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J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (Read 16969 times)

Offline nicko124

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Hello Everyone


I am asking for help and serious advice regarding this piece, i haven't started learning it yet. I am not sure whether to undertake it or not. I have only heard it from the recording link below:

http://www.carlhu.com/music/BachPrelude.mp3

I am a grade 7 pianist but i have learned works above grade 8 if Un Sospiro is above grade 8.
I therefore know that learning this piece would be achievable, however i have a concert in about a month and a half. I would like to add this piece in but i am not sure how difficult this piece is.
I am also finishing other pieces for the concert and so if i learn it now i will be multi tasking with the other two pieces i am finishing.

Anyway i would be greatful if someone could tell me the difficulty of the piece, if anyone has studied it than could you tell me advice regarding learning it.
Finally i would apreciate advice on whether i should learn it considering the fact that i have other things to finish before the concert.
I wouldn't want to start this piece and realise it's dragging me down to much and have to stop it.


Offline bernhard

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #1 on: April 25, 2005, 02:48:20 PM »
This beautiful prelude is amongst the easiest in the WTC (which is not to say that it is easy). You should be able to tackle it since I estimate it being around grade 6/7. The fugue is another matter altogether. Are you intending to play just the prelude? If you want to play the prelude and the fugue you will probably not have enough time.

If you intend to play just the prelude, be prepared for purists to cringe. However there is no evidence that Bach ever intended for the preludes and fugues to be paired in any way, so you may as well ignore the purists. (I personally like to pair them though).

Will you be able to master it to public performance level in one month? Only you can answer that. Personally I hate to learn anything under pressure, so I would not do it. One thing you may try is to see how much of the prelude you can master in 3 - 4 days. Then estimate if you will be able to perfect the whole thing in one month. This way, if you decide not to do it, all you invested on it were 3 or 4 days.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
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 nicko124

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #2 on: April 25, 2005, 03:02:24 PM »
This beautiful prelude is amongst the easiest in the WTC (which is not to say that it is easy). You should be able to tackle it since I estimate it being around grade 6/7. The fugue is another matter altogether. Are you intending to play just the prelude? If you want to play the prelude and the fugue you will probably not have enough time.

If you intend to play just the prelude, be prepared for purists to cringe. However there is no evidence that Bach ever intended for the preludes and fugues to be paired in any way, so you may as well ignore the purists. (I personally like to pair them though).

Will you be able to master it to public performance level in one month? Only you can answer that. Personally I hate to learn anything under pressure, so I would not do it. One thing you may try is to see how much of the prelude you can master in 3 - 4 days. Then estimate if you will be able to perfect the whole thing in one month. This way, if you decide not to do it, all you invested on it were 3 or 4 days.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Bernhard.


Thanks for your advice. I was just planning to do the prelude rather than the Fugue as well which i haven't heard. You mentioned that it is amongst the easiest of the WTC, so it is probably a little bit more difficult than the first prelude which is considered the easiest but very popular.

As far as purists are concerned i know that isn't an issue because it is a school concert and you don't tend to get the kind of people who need to hear things played in a strict format.

I would greatly apreciate further help from Bernhard or anyone who can help.
I need to know the number of this prelude so i can get it off sheetmusicarchive.net and if anyone can tell me a really efficient way of learning it than i would also appreciate that: for example where i should be with it after a week.

Thanks Everyone


Offline bernhard

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #3 on: April 25, 2005, 03:38:27 PM »
It is prelude no. 2 in WTC 1.

Brace yourself because it is far more difficult than prelude no. 1. :P

Start with bars 29 - 34: They are the most difficult.

Bars 25 - 28 and bars 35 - 38 are easy and straightforward.

Bars 1 - 24 follow exactly the same pattern - just the notes change.

The main difficutlies in this prelude are:

1. fingering. If you sort this out the prelude becomes a piece of cake. Otherwise your hand will be consistently stretching and you will tire halfway. Spend as much time sorting fingering as you need to. You want comfort and easiness.

2. Bringing it up to speed without the left hand lagging behind. If your LH is good I see no reason to learn this prelude with hands sparate - just go straight to hands together.

