally different things. It's only six measures, but it's a doozy to get it up to speed. The only thing you can do is to practice hands separately until you are very familiar with each hand (I don't think it's necessary to have it perfectly hands separately). Then, very slowly, putting them together.

There would be practice sessions in which I would only work on those 6 measures for the whole 30 min to an hour. Drove my wife crazy--and frankly, it drove me a little crazy too. The 6 measures are supposed to be played presto (faster than what you played the first part at), so it makes it even harder. There is one part in there where you have to use your 4 and 5 fingers rapidly in both hands that I still have trouble with. The only thing I can say is to take it slow until you get it, then, in small increments, speed it up until you are happy with the speed. I still can't play it at the speed that some of the people on youtube can do it, but I'm pretty happy with where I'm at.

The last part, after the 6 measures of death, is pretty easy. The adagio part is just a scale really, and then you speed up again but it's all hands separate until the end. Nothing too tricky.

I don't know if I've helped you at all, but that's how I did it. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to answer them.


" I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others."

--Ludwig van Beethoven
Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974081 10/16/12 12:08 PM
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I noticed that the score that you linked to does not have any fingering. If I were you, I'd buy a book, or try to find a different score, that has fingering. Especially for those six measures that are hard--the fingering is very tricky. I have the Schirmer edition, and almost every note for the entire six measures is marked with suggested fingerings. I don't use all their suggestions, but without them, I would be lost at that part.


" I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others."

--Ludwig van Beethoven
Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974087 10/16/12 12:42 PM
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One other thing, I never practiced the piece in blocked chords because that would have taken a ton of time to figure out what chords the arpeggios make. I just practiced it as it is written. If it helps you, though, and you have the time to break it down into blocked chords, then by all means give it a try. I just don't think it's necessary since you're not playing chords anyway.


" I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others."

--Ludwig van Beethoven
Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974091 10/16/12 12:52 PM
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You don't have to name the chords to play it in blocked chords. Identify which notes you're going to play until the next change (obvious because the set of notes change, or just do this once per beat), play them all at the same time with the same fingers that you'll use when played apart, et viola. Blocked chords.

When I say "identify which notes," just like with the chords, you don't have to name them. You just have to know where they are on the keyboard.

(I personally think naming is important, but it's not necessary for this exercise, and depending on how you read, it may be a distraction at this point. If you want to practice naming, first find the note on the keyboard from the score, then say the name.)


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Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974095 10/16/12 12:57 PM
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The reason for playing in blocked chords is not to practice playing chords. It's to practice finding and getting into the next position when hand or finger position changes. I find that it really helps solidify my finger choices and moves, so instead of moving from note to note at a hectic pace, I feel more like I'm moving from position to position at a more leisurely pace.

I hesitate saying "position" because "position playing" is to me so inimical to reading and playing. But just taking "position" as a neutral word, acknowledging that our hands and fingers are continually moving, I think it's OK. Just don't get attached to the idea that there's anything like a static position going on.


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Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974101 10/16/12 01:12 PM
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1st get an edition with fingering, then a metronome, and practise each hand separately at a slow pace and then together even slower and with very clean, precise finger strokes--a relatively quiet hand--and the hands separately again but a little faster and then together.

Gradually get it up to speed and you will find it a good technical piece as well as having musical value. Most students don't quite get the concept of 'slow' so most piano instructors do advise slow practise. Rachmaninoff, according to my teacher, practised 'tediously slow' and others have said similar things. Her advice was always back to slow no matter how fast it could be played. I set the metronome (to keep things even)at say 120 and give each note four clicks, then two clicks, then one click, then two notes/1 click, then three notes/1click, then four notes/one clicks. That would do for this Prelude. Be diligent in following a set fingering and use the 4th finger where is it needed to develop its independence (can't be totally because of the band between it and the third finger) but it can be strengthened and some independence gained.


Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974172 10/16/12 04:04 PM
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About the blocked chords, I can see where there would be a benefit to learning this piece that way. I didn't say that you have to name the notes or learn what the chords are called, I was just saying that you are going to have to take the time to put the 4 notes in each hand together in order to make a blocked chord--in my opinion, that would be tedious, slow, and not that beneficial--for me.

As for shapes, even though I didn't practice this piece in block chords, I do think in my mind that I have to get in the shape of that chord for each measure. So maybe it's the same thing, just a little bit different way of going about it. Like I said, if you have the time and patience to do the block chord thing, I say go ahead and try it and see if it helps. It couldn't hurt.


" I wish you music to help with the burdens of life, and to help you release your happiness to others."

--Ludwig van Beethoven
Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974178 10/16/12 04:18 PM
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It's the getting into the shape for each measure or even beat that I'm thinking of, whether by blocked chords or by some other awareness. But who knows, maybe I'm dead wrong and this is the wrong idea, and in this prelude one should be forever moving fluidly from finger to finger without ever pre-arriving anywhere until just before that note.


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Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974188 10/16/12 04:38 PM
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It looks like Hanon...but sounds good

Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974380 10/17/12 02:21 AM
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by blocked chords you mean playing ONLY the notes of the chord for a particular measure ?, like Cm on the first measure ? ( and Fm after that, etc...)

Re: How to study Bach's BWV 847
Jose Hidalgo #1974418 10/17/12 05:20 AM
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I mean playing all the notes of a figure together as a chord, not as notes one after the other. This includes any non-chordal notes e.g. passing tones. I'm having trouble pulling up the score right now to be able to describe the exact notes. I'll try again later.


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