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The Simultaneous Conversation

Daniel Barenboim describes music as different from human interaction through speech. If two people cross talk each other, then neither understands the other. Conversation only works if one talks and one listens and then switch roles. In music, the conversation isn’t verbal, so each participant’s voice is heard and understood at the same time. Hear him explain this musical principle. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Invention nr 1 - Bach, something about Bernhard and... the same key LH/RH  (Read 7679 times)
rmbarbosa
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« on: April 12, 2010, 05:03:35 PM »

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 least 4 invertions and 3 retrogrades, but - this is amazing! - with a overlapping of them: one can ear what one wants. That`s why I like it so much. Now, I`m playing this Invention again trying to play it without any concern of bringing out anything in order that the listener may choose.(All this I learned in Bernhard posts and I dont know how to make him return...I dont say why, because it seems Bernhard doesnt like the word "why"...)
But now I have  a question I hope someone may help me: in 13ºbar (similar to 5º) there is a e right hand that overlapps the same e left hand: it`s the same key! And I dont know how to play it. For instinct, the first time I learned this Invention, I played a c, after the mordent. But if I do so, I change the structure, because it must be like in 5º bar.
Help, please. And thanks (I must apologize for my English...)
Rui
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piano sheet music of Invention
keyboardclass
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2010, 09:19:46 PM »

I play the E with the RH.  The mordant in bar 13 is played D-C-D.  Bar 5 C-B-C.
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rmbarbosa
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2010, 09:46:33 PM »

But what I dont know is how to play the same E - the same key - that is down, on the left hand... Must I omit it? if yes, we have:
RH - A F G E
LH - D.....  ? (Mordent in D, and LH doesnt play the E)
And then, this bar stay different of bar 5. Do you see what I mean?
Thanks for your answer
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nystul
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2010, 11:33:00 PM »

Playing on a single manual instrument like piano, it doesn't matter which hand plays the key.  You just need to interpret the phrasing of the voices in a such a way that the one note fits in either/both voice.  If someone is paying attention to the lower line, it should sound like the upper line in bar 5, even if you don't physically play that note with the left hand.

I actually do put both thumbs on the same key for this one, but only my right hand is actually playing a note.  The left hand is just kind of stupidly getting in the way while it keeps the time for its next note.  Grin
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rmbarbosa
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2010, 11:43:41 PM »

Oh, thanks a lot. Now, I understand. Thanks to both of you.
Rui
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prongated
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2010, 11:57:24 PM »

(I must apologize for my English...)

Your English doesn't seem bad actually...Smiley
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ramseytheii
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2010, 01:18:25 AM »

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 least 4 invertions and 3 retrogrades, but - this is amazing! - with a overlapping of them: one can ear what one wants. That`s why I like it so much. Now, I`m playing this Invention again trying to play it without any concern of bringing out anything in order that the listener may choose.(All this I learned in Bernhard posts and I dont know how to make him return...I dont say why, because it seems Bernhard doesnt like the word "why"...)

Rui

I think what we have here is an interesting but not necessarily functional conflation of ideas.

Bernhard made the very interesting point, a long time ago, that the music Bach wrote for the harpsichord was inherently static in dynamic, not in the sense that one couldn't change stops, but in the sense that all simultaneous voices would have originally sounded equally.

However, if I recall properly, he also made the point - and if he didn't, he should have - that Bach was not writing music for a concert hall, but was writing music for individual connoisseurs of music, who would be able to analyze the strict contrapuntal devices behind his music, and who would have a direct physical connection to the division of parts.

When you say, you make everything equal so that the listener can decide, you are conflating a modern, concert and performance based approach, with an ancient (I say ancient because it is so far removed from our value system) approach of the individual connoisseur.  What you are probably doing is actually making it harder for the listener to appreciate Bach's work.

In the end, a performance is a dramatization and a narrative.  If you make everything equally important, there can be no drama, no narrative, and ultimately no point.

Finally, wasn't Bach's favorite instrument the clavichord, an instrument which does allow for dynamic contrast in individual voices?

Walter Ramsey


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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 03:27:26 AM »

Although Bach's music is very clear as to what notes has to be played he leaves the pianist with a freedom as how to play it. However this also can be applied to other music too, that we are open to interpretation. However Bach wrote pretty much on Clavichord, Harpsichord and Organ. Could he really imagine the modern piano of today? As exponents of the modern piano we have to make intelligent decisions as to how to musically express Bach.

Let me paraphrase 48 Prelude and Fugues (Tovey and Sameul)
"..One thing is certain, before anything "pianistic" is attempted the student should have thoroughly mastered Bach's exact part-writing as written, should be able to express its climaxes distinctly without adding or altering a note.

... our appreciation of Bach loses more than it gains from the occasional bursts of pianistic effectiveness accidentally possible in passages which may not be climaxes at all.

JS Bach is fond crowding all the harmony he could into both hands; not until we have learnt to achieve Bach's part-writing with our fingers can we venture to translate him into any pianoforte style which produces volume at the expense of part-writing.

... it may be taken as an axiom that when a phrasing or touch represents a "pianistic" mannerism that would sound ugly on the harpsichord, that phrasing will misconstrue Bach's language and tell us nothing interesting about the pianoforte. If players think it "natural" they are mistaken, however habitually they may do it. They are merely applying a small part of the pianoforte technique of 1806 to the clavichord and harpsichord music of 1730.

