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Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult? (Read 15298 times)

Offline aaron_ginn

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Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
« on: January 02, 2007, 05:34:21 PM »
Or is it just me?

I've only been playing since last June, so maybe I am just not there yet.  Still, I've been working on Invention 4 in D minor for several months and I'm finally getting to the point where I can play it fairly well at speed with few mistakes.  Compare this to the other piece I've been splitting time with - Chopin's Nocturne in B Flat Minor (Op. 9 No. 1).  I've been working on the Nocturne since mid November and I can nearly play all of it pretty well (I'm still working out problems with the 20ths near the end of the piece).  This piece has come much easier to me than the Bach Invention.

Now I'm starting Invention 13 in A minor and it seems to be even more brutal.  I simply cannot get my hands to play independently (and yes, I'm playing HS almost exclusively).  I know it will come in time; I had the same problems with Invention 4 in the beginning.

Piano Street rates the Chopin Nocturne at Level 7 and the Inventions at level 5 and 6.  Is this accurate?  Do most people here agree with this?  Despite being about one third as long as the Chopin Nocturne, the Invention 4 has taken me about twice as long to play decently as the Nocturne.  Maybe Bach just comes more naturally to some people, although I'd expect to be one as I'm an engineer by trade!  Regardless, my appreciation for Bach's genius and virtuosity has ramped up several levels since I started trying to play his "simple" stuff.

Sheet music to download and print: Inventions by Bach



Offline ada

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #1 on: January 02, 2007, 06:31:11 PM »
It's not just you. It's me as well  :)

All Bach is difficult to play beautifully, regardless of how simple it may appear. I set out to master all his two part inventions and sinfonias some years ago and I've still a long way to go. And I don't feel like I really own any of them yet though I can play 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 13 and sinfonia 4 relatively competently and get through most of the others.

Invention 13 is one of my favourites. I was doing a lot of hands separate on that initially but I think (and I'm not a teacher so others may disagree) there comes a point where you have to draw a line and move onto mainly hands together.

For me, when I could play both parts at speed and without mistakes it was time to concentrate on putting them together. If you spend too long doing hands sep I think it becomes counterproductive and makes HT harder. This doesn't mean you don't go back from time to time and disentangle the voices separately, but you need to learn how they weave together as well as how they sound on their own.

But that's half the beauty of Bach, unless you're Glenn Gould I don't think you ever reach an endpoint, and maybe even he feels the same. And it doesn't really matter. Invention 13 imo sounds just as beautiful played slowly as it does when your fingers are flying.

Good luck!
Bach almost persuades me to be a Christian.
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Offline rh20030001

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #2 on: January 02, 2007, 08:10:13 PM »
i alreay finish BACH inventions, but  I have never played Chopin's pieces.
 I though Chopin's pieces is much harder than Bach inventions ?   
can someone suggest some Chopin 's easy pieces for me ?

Offline aaron_ginn

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #3 on: January 02, 2007, 08:14:47 PM »

Invention 13 is one of my favourites. I was doing a lot of hands separate on that initially but I think (and I'm not a teacher so others may disagree) there comes a point where you have to draw a line and move onto mainly hands together.


My method is to master a few measures at a time HS and then slowly put them HT.  There are portions where I feel it's easier to get some of the rhythms down by playing both hands at the same time.

I love Invention 13, but it is proving to be very difficult starting out.  When I started playing piano last year, I wanted to play Beethoven exclusively.  I started working on Invention 4 simply because I'd heard the Inventions were great practice pieces.  Now Bach has really begun to supplant Beethoven as my favorite composer.  His works always seem to sound fresh somehow.  As much as I love Beethoven, some of his stuff begins to grate on me after a while as overly repetitive.  I have not found that to be the case with Bach at all.

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #4 on: January 02, 2007, 08:18:05 PM »
Aaron,
I think you will find Bernhard's posts on teaching and learning the Bach Two-Part Inventions quite helpful:
http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,2714.msg74500/topicseen.html#msg74500


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline aaron_ginn

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #5 on: January 02, 2007, 08:19:38 PM »
i alreay finish BACH inventions, but  I have never played Chopin's pieces.
 I though Chopin's pieces is much harder than Bach inventions ?   
can someone suggest some Chopin 's easy pieces for me ?

