\"\"
Piano Forum logo

I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor (Read 1110 times)

Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165
I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
« on: May 19, 2019, 10:07:10 PM »
READER FILTER: This post is for people who meet two conditions: a) they like Hanon very much and b) they don't have a problem with youtube piano teacher 'bachscholar' (Cory Hall). There are many anti-Hanon and anti-bachscholar threads on these forums so if you want to beeyotch, go to those threads and leave this one alone, ok?

Bachscholar is developing "Hanon the way Bach would have done it," which basically involves Hanon (that is, the famous first 31 exercises) in parallel sixths and tenths. Of course other people have done many of the exercises already for the major keys, but bachscholar is also putting it all into minor, using various choices of the melodic minor scale's 6th and 7th degrees, raising or lowering them to produce a pleasing, baroque-like sound.

He has completed his versions of Exercises 1 and 2 so far, and demonstrates them in the keys of C and Db major, plus the parallel minors Cm and C#m. He will most likely produce a book of some kind for sale if he decides the project is worth completing. See:



I am particularly interested in the minor versions, as you might be if you wish there was a nice ready-made way to do minor Hanon, especially in parallel sixths and tenths. (It will be interesting to see how bachscholar deals with the problem posed by exercises such as No. 5, which if played in sixths, result in Close Encounters of the Left and Right Fingers Kind. Perhaps that should be seen as a pianistic challenge which, if practiced once in a while, would improve dexterity, and reduce one's natural reluctance to encounter such situations. I've tried playing No. 5 in sixths, in C major and A harmonic minor, and to me it feels like something worth practicing.)

Sure, you can do your Hanon in ugly old harmonic minor, and I for one think that is worth fifteen or twenty minutes per week. The problem with Hanon in MELODIC minor is that there are no simple, hard-and-fast rules which would result in attractive-sounding parallel sixths and tenths versions. Each exercise has to be recomposed in order to make the least-ugly choices between raised or lowered 6th and 7th scale degrees. Just try it yourself!

I knocked up a number of minor versions (Nos. 3 to 15) based loosely on bachscholar's #1 and #2, but I have given it up; my results are mostly over-complicated, or not attractive, or both. Bachscholar is a trained pianist with a PhD, and I'm just a self-taught schmo, so I'm sure his versions will be much nicer.

It amuses me to imagine the following: Suppose that boring old Monsieur Hanon was a fabulously rich contemporary of Bach. Hanon brings his volume of exercises to the great master and offers him a big bag of thalers to set them in minor, in parallel sixths and tenths, "avec naturellement, Herr Bach, votre style si inimitable et fameux." Bach finds the exercises rather grim, but a contract is a contract, his wife is insisting the household needs yet another new coffee machine, and his troublesome eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann has got the clap again and needs expensive treatment. So he holds his nose and finishes this trivial project in less than an hour. Hanon is thrilled with the results.

[I probably would never have bothered with any of this if the phrase "I Cover the Hanonfront" hadn't popped into my head after a few beers one night =)   ]

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #1 on: May 19, 2019, 10:55:02 PM »
READER FILTER: This post is for people who meet two conditions: a) they like Hanon very much and b) they don't have a problem with youtube piano teacher 'bachscholar' (Cory Hall). There are many anti-Hanon and anti-bachscholar threads on these forums so if you want to beeyotch, go to those threads and leave this one alone, ok?

Bachscholar is developing "Hanon the way Bach would have done it," which basically involves Hanon (that is, the famous first 31 exercises) in parallel sixths and tenths. Of course other people have done many of the exercises already for the major keys, but bachscholar is also putting it all into minor, using various choices of the melodic minor scale's 6th and 7th degrees, raising or lowering them to produce a pleasing, baroque-like sound.

He has completed his versions of Exercises 1 and 2 so far, and demonstrates them in the keys of C and Db major, plus the parallel minors Cm and C#m. He will most likely produce a book of some kind for sale if he decides the project is worth completing. See:

I am particularly interested in the minor versions, as you might be if you wish there was a nice ready-made way to do minor Hanon, especially in parallel sixths and tenths. (It will be interesting to see how bachscholar deals with the problem posed by exercises such as No. 5, which if played in sixths, result in Close Encounters of the Left and Right Fingers Kind. Perhaps that should be seen as a pianistic challenge which, if practiced once in a while, would improve dexterity, and reduce one's natural reluctance to encounter such situations. I've tried playing No. 5 in sixths, in C major and A harmonic minor, and to me it feels like something worth practicing.)