3. Memorising the notes (or chord progressions).

Now as an example on how to work on it, consider bars 1 - 24:

I suggest you break it down into seven bar sections, and consider each bar as a unit (on bars 1 - 24 the same figurationis repeated twice in a bar, so you can cut your work in half right there). Then proceed to do repeated note-groups using a bar as a unit like so:

1. Master Bar 1. Then bar 2, then bar 3, then bar 4, then bar 5, then bar 6 and finally bar 7. Just work on each of them in isolation without worrying about joining them.

2. Now tackle the bars in pairs: bars 1+2, then bars 2+3, then bars 3+4, then bars 4+5, then bars 5+6, then bars 5+6 and finally bars 6+7. Have you noticed the overlap? The important point is that you work with full concentration on each of these paris of bars without worrying about how it will all come together. Trust me, it will. Just make sure that you master each section completely before moving on to the next.

3. Now do the bars in threes:

1+2+3
2+3+4
3+4+5
4+5+6
5+6+7

Again notice the extensive overlap. As you increase the number of bars, the time needed to master the sections will actually decrease because you are getting more and more familiar with the passages. It is [1] and [2] above that will take the longest. So this process takes care of the memorisation as well - as long as you do not move on untill you have perfected the session you are working on.

4. Now join 4 bars:

1+2+3+4
2+3+4+5
3+4+5+6
4+5+6+7

Have you noticed that the first and last groups of four bars are overlapping on bar 4? This means that you should really be abel to play the full section now: Bars 1 - 7 (If you cannot, just keep increasing the groups size by adding a new bar at every step).

Mastering these seven bars should take 45 mins - 1hr.

Next day, go through the same process again. It will take far less time, maybe 20 mins. So go ahead and use the extra time to do the same with bars 7 - 13 (Have you noticed that I started with bar 7, and not bar 8? This will provide an overlap later on).

On day 3, you should be able to do bars 1 - 7 after 10 minutes, and bars 7 - 13 after 20 minutes. Add bars 13 - 19.

On day 4, bars 1- 7 should be learned and memorised, bars 7 - 13 almost there. So join it together: Bars 1 - 13. Bars 13 - 19 should start to get together. Add bars 19 - 25.

On day 5 you should be able to join bars1 - 19, and keep working on bars 19 - 25. Add bars 25 - 28 (they are the easiest).

On day 6 join together bars 1 - 28.

Now if you followed my advice to start with the most difficult bars (29 - 34), then you should have been doing the same sort of repeated group work with them all along. (but because the pattern in these bars is far less repetitive, you may have to choose as a unit not a whole bar, but perhaps a group of four notes).

In any case, on day 7 you should be able to join together bars 1 - 34, and still have time to do bars 34 - 38.

Finally on day 8, you could join everything together.

There: The whole prelude mastered and memorised in 8 days with two one hour practise sessions a day (practice session 1 to work on bars 29 - 34, practise session 2 to work on bars 1 - 24).

This leaves you with almost three weeks to pefect the piece and practice performing it to friends and family. :D

Unfortunately :'(, the scenario above may turn out not to be feasible for you. It may take you more than 2 or 3 days to really get to grips with a 7 bar section. Still the scheme above is valid. Then again , maybe you will be able to do it in far less time than the suggested above.

Try it and tell us what happened.

(In any case, after three days, you will pretty much know if it is feasible or not).

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
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 nicko124

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #4 on: April 25, 2005, 04:33:24 PM »
Thanks very much for providing me with a plan to practice it, i'm sure it will save me a lot of time and i will be able to learn it in an efficient way. I have had a look at the music and it doesen't look too difficult at all.
I will let you know how it goes, thanks for your help: i appreciate it.

Offline rlefebvr

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #5 on: April 25, 2005, 05:11:16 PM »
I am nowhere near your level of play, but I am learning this prelude myself.

If the fingering causes you no problems it should be easy enough to master. The left hand is a lot of work in this piece however.

Also, the recording you have listed is very interesting and I really liked the sound of it. It is however the slowest recording I have ever heard of this Prelude.

I do believe it should be played at a much faster tempo. This may not be an issue for you since you are playing for a school concert.

Good luck and let us know what you decide and which part you found most challenging.

