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Bach: Invention No. 4 in D Minor

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Johann Sebastian Bach - Inventions :
Invention, No. 4
Invention  No. 4  in D Minor by Bach piano sheet music
Key: D Minor Year: 1723
Level: 5 Period: Baroque
piano sheet music Piano score: PS Urtext
piano sheet music Piano score: Czerny edition
piano sheet music Piano score: Autograph manuscript
Recordings in Naxos Music Library

Sophisticated simplicity

This invention is a great example of Bach's ability to mix simplicity with sophistication, extracting a beautiful musical creation out of an extremely basic idea. Listen to the first two measures. It is nothing but a d harmonic minor scale from d to c sharp, with the c sharp displaced an octave down to add a more interesting and expressive interval than the constant stepwise motion of the regular scale. Then Bach adds two simple broken chords, d minor and A7 to complete a subject that has enough musical substance to form the basis of the whole invention. Using sequences and inversions (transposing the subject and turning it upside down) Bach creates a stirring piece whose wave-like movement really pulls the listener forward.

The two-part inventions are an excellent introduction to contrapuntal music, i.e. music where two or more equally important voices imitate and converse with each other. A subject appears first in one voice and is then echoed in the other voice/voices. Don’t be led to think that Bach’s inventions are only dry exercises in counterpoint. They were composed to develop the player’s cantabile, i. e. a singing style of playing, and are also very useful to develop one’s coordination, variety of touch and articulation. But above all they are masterful miniatures full of charm and feeling, exploring a wide range of musical expressions.

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!

There   are many ways to choose a fingering, but one of the best fingerings for   the beginning of this invention (mm. 1-2) is 2-1-2-3-4-5-1-5-4-3-2-1).   The left hand (mm. 3-4) can use the following fingering:   5-4-3-2-1-2-5-2-1-2-3-4).

The   time signature is 3/8, with three eighth notes per beat. However, the   harmony changes at every downbeat. This is what we call harmonic rhythm.   Try to analyze each measure harmonically and write down the chord in   between the staves. For example, the first measure implies a D minor   chord while the second measure implies an A Major chord. In the third   measure, the left hand uses imitation and repeats the same notes (and   therefore the same chord) of m. 1. The right hand outlines a D Minor   chord too!

Look at mm. 9-10 (right hand). These two measures form... Sign up for a Gold membership to read the practice tips.

DOWNLOAD Invention in D Minor No. 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach (published in 1723) . High quality classical piano scores from the Piano Street sheet music library.

Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the prominent composers active in the Baroque era, has written this piece titled Invention No. 4 in D Minor from Inventions. The composition is categorized as "Polyphonic, Piece" in Piano Street's sheet music library and the level of difficulty is 5.
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