Sure, you can do your Hanon in ugly old harmonic minor, and I for one think that is worth fifteen or twenty minutes per week. The problem with Hanon in MELODIC minor is that there are no simple, hard-and-fast rules which would result in attractive-sounding parallel sixths and tenths versions. Each exercise has to be recomposed in order to make the least-ugly choices between raised or lowered 6th and 7th scale degrees. Just try it yourself!

I knocked up a number of minor versions (Nos. 3 to 15) based loosely on bachscholar's #1 and #2, but I have given it up; my results are mostly over-complicated, or not attractive, or both. Bachscholar is a trained pianist with a PhD, and I'm just a self-taught schmo, so I'm sure his versions will be much nicer.

It amuses me to imagine the following: Suppose that boring old Monsieur Hanon was a fabulously rich contemporary of Bach. Hanon brings his volume of exercises to the great master and offers him a big bag of thalers to set them in minor, in parallel sixths and tenths, "avec naturellement, Herr Bach, votre style si inimitable et fameux." Bach finds the exercises rather grim, but a contract is a contract, his wife is insisting the household needs yet another new coffee machine, and his troublesome eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann has got the clap again and needs expensive treatment. So he holds his nose and finishes this trivial project in less than an hour. Hanon is thrilled with the results.

[I probably would never have bothered with any of this if the phrase "I Cover the Hanonfront" hadn't popped into my head after a few beers one night =)   ]

I have a kind of a bad habit to only skim over this for about 15 seconds then responding with whatever immediately pops into brain. Sorry about that!! Here are my thoughts:

READER FILTER: - Great idea, but don’t be surprised if someone does not follow your instruction.

Q: “Bachscholar is developing "Hanon the way Bach would have done it," which basically involves Hanon (that is, the famous first 31 exercises) in parallel sixths and tenths.”

A: Sounds good to me.  I like 1-31 and feel it is good for some to spend a little time on this – NOT TOO MUCH THOUGH.  I’m glad you limit to first 31 since much of the later stuff would be of limited interest to Bach as he composed.

Q: It amuses me to imagine the following: Suppose that boring old Monsieur Hanon was a fabulously rich contemporary of Bach. Hanon brings his volume of exercises to the great master and offers him a big bag of thalers to set them in minor, in parallel sixths and tenths, "avec naturellement, Herr Bach, votre style si inimitable et fameux." Bach finds the exercises rather grim, but a contract is a contract, his wife is insisting the household needs yet another new coffee machine,

A: Why would Hanon go to Bach instead of music copiest?  I know Bach liked to copy complete works of other composers just to learn their composing styles.  How about Hanon goes to Bach and ask that he chop down a few trees and cut the wood into logs?  Would seem just as exciting to Bach as long as he gets his thalers?  Not sure.   Bach might say to Hanon: “Why don’t you just play my inventions and sinfonia and WTC instead of make me copy your exercises?  Can I chop trees instead for thalers?”

EDIT:
I also do MANY thought experiments for amusement.  Example, What if a very young Brahms on his first hearing of his op.8 Piano trio (Clara Schumann at piano with violinist Joachim, I think) was offered thalers to instead hear the following:  His COMPLETELY revised op 8 that he did maybe 30 years later as performed by a great Piano trio like I hear on my CD's and on a modern piano.  What would Brahms think?  The completely revised work is a master piece, unlike his original IMO.  What would young Brahms think of the revised work? About 30% of the first movement was modified from the original, for example, and the remaining was completely new: new transition to 2nd theme, new 2nd theme, new ending to exposition and completely new development section, etc.  Maybe this would be very upsetting for young Brahms.  So I would need to figure a way to introduce the work to him or skip it altogether.  Pretty silly!   Might make a good episode of "Twilight Zone"?

Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #2 on: May 20, 2019, 01:31:59 AM »
A: Sounds good to me.  I like 1-31 and feel it is good for some to spend a little time on this – NOT TOO MUCH THOUGH.  I’m glad you limit to first 31 since much of the later stuff would be of limited interest to Bach as he composed.

My thoughts exactly. I am fascinated with Hanon and all the things people do with it, but I absolutely agree, not too much time spent on it. In fact I would say to anyone who can already do exercises 1-31 in all the major keys, don't ever bother with them again as written; do only interesting and challenging variations, or harmonic minor, etc.

Since you're interested, check out "MrMusicarta" and his Hanon variations:

http://www.musicarta.com/Hanonp1Nos1to5DsdeLCGeR.html

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #3 on: May 20, 2019, 02:38:08 AM »
My thoughts exactly. I am fascinated with Hanon and all the things people do with it, but I absolutely agree, not too much time spent on it. In fact I would say to anyone who can already do exercises 1-31 in all the major keys, don't ever bother with them again as written; do only interesting and challenging variations, or harmonic minor, etc.

Since you're interested, check out "MrMusicarta" and his Hanon variations:

http://www.musicarta.com/Hanonp1Nos1to5DsdeLCGeR.html

I took a quick look at this.  I have no doubt that this would be helpful for many.  Here are my thoughts for discussion purposes having just looked at this:

If you look at the invention #1 in C major, for example, you could come up with many exercises that MIGHT approximate the exercises that Bach actually used before he wrote connecting passages for those students that got bored with the original exercises.

WILD GUESS: For example, you can easily turn the first 2 measures of the first invention into a stand-alone exercise by sequencing, (like the 2nd measure is a sequence of the first measure staring a 5th higher).  The 3rd measure could be the same as 2nd measure except start on A (a 5th higher) in Right Hand instead of D, for example.  The exercise would just sequence the 2nd measure but starting on different notes.  It could also be transcribed into a few different keys – maybe E-flat major and A-Major and a couple others.

Now make a 2nd exercise based on measure 3 of the same invention #1 in C major, but just sequence down.  You will note that these exercises are an attempt to duplicate what Bach MAY have done as exercises BEFORE he wrote connecting passages that you say Forkel talks about.  Also, you will note that these exercises ARE NOT IN UNISON, but rather are based on 2 independent voices, each with their own rhythm and melodic shape.

I see your attempt to vary rhythms, but the hands are still basically playing in unison or parallel motion, unlike the 1st 2 measures of Bach Invention # 1 for example.

In short, the Bach exercises MAY have been more to teach a student to play 2 independent voices at the same time (WILD GUESS)??  Again, Hanon is all in unison.  On the other hand – I would guess that the Hanon does better to give independence of the 5 fingers in a way that is more exhaustive than what Bach may have done.  The Hanon is very good at making sure the 5th finger is close to being as strong as the 2nd finger for example. 

EDIT:  Based on the VERY LIMITED info, I am GUESSING what Bach's actual exercises may have looked like.  After a quick look, I could find not much more than what you supplied from Forkel:

“[F]or months together he made them practice nothing but simple exercises for the fingers of both hands, at the same time emphasizing the need for clearness and distinctness. He kept them at these exercises for from six to twelve months, unless he found his pupils losing heart, in which case he so far met them as to write short studies which incorporated a particular exercise."

Do you or anyone have more information on these simple exercises?  I'll keep looking a little more.

EDIT2:
It is quite astonishing how many of the two-part Inventions contain motivic elements closely related to the exercises described above. This
also justifies Forkels remark that Bach formed the Inventions from the
finger exercises.


Online perfect_pitch

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5527
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #4 on: May 20, 2019, 10:44:20 AM »
Problem - if he's doing the Hanon in c minor, wouldn't that include ALL of the B naturals, instead of just some of them?

Although, I'm not going to (as Maxim said) "beeyotch" about Cory Hall - but I highly think he is not qualified to 'reimagine Hanon in the style of Bach', nor deserves to rank himself as high (or even remotely close) as Bach.

Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #5 on: May 20, 2019, 04:23:16 PM »
georgey: There IS no more information on Bach's earliest exercises given to his students. None of them were preserved. And remember that it is not Forkel who is the original source of that information, it was two of Bach's most famous students themselves -- his sons, Wilhelm Friedeman and Carl Philipp Emanuel, with whom Forkel communicated personally.

I agree, one could get a vague picture of Bach's earliest exercises with the clue supplied by WF and CPE: Look at the 2-part Inventions, find the simplest motives, and play them in unison. Recall that the Inventions were not written simply by sticking the simple exercises together; they were recomposed, developed, and refined into wee masterpieces. According to the brothers:

In der Folge hat er sie aber in schöne, ausdrucksvolle kleine Kunstwerke umgeschaffen.

...afterwards he improved them into beautiful and expressive little works of art.


Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #6 on: May 20, 2019, 05:06:49 PM »
georgey: There IS no more information on Bach's earliest exercises given to his students. None of them were preserved. And remember that it is not Forkel who is the original source of that information, it was two of Bach's most famous students themselves -- his sons, Wilhelm Friedeman and Carl Philipp Emanuel, with whom Forkel communicated personally.

I agree, one could get a vague picture of Bach's earliest exercises with the clue supplied by WF and CPE: Look at the 2-part Inventions, find the simplest motives, and play them in unison. Recall that the Inventions were not written simply by sticking the simple exercises together; they were recomposed, developed, and refined into wee masterpieces. According to the brothers:

In der Folge hat er sie aber in schöne, ausdrucksvolle kleine Kunstwerke umgeschaffen.

...afterwards he improved them into beautiful and expressive little works of art.

Thanks. You say: "find the simplest motives, and play them in unison."

Do we know for a fact that they were played in unison and not as I had suggested?  When I noodled around with researching this a little, some of the things I read lead me to believe that you are probably right – played in unison or just 1 hand at a time.

My final thoughts:  An example – someone has been playing piano for a few years wants to kick up their playing a notch.  There are many roads they could travel for the next 6 to 12 months.  One road might be to study only Hanon 1-31 (a few in all keys, many in select keys) and the Bach 2-part inventions during this time.  I think that many could benefit from the time spent doing this. 



Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165
I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor - UPDATE
«Reply #7 on: May 28, 2019, 02:56:46 AM »
UPDATE: I mentioned "MrMusicarta," Bob Chappell's British piano website with many Hanon-variation exercises (along with tons of other instructional material).

I had written to him, mentioning my abandoned efforts to create melodic-minor versions of Hanon, and he replied to me:

"I also gave up on the minor Hanon – not worth the effort, i.m.h.o.. Much more productive ways to channel one’s energies."

Let's raise a glass to that! 

Online perfect_pitch

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5527
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #8 on: May 28, 2019, 10:27:49 AM »
"I also gave up on the minor Hanon – not worth the effort, i.m.h.o.. Much more productive ways to channel one’s energies."

I will admit, I did have fun transposing the Major hanon into all 12 keys... blindfolded. Really helps develop your keyboard orientation.

Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #9 on: June 14, 2019, 05:50:30 PM »
It looks like Bachscholar is really going to complete his project of creating melodic-minor versions, in 3rds and 6ths, of the first 20 Hanon exercises. I still like the idea in spite of myself. Maybe I'll have another stab at my (aborted) effort to create my own versions.

But I suspect I won't. I like doing a little Hanon every day now (gradually going through all the major keys), along with my little imitation-RCM technical regime, but I know that most of my time is best spent on learning to play real music.

Still, ya know? I just checked my files, I thought I'd simply deleted it all, but I actually completed melodic-minor versions of Exercises 1 to 15.

Whaddya think boys, should I bash 'em all out?

