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#2064201 - 04/13/13 06:48 PM Well-Tempered Clavier  
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What is your experience learning the Well-Tempered Clavier?

Has anybody "conquered" the A Minor fugue from Book 1?

I like the D Minor fugue the most of everything in Book 1.

The melody of the 5th (D Major) prelude from Book 2 is curious-it does not sound like typical Bach, and he mixes 12/8 and cut time as needed.

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#2064212 - 04/13/13 07:07 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beethoven32]  
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It's great for your eyes, ears, fingers, and soul. I've only played a couple and only really studied the dm from book 1 and never performed any of them, but they're marvelous. I plan to learn a few over the summer and actually bring them to performance standards.

The prelude from the dm of book 1 is not to difficult at all but quite fun to play and the fugue is the same - straightforward three voices with fairly obvious transitions of the tenor voice between hands. That was my first one. I loved it.


Piano/Composition major.

Proud owner of a beautiful Yamaha C7.

Polish:
Liszt Petrarch Sonnet 104
Bach WTC book 1 no. 6.
Dello Joio Sonata no. 3

New:
Chopin op. 23
Bach WTC book 2 no. 20
#2064284 - 04/13/13 11:33 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beethoven32]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven32
The melody of the 5th (D Major) prelude from Book 2 is curious-it does not sound like typical Bach, and he mixes 12/8 and cut time as needed.

Regarding the D major prelude Book II prelude (which I'm working on): There is great debate about whether one should actually switch to cut time, or keep everything in 12/8. For an example of the latter (which my teacher told me to do in no uncertain terms), see Richter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej5rGGTHy54&t=2h18m53s


-Jason


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#2064288 - 04/13/13 11:46 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beethoven32]  
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I've done 9 Prelude/fugues plus 2 additional preludes. Every one was a feast for the ears and fingers. Every one had to be learned slowly and carefully, measure by measure. Bringing out the voices is the most difficult/fun part. I love learning and playing Bach. Come to think of it, it's been almost 2 years since I've learned something new. Maybe it's time I started another set.


Best regards,

Deborah
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#2064289 - 04/13/13 11:48 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
D major prelude Book II prelude....keep everything in 12/8

I'm with that

Quote
(which my teacher told me to do in no uncertain terms)

.....but not with that!

I'm not with very much stuff like this at all "in no uncertain terms."
Are you?

#2064299 - 04/14/13 12:15 AM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by beet31425
D major prelude Book II prelude....keep everything in 12/8

I'm with that

Quote
(which my teacher told me to do in no uncertain terms)

.....but not with that!

I'm not with very much stuff like this at all "in no uncertain terms."
Are you?


Just because she wasn't uncertain doesn't mean she wouldn't respect my opinion if I disagreed (and could defend it). She's told me before: she has no direct line to Bach; he doesn't call her on the phone to discuss these kinds of things. Others' opinions are valued.

That said, when I told her I was interested in this prelude and fugue, the *very first thing* she said was: That's fine, but please, please, keep it all in 12/8!

Even still, she would have accepted it if I'd gone the other way-- with a grimace and a smile.

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#2064405 - 04/14/13 09:06 AM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
....she would have accepted it if I'd gone the other way-- with a grimace and a smile.

Cool! That's great. Or more than good enough anyway. ha

BTW, I would have played it her way (because it's mine too) but argued about her definitiveness. grin
And not just because of this particular instance but because of the principle, let's call it almost a religion, smile against being so sure of such a thing. (I guess it's more like an anti-religion....)

#2064472 - 04/14/13 11:32 AM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Mark_C]  
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I play it the other way. Does that make me a bad person? Is it wrong?


Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D
#2064479 - 04/14/13 11:38 AM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Vid]  
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Originally Posted by Vid
I play it the other way. Does that make me a bad person? Is it wrong?

No. There's debate. Schiff and Gould (and, I'm sure, others) switch in and out of 4/4 time. On of my favorite books, The Forty-Eight Preludes and Fugues of J. S. Bach by Cecil Gray, makes an argument for it. You're not in bad company.

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#2064791 - 04/15/13 03:32 AM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beethoven32]  
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Here, as opposed to there
Can someone direct me to an autograph which includes a mixed time signature?



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

#2064916 - 04/15/13 09:35 AM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: stores]  
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Originally Posted by stores
Can someone direct me to an autograph which includes a mixed time signature?

As you well know, Bach didn't explicitly write in a mixed time signature.

I think you think you're making a point by asking this question, but I'm not completely sure. smile Anyway, there's a healthy debate on the issue out there, evidenced by e.g. Gould's vs. Richter's recordings.

