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#2157686 - 09/25/13 09:59 PM Bach Invention 773?  
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I started on #1, 772, and it's taken me 2-3 weeks to sort of bong it out, so I started #2, 773 in Cm about a week ago.

I thought this would be easier than the first one, but I was very wrong. I haven't gotten past the first 10 measures, and still can't play even that because of the contrapuntal aspect. I can run through the first 10 measures with either hand alone OK, but when I try to play both hands, I lose track of my fingering and get hopelessly lost. It's a mental, L/R independence problem I believe.

I'm going to try #4, and continue to plug away at #2.

So I'm asking for advice:
On #2, would it be more efficient to:
1) Learn both hands separately until it's completely up to speed, fluent & automatic playing one hand at a time? Or,
2) Plod away with both hands at a very slow tempo until it "clicks"?

It's becoming really clear to me that I need a teacher, but I haven't found one yet. Thanks.


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#2157692 - 09/25/13 10:06 PM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Practicing hands alone, very, very slowly, will lead to the results you want. "Up to speed" isn't all that important. Totally relaxed and easy is the key!

Transcribe (software) will play recordings and it'll slow them down but maintain original pitch. Put on headphones and play along with Transcribe at say 50% of some recording or another. Glenn Gould is one suggestion But it could be any recording of the Inventions that you like. This is a really powerful way to learn.

#2157699 - 09/25/13 10:19 PM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Mark Polishook]  
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Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I've listened to Gould's version a bunch, and it's my favorite. I also have MIDI for all of the Inventions, so listening via VST at any tempo without pitch variation isn't a problem. I have a DAW sequencer (Reaper), and actually make "projects" for each of the pieces I'm working on, and the 773 project has tracks for both L and R MIDI, and a Gould audio version for reference.

So hands alone separately does lead to L/R independence? Your point about "up to speed" is well-taken. Maybe what I mean is to get "fluent". Fluency is the technical goal.


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#2157706 - 09/25/13 10:31 PM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Are you sure it's not a reading issue? Typically when I can't play fluently as quickly as I'd like its because it's too difficult to read at the pace my hands are trying to set.

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#2157709 - 09/25/13 10:34 PM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Originally Posted by Psychonaut
On #2, would it be more efficient to:
1) Learn both hands separately until it's completely up to speed, fluent & automatic playing one hand at a time? Or,
2) Plod away with both hands at a very slow tempo until it "clicks"?

Definitely #2.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2157716 - 09/25/13 10:48 PM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Reading is certainly part of the issue. Though I know the notes of the staff and understand keys and such, I'm only a play-by-ear hack, and reading music notation in real time is very difficult.


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#2157717 - 09/25/13 10:50 PM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Agree, #2.

I usually play hands separate just until I'm familiar with with it, then play hands together at very slow tempo, one section at a time. I repeat each section or phrase at as slow of a tempo necessary to play it without mistakes, before continuing on.

(I haven't played 773 but I've played four other Inventions.)


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#2157719 - 09/25/13 10:58 PM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: peekay]  
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Originally Posted by peekay
Agree, #2.
(I haven't played 773 but I've played four other Inventions.)


Cool! Which ones have you learned? I should arrange them in consensus order of difficulty or something...


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#2157726 - 09/25/13 11:23 PM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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I played #1, #14, #8 and #13, pretty much in that order.

I'm re-learning #13 again now for RCM Grade 8.

Edit to add: back then, I had a bad habit of not playing "cleanly" -- basically I would hit the next note while my fingers are still pressing the last notes, etc. So my teacher at the time made me play a lot of Inventions to force me to play evenly and clearly.


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#2157741 - 09/26/13 12:27 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Originally Posted by Psychonaut
So I'm asking for advice:
On #2, would it be more efficient to:
1) Learn both hands separately until it's completely up to speed, fluent & automatic playing one hand at a time? Or,
2) Plod away with both hands at a very slow tempo until it "clicks"?

