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On the French suites #2742368 06/05/18 05:29 PM
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hyena Offline OP
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So, when I finish the Sinfonias, I do want to start on some of the French suites. Searching on google for French suites, unlike the inventions, wtc or fugues, not much insights could be found. So I guess I create a post myself.

Would you consider them 'difficult' as arbitrary that term is?

What does one gain from them in ability?

Have you played them yourself, what did you think about it?

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Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742384 06/05/18 06:46 PM
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I've studied some of the French Suites. As far as difficulty goes, each suite is made up of multiple movements of varying difficulty. Some of the movements, like the Menuets, are easier than Bach's sinfonias, in my opinion.

So you wouldn't necessarily have to wait to start the French Suites until after you've gone through the sinfonias. You would probably be able to manage some of the Suite movements if you have some mastery of the sinfonias.

What does one gain from them in ability?

I'm not sure how to answer that, but I like playing whole suites, because the different movements use different tempi, meter signatures, articulations, and styles. Learning how to adapt to the varying dance styles of the movements within a suite, when played in its entirety, is perhaps one aspect you could consider a gain.

That, of course, would be an argument for waiting to tackle the Suites until after you've studied the sinfonias, as some of the movements, like the Gigues, which are the last movements of all the suites, are often more difficult than the sinfonias. Especially if you want to get close to the suggested tempo of the Gigues, which move along at a good clip. smile

Enjoy those suites when you decide to start them! They're among some of my favorite repertoire.

Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742385 06/05/18 06:51 PM
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I've played most of French Suite No. 4 and No. 6. The difficulty level is variable from piece to piece. On the whole, I have not found them too much more difficult than the inventions, but, again, it's variable. They still offer the same fingering challenges as the inventions.

Musically, I've enjoyed the French Suites more than the Two-Part Inventions. The inventions are great music, but they felt more like instructional exercises to me than the Suites.


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Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742386 06/05/18 06:53 PM
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I love the Courante in Suite II -- to listen to. It seems well above my playing level right now. Same feelings about the Suite II Gigue -- lovely and complex, but seems pretty difficult.

Last edited by ClsscLib; 06/05/18 06:54 PM.

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Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742403 06/05/18 10:24 PM
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If you are able to finish the Sinfonias I don't think any of the French Suites should give you much problem. Some of those sinfonias rival the WTC in terms of difficulty.

What you may gain? Well musically you can become familiar with the different dances (and their character) featured in such suites. Like Bach's other works they are contrapuntal but less strict than the inventions, sinfonias, or fugues. There is quite a lot to passage work in some of the dances that should help develop finger dexterity. The slower movements like the sarabande offer the opportunity to develop a cantabile sound. There is quite a bit of depth to these pieces but they their smaller scale makes them easier to tackle than much of Bach's other works.


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Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742435 06/06/18 02:33 AM
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I read many of your other posts and I'm wondering why you feel the need to "finish" pieces of music and "gain" something from them. Listen to the French suite no. 2 in C minor, probably one of Bach's most famous compositions and tell me, is this not beautiful and perfect music in itself? Can you not enjoy the music for its own sake?



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Re: On the French suites [Re: Stubbie] #2742451 06/06/18 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Andamento
So you wouldn't necessarily have to wait to start the French Suites until after you've gone through the sinfonias. You would probably be able to manage some of the Suite movements if you have some mastery of the sinfonias.


Yeah, they're my favorite Bach pieces! So I got the book. My teacher first wants me to finish some of the sinfonias, before starting any of the French suites. Since she wants to me to control three-voices first!

Originally Posted by Stubbie
Musically, I've enjoyed the French Suites more than the Two-Part Inventions. The inventions are great music, but they felt more like instructional exercises to me than the Suites.


Yup, I enjoy listening to them a lot more than the inventions too!

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
love the Courante in Suite II -- to listen to. It seems well above my playing level right now. Same feelings about the Suite II Gigue -- lovely and complex, but seems pretty difficult.


My favorite ones are No.1 of suite 1, No.1 of suite 2 and No.1 of suite 5. So apparently I enjoy Allemande's!

Originally Posted by Vid
If you are able to finish the Sinfonias I don't think any of the French Suites should give you much problem. Some of those sinfonias rival the WTC in terms of difficulty.