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#2064974 - 04/15/13 11:59 AM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
....I think you think you're making a point by asking this question, but I'm not completely sure. smile....

He's surely intending to make a point, but it's impossible (yes, Stores, impossible) smile to know what it is.

One would think he's implying that just one of the rhythmic interpretations is correct -- but, if so, which one? It would seem to be to advocate the 'Richter way,' but I'm not sure because that would seem to go against his usual literalism -- in this case, about the note values as they appear literally on the page.

Or, it's possible he doesn't mean anything about how it should be played but that he's just commenting on calling anything here a mix of time signatures. (And in fact, I've never thought of the 'literal' interpretation of the note values as an alternation of time signatures, but on this thread I saw it as a very useful shorthand to express one of the ways of playing the piece.)

I hope he's clear on what he meant. grin

IMO his unknowing ambiguity is more interesting than any point that could be behind it.
My best guess: He does believe in the literal interpretation of the notes values -- let's call it the 'Gould way' -- but perhaps didn't realize that that's exactly what is being called here an alternation of time signatures. I'm willing to be wrong. smile

(Stores, the world is waiting.) grin

#2064990 - 04/15/13 12:33 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C

He's surely intending to make a point, but it's impossible (yes, Stores, impossible) smile to know what it is.

One would think he's implying that just one of the rhythmic interpretations is correct -- but, if so, which one? It would seem to be to advocate the 'Richter way,' but I'm not sure because that would seem to go against his usual literalism -- in this case, about the note values as they appear literally on the page.

Or, it's possible he doesn't mean anything about how it should be played but that he's just commenting on calling anything here a mix of time signatures. (And in fact, I've never thought of the 'literal' interpretation of the note values as an alternation of time signatures, but on this thread I saw it as a very useful shorthand to express one of the ways of playing the piece.)

I hope he's clear on what he meant. grin

IMO his unknowing ambiguity is more interesting than any point that could be behind it.
My best guess: He does believe in the literal interpretation of the notes values -- let's call it the 'Gould way' -- but perhaps didn't realize that that's exactly what is being called here an alternation of time signatures. I'm willing to be wrong. smile

(Stores, the world is waiting.) grin


This post is so dumb that it just has to be repeated.

Last edited by landorrano; 04/15/13 12:33 PM.
#2065053 - 04/15/13 02:56 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beethoven32]  
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re : WTC, Bk II, Prelude V in D major :

"The deplorable tradition which within a generation after Bach's death reduced this Prelude to plain 12/8 time, has the excuse of originating in some contemporary statement as to what is nowadays called an "agogic accent" in figures like that of bar 2 - i.e., a stress tending to lengthen the first note of a group. but it is impossible to suppose that any composer would use a double time-signature in order elaborately to miswrite one simple rhythm in terms of another. There is no conceivable doubt that Bach meant what he wrote: a delightful cross-rhythm between triplets and couplets. But it is also established, by contemporary textbooks and other documentary and internal evidence, that in the period of Bach and Handel dotted rhythms chime with their surroundings, regardless of the rigid arithmetical theory that the dot adds just one half to its note. Hence it is inferred that throughout this Prelude [image of dotted eight-note plus sixteenth-note, dotted eighth-note plus sixteenth-note] stands for [image of quarter-note plus eighth-note, quarter-note plus eighth-note]; and there is no doubt that this is the case in bars 12-16 and similar passages where the dotted notes are in no contrast to others." [1]

"An interesting and uncommon feature in these first bars, by the way, is the alternation of twelve-eight and four-four time [image of the first 4 measures]
Whether it was that such a proceeding shocked the conscience of nineteenth-century editors, or whether they refused to believe that Bach could have intended it, and supposed that he had simply made a slip of the pen, one finds in old editions, such as that of Czerny, and consequently in some performances, that the crotchets of the second and fourth bars are dotted and the even quavers split up into crotchet and quaver in order to make them conform to the rhythmical pattern of the first and third bars." [2]

[1] Donald Francis Tovey, in J.S. Bach: Forty-Eight Preludes and Fugues, Book II. London, ABRSM (no date), p. 46.

[2] Gray, Cecil. The Forty-Eight Preludes and Fugues of J.S. Bach. London, Oxford University Press, 1938. pp. 92-93

Regards,


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#2065054 - 04/15/13 02:56 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: landorrano]  
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Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by Mark_C

He's surely intending to make a point, but it's impossible (yes, Stores, impossible) smile to know what it is.