Ron Lefebvre

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

Offline nicko124

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #6 on: April 25, 2005, 06:21:35 PM »
I am nowhere near your level of play, but I am learning this prelude myself.

If the fingering causes you no problems it should be easy enough to master. The left hand is a lot of work in this piece however.

Also, the recording you have listed is very interesting and I really liked the sound of it. It is however the slowest recording I have ever heard of this Prelude.

I do believe it should be played at a much faster tempo. This may not be an issue for you since you are playing for a school concert.

Good luck and let us know what you decide and which part you found most challenging.




Yes and good luck to you as well with mastering it. I will use Bernhards plan to learn it just over a week. I think the main problem will be memorising it (like Bernhard said). I usually find it more difficult to memorise syncopated pieces such as this rather than other pieces. However i'm sure that i will be able to pick this piece up quite quick, the fingering is actually marked on the copy from sheetmusicarchive.net so that is one less thing to do.


Offline bernhard

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #7 on: April 25, 2005, 11:12:18 PM »

 the fingering is actually marked on the copy from sheetmusicarchive.net so that is one less thing to do.



Take that fingering with a (large) pinch of salt and feel no qualms about changing it. ;)
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 etudes

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #8 on: April 25, 2005, 11:35:10 PM »
Take that fingering with a (large) pinch of salt and feel no qualms about changing it. ;)
dear master
you forget this
Best wishes,
Bernhard.
lol. ;D just kidding
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My life = piano

Offline bernhard

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #9 on: April 25, 2005, 11:47:43 PM »
dear master
you forget this
Best wishes,
Bernhard.
lol. ;D just kidding

Expect the unexpected. ;)

BW
B.
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Offline lagin

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #10 on: April 26, 2005, 01:56:41 AM »
Hi, I just competed with this piece today.  Didn't win, but oh well.  It's at a grade nine level in Canada, which transfers to a grade eight level if you are doing the U.S. program.  Start with the presto section as it is the hardest, especially where the top notes are in the 4th and 5th fingers for a whole bar.  The fugue is probably what puts this piece at such a high exam level, so if you're just doing the prelude, go for it. 

Some cool ideas, you might really try to bring out two beats to a bar, just don't accent them too much.  (I just got nailed for that at the festival).  Really think dynamics because according to my parents, it sounds like a washing machine if it's all monotone.  I crescendoed and decrescendoed in big sections like a mountain sort of.  Have fun.  Watch that you L.H. keeps up to you're right, though. 

Chow.
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Offline rohansahai

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #11 on: April 26, 2005, 09:19:26 AM »
Quote
Expect the unexpected.

BW
B.
Would like to have a plan for the Fugue too Bernhard, if you can spare the time !!! THANKS !
Waste of time -- do not read signatures.

Offline sonatainfsharp

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #12 on: April 26, 2005, 03:49:22 PM »
You can just play it at the Glen Goud tempo. :)

Offline Prophetic

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #13 on: April 27, 2005, 10:43:35 AM »
If this is the prelude I think it is, with the melody in the LH be very careful, very. You don't want to turn it into 6/8 instead of 3/4. I can't explain it online, but just watch out. My organ teacher says /many/ people play it in 6/8 instead of 3/4. You may not be one of them. ;)

Offline bernhard

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #14 on: April 27, 2005, 08:44:35 PM »
If this is the prelude I think it is, with the melody in the LH be very careful, very. You don't want to turn it into 6/8 instead of 3/4. I can't explain it online, but just watch out. My organ teacher says /many/ people play it in 6/8 instead of 3/4. You may not be one of them. ;)

I donít think this prelude is the prelude you think it is. ;)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
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 sznitzeln

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #15 on: April 29, 2005, 09:40:13 PM »
The major problems in this piece are:

Fingering, Musicality, Dexterity, Speed, and Strength of fingers (I guess I will get some critique for this)

For the musicality part... you really need to stop listening to the recording you sent... its so full of mannerism... download Richters recording at manual.classical.ru or was it classical.manual.ru

This piece is actually great for building up the hand, both the muscels and reflexes...
That will take much more than a week... so you will probably not learn to play it in MM=144 in a week...