Not nearly finished with them though! I will probably finish 4 of them.


Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
read many of your other posts and I'm wondering why you feel the need to "finish" pieces of music and "gain" something from them. Listen to the French suite no. 2 in C minor, probably one of Bach's most famous compositions and tell me, is this not beautiful and perfect music in itself? Can you not enjoy the music for its own sake?


Can I only do one or the other, why not both?

But yes, I do want to gain something. That's why I practice, I value progress in itself. Playing or listening for pleasure or being creative is not practice time for me.



Last edited by hyena; 06/06/18 05:13 AM.
Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742489 06/06/18 08:44 AM
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IMHO, one would have to be a very accomplished pianist now not to gain something and progress in the process of "finishing", say, French Suite II.

For most advanced intermediates, that undertaking would seem like a good marriage of learning material and intrinsically valuable music.


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Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742490 06/06/18 08:45 AM
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I think many of the sinfonias and even some of the inventions are just as difficult to play as many of the movements of the French suites. However, studying and playing a complete suite is a greater task than studying one of the sinfonias. Most of the suites have at least one difficult movement. I have played no.5 and no.6. The greatest obstacle for me in no.5 was the Gigue, while I found the Bourree most difficult in no.6.

The technical difficulty of this music actually depends more on how you play it than on what you play. The Sarabande of suite no.5 is relatively easy when comes to play the notes written in the score. But shaping the embellishments and refining the phrasing of this movement is a never ending story for me. Moreover, it is possible to improvise over the melody line, for instance when making the repetitions of the sections. I don't know anything about difficulty grading of these pieces, but they can be made as technically difficult as you want if this is your agenda.

I consider the French suites to be treasures in my repertoire collection. Like the inventions and sinfonias. I never "finish" the study of this music.

Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742521 06/06/18 11:23 AM
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I've been working on some of the easier movements of the French Suite no 2. I really adore the Allemande but it's too hard for me to work on without a teacher (and maybe too hard with a teacher too).
By the way, this graded list gives an estimated difficulty level by piece which can be helpful (though it's a very individual thing so don't take the grade estimates too literally)

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Graded_Pieces_Sorted_By_Difficulty.PDF

Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2742531 06/06/18 11:48 AM
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You can find ratings by movement on pianosyllabus.com

http://pianosyllabus.com/default.php


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Re: On the French suites [Re: barbaram] #2742569 06/06/18 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by barbaram
By the way, this graded list gives an estimated difficulty level by piece which can be helpful (though it's a very individual thing so don't take the grade estimates too literally)

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Graded_Pieces_Sorted_By_Difficulty.PDF
I only skimmed that list but some of the entries are absolutely ridiculous. For example, the list has Chopin's Raindrop Prelude and B minor Sonata in the same grade 7. Of course, it;s possible that most of the list is reasonable but with glaring errors like that I would use it with care.

Re: On the French suites [Re: pianoloverus] #2742583 06/06/18 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by barbaram
By the way, this graded list gives an estimated difficulty level by piece which can be helpful (though it's a very individual thing so don't take the grade estimates too literally)

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Graded_Pieces_Sorted_By_Difficulty.PDF
I only skimmed that list but some of the entries are absolutely ridiculous. For example, the list has Chopin's Raindrop Prelude and B minor Sonata in the same grade 7. Of course, it;s possible that most of the list is reasonable but with glaring errors like that I would use it with care.

It's just the third movement not the whole sonata.

You can also use http://pianosyllabus.com which aggregates several sources.


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Re: On the French suites [Re: pianoloverus] #2742585 06/06/18 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by barbaram
By the way, this graded list gives an estimated difficulty level by piece which can be helpful (though it's a very individual thing so don't take the grade estimates too literally)

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Graded_Pieces_Sorted_By_Difficulty.PDF
I only skimmed that list but some of the entries are absolutely ridiculous. For example, the list has Chopin's Raindrop Prelude and B minor Sonata in the same grade 7. Of course, it;s possible that most of the list is reasonable but with glaring errors like that I would use it with care.

The slow movements of both the B flat minor & B minor sonatas are indeed at the same level as the Raindrop. That's not an error.