One would think he's implying that just one of the rhythmic interpretations is correct -- but, if so, which one? It would seem to be to advocate the 'Richter way,' but I'm not sure because that would seem to go against his usual literalism -- in this case, about the note values as they appear literally on the page.

Or, it's possible he doesn't mean anything about how it should be played but that he's just commenting on calling anything here a mix of time signatures. (And in fact, I've never thought of the 'literal' interpretation of the note values as an alternation of time signatures, but on this thread I saw it as a very useful shorthand to express one of the ways of playing the piece.)

I hope he's clear on what he meant. grin

IMO his unknowing ambiguity is more interesting than any point that could be behind it.
My best guess: He does believe in the literal interpretation of the notes values -- let's call it the 'Gould way' -- but perhaps didn't realize that that's exactly what is being called here an alternation of time signatures. I'm willing to be wrong. smile

(Stores, the world is waiting.) grin


This post is so dumb that it just has to be repeated.

Thank you for adding your useless insight.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2065101 - 04/15/13 04:38 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: landorrano]  
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Originally Posted by landorrano
This post is so dumb that it just has to be repeated.

In this case, I'd say you're using "dumb" roughly as a stand-in for too sophisticated for you to grasp. ha

Let's test it out: Do you understand what he meant?
Can you articulate it clearly?

(Go ahead, surprise us.) smile

Assuming you can't, I'll look for an apology -- which I'm sure I won't get. ha

Last edited by Mark_C; 04/15/13 05:03 PM. Reason: deleting my misunderstanding of Poly's post (sorry, Poly!)
#2065102 - 04/15/13 04:38 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: BruceD]  
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Excellent info. The Henle Verlag 2007 urtext edition has some nice notes regarding Bach's writing techniques. He was generally careful to align notes vertically in his autographs to indicate that he wanted them played simultaneously, even if the notes didn't match mathematically - bar 5 being the first example, where the dotted figures are played as triplets. Sadly, Bach didn't indicate in the autograph how to play the duples in bar 18, but it is assumed that it is played the same as in bar 2 and the urtext has placed the duples under the sixteenths in that manner.

#2065104 - 04/15/13 04:43 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by landorrano
This post is so dumb that it just has to be repeated.

In this case, I'd say you're using "dumb" roughly as a stand-in for too sophisticated for you to grasp. ha

Let's test it out: Do you understand what he meant?
Can you articulate it clearly?

(Go ahead, surprise us.) smile

Polyphonist, you're invited too.

Be my guest, folks. grin

Assuming you can't, I'll look for an apology -- which I'm sure I won't get. ha

You misunderstood me. I was referring to his rude comment, not your post. wink Sorry about the confusion. I, for one, didn't really see anything too dumb about your post... ha


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2065107 - 04/15/13 04:51 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
I'll look for an apology -- which I'm sure I won't get. ha


First, Mark, your's for your rudeness towards Stores, which you surely won't give.

#2065109 - 04/15/13 04:55 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Thanks, Poly -- and yes, I misunderstood. I lost sight of who it was that you were addressing it to. smile
(Sorry! And I've edited that post.)

Originally Posted by landorrano
First, Mark, your's for your rudeness towards Stores, which you surely won't give.

I will, if you show us a way to have said it better. whome

And BTW I'm waiting to see if you can show that you understood what he meant. If you can't, I expect a thank you for bringing the unclarity to his attention. grin

#2065111 - 04/15/13 05:06 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
a thank you for bringing the unclarity to his attention. grin


But you didn't. It was already done. And in a friendly manner. As was Stores' post.



Last edited by landorrano; 04/15/13 05:07 PM.
#2065113 - 04/15/13 05:06 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beethoven32]  
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If I may repeat myself smile

Has anybody made progress with the A Minor fugue from B1?

Have you tried any with the "extreme" key signature such as C# Major?


#2065115 - 04/15/13 05:07 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: landorrano]  
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Originally Posted by landorrano
But you didn't. It was already done.

The previous post hadn't indicated what were the issues with it, i.e. why Stores' post was unclear.

I did.

Thank you very much. grin

#2065116 - 04/15/13 05:07 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C

(Stores, the world is waiting.) grin


Maybe you are...but

#2065135 - 04/15/13 06:13 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beethoven32]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven32
If I may repeat myself smile

Has anybody made progress with the A Minor fugue from B1?

Have you tried any with the "extreme" key signature such as C# Major?



I've played through all of the WTC too many times to keep track of, but have only really worked on a few. I've never quite understood why the a minor from I has a reputation for extraordinary difficulty - sure, it's difficult and long, no doubt, but so are many of the others. I really love the C# major from I - it's one I have worked on a little more seriously than just playing through it, but still wouldn't say that I tried to learn it.