I think it is really important to test small sections with metronome HS in this piece, to detect where your fingers are not sufficiently trained... then repeating those places with or without metronome you can slowly bulid strength and reflexes to play it in a high tempo... of course its a beautiful piece in a low tempo... but a great technical exercise in high... Repeating 2 notes (trill) with occasional use of metronome is pretty nice... also invent your own exercises... like playing one note with finger 4 or 5 repeatedly while doing some other stuff with the other fingers... holding them, or slowly changing positions... experiment with different hand positions too.

Offline gkatele

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #16 on: April 29, 2005, 10:28:48 PM »
I've been working on this since September of last year. After about 2 months I thought it was "OK." Then I recorded myself and said "AAAGHHERGHGH!"

(visualizing Sebastian Bach tearing off his powdered wig and throwing it at me!)

It's now the end of April, and I'm up to speed (about 100), and still trip and fumble every now and then. However, it is a ton of fun to play and is great for building agility and dexterity - not to mention musicality.

It's so so easy to make this sound like a typewriter.


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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #17 on: April 29, 2005, 11:18:07 PM »
Here's the general advice I give students of my own who have done this.

The Moderato should be respected as a tempo to begin with otherwise you cannot really make the Presto section stand out as much. Throughout the Moderato, Bar 1-21 you should aim to give slight accent to the first note of each group of 4 semiquavers. This will generate a better rhythmic quality than just emphasising the upper most and lower most notes only. It is also possible to sustain and hold the upper most notes however this may prove tough to maintain especially in Bar 7 in the LH.

In the Presto section the LH may be legitimately reenforced with an octave. But it is important that this long G in the bass is given full length and the semiquaver rest in the RH should be treated as a dramatic pause, dont break into it all of a sudden.

In the Adagio I have heard a trill played between the E and F resolving to the E, then the next one is F and G resolving to the F, which has good effect. Also do not make the upward arpeggiation too rapid.

The ending with the deep C octaves in the LH should be held down with the fingers so that the last note, E in the RH sounds with the already held Cs. I love it when he does endings like that. One could hold the sustain pedal when the Lh initiates its low Cs and then release it at the end so that we reveal the harmony between the low C's and the final E in the RH.

As for volume control with any of Bach's peices you must find that for yourself. There is no right or wrong way about doing it, but I think that certain parts encourage the volume. Especially a long cresendo starting from 21-24 for instance.
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Offline nanabush

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #18 on: April 30, 2005, 10:02:07 PM »
If you can play "Un sospiro" by Liszt, then the prelude in C minor should pose no problem for you.  This is definitaly one of the easiest preludes, but I find the fugue much harder to play.  It falls well under the fingers except for the presto part which is somewhat difficult...You could learn this in a week or maybe less if you have played un Sospiro no doubt!
Interested in discussing:

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Offline a romantic

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #19 on: July 23, 2006, 06:34:56 AM »
Has anyone noticed the discrepancy between different editions of this piece?  In measure eighteen, some books have a "C" in the left hand on beats one and three.  Other books have a "C" on beat one and a B-flat on beat three.  This discrepancy bothers me because the latter creates a walking bass sound that I love; unfortunately, the book that my teacher has me using shows a "C" on both beats.   :'(

Offline cerulean

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #20 on: July 24, 2006, 03:55:21 AM »
i've decided to start this piece, it's beautiful. i found that it was easy to sight read and play hands together (at a slower tempo of course)

bernhard, your post outlining how to practice it is very helpful. i'm debating whether to begin the fugue

Has anyone noticed the discrepancy between different editions of this piece? In measure eighteen, some books have a "C" in the left hand on beats one and three. Other books have a "C" on beat one and a B-flat on beat three. This discrepancy bothers me because the latter creates a walking bass sound that I love; unfortunately, the book that my teacher has me using shows a "C" on both beats. :'(
i agree

Offline da jake

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Re: J.S. Bach's Prelude in C Minor from Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1
«Reply #21 on: July 26, 2006, 06:18:44 AM »
The prelude isn't that hard - even if you haven't been playing very long.

Practice slowly, legato to start, and it is a snap.

The fugue is a bit tricky, and the fact that it's an obnoxious piece doesn't make it any easier. To learn it quickly, learn hands seperately at a slow tempo (i made the mistake of thinking i could learn it hands together to start).

 :)
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