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Topic: Tackling Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor 847  (Read 5410 times)

Offline rlefebvr

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Tackling Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor 847
on: December 03, 2004, 04:10:31 AM
Go figure....trying to pick up some rock and roll and after a month of frustration, my teacher decides my left hand is week and needs work. Got just the thing for you. Yeah, right. Said it would be worth 3 years of practice. I said yes, but it will take me 5 to learn it all if at all. Anyway I lost and here I am.

Just looking for some general feedback on what to look for and what not to do. Whether to learn one or both at the same time, any special fingering or anything that becomes obvious once you've learned it, but is not transparent starting out.

At least the piece rocks.
Ron Lefebvre

 Ron Lefebvre © Copyright. Any reproduction of all or part of this post is sheer stupidity.
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Offline Tash

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Re: Tackling Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor 847
Reply #1 on: December 03, 2004, 11:43:10 PM
is this from book 1? cos i played that one last year and loved it. i started playing just the prelude for a few weeks and then when i had it flowing a bit i started the fugue.
what not to do in the prelude- don't get faster throughout the whole thing! of course there is the presto bit on the last page so you can speed it up there, but i have a problem where in pieces with continuous notes i speed up so by the end of it i'm at a speed where i can't get any faster and the whole thing just collapses- so use a metronome with it sometimes.
the fugue, just bring out each voice as seperate from each other, so remember that you're playing 3 different voices and don't mish them in together. i can't remember if i had issues with fingering, i probably did but have no idea what i ended up using.
it doesn't take that long to learn, the prelude is pretty straightforward, the fugue i had a harder time trying to memorise, but did in the end. ummm if i think of anything else i'll post later. hope that's of some vague help to you :)
'J'aime presque autant les images que la musique' Debussy

Offline jlh

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Re: Tackling Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor 847
Reply #2 on: December 05, 2004, 07:29:33 AM
If it's going to take you 3-5 years to learn, it's too difficult for you.  Perhaps a Bach invention or something from the AMB notebook would serve a more beneficial purpose.
  L   ______/             \
LOL "”””””””\         [ ] \
  L              \_________)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Tackling Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor 847
Reply #3 on: December 05, 2004, 11:59:41 PM
If you are consistent and methodical about it, it should not take you more than 2 – 3 months to learn it working on it everyday for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

You may also want to have a look here:


and here:


Best wishes,
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline dmk

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Re: Tackling Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor 847
Reply #4 on: December 06, 2004, 01:03:01 AM
The first prelude and fugue you learn will always be the hardest!! Not because of difficulty but because it requires you to sit down and approach the piece in a methodical and consistent fashion. 

I note that Bernhard has referred you to Siglind Bruhn's work.  Read this!!! It is excellent background, the key to playing a good fugue (in my opinion) is to understanding its construction (a good knowledge of counterpoint would not do you any harm in this respect).  This is how I have all my students (and myself!) approach learning a prelude and fugue, some tools you will need:

2/ A packet of highlighters
3/ About 4 photocopies of the fugue

Firstly, identify :
a/ how many voices your fugue has (this should be easy it is usually written at the top of the fugue)
b/ the subject and wether the fugue is real or tonal
c/ counter-subject of your fugue

Then go an highight all the subjects in yellow highlighter and all the countersubjects in green (or whatever colour takes your fancy).  NOW go and play them and identify which voice has the subject and where.

Secondly on another copy go (starting with the voice which introduces your subject in yellow highlighter) and highlight each voice in a different colour.  THEN go and play through each voice using THE correct fingering, do not take shortcuts on this.  My advice is usually to start playing the voice which starts with the subject and then, once you have followed this voice all the way through start with the next voice which introduces the subject etc.  Another way to do this is to start with the Soprano voice and follow it through, then the bass voice and then the inner voices (or voices). (Either of these methods works, it is just a matter of what works better for you)

To do this step i would recommend that you 'blow up' your copy of the fugue (not with explosives as by now you might feel like doing  ;)) but to photocopy it so it is twice as big ie each original page is now as big as two A4 pages stuck together.  It is much easier to see and read this way.  Depending on how much you are struggling I have even made students copy out each voice on seperate pieces of manuscript paper and make them learn it this from this copy (cruel I know but it really does work!!!)

Thirdly having done that.  Play it all through together (with my students we usually do this step together: this can be a long a tedious process depending on how proficient a sight reader you are).  When you are doing this you should mark all the 'hard bits'.

Fourthly, now you are ready to go and pick out these hard bits, mark them and pick them out working through them systematically and mathematically.  In other words, approach practice of this as you would any other piece.

By following all these steps you will have a much better understanding of the construction of the piece in a practical sense and not merely by reading it on paper.  I have found than knowing all this makes it much easier to play, less frustrating and much more palatable to practice.

Also listen to recordings LOTS of different recordings (as with all Bach I would recommend Angela Hewitt.  Andras Schiff's recordings of the P & F's are also quite good from a pedagogical perspective) and listening for your subject etc and following the piece with the score (and also without it)

I would be really interested in other peoples methods for teaching and learning fugues..... :)

GOOD LUCK!!!!!   ;) ;)

"Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence"
Robert Fripp

Offline galonia

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Re: Tackling Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor 847
Reply #5 on: December 07, 2004, 10:08:27 AM
I love fugues - and all contrapuntal works - so good for keeping the mind clear.

I use similar methods as dmk for learning fugues - it's important to know where each voice is going.  I always open-score my fugues, because by doing so, I find relationships between the voices that I don't notice just by listening.  It also teaches me a lot about compositional techniques.

With fingering, you may need to experiment to find out what works for you, but once you have worked this out, you should make sure you practise always with that same consistent fingering.

The only point where I'd disagree with dmk is the large copy of the fugue - I prefer my music to be close-set so I can read chunks of it at a glance, rather than reading single notes.  I hate those editions of music where everything is super-spaced apart.

The first time you play a Bach prelude and fugue is very daunting, because it looks like so many notes, but once you understand how it all fits together, it's not so hard anymore.
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