There are very simple ways of detecting what is unnatural in the interpretation of most of Bach's themes; and, if the test sometimes fails to answer directly, it certainly never misleads. It is summed up in two words, Sing it.

If the phrase proves singable at all, the attempt to sing it will almost certainly reveal natural types of expression easily perfectible on the pianoforte and incomparably better than any result of the natural behavior of the pianists hands. Even in matters that at first seem to be merely instrumental, the vocal test reveals much.

Organists who play fugues more often than most people, do not find it necessary, when the subject enters in the inner parts, to pick it out with the thumb or another manual. They and their listeners enjoy the polyphony because the inner parts can neither stick out nor fail to balance will in the harmony, so long as the notes are played at all. On the pianoforte however constant care is needed to prevent failure of tone, and certainly the subject of a fugue should not be liable to such failure. But never should the counterpoints, indeed the less heard clearly (e.g: the clinching third countersubject of the F minor Fugues in Bk1) Most of Bach's counterpoint actually sounds best when the parts are evenly balanced. It is never a mere combinations of melodies, but always a mass of harmony stated in terms of a combination of melodies.

When Bach combines melodies, the combination forms full harmony as soon as two parts are present. (Even a solitary part will be a melody which is its own bass.) Each additional part adds new harmonic meaning, as well as its own melody and rhythm, and all are in transparent contrast with each other at every point. No part needs bringing out at the expense of others, but on the pianoforte care is most needed for that part which is most in danger of failure of tone.
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keyboardclass
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2010, 05:17:12 AM »

Hey, love your posts Walter!  Just to say, I think the Bach-preferred-clavichord thing was a bit of spin by the Empfindsamer Stil[ers] though it's true the vast majority of Bach's students would have practiced on clavichord.   As you kinda say, the dynamics are always there - even if only in your head.
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rmbarbosa
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2010, 12:02:14 PM »

Thanks to you all. Bernhard post about Invention nr 1 assumes - if I remember well - that this Invention isnt a concert piece. I have read Bernhard posts so many times that I can reproduce almost word by word his post: "In pieces like this, the performer must not bring out anything, since it is the listener that must experience the ambiguity and decide how to solve it. To bring out anything would be the equivalent of using a yellow marker to highlight some of the stairs in an Escher`s drawing. For a full enjoyment of this kind of piece it must be played many times with the listener educated in what to listen for and preferably following with the score. Therefore this is not a "performance" music and will not work as such. This is music for private enjoyment of the cognoscenti". (I apologize if I miss something). I didnt say in my first post but I was asked to record this Invention  with an introdution where I play the motif, the inversions, etc, hands separate, with study purposes. Now, with your posts, I think I must play it as Bernhard says and, after, as I was in a concert hall. What do you think? - Rui
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keyboardclass
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2010, 12:18:24 PM »

It's not made for performance at all, more like a crossword - would you do that for public show?
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rmbarbosa
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2010, 01:14:41 PM »

No, I wouldnt. I`m not crazy Smiley
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enwoko
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« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2010, 10:05:08 PM »

I am also learning this piece. Take a look at what Bernhard posted about bar 13 in the following thread: You can find a full discussion (with the realised ornaments all fingered) of this invention in this thread:

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,8015.msg81149.html#msg81149
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anaqvi
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« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2010, 12:20:21 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/user/hoodloom22#p/a/u/0/13_mJGqcNPE

One should try playing all inventions in every key, otherwise the piece gets tired and old.
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gyzzzmo
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« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2010, 12:49:24 PM »

I''ve always been curious what Bach would have written for the piano as we know it this day.
Maybe he would have found it rediculous that we try to play his harpichord music on a music so differently.
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1+1=11
quantum
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« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2010, 01:55:51 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/user/hoodloom22#p/a/u/0/13_mJGqcNPE

One should try playing all inventions in every key, otherwise the piece gets tired and old.

One should note that Bach did not have such luxury.  Today we use equal temperament, where every note of the octave is equally spaced.  Not so in Bach's time.  Certain keys sounded quite sour while others very sweet.  

It's a good keyboard exercise nonetheless. Possible to expand this to minor and modal keys.
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anaqvi
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« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2010, 04:56:02 PM »

Yes, you are right. At the time he wrote the inventions one couldn't play in every key. But that was what was so revolutionary about the well-tempered clavier. After he wrote the well-tempered clavier it would be possible to tranpose into any key.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2010, 07:55:45 PM »

But what I dont know is how to play the same E - the same key - that is down, on the left hand... Must I omit it? if yes, we have:
RH - A F G E
LH - D.....  ? (Mordent in D, and LH doesnt play the E)
And then, this bar stay different of bar 5. Do you see what I mean?
Thanks for your answer

I found it impossible to learn this Invention without extensive hands separate work. 

In doing this measure one hand at a time, you need the E or it doesn't make sense.  So HS, I play the E with whatever hand is playing.

Hands together, one hand seemed much more natural than the other.  Without the keyboard in front of me I can't remember what hand that was, sorry.  I know that I don't hit it with both hands simultaneously, I'm nowhere near coordinated enough for that. 
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Tim
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