#2065179 - 04/15/13 08:20 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beethoven32]  
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This topic is getting very confusing. You know the drill guys...if you don't get it together it will be locked before you can say "Well-Tempered Clavier". grin


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2065204 - 04/15/13 09:15 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: BruceD]  
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Originally Posted by BruceD
"The deplorable tradition which within a generation after Bach's death reduced this Prelude to plain 12/8 time....
....it is impossible to suppose that any composer would use a double time-signature in order elaborately to miswrite one simple rhythm in terms of another. There is no conceivable doubt that Bach meant what he wrote: a delightful cross-rhythm between triplets and couplets. But it is also established, by contemporary textbooks and other documentary and internal evidence, that in the period of Bach and Handel dotted rhythms chime with their surroundings, regardless of the rigid arithmetical theory that the dot adds just one half to its note. Hence it is inferred that throughout this Prelude [image of dotted eight-note plus sixteenth-note, dotted eighth-note plus sixteenth-note] stands for [image of quarter-note plus eighth-note, quarter-note plus eighth-note]; and there is no doubt that this is the case in bars 12-16 and similar passages where the dotted notes are in no contrast to others." [1]....

[1] Donald Francis Tovey, in J.S. Bach: Forty-Eight Preludes and Fugues, Book II. London, ABRSM (no date), p. 46.

(italic emphases added)

Thanks for posting this thing from Tovey, but IMO it's terrible. ha
And the second citation (from Gray) isn't much less bad.

I've italicized the most egregious things. To me it is the height of stupid arrogance to think that a differing view that is held by many serious musicians and scholars is stupidly ignorant. Just as I'm sure some might feel it's stupidly arrogant on my part to think that someone like Tovey was being stupidly arrogant. grin
But he was.

We simply don't know that one or the other view is absolutely correct, or that one or the other is stupidly ignorant, and Tovey didn't know it any better than we do now. I know that Tovey is a highly regarded authority. But highly regarded authorities often have their foibles, and in this writing, he showed some of his.

#2065232 - 04/15/13 10:17 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: wr]  
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I wonder, since the Tovey and the Gray are a bit older, whether keeping it in 12/8 is a more modern thing to do, perhaps based on modern thoughts on Bach's intentions? Just hypothesizing.

Originally Posted by wr
I've played through all of the WTC too many times to keep track of, but have only really worked on a few. I've never quite understood why the a minor from I has a reputation for extraordinary difficulty - sure, it's difficult and long, no doubt, but so are many of the others.

As for the A minor Book I fugue, count me among those who fear it. I've also played through the WTC many times, and worked up about 1/3 of them, and for me, *nothing* is like the A minor fugue, for its relentless density and drive. Perhaps Bb minor Book II comes close in some ways, but it's just not in the same league as a MM=112 A minor fugue, for me. Even Gould called it "one of Bach's celebrated contrapuntal obstacle courses."

Other pieces from WTC that I adore (and aren't much discussed here): C# major prelude from Book I, yes, and Book II as well-- both sugary-sweet. The A major fugue from Book I is a little underrated, perhaps. And so is B minor from Book I, to my ears one of the Great Utterances.


-J


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#2065233 - 04/15/13 10:20 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
I wonder, since the Tovey and the Gray are a bit older, whether keeping it in 12/8 is a more modern thing to do, perhaps based on modern thoughts on Bach's intentions?....

I think that's belied by the way Tovey puts it, since he's railing against something that was going on in his day. (Don't you think?) Or, were you including the latter parts of Tovey's and Gray's years in what you meant by "more modern"?

#2065238 - 04/15/13 10:28 PM Re: Well-Tempered Clavier [Re: Mark_C]  
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,169
beet31425 Offline
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beet31425  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,169
Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by beet31425
I wonder, since the Tovey and the Gray are a bit older, whether keeping it in 12/8 is a more modern thing to do, perhaps based on modern thoughts on Bach's intentions?....

I think that's belied by the way Tovey puts it, since he's railing against something that was going on in his day. (Don't you think?)

Tovey is certainly thusly railing, but it could still be that modern scholarship now upholds keeping it in 12/8.

I'll have to ask my teacher why she feels so strongly.

By the way, I "grew up" on Schiff's recordings, in which he plays them as duplets (the "cut time" interpretation). I liked how it felt, but it always seemed a little too modern and jazzy, especially in the beginning of the development section, when the duplets are played against 16th notes. Years later, when I heard Richter play it all in 12/8, it seemed to make more sense.




Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
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