There are certainly Chopin works that are more difficult than the Bach Inventions, but the Nocturne I am working on has proven to be much easier for me to grasp than Bach.  Maybe I'm just odd.

I can only play one Chopin piece, but I suggest you take a look at some of the easier Nocturnes or Mazurkas to start.  I've heard these are some of Chopin's less challenging pieces.  I'd suggest any of the Opus 9 Nocturnes or Opus 6 Mazurkas.

Good luck!

Offline aaron_ginn

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #6 on: January 02, 2007, 08:32:20 PM »
Aaron,
I think you will find Bernhard's posts on teaching and learning the Bach Two-Part Inventions quite helpful:
http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,2714.msg74500/topicseen.html#msg74500


Jazzy,

Thanks.  I'll definately take a look at this.  Bernhard's posts are always interesting and enlightening.

Offline desordre

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #7 on: January 02, 2007, 08:44:45 PM »
 Dear Aaron:
 Sorry, but how can you manage Chopin's opus 9/1 if you don't play the very very very much easier inventions by Bach? If you're using the original, it's quite amazing. Chopin have large span arpeggi, intrincated crossing and polyrhythms, octaves, thirds, sixths, and so on. The Bach pieces have just two very related lines, one by hand, in the case of number 4 conjunt motion almost always. I'm not saying that you can't think that way, but it's surprising.
 By the way, play either in just half a year is a remarkable achievement.
 About Bach, normally one should start with the Anna Magdalena's Notebook, i.e., the minuets, marchs and other dances there. Then, come some other pieces, normally non-fugal, such as the little preludes. Then, and normally only then, one play the inventions. Thus, a general order to Bach is, in my opinion:
 - Anna Magdalena's Notebook;
 - Little Preludes (selections from the set with 6 and the set with 12);
 - Two-part inventions;
 - Selections from the french suites (first, two-voiced; then three-voiced);
 - Three-part inventions;
 One remark: no few than three works at each level. After this, there are several possibilities, but the "most wanted" goals are WTC and a complete suite. By the way, the sequence is endless, because until a pianist plays the Goldberg, or the Ricercare a 6 (with a full polyphonic rendering), or other nightmarish works by him, the path is not complete.
 Best!
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Offline desordre

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #8 on: January 02, 2007, 08:49:18 PM »
 PS: About Chopin...

 Among his easier works are:
 - Preludes opus 28 nn. 4, 7 and 20;
 - Mazurkas opus 68 nn. 3 and 4;
 Better to start with the mazurkas.

 The Nocturne opus 9/1 is grade 8, not 7; and yes, the two-part inventions are around grade 5.

 Best!
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Offline aaron_ginn

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #9 on: January 02, 2007, 09:22:40 PM »
Dear Aaron:
 Sorry, but how can you manage Chopin's opus 9/1 if you don't play the very very very much easier inventions by Bach? If you're using the original, it's quite amazing. Chopin have large span arpeggi, intrincated crossing and polyrhythms, octaves, thirds, sixths, and so on. The Bach pieces have just two very related lines, one by hand, in the case of number 4 conjunt motion almost always. I'm not saying that you can't think that way, but it's surprising.
 By the way, play either in just half a year is a remarkable achievement.
 About Bach, normally one should start with the Anna Magdalena's Notebook, i.e., the minuets, marchs and other dances there. Then, come some other pieces, normally non-fugal, such as the little preludes. Then, and normally only then, one play the inventions. Thus, a general order to Bach is, in my opinion:
 - Anna Magdalena's Notebook;
 - Little Preludes (selections from the set with 6 and the set with 12);
 - Two-part inventions;
 - Selections from the french suites (first, two-voiced; then three-voiced);
 - Three-part inventions;
 One remark: no few than three works at each level. After this, there are several possibilities, but the "most wanted" goals are WTC and a complete suite. By the way, the sequence is endless, because until a pianist plays the Goldberg, or the Ricercare a 6 (with a full polyphonic rendering), or other nightmarish works by him, the path is not complete.
 Best!