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Re: On the French suites [Re: pianoloverus] #2742601 06/06/18 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by barbaram
By the way, this graded list gives an estimated difficulty level by piece which can be helpful (though it's a very individual thing so don't take the grade estimates too literally)

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Graded_Pieces_Sorted_By_Difficulty.PDF
I only skimmed that list but some of the entries are absolutely ridiculous. For example, the list has Chopin's Raindrop Prelude and B minor Sonata in the same grade 7. Of course, it;s possible that most of the list is reasonable but with glaring errors like that I would use it with care.

There is not a list of this sort anywhere that is reliable.

Re: On the French suites [Re: Gary D.] #2742639 06/06/18 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by barbaram
By the way, this graded list gives an estimated difficulty level by piece which can be helpful (though it's a very individual thing so don't take the grade estimates too literally)

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Graded_Pieces_Sorted_By_Difficulty.PDF
I only skimmed that list but some of the entries are absolutely ridiculous. For example, the list has Chopin's Raindrop Prelude and B minor Sonata in the same grade 7. Of course, it;s possible that most of the list is reasonable but with glaring errors like that I would use it with care.

There is not a list of this sort anywhere that is reliable.


It's not as though this sort of ranking is a pure science; all such lists will involve subjective inputs. To the extent that they're surveys, they depend on the quality of judgment of those contributing to the surveys (subjectively in each case).

That said, while "reliability" in a mathematical sense isn't possible, I do appreciate these ranking systems and find them directionally useful. To expect more than that may be unrealistic.


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Re: On the French suites [Re: hyena] #2743056 06/08/18 01:28 PM
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I have not been nearly as diligent in my studying, but I have found that the (easier) Suites are, on the whole, not as bad as the inventions or (I assume) the sinfonias.

I tried very hard to play some of the inventions. No. 1, No. 4, No.8, one other I don't remember. And I found it very slow going.
At around the same time, I started work on French Suite #2, initially the Allemande and Sarabande, then the rest. I feel like I made progress faster on the Suites.

I thought I saw a comment somewhere that the style of the Suites is not so much counterpoint as the inventions, etc. I don't know if that is so, but for what its worth, my experience has been the easier Suite pieces have worked better for me than to continue struggling through the inventions.

Re: On the French suites [Re: briangmoore] #2743081 06/08/18 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by briangmoore

I have not been nearly as diligent in my studying, but I have found that the (easier) Suites are, on the whole, not as bad as the inventions or (I assume) the sinfonias.

I tried very hard to play some of the inventions. No. 1, No. 4, No.8, one other I don't remember. And I found it very slow going.
At around the same time, I started work on French Suite #2, initially the Allemande and Sarabande, then the rest. I feel like I made progress faster on the Suites.

I thought I saw a comment somewhere that the style of the Suites is not so much counterpoint as the inventions, etc. I don't know if that is so, but for what its worth, my experience has been the easier Suite pieces have worked better for me than to continue struggling through the inventions.


Oh well, I do quite enjoy the inventions! But they can be quite slow, I guess they've learned me to practice efficiently.

I do think the french suites are just as much counterpoint, but in the inventions there are a lot more counter movements, so more notes at the same time. WHile the french suites are much more melodic.

Re: On the French suites [Re: barbaram] #2743095 06/08/18 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by barbaram
I've been working on some of the easier movements of the French Suite no 2. I really adore the Allemande but it's too hard for me to work on without a teacher (and maybe too hard with a teacher too).
By the way, this graded list gives an estimated difficulty level by piece which can be helpful (though it's a very individual thing so don't take the grade estimates too literally)

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Graded_Pieces_Sorted_By_Difficulty.PDF


I feel the same way about the Allemande from #2, that is what really grabbed me. I think it was the Gould recording. Especially if you listen to it from the beginning. You hear all of Suite #1 and (aside from the Sarabande, which is glacially slow) it all sounds crazy fast. Then, in the #2 Allemande he plays it just completely unaffected, not too fast, not too slow, just let the music come out. It really made an impression on me when I first heard that recording.

I have played the #2 Allemande (almost) everyday for several years now. I can't say that I have "mastered" it but it certainly has been continually rewarding.


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