Johann Sebastian Bach
Invention 1
in C Major

Composed to develop a singing style of playing, Bach's Inventions are masterful miniatures full of charm and feeling, and a great introduction to contrapuntal music, where different voices imitate and converse with each other.

ID: 2
Johann Sebastian Bach - Inventions:

Invention 1
BWV 772

Key: C Major
Year: 1723
Level: 5
Period: Baroque
piano sheet music Piano score: PS Urtext Download
piano sheet music Piano score: Czerny edition Download
piano sheet music Piano score: Autograph manuscript Download
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A study in conversation

The compositional economy of this piece is astounding. Virtually every note of the whole piece is derived from the first twelve notes, by means of transposition, inversion (turning the subject upside down) or augmentation (lengthening the note values). The concise, upward moving subject sounds happy and confident. A steady tempo and a clear sense of direction towards the first and third beats of each bar will give the piece a strong forward motion. Subtle crescendos and diminuendos can be used to bring out the melodic contour.


The Inventions were originally written as "Praeambula" and "Fantasiae" in the Klavierb├╝chlein f├╝r Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann Sebastian's eldest son, and later rewritten as musical exercises, designed to help students obtain a singing style of playing, but also to give them "a strong foretaste of composition". The most common version of this invention is the one with semiquavers throughout, but as can be seen in the autograph manuscript, Bach later presented a second version with added triplets, perhaps as an example of melodic ornamentation.

Practice & Performance Tips:

As you learn each invention, try to locate all the subjects, which might appear transposed. Practice the inventions hands separately. Try to memorize each hand first, in order to develop independence and touch control. Strive for an even playing. You may want to practice each voice (or each hand) non-legato first. Double check that your fingers are always relaxed before and after playing each note. Practice slowly!
The subject in this invention has 8 notes (C-D-E-F-D-E-C-G) while the countersubject has 4 notes (C-B-C-D). Lift your hand slightly between the subject and the countersubject. In other words, try to leave some "air" in between the G and the C and do the same throughout the invention. The lifting will help the music breathe and add clarity to the invention.

Learn the whole invention without the ornaments first. When you are ready for the ornaments, make them consistent: the first ornament that appears in this invention is called a trill (m. 1, right hand). The B with the trill can be realized as C-B-C-B (therefore, start from the upper note). Measure 5 contains a mordent on C. Play it as C-B-C.

Bach uses sequences very often. If you consider the first sixteenth-note (semiquaver) in m. 3 (right hand) as the end of the... Sign up for a Gold membership to read the practice tips.

Forum posts about this piece:

Bach Invention - BWV 772 - About ornaments. by monsieurpichon
Hi to all! I'm getting confused about the ornaments in the first Invention. Can someone guide me? First of all: I already searched in the forum and found some posts about this invention, but not...

Fingering, 4 2 3 1 4 2 3 1 4 2 3 1...really? by lettersquash
Hi, I was struggling with my Bach Two Part Invention No.1 in C yesterday, and identified one reason as the passage in the left hand in the attached photo, where there's a rising set of thirds from F# up to...

What Bach Invention #1 did for me by 1piano4joe
Hi all, This might be a post lengthy. I learned pieces can be: 1. Far from straightforward. 2. Just plain wrong. 3. Badly edited I learned that I could...

Ghost (optional) notes and fingering considerations by 1piano4joe
Hi all, I'm referring here to when the same note appears in both staffs and there may or may not be parenthesis depending on the editor. I don't know what this is called. Is there a name...

Bach Invention No.1 progress, preparation, method & questions by 1piano4joe
Hi all, Questions first: 1. Is this piece too hard for me? 2. Am I at the point of diminishing returns? How should I be able to tell? 3. Did I do enough AMB notebook preparation?...

Bach Invention analysis questions by 1piano4joe
Hi all, I'm am learning to "play" Invention #1 in C major. I have dabbled with numbers 4,8 & 13 with varying degrees of success. The best for me was number 4 at full...

How to transpose into a different key instantly? by zasinzebra
Hi Everyone, I am trying to learn how to be able to transpose music into a different key, either at sight or from memory. There was a story I read in which a young Liszt met...

Counting: Need to do it, don't want to do it, how to make it integral by bernadette60614
After two other teachers, I have found my dream teacher.  She's challenging but supportive. She enjoys teaching and, consequently, I enjoy being taught by her. We've just begun my...

Bach invention no 1 trouble by supapiano225
I can play hands sepratley but i cant seem to connect them together, how do you play the first melody of the RH with the LH while the RH plays the Trill at the start of the piece. Plus how...

Invention nr 1 - Bach, something about Bernhard and... the same key LH/RH by rmbarbosa
Bach two parts Invention nr 1, in C major, isnt the most beautiful of them but I like it very much because of its structure, with its motif variations and development: only in the first seven bars, we have at...

Bach Invention nr 1 for two part by rmbarbosa
I like to play the Inventions for two part and I play all of them. But yesterday, when I was in the forum, I saw some posts about Invention nr 1 where the mordent, at the first bar, was suposed to be played...

How long should it take to master the first Invention? by jcabraham
I've been playing off and on for years. There are a number of pieces I have learned, on the order of "Anna Magdalena Notebook", Mozart minuets, etc. I started to learn the first Invention, but it...

Bach's Invention No. 1 by garetanne
Since my piano teacher is on vacation for the next two weeks I turn to you to keep me from playing this wrong for the next 14 days. I'm confused by the 13th measure in this piece: ...

Bach Invention 1 by steve jones
Does anyone have any idea which is the definitive edition of this piece? I have one score which tells me to play at 120bpm, and has minimal ornamentation. I have another which tells me to play...

Invention no1 fourth trill fingering ? by goran
I am practicing the number 1 Invention (BWv772). This is my very first piece. I could not resist trying it. My Yamaha P90 digital piano plays the first trill (in the first measure): b-a-b

Invention in C Major No. 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Sheet music and recordings of thousands of piano pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach and many other famous composers to view in your digital device, print out or listen to.
Invention in C Major - No. 1 is a piece by the baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
The composition was first published in 1723 and is included in Inventions by Bach.