desordre,

Thanks for the post.  I don't know why the Chopin piece has come easier to me than the Bach Invention.  Perhaps the months I spent working on Invention 4 allowed me to pick up the Nocturne much more quickly.  Or maybe, as I said earlier, I'm just odd. :)

While it's true that the Chopin piece has many complications not in the Bach Inventions, much of it simply repeats itself.  The left hand has large arpeggios, but they are much the same over and over.  The LH in a Bach Invention is always changing, always dynamic.  Maybe my mind is simply not wired for contrapuntal playing.

I can't play Chopin 9/1 perfectly yet, but I think I'll be able to play it well enough in a month to publish it on my YouTube account.  If you want to see me play Invention 4, go here:

http://youtube.com/profile?user=aaronginn

That was a month ago.  I can play it much better now.  I've worked out the portion of the video where I stopped playing momentarily.  Also, the comment a poster made about my trills was right on.  I was trying to trill in the RH using 3 and 4.  That proved to be too difficult.  I've sinced changed the fingering so that I'm trilling with 2 and 3.  It sounds much better now.

Offline steve jones

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #10 on: January 02, 2007, 09:34:01 PM »

I must admit that I find Bach difficult as well. The Inventions are difficult! Iv had far easier times playing apparently more difficult pieces by Chopin.

With Chopin, the use of rubato and pedalling makes it alot more 'free' imo. I find this music just happens for me, and sounds good quickly. But with Bach, its far more metronomic and that makes it hard for me.

Which means I should probably start playing more of it!

SJ

Offline aaron_ginn

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #11 on: January 02, 2007, 09:42:34 PM »
I must admit that I find Bach difficult as well. The Inventions are difficult! Iv had far easier times playing apparently more difficult pieces by Chopin.

With Chopin, the use of rubato and pedalling makes it alot more 'free' imo. I find this music just happens for me, and sounds good quickly. But with Bach, its far more metronomic and that makes it hard for me.

Which means I should probably start playing more of it!

SJ


Yes!   I totally agree.  It seems that many Romantic compositions allow for more freedom than Baroque works.  If you look at the music for a Bach work, it looks so simple, so neat, so orderly, yet you almost have to play like a machine to pull it off.  The Chopin 9/1 score looks so much more difficult, but it sounds much better when I play it.

Okay, maybe I'm not that odd after all! :)

Offline preludium

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #12 on: January 02, 2007, 10:21:46 PM »
I'm completely stunned by people saying the inventions are easy. I started with #13 in september and can play it quite fluently now, even though I'm getting derailed every now and then, which hasn't really changed during the last four weeks. Six weeks ago I started Debussy's "Dr. Gradus", which is considered much more difficult, but I've almost got it under the belt - at about 120 bpm, just that some sections still are a bit bumpy. I finished Chopin's Prélude op.28/4 in two weeks, which was a walk-over compared to anything else I ever started. Skriabin's Prélude op.11/13 took me 3 weeks and I'm so comfortable with it that I could make a recording.

But this Bach thingy drives me nuts. When I started HT I had to go painfully slow and had the impression it's impossible to play this HT. Now, it is possible, amazingly. The increase in speed was so slow that I didn't even realize it. You just cannot relax anywhere. If you start the piece you have to go until the end. Well, I don't agree with the ratings in the spreadsheet. #4 surely is easier than #13, but you still need a separate brain for each hand.

Offline invictious

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #13 on: January 03, 2007, 04:00:26 AM »
The Bach inventions, from the technical side seem to differ from everyone. I find the  Inventions not as hard, but from a musical standpoint, it's a totally different matter.

Baroque music is a common misconception, people think it's impossible to play Baroque music beautifully and musically because of it's organized structure. True, it's difficult, that's why it's difficult to play properly and beautiful, because it's hard to express it musically.