It's becoming really clear to me that I need a teacher, but I haven't found one yet. Thanks.


You must do #1 until there are no longer any technical difficulties. This can be discerned by whether or not the passage/piece can be sight-read hands separately with ease near or at performance tempo. At this point, begin practicing hands together.

How To Teach Bach's 2+3pt Inventions using Invention #1 as an example


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#2157770 - 09/26/13 01:48 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Bobpickle]  
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Great little read, thanks!

So there are advocates for practicing with the two hands together and starting slow, and advocates for learning the hands separately... No universal consensus about this?

Since these pieces are pretty easy to play one hand at a time, there's probably no harm in doing that first...

And by the way, I have read a wee bit about the Baroque period, and do understand that these were meant as much more than mere technical exercises. But since poor finger dexterity and L/R independence is my biggest barrier to rendering the music I conceive, therein lies my reason for wanting to learn them. If this means I'm pulling hay with a Ferrari, I'm OK with that.


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#2157771 - 09/26/13 01:55 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Well you just have to try and see what's best for you.

But you've already said it: these pieces are quite easy hands separate.

So the work is in #2, hands together. And the best way to tackle that is to go slowly, phrase by phrase, section by section.


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#2157784 - 09/26/13 03:02 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Originally Posted by Psychonaut
So there are advocates for practicing with the two hands together and starting slow, and advocates for learning the hands separately... No universal consensus about this?


There generally is a consensus. In learning to play a piece of music there are technical difficulties (affects each hand individually) and coordination difficulties (affects both hands when together). The consensus is that you should begin playing hands together as early as possible because the coordination difficulties are often quite great and take several days of deliberate practice to build the neural connections in the brain required for the task to be "easy" and no longer difficult. Of course, when you still have technical difficulties playing and/or sight-reading one hand at a time (technical difficulties being unable to play the passage with proper fingerings each time without fail, being unable to play the passage without unnecessary tension and your hand getting stiff/sore as a result, not being able to bring out each note clearly and effortlessly, etc.), then practicing hands together is trying to run before you can walk. I don't think anyone would recommend rushing to try hands together when and if hands separate can't be done perfectly yet. This will just result in ingraining a great number of mistakes which will take a long time to undo later.


Originally Posted by Psychonaut
Since these pieces are pretty easy to play one hand at a time, there's probably no harm in doing that first...


If they are in fact easy (most of the inventions aren't known to be technical feats of virtuosity, but rather superlative exercises in voicing, coordination, and musicality; see here), then go to hands together straight away.


"[The trick to life isn't] just about living forever. The trick is still living with yourself forever."
#2157869 - 09/26/13 07:53 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by Psychonaut


Great little read, thanks!

So there are advocates for practicing with the two hands together and starting slow, and advocates for learning the hands separately... No universal consensus about this?

Since these pieces are pretty easy to play one hand at a time, there's probably no harm in doing that first...

And by the way, I have read a wee bit about the Baroque period, and do understand that these were meant as much more than mere technical exercises. But since poor finger dexterity and L/R independence is my biggest barrier to rendering the music I conceive, therein lies my reason for wanting to learn them. If this means I'm pulling hay with a Ferrari, I'm OK with that.
With Bach, you can never do too much hands separate practice. By that I mean, even when you do hands together well, revisiting hands separate is always a good idea to keep the individuality of the voices clear.

Also, I think #8 in F major is a good one to go with after #1. Learning the Inventions in a good pedagogical order vs. front of the book to back is very important.


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#2157899 - 09/26/13 09:00 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Martha Beth Lewis has a page which includes a suggested order for learning one's first several inventions:
Quote
F Major, BWV 779; #8
C Major, BWV 772; #1 (the most famous one; PDQ Bach wrote a "two-part contraption" that is cribbed from this one)
G Major, BWV 781; #10
A minor, BWV 784; #13
D Minor, BWV 775: #4; this is my favorite one, so to play it must be earned! You'll also need good trill technique....ahem.
G Minor, BWV 782; #11
B-Flat Major, BWV 785; #14 ("My hippopotamus is not dancing!")
B Minor, BWV 786; #15
I sometimes teach the rest of the 2-part inventions but often not.

