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Joined: Feb 2020
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Im working in WTC fugues, and the time has come when i need to make them sound actually like real fugues. So i need to highlight the entries of the theme, even when they appear in an inner voice, while with the same hand i have to play some other things.

So im trying to develop exercises that help me. I need to be able to play forte with one finger and at the same time piano with another finger of the same hand.

Any adive, tip, excercise, whatever, is welcome.

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In order to bring out the theme, first you need to figure out which finger will be playing what - if you have good fingering you're probably already 50% there. My tip on that is, distributing a contrapuntal line between the two hands may seem counter-intuitive, but at times it is the optimal solution.


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Yes that's a good strategy when it is posible, but sometimes it is not possible because the other hand is already busy playing some notes far apart.

Anyway, I've found that the most effective way to playing different dynamics on one hand is just applying basic phisics. If i raise one finger and let another one on top of the key, and make them fall at the same time and hit bottom also at the same time, the raised one is forced to travel 3 times more distance than the other one, in the same amount of time, so it's going to sound much louder.

I've applied that principle to some passages of the fugue and it works good enough.

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You could play fifths with one hand, emphasising one note, then emphasising the other on the next pass.

Adding the other hand playing softly, you will then have three soft notes and one louder one.

Plenty of scope to vary this methodology for extra practice.

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I would suggest playing scales in thirds with one hand, firstly accentuating the top notes and then the bottom notes. Playing chords accentuating different notes in them is also a good exercise.

And yes, you need to swing more with the finger that you want to play louder.

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Another exercise is to play one line legato and forte and the other line staccato and pianissimo, then do the opposite.

I also saw Graham Fitch play a funny exercise where his hand was in a 5-finger C major position and he played all 5 fingers together but through emphasizing different notes the melody from Mary Had a Little Lamb came out.

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Just remember that a lot of people play these on harpsichords, where there is no variation of dynamics. Actually, you cannot vary the dynamics between notes of a single organ manual. So there are other methods of separating voices, besides dynamics.


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That's a lot of good ideas. Thankyou very much

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Maybe try playing the voices separately in different hands and in all possible different combinations.

I think much of the challenge is really hearing the different voices and listening carefully.

Just hearing the separate lines clearly will go a long way towards good voicing that will come out automatically in the playing. Later on, can add mild dynamic emphasis if needed.

If you listen to a lot of professional recordings, subject entries may be slightly emphasized with dynamics but usually don’t hit you over the head in a obvious way. It’s often subtle changes in touch, articulation.

Last edited by spk; 10/20/21 10:37 AM.
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Originally Posted by BDB
Just remember that a lot of people play these on harpsichords, where there is no variation of dynamics. Actually, you cannot vary the dynamics between notes of a single organ manual. So there are other methods of separating voices, besides dynamics.

Harpsichords actually have a few dB of dynamic range, just barely perceptible. That said, as you seem to suggest, playing "the theme" (more accurately, the first theme) loudly is not how baroque music was meant to be played.

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Instead of looking for special exercises, why not just use the pieces themselves to practice the kind of passages you discussed? If one starts with the easiest Preludes and Fugues that should be possible. If one can't play the easiest P&Fs after some practice, then maybe one should delay starting on the WTC.

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Concentrate also on articulation — the subject should have a distinguishing pattern of legato, portato and staccato used at every entry. This takes slow practice. I think this is better than playing the subject louder.

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One of my teachers gave me a simple tip - listen to the voice you want to emphasize and focus on it. There's a lot going on in the other voices but you need to focus on this one in your mind. Expect to hear it loud and clear and your body will make it happen. It works for me every time I remember to follow it.

In your case - don't try to pay attention to both voices in the hand and try to make one of them louder - instead focus only on one and let the hand play the other automatically (of course you do need to practice the other voice enough to still make it sound musical).

Maybe in the future I'll develop the ability to actually focus on two things but for now this does the job.


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start C major position both hands or separate first

135 (CEG)
42 (DF)
3 (lift and do it staccato)
1 (C) , but rotate to do this your wrist left a bit (this is talking from perspective of right hand)


repeat this atleast 10 times

then just transpose it to whatever key you want and just do it a bunch the same is for left hand but you rotate towards your thumb so you roatet your wrist right for left hand..


OH another one you can do for this is place your thumb on C for example, and do your max stretch (for me it's a 10th but comforatbly a 9th)

and with fingers 2-5 just holkd your thumb down on C and just basically play the notes from the other octaves

so for me i'd do

THUMB HOLDING ON C



D with 5 (not the one next to the thumb on C you are stretching)
C with 4
B with 3
A with 2
then go back up so
B with 3
C with 4
D with 5


and then repeat by just lifting your thumb again and doing it again

if you'd like I can send a video basically you just stretch your thumb and with the other fingers you play staccato or whatever dynamcis you want going up and down the scale essentially

Last edited by pablobear; 10/24/21 11:47 AM.

My gods are: Cortot, Horowitz, and Sofronitsky,

Started piano during COVID, hopefully I can play Rachmaninoff, Rubinstein, and Scriabin compositions one day...

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