Sorry for vagueness.
Bach - Partita No.2
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Offline pianogeek_cz

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #14 on: January 03, 2007, 09:30:59 PM »
I don't think they're that difficult overall, but you simply have to get used to them. As with pretty much everything... By the time you have, say, three of them safely under your belt, they come much easier.

One tip that worked wonders (at least for me): simply play each note twice (e. g. out of, say, an eigth c2 note, you make two eigth c2 notes). Do this HT, veeeeery slowly, with a metronome. It might be frustrating at first, since unless you're used to this excercise, it makes the invention much more difficult, but keep trying, don't allow yourself a single error, and it will come. Don't forget to make sure your wrist is relaxed after each note!

And once you can do this, try it staccato.  8)
Be'ein Tachbulot Yipol Am Veteshua Berov Yoetz (Without cunning a nation shall fall, [But] Salvation Come By Many Good Counsels)

Offline brahms4me

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #15 on: January 03, 2007, 10:52:40 PM »
Just wanted to add my 0.02 cents worth about Bach.  As I get older I find Bach to be more and more complex, even in the "easy" pieces - which I really don't think exist because every Bach piece has it's challenges and difficulties along with the immense gratification of accomplishment. 

The 2-part inventions are indeed difficult.  You have to have complete independence of the hands and this requires a few months (dare I say "years") of preparation.  Not only should motor skills be at the forefront but one has to learn how to listen to the different voices, i.e. the phrasing, dynamics, imitation, and sequence passages. 

It's a journey well worth embarking upon.  Have fun - you'll learn soooooooo much!
Be a thief and take the listener's breath away.

Offline rh20030001

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #16 on: January 04, 2007, 12:35:18 AM »
i have never play Chopin's pieces.   but as a audience, 

can i make a very bad comment ,

 Chopin's music sound like a Christmas tree with lot of deco,

Bach 's music sound like pure spring water with life.     


Offline Bob

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #17 on: January 04, 2007, 01:42:39 AM »
Can someone describe the pieces a little?  Is the Chopin homophonic?

The two-part pieces have two lines moving along independently.  It's like listening to two conversations at once.  I don't think anyone can really do that -- at least not 100% attention on two different conversations.

If the Chopin is a melody with accompaniment, there's only one voice that needs attention.

I find Baroque music more difficult to read because it's got so many independent voices.  I can study them and get a piece under my fingers, but I can't concentrate on all voices at the same time.  I don't think it's possible -- at least not concentrating the same way you do when you focus on just one melodic line.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline desordre

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #18 on: January 04, 2007, 02:07:40 AM »
  Dear Aaron:
 1) about your video, I think that's quite good. You just seem a bit stiffy, especially your forearm and wrist. Try to relax, and your playing will certainly come smoother and better.
 2) about the trill, anything is better than 34. I would suggest 13, to both hands. Give this fingering a chance and you will see both speed and control enhanced, even more if you combine this with some wrist movement. Of course that sometimes you must use another fingerings, and odd ones (such as 45, or 34 while holding down the 5), but this is my general pattern.
 
 Dear Steve:
 
(...)With Chopin, the use of rubato and pedalling makes it alot more 'free' imo. (...)
1) Let me disagree with you: rubato and pedalling are both disguises for unsolved technique. In Bach, there's a "rule" that forbids you from both, what is nonsense, since you do use pedal and agogic in Bach. In the other hand, taken for granted that Chopin used both, almost everyone start studying a piece by him with lots of pedal, lots of "ritardandi", i.e., full of expressive playing... but normally it is not. Try to play a piece by Chopin with no pedal and no rubato and see what happen. Of course I'm not saying that you must perform this way: it's just an experience. A very good example: Prelude 20. Everybody overpedal it: try with no pedal, but with a very legato melody.

(...) But with Bach, its far more metronomic and that makes it hard for me. (...)
2) Take care: what Bach do you mean? An allemande in the french style is anything but metronomic. A grave or largo from a sonata is probably more agogical than Chopin. By the way, there are even people who propose more "strict" pieces, such as our very inventions, with tons of agogic.