Bachscholar has a page explaining, advertising, and promoting the project, linked below. Here is a passage concerning the use of melodic minor:

"It is has become common practice among skilled practitioners of Hanon to transpose the C-major-only exercises into some, if not all, of the 11 other major keys; however, I am not aware of any performers or publications that transpose Hanon into minor keys. Bach most likely would have done this, since minor modes result in the most expressive characters. Hanon’s exercises are significantly improved by playing them in minor keys in addition to the usual major keys. In The Well-Tempered Hanon, the default minor mode chosen is the melodic minor, since this is the minor form Bach used most frequently. That is, most exercises are presented with raised 6th and 7th tones when the exercise ascends (usually between bars 4-7) and with lowered or naturaled 6th and 7th tones when the exercise descends. Each exercise is slightly different, hence the formula with regards to the raised and lowered tones for each exercise varies slightly depending upon the musical character and technical properties of Hanon’s musical motifs (which are not unlike some of the motifs Bach used)."

https://www.bachscholar.com/the-well-tempered-hanon


Offline klavieronin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #10 on: June 14, 2019, 08:57:37 PM »
I honestly think that playing Hanon can be useful but not because there is anything special about Hanon. It's just that playing anything can be useful, provided you give it the right attention and play as well as you are able. If you really want that sort of practise, why don't you try Hanonising other music, like themes from Bach inventions, rather than transposing Hanon into different keys and modes.

Just a thought. I've attached an example.

Online perfect_pitch

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5527
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #11 on: June 14, 2019, 10:53:24 PM »
Honestly, I think BachScholar thinks he's a better teacher and pianist than he really is, and he's got an ego to match.

I wouldn't trust anything he really says. There's a reason he disabled comments and ratings on his videos.

Offline maxim3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 165
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #12 on: June 15, 2019, 01:39:50 AM »
klavieronin, that's a wonderful idea. Perhaps not that particular theme, though; I tried it and the sound made me dizzy = )

Now then, let me demonstrate the melodic-minor Hanon problem. To me, nothing seems quite satisfactory. I just whipped up this version of Exercise no. 16, and I suppose that some of you may impolitely suggest that Bach would have done a better job.  Attached are two files, one a pdf, the other a .jpg file, but it's really MusicXML. Change the .jpg extension to .xml and then you can open it if you have the right software (so you can recompose it ok)

Online perfect_pitch

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5527
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #13 on: June 15, 2019, 02:56:59 AM »
I'm beginning to see a pattern here... while all of my comments are being completely overlooked by the OP, which is entirely his choice and he has the right to do so...

However, I'm not one who's willing to shy away from a discussion about it. If Maxim thinks I'm full of crap - discuss it with me as to why you might think your viewpoint.

Also, there does seem to be a slightly unhealthy obsession with the Hanon unfortunately. I think it's good in small doses - but don't shirk of the great works of music to spend your time doing exercises. There's no point training your fingers if you have nothing to then utilise those nimble fingers on...

Offline klavieronin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #14 on: June 16, 2019, 01:26:38 AM »
Now then, let me demonstrate the melodic-minor Hanon problem. To me, nothing seems quite satisfactory.

Yeah, I just don't think the melodic minor is suitable for that for that kind of exercise. You have to remember that scales as we are taught them in our piano lessons don't really exist in real music. They are theoretical descriptions of patterns commonly seen in music - an attempt to understand how good composers write music, and the melodic minor is called the melodic minor for a reason. The reason being that it describes a patterns seen in melodies in real music. Hanon exercises are not built on melodies. They are built on finger patterns and harmonies.

For that reason I honestly think that the harmonic minor (awkward fingering aside) is the only minor that would be suitable for Hanon.

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: I Cover the Hanonfront: Hanon in Minor
«Reply #15 on: June 16, 2019, 09:00:35 PM »
I'm beginning to see a pattern here... while all of my comments are being completely overlooked by the OP, which is entirely his choice and he has the right to do so...

However, I'm not one who's willing to shy away from a discussion about it. If Maxim thinks I'm full of crap - discuss it with me as to why you might think your viewpoint.

Also, there does seem to be a slightly unhealthy obsession with the Hanon unfortunately. I think it's good in small doses - but don't shirk of the great works of music to spend your time doing exercises. There's no point training your fingers if you have nothing to then utilise those nimble fingers on...

I'm pretty sure Maxim doesn't think you are full of crap.  I read your posts here and they all sound good to me.  Maxim is in the exploration phase of learning.  I'm sure he is considering all points of view, even if he does not respond to a all posts.