She recommends learning the Little Preludes before starting the Inventions. Check the link for a suggested order.


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#2157925 - 09/26/13 09:46 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Bobpickle]  
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Awesome info, folks, thanks. I have a much clearer pedagogical sense of how to proceed now, at least until I can find a teacher.

Originally Posted by Bobpickle
Video of the week (Sept. 22, 2013):

Tzvi Erez, Erik Satie - Je te veux


I really, really like this... I've always had a soft spot for sentimental, late 19th century waltzy, Toulouse-Lautrec-esque melody, and the video montage is great...




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#2158419 - 09/27/13 05:37 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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I love these inventions.
I do have a question.. I like to "sing" a bit (very soft) along while playing... not only bach also chopin and jazz things (where it even is recommended in a book). Not that my singing is any good but I feel like I can put more musicality and emotion in when practicing with voice.
Now when I play for example invention 1 I can sing the high voice along without a problem.. but I tried today singing the only the low voice while playing and this seems much, much harder. Any thoughts about this?

Last edited by Lost Woods; 09/27/13 05:38 AM.
#2158455 - 09/27/13 07:52 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Lost Woods]  
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Originally Posted by Lost Woods
I love these inventions.
I do have a question.. I like to "sing" a bit (very soft) along while playing... not only bach also chopin and jazz things (where it even is recommended in a book). Not that my singing is any good but I feel like I can put more musicality and emotion in when practicing with voice.
Now when I play for example invention 1 I can sing the high voice along without a problem.. but I tried today singing the only the low voice while playing and this seems much, much harder. Any thoughts about this?

You are not understanding the work contrapuntally, in terms of equality of the lines, so of course you can't hear it contrapuntally. Try going through the whole piece and writing what the intervals are between the hands. Then go back and play it very slowly, and listen to each interval, and think about the movement of the bottom line especially.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2158462 - 09/27/13 08:08 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Lost Woods
I love these inventions.
I do have a question.. I like to "sing" a bit (very soft) along while playing... not only bach also chopin and jazz things (where it even is recommended in a book). Not that my singing is any good but I feel like I can put more musicality and emotion in when practicing with voice.
Now when I play for example invention 1 I can sing the high voice along without a problem.. but I tried today singing the only the low voice while playing and this seems much, much harder. Any thoughts about this?

The thing about singing while you play is that the human voice does not have an 88-note range like the piano. You can try singing the low notes up the octave to get a feel for the melodic line. However, when you play I recommend singing it in your head, because another limitation is we can only sing one note at a time, but we can play several notes.


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#2158472 - 09/27/13 08:26 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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I have another take on the "singing the low voice" question. If it's not an issue of range, it may simply be that many people find it harder to pick out and sing the lower of two notes, instead of the higher. This skill can be developed through practice -- I know because as an alto in my chorus, I couldn't do this at all when I auditioned, and now I can. It's not necessarily a fast process though.

Can you sing the lower line alone, without the upper line?


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#2158479 - 09/27/13 08:41 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I have another take on the "singing the low voice" question. If it's not an issue of range, it may simply be that many people find it harder to pick out and sing the lower of two notes, instead of the higher. This skill can be developed through practice -- I know because as an alto in my chorus, I couldn't do this at all when I auditioned, and now I can. It's not necessarily a fast process though.

Can you sing the lower line alone, without the upper line?
Ya, I'm not quite sure what the OP meant by singing the lower line, this could also be the issue. I assumed they were only playing the lower line and trying to sing with it.


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#2158480 - 09/27/13 08:44 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene

The thing about singing while you play is that the human voice does not have an 88-note range like the piano. You can try singing the low notes up the octave to get a feel for the melodic line. However, when you play I recommend singing it in your head, because another limitation is we can only sing one note at a time, but we can play several notes.


