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JSB was a Sadist
#2880022 08/15/19 08:52 PM
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Want proof?

Just try BWV 934, the second section. Seriously, why? And this is supposed to be among the easy ones. Little prelude. Before the Inventions. Then the Sinfonías, then the WTC, then Goldberg?

No composer makes me feel like quite the failure that he does. Sure, there are other quite hard pieces, but he has a unique way of making the ones that look easy make me feel like a total failure.

Rant over.


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880027 08/15/19 09:47 PM
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It's a part of the process. Those little preludes would be something I would have to spend a lot of time on to get it close to what I want. But I think that comes after you've moved on to the more difficult things and revisit these gems. Just take ti slow and rest in the fact that you are learning something very difficult that will get easier next time around. smile


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880044 08/16/19 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
[...]
No composer makes me feel like quite the failure that he does. [...]


Welcome to the club! I've been working on a three-part fugue (from WTC - Bk I) for two weeks, and it still limps hopelessly along.

However, "sadist," in the literal sense is a bit strong, isn't it?

Regards,


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880065 08/16/19 03:30 AM
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It's often the case that Bach's music requires a radically different approach to playing, to the extent that it feels like learning a new instrument. As always, we can't see how playable something is until we've learned to play it.

Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880066 08/16/19 03:38 AM
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I love and hate JSB. I have been butchering one or another of his pieces virtually since I first started. But I doubt I could give him up, that would be admitting defeat. A couple of my high points so far on my journey have included getting an Invention and now a Sinfonia to exam ready status. But no matter how hard I try, they are never quite finished and it just drives me crazy, and I suspect Bach will always do that to me.


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880135 08/16/19 08:36 AM
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I've been working on his d minor Prelude and Fugue from WTC I off and on for months now, and while I learned the fugue pretty quickly (I even managed to submit a very slow version of it to the Bach themed recital), the supposedly "easy" prelude almost made me cry and I was very close to giving up even though I'm usually quite persistent with my piano pieces. So, I can totally relate to the sense of failure. But at some point it clicked. With Bach it seems that it's often just a matter of time and sheer repetition.

Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880166 08/16/19 09:21 AM
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I remember enjoying Bach as a child. Perhaps it really was just the simplest pieces. The only Bach I've learnt this time round was early, the c-major prelude and I suspect that doesn't count for comparison.

My father was big on Beethoven, Bach and Mozart. These were the composers that got his approval for learning pieces from and of these 3 I think it was Bach I enjoyed the most.

So, I can't really identify with the sadist part.

I think my teacher loses control with me a bit, I'm always taking in music I'm interested in learning so she doesn't get the chance to direct progress as she would like, perhaps she is too accommodating to my requests and would be giving me bach to pieces to play if she had a chance.


Last edited by KevinM; 08/16/19 09:22 AM.
Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880167 08/16/19 09:26 AM
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Well, I'm pressing on. I figure, a Little Prelude every few weeks, then the Inventions. I do think it's a matter of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I think it will help in the end. His method of chord transitions and absolute hand independence has to be good for us!

Additionally, I should modify the opening statement to indicate he was a "brilliant sadist". There's no denying the complexity and the innovation of his work. And the fact is I absolutely love some of them. To this day, I'm using the WTC Prelude in C as a warm up every day, and I hope to find another one or two to use like that, not to mention my love affair with the Adagio, BWV 974.


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880168 08/16/19 09:29 AM
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Agree w all of the above, Bruce, you're probably right, but after deciding he was intentionally mocking me, those were the first words that came out of my mouth (in all fairness, there was an expletive thrown in for good measure, but I felt the better part of valor was to eliminate that in the title of the thread wink ).

Morodiene, I always love your words of encouragement, and I'm going to press on as above!!


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880173 08/16/19 09:36 AM
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I'm working on Invention #8 now. It's fun smile


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880178 08/16/19 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by cmb13

Additionally, I should modify the opening statement to indicate he was a "brilliant sadist". There's no denying the complexity and the innovation of his work. And the fact is I absolutely love some of them. To this day, I'm using the WTC Prelude in C as a warm up every day, and I hope to find another one or two to use like that, not to mention my love affair with the Adagio, BWV 974.


Thanks for that, I know I've heard BWV 974 before, but I thought I must listen to what Craig loves so now I have a name for it. I understand your love affair.

Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880204 08/16/19 10:42 AM
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cmb13, my good doctor, what problems are you having with this prelude in particular?

Here are a few suggestions, probably worth what they cost you (and which I'm sure you already do):

  • This prelude (and nearly all of Bach's keyboard music) requires independence of hands. Not as much as a fugue, of course, but you have to work up to that.
  • How well can you play it hands separately? Even if you can play it fairly well hands separately, you will probably benefit from further hands separate practice. (There is nothing shameful or demeaning about hands separate practice. Personally, I continue to do occasional hands separate practice even after I have a piece pretty well mastered.)
  • Practice slowly. S.l.o.w.l.y. SSSSlllloooowwwllllyyyy. Occasional try it closer to performance tempo just to see how you're coming along, but this should be occasional. (I find I make very fast progress on pieces when I force myself to practice in a slow, disciplined manner.)
  • Practice using the blocking (divide and conquer) method. (Balance this with playing through the piece, is practice can get terminally boring if you're just working on one small section. But only playing through will retard your progress.)