 Dear Aaron, again:
 
(...) It seems that many Romantic compositions allow for more freedom than Baroque works. If you look at the music for a Bach work, it looks so simple, so neat, so orderly, yet you almost have to play like a machine to pull it off. (...)
It only seems less free: in some cases, it's even more than a romantic work. Compare, for instance, a prelude by Chambonnières with some Schumann work. And about Bach, you touch the great problem of Bach playing: try to do it like a machine. That kind of thought generates very poor renditions of his works and a battle with every page by him. Notice that it's not you: many people think that way, have a very bad time studying Bach, and play it in a very boring way.

 Dear Invictious:
(...)Baroque music is a common misconception, people think it's impossible to play Baroque music beautifully and musically because of it's organized structure. True, it's difficult, that's why it's difficult to play properly and beautiful, because it's hard to express it musically.(...)
I agree 100%. I'm not sure why that happens, but you're right. What really astonishes me is the fact that some people find baroque music more complex or organized than Brahms, for instance. Or Debussy. For the later, anyone who knows his music should agree that it only sounds free, because it's very well organized and structured. Remember only Voiles or La Soirèe dans Grenade.

 Dear Brahms:
(...)You have to have complete independence of the hands and this requires a few months (dare I say "years") of preparation. (...)
It only happens when someone confront himself with the inventions too early, specially if it's the first contact with polyphonic music, what happens - unfortunately - very much. I wrote above what I think it's a general order of Bach music, and it's impossible to start with the inventions. Furthermore, I would never say to anyone who have less than about three years of regular piano playing to do this. In my experience, that followed this "rule", I always found the inventions very smooth to play, and despite some problems with the length of number 2's theme and the arpeggi of number 13, they all (I played 8 of them in my student years) came easy.

(...)It's a journey well worth embarking upon. Have fun - you'll learn soooooooo much!
Yeap! 100%.

 Best to all!
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Offline desordre

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #19 on: January 04, 2007, 02:13:26 AM »
 Dear Bob:
(...)It's like listening to two conversations at once. I don't think anyone can really do that -- at least not 100% attention on two different conversations.
Sorry, but no, it's not like two conversations: is just like two people talking about the same thing. I think you do this all the time, right?  ;)

(...)I find Baroque music more difficult to read because it's got so many independent voices. I can study them and get a piece under my fingers, but I can't concentrate on all voices at the same time. I don't think it's possible -- at least not concentrating the same way you do when you focus on just one melodic line.
Sorry again: the voices are not "independent", as almost any theory book seems to say. They are, in the case of Bach, strictly related to each other, what make it very possible to focus in every line simultaneously. Anyway, the process of "focusing" is quite different in comparison to homophonic music, for instance.
 By the way, if you want some example of "independent" voices, please listen to "Three Places in New England", by Ives; or the third movement of the "Sinfonia", by Berio.
 Best!
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Offline aaron_ginn

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #20 on: January 04, 2007, 03:55:27 PM »
  Dear Aaron:
 1) about your video, I think that's quite good. You just seem a bit stiffy, especially your forearm and wrist. Try to relax, and your playing will certainly come smoother and better.
 2) about the trill, anything is better than 34. I would suggest 13, to both hands. Give this fingering a chance and you will see both speed and control enhanced, even more if you combine this with some wrist movement. Of course that sometimes you must use another fingerings, and odd ones (such as 45, or 34 while holding down the 5), but this is my general pattern.


desordre,

Thanks for the comments.  About my stiffness: my instructor has noted the same thing.  She even grabbed my arm and tried to move my hand from left to right to show me how my wrists needed to be more relaxed.  She was largely unable to do so.  I think I just don't have a lot of flexibility in my forearms and wrists.  Believe me, it's much better than when I first started playing.  I was pretty much a robot pounding with my whole arms.  I think I play the Nocturne much more relaxed than this piece (at least it feels that way).  I really should videotape myself playing that piece to see if I notice any improvement.  Do you have any recommendations for relaxation exercises that would help with this?