I dunno. I don't sing with my playing, but if you do (a la Glenn Gould), it would seem that while part of the "singing" is realized though the vocal chords, most of it is happening in the mind, where your virtual singing voice could indeed cover all 88 notes and sing several notes at once. It just doesn't sound that way to anyone else, since this range & polyphony won't render externally...

... Have you ever heard someone sort of mumbling the tune of what they're listening to via headphones on an iPod-like device? What they're orchestrating, vocally, is obviously much, much more than what's actually coming out of the mouth.


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#2158483 - 09/27/13 08:51 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Originally Posted by Psychonaut
Originally Posted by Morodiene

The thing about singing while you play is that the human voice does not have an 88-note range like the piano. You can try singing the low notes up the octave to get a feel for the melodic line. However, when you play I recommend singing it in your head, because another limitation is we can only sing one note at a time, but we can play several notes.


I dunno. I don't sing with my playing, but if you do (a la Glenn Gould), it would seem that while part of the "singing" is realized though the vocal chords, most of it is happening in the mind, where your virtual singing voice could indeed cover all 88 notes and sing several notes at once. It just doesn't sound that way to anyone else, since this range & polyphony won't render externally...

... Have you ever heard someone sort of mumbling the tune of what they're listening to via headphones on an iPod-like device? What they're orchestrating, vocally, is obviously much, much more than what's actually coming out of the mouth.
Yes, and this is what I do NOT recommend you do.


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#2158485 - 09/27/13 08:57 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Psychonaut
Yes, and this is what I do NOT recommend you do.


I do not. Personally, I can't imagine humming along to what I'm working on, as it would only be another complicating distraction, a third "part" I would have to keep track of. But everyone is different; why would you recommend NOT doing this? Again, it obviously worked for Gould, lol... Just curious.


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#2158486 - 09/27/13 09:00 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Originally Posted by Psychonaut
So there are advocates for practicing with the two hands together and starting slow, and advocates for learning the hands separately... No universal consensus about this?


I have met people that insist on practising hands separate until you have them down perfectly before trying to play hands together.

I have met people (though a lot fewer) that insist on playing hands together always.

I like the approach of my current teacher: hands separate when necessary.

When we do an easy piece for "fun" she might challenge me to play hands togehter, effectly giving me my first glimpse into sight reading territory.
Most of the times we practise hands separate until I am fluent enough that I can play hands together separately.
The piece I am workin on now has a part with an accompaniment in the left hand and two voices in the right hand. So she adviced me to leave out the middle voice and play only the upper voice in the right hand alone so that I would concentrate on bringing out the melody, then we added the left hand and only then the second voice in the right hand.

As long as you are with a teacher, you will have to try to find the approach that suits you best. Personally, I found most of the time out that if after practising hands separate the hands together doesn't work out well it is because I am not that fluent in hands separate then I thought. frown So it is practise, practise, practise... Sometimes I use a metronome, starting with hands separate and a low tempo. With each repetition I increase the tempo until I can't catch up. That pushes me and when I play hands together, it usually works better.


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#2158508 - 09/27/13 09:45 AM Re: Bach Invention 773? [Re: Psychonaut]  
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Originally Posted by Psychonaut
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Psychonaut
Yes, and this is what I do NOT recommend you do.


I do not. Personally, I can't imagine humming along to what I'm working on, as it would only be another complicating distraction, a third "part" I would have to keep track of. But everyone is different; why would you recommend NOT doing this? Again, it obviously worked for Gould, lol... Just curious.
LOL...not everyone thinks Gould was all that. I don't recommend it for the reason I stated before - it's not possible to sing many voices at once. Also, it's distracting to the listener, not good for your voice since you're not singing things that are meant to be actually sung, etc. Using your "inner voice" is much more effective. smile


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