And here are some things you may not have considered:

How well do you understand the harmony? Can you identify the chord at every beat? Can you identify which notes are chord notes and which are non-chord notes? Consonances vs. dissonances? How did Bach resolve the dissonances? Can you identify the modulations? Where are the cadences, and which cadences did Bach use?

Speaking from personal experience, I tend to make better progress on a piece once I understand what's going on harmonically. I find this especially useful during memorization.

When I was a child and teenager, I hated Bach with a passion. I didn't come to love Bach until I was in my 30s... one reason I started seriously practicing piano as an adult was that I wanted to play the Well-Tempered Clavier (I played P&F in D minor from WTC II for Grade 8, and am currently working on P&F in F minor from WTC I for ARSM.)


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880211 08/16/19 10:55 AM
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I just got the Inventions; starting at the beginning which a music teacher has marked for her pupil. I bought them on ebay, used. After some weeks it's coming together. It's strange; if I try to think about what I do, things grind to a halt. If iIcharge at it, my fingers seem to go in the right places which is crucial. It is a fun exercise; seems easy until the speed increases.

Whether it stays with me remains to be seen . .


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880214 08/16/19 11:03 AM
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The little preludes title is misleading. Some of these are essentially close to the inventions. Anyway are you comfortable with the logic of the composition ? I find it helps to play. Essentially the second section is going down the circle of fifth, the left hand usually plays the skeleton of the chord and the right hand is embellishing with a few recurring patterns.

Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880228 08/16/19 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Well, I'm pressing on. I figure, a Little Prelude every few weeks, then the Inventions. I do think it's a matter of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I think it will help in the end. His method of chord transitions and absolute hand independence has to be good for us!

Additionally, I should modify the opening statement to indicate he was a "brilliant sadist". There's no denying the complexity and the innovation of his work. And the fact is I absolutely love some of them. To this day, I'm using the WTC Prelude in C as a warm up every day, and I hope to find another one or two to use like that, not to mention my love affair with the Adagio, BWV 974.

Well, I am totally with you on this. Learning Bach when I first started felt like solving a math problem - and I hated math! However, it became a must if I wanted to learn true finger independence and really helped with sight reading. I also have a love affair with the Adagio and Invention #7.


Barbara
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Re: JSB was a Sadist
Music Me #2880236 08/16/19 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Music Me

Well, I am totally with you on this. Learning Bach when I first started felt like solving a math problem - and I hated math! However, it became a must if I wanted to learn true finger independence and really helped with sight reading. I also have a love affair with the Adagio and Invention #7.

Barbara, I'll have to check out that invention, esp if it's anywhere near the Adagio....


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
KevinM #2880237 08/16/19 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
Originally Posted by cmb13

Additionally, I should modify the opening statement to indicate he was a "brilliant sadist". There's no denying the complexity and the innovation of his work. And the fact is I absolutely love some of them. To this day, I'm using the WTC Prelude in C as a warm up every day, and I hope to find another one or two to use like that, not to mention my love affair with the Adagio, BWV 974.


Thanks for that, I know I've heard BWV 974 before, but I thought I must listen to what Craig loves so now I have a name for it. I understand your love affair.

Glad you like it, Kevin! I have recorded it, as has b#(C)yclist, and others, on our youtube channels, but my favorite version is still by Irena Lankova. There's a thread about this piece I can dig up if you're interested.


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880240 08/16/19 11:51 AM
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Great points above, Doc Rogers.

I do like to analyze music in the ways you've outlined, but I was really hoping to go through the Little Preludes more rapidly, one every few weeks, rather than spending a lot of time with detailed harmonic analysis. This was meant to ba side project while I study the more advanced Romantic repertoire I prefer. Maybe that's the issue...they need more TLC. That said, I have noticed and paid attention to certain chords, and I think this really does help. I haven't really analyzed the chord progression, though.

Playing the piece hands-separately is much easier, and I can do it. I agree about slow practice, maybe I should slow this one down. And you're on target - I play through it too much. I should work on just a few measures at a time, slowly, to perfection, before putting them together.


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
Sidokar #2880241 08/16/19 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
The little preludes title is misleading. Some of these are essentially close to the inventions. Anyway are you comfortable with the logic of the composition ? I find it helps to play. Essentially the second section is going down the circle of fifth, the left hand usually plays the skeleton of the chord and the right hand is embellishing with a few recurring patterns.

Haven't notice that progression (descending circle) - will have to reexamine this one in that light.


I think it's the fact that there are finger changes in what seems to be illogical ways in nearly every measure, at different points in the measure, in each hand, that really fouls me up. I've simplified the finger changes (versus Henle's) in some spots, only to have it bite me when I realize a measure later why their fingering works better than my edit.


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Re: JSB was a Sadist
cmb13 #2880278 08/16/19 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13

I think it's the fact that there are finger changes in what seems to be illogical ways in nearly every measure, at different points in the measure, in each hand, that really fouls me up. I've simplified the finger changes (versus Henle's) in some spots, only to have it bite me when I realize a measure later why their fingering works better than my edit.


Fingering in Bach can be maddening if you don't approach it the right way. You are realizing how non-obvious the fingering is for you, which is due to the complexity of the music.

It takes time to get comfortable with this. I can assure you that it's worth putting in that time, however!

The key to all of this is learning how to untangle the complexity of the music. As an exercise, you might try the following:

- Play the left hand as written, but play only the first 3 eighth notes in the right hand in each measure
- Play the left hand as written, but play only the right hand notes which fall on the beats

I would not suggest playing hands separately in music like this.

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