As far as the triling, I am using 1-2 on the LH trill.  That feels awkward as well, although nowhere near as bad as 3-4 in the RH!  I think I'll try 1-3 in the LH and see how that works.  Thanks for the tips!

Offline robert

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #21 on: January 04, 2007, 04:13:38 PM »
In general, and for most people, the Bach 2-part inventions are easier (probably even a lot easier) than the Op.9 no.1 Nocturne. But actually, it really has to do what you are used to playing and your pianistic background.

If you have followed the classical track of piano since a little child, the 2-part inventions are more natural to play but if your background is pop/rock/jazz music where your left hand is used to only play chords, octaves etc. the Chopin Nocturne can in fact turn out easier to play. The reason is that Chopin and especially left hand and in particular the Nocturnes, plays chords, broken chords or similar which your brain can to refer to as a set or flurrish of a chord (or harmony). Bach is all contrapunt which is melodies, often short which is variated and played against each other. That makes your left hand's playing as difficult as right hand and your brain cannot refer to it as a solid harmony as the patterns are not so easy to understand.

So to summarize, it has nothing to do with your technique but rather that you have memorize problems when it comes to Bach. Your brain cannot simple find a way to structure the piece.

The A-minor is among the trickiest, perhaps the F major is even trickier as it involves a lot more different technique.

My advice is to learn Bach hands separated. Play each hand until you play it right through without a single mistake, then put it together. It will first feel like restarting the piece but you will soon get rewarded. Second advice is to make sure you are 100% certain about the fingering. You do not have time to vary it in Bach as you have in many Chopin pieces so it must always be executed exactly the same way.

Hope this helps.
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Offline steve jones

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #22 on: January 04, 2007, 08:18:12 PM »

Quote
  1) Let me disagree with you: rubato and pedalling are both disguises for unsolved technique.

I think they CAN be. But that isnt to say that they necessarily are!

I think Id be lying if I said that Id never used rubato to help me through tricky phrases. But that isnt what Im talking about here. I begin all my Chopin without any pedal, dynamics and rubato, and yet I still find it more difficult with the Bach that I learn. Im not ever sure why!

But that said, I am probably comparing apples and oranges... a Chopin Waltz or Nocturne is technically very dissimilar to a Bach Invention or Fugue (and I think we'd all agree on that!).


 2) Take care: what Bach do you mean?


Im talking about his Inventions (the subject of the thread) and Fugues. Indeed, I am no expert on Bach's music. But having listening to some of it (the more well known stuff), I do find it generally to be more metronomic than Chopin.


SJ



Offline danny elfboy

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #23 on: January 06, 2007, 01:35:32 AM »
What works well for polyphonic music like the inventions is to do a patchwork

Divide the whole piece into meaningful short musical phrases
For example in Invention n.13 the 1-2 bar forms till the rest form a meaningful phrase then again 3-4 form another meaningful phrase. It's important not to divide the piece into bars that make no sense musically

Then try to master each phrase as a separate piece on its own
Recognize where you problem is
Usually the problems are: 1) "weak" left hand 2) lack of coordination
To solve the first focus on making the "left hand" part sounds as good as the "right hand" one.
To solve the second you need to overcome the mental barrier
The best way to overcome a barrier in the coordination of two melodies in polyphony is to understand the music, understand each melody and the way they intertwined with each other

Then when you have the musical phrases mastered you join the first phrase with the second ... and again practice this "new piece"
The then first and second with the third and so on
What's good about this is that you're not missing the musicaly during the practice, because you're not altering the harmonical structure of the piece but just making sense of the "smallest part of the piece at the beginning" and adding further parts to the piece

It's like having a recording of the invention and pushing STOP after a phrase ... then when you have "metabolized" push PLAY and listen the second then again STOP metabolize that and push PLAY again to listen the third

The structure of the remains unalterated and the small parts make sense musically

Offline jepoy

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #24 on: January 06, 2007, 02:23:08 PM »

In general, I find Bach's works very difficult to learn and perform. And so does my sister. What my sis and I have in common is that although we started learning the piano when we were very young, we stopped taking lessons before we turned 15 and our teacher then wasn't a Bach fanatic either.

With our teacher now, he makes us go through the Bach ladder. So, I think the older you start learning Bach, the longer it takes to master his works. I average about 3-4 months per invention on the "easy" 2-part inventions.

Offline steve jones

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #25 on: January 10, 2007, 06:06:03 AM »

I must confess that it is joining the hands that usually screws me up.

This is why Im sure it is not an issue of technique - I can play the hands seperately just fine. But when you have to play semi quavers in both hands, often in very different motions...well, I find myself in great difficulty.

Hands seperate I can play the first invention well at 120bpm, and progressively worse upto around 140bpm. But hands together, I start messing up badly at anything above 90-100bpm.

Some of the Inventions, such as No4 and No11 have metronome marks of 140bpm and above, if memory serves. Imo, that makes them more difficult than some of Chopin's Etudes!

SJ

Offline desordre

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #26 on: January 10, 2007, 05:07:31 PM »
 Dear Steve:
I must confess that it is joining the hands that usually screws me up.
This is why Im sure it is not an issue of technique (...)
I think you're right: it's a matter of coordination. And polyphonic music in general, and Bach in particular, almost always are tricky to handle. To myself, there is only one key: start very slow and be very patient.

(...)
Some of the Inventions, such as No4 and No11 have metronome marks of 140bpm and above, if memory serves. Imo, that makes them more difficult than some of Chopin's Etudes!
  About all metronome marks in Bach: forget them! Bach never wrote down a single metronome mark because one single reason: it was invented about 60 years after he died. Furthermore, these marks are very relative, and you should disregard them.
 By the way, it reminds me something: why playing Bach so fast? The invention 4 works very well about 110 to the beat, if you want a MM. And if your HT is not working yet, think of some slow movement (something about 80). If you handle 80 now, let to some future work to speed up.
 Finally, you're right: these nonsense marks, besides ruining the musical effect, turns the piece into a very difficult coordination and technical game, what is not the case and is very far from Bach's original intentions.
 Best!
Player of what?

Offline landru

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #27 on: January 10, 2007, 06:42:06 PM »
... About all metronome marks in Bach: forget them! Bach never wrote down a single metronome mark because one single reason: it was invented about 60 years after he died. Furthermore, these marks are very relative, and you should disregard them.
 By the way, it reminds me something: why playing Bach so fast? The invention 4 works very well about 110 to the beat, if you want a MM. And if your HT is not working yet, think of some slow movement (something about 80). If you handle 80 now, let to some future work to speed up.
 Finally, you're right: these nonsense marks, besides ruining the musical effect, turns the piece into a very difficult coordination and technical game, what is not the case and is very far from Bach's original intentions.
 Best!
While I have no experience of playing the inventions at such fast speeds (140 bpm for a quarter note? Phew!) I have so far "learned" 1, 2 and 4 at metronome beats of 140 to 240 (sometimes above) per sixteenth note or *well* below "fast". I am still a beginner/intermediate and cannot really do any fast repertoire yet, but I have to say, Bach's music still sounds very, very nice at slow speeds, unlike some other composers.

Also, for some reason the inventions are easier for me than the other composers - I have less problems with these "level 5" than Schumann's or Mozart's level 5 compositions. Maybe that is because I am still on the slow side?

Offline steve jones

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Re: Are the Bach Two-Part Inventions really this difficult?
«Reply #28 on: January 11, 2007, 05:51:12 AM »

Yeah, I think Mozart's music can be tricky if you dont have a fundamentally decent finger technique. Its not difficult in the same way that Liszt is, with his bionic movements and such like, but that not to say that it doesnt hold significant technical challenges for the likes of us guys.


desordre,

Many thanks for the advice. I had heard that Bach didnt himself give tempo directions, so it didnt strange that such diverse directions should be given. Iv seen the the first Invention marked from 66bpm upto 120!

And I agree totally that I may be coming at these from the wrong angle. I think Im looking at them as mini etudes, designed to be played fast. While Im sure they can be used that way, Im beginning to thing that more moderate tempo's are the way forward.

SJ