Bach's 2-part inventions - Which are your favorites or have played?

Discuss the piano literature and how to teach and learn it

Postby 97-1128742375 » Tue Oct 11, 2005 3:55 pm

yes that is very true :D
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Postby Stretto » Tue Oct 11, 2005 5:35 pm

I guess in Bach's day they didn't have "method" books for teaching, so they had to write their own teaching material. I wish I had more skill to write my own teaching literature like that. It would save from having to find the 'exact' piece or material to fit the bill. Maybe if we all spent our time writing our own material instead of searching for the perfect material . . . hmm? ???
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Postby 97-1128742375 » Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:57 pm

yes, then that would be cool
you could write the teaching material to fit a student's personal needs :)
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Postby Stretto » Tue Oct 11, 2005 10:10 pm

Yes, that's what I was thinking too or when you get a teaching-type book that only has a few worthwhile pieces in it, in something like the 2 Pt. Inventions, all the pieces are worthwhile, none you would probably think of as not being worth learning.

Beckywy, you mentioned independence of the hands in the 2 Pt. Inventions, I think it is so fun having both hands playing 2 separate voices in a piece like these and so rewarding to play as well. I like being able to hear the voices going simultaneously as I play. The Kabalevsky Prelude I mentioned has a child-like tune that duplicates itself in both hands but juxtaposed, I guess that's what makes it so fun to play. I think that's when the reward comes in, when a person meets the challenge of being able to play the separate voices simultaneously.

I'm gaining some good information in this thread, thanks so far everyone, hope others reading this are too. One thing I've learned is that I might need to educate myself more on what piano literature is considered 'teaching material'. Now I'm concerned that all these music books I have from college are simply considered 'teaching material' so I have a whole collection of 'teaching material' and not much 'regular' music. :( (As Dr. Leland stated, I guess it's unfortunate the stuff gets that stigmatism placed on it). Well, that leads me to another question: How does a person educate oneself on what piano literature is considered teaching material and what's not? Where would one start or what are some resources for researching this?




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Postby montana » Wed Oct 12, 2005 10:12 am

Starting to play Classical music on the piano at 55 after playing rock and blues all my life is interesting. I think people spend too much time worrying about what they should be playing and too little time learning and playing the pieces they like too play. I know you have to take a beginner along and give him/her pieces on the level they can play but it's really important to keep the fun in music. At my age I wouldn't waste my time on any piece I don't like. There are so many compositions out there a good teacher will be able to give the student pieces they want to play and still get the teaching point across.
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Postby Stretto » Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:13 pm

Montana,
Good point and thanks for the imput. I have been thinking more and more along those same lines as you pointed out in your post. We live in a day when time in a lot of ways is so limited and we all want to make the most of our time. I look back in some ways feeling like a lot of time slid by being used up with pieces and music that was mediocre, at least to my personal tastes, while eating into the time I could have spent on what I really like or what other's may enjoy hearing. Now after all these years I have virtually little repertoire built up that I can just sit and play for the fun of it. Since the main reason I'm in music is for personal enjoyment, although I love teaching too, I might as well be playing pieces I enjoy. I've felt this way with my students also recently that I am using up time teaching pieces I don't enjoy teaching and they are using their time practicing pieces no one has ever heard or often would care to :D (simply for that fact that they happen to be in the book). I have recently threw caution to the wind and have gotten my students books that have music they know and would enjoy at their level (there is more and more great material coming out all the time). The students now are so much happier. It's a lot more challenging because they are confronted with new elements all at once in a piece as opposed to a book that is carefully and wisely graded and scaled to add one new concept at a time. But they are up to the challenge since the pieces are what they enjoy. It can work both ways, some beginners can get overly frustrated this way and need the careful, gradual mini-step approach, age has some to do with it too. The amazing thing about kids around 7 and under is they love everything, kind of neat to be that way too. I used to love any and every piece of music I could get my hands on. I still like a wide variety of styles. Right now I have been having so much fun playing all these simple children's songs, early American folk songs, etc. I have always loved those so just enjoy playing them. I just figured I need to keep up my level of playing with some more difficult pieces as well.

Sometimes a person can learn something from a piece one doesn't care for, I have. And also one may be asked to perform specific repertoire sometimes that isn't what you would personally choose, so it is somewhat important as well to play some music one doesn't really like.

By the way, Montana, do you have any Bach, 2 Pt. Inventions that you like the sound of over others, one's that you think would be enjoyable to learn? I am gravitating toward #6. Thanks again for the imput. I wholeheartedly agree.
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Postby Stretto » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:53 pm

Well,
I've gone ahead today and have started to learn #6 out of the Bach 2 Pt. Inventions. I'll have to post on any observations I come across as I learn it a little later as I am a little short on time right now. It will probably take me forever to learn it because I don't have a whole lot of time these days, kind of have to learn it a little at a time. Anyone have any advice to give me on learning it?

I also still wondered does anyone know of any resources that explain what piano literature of the master composers is considered teaching material and what isn't? Anyone else want to comment on my previous question about how much expressive liberty one should take with Bach? Anyone else have anything else they want to add about learning or playing Bach's music in general?
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Postby Stretto » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:51 pm

Just an update - I have been working on Bach's 2- Part Inventions #6. You can listen to it by clicking on the following title: Bach 2-Part Inventions #6.

If you listen, you should be able to hear the distinct 3/8 time. I have been learning it very slowly just a little at a time as I kind of got off and into some other pieces I have been working on as well. When I first was looking at the Invention, I was trying to debate the age-old question: "Do I learn the right hand first or the left hand or try to put hands together from the beginning?" I muddled through playing it with both hands to get an idea of what it does. Then I thought, well, "let's just see where the r.h. alone takes me." With the r.h., I immediately thought, "What did I get myself into??" If you listen closely to the piece, you can hear that the voice that starts out in the r.h. has eighth notes all coming in on the "off-beat" (if that's what Bach called it back then ??? ). That voice produces that 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND sound. :O So, I thought, "well, let's see what the other voice does that starts out in the l.h. - maybe it's a little easier (kind of easiest part first approach - :;):) Yes!! That was a lot better - a straight forward ONE, TWO, THREE/ ONE, TWO, THREE - now I was breezing! It doesn't take long to figure out that in these inventions, you can't really take the approach of learning one hand first and then the other, it's much more productive and allows you to hear the individual "lines" or "voices" by practicing each voice and switch hands to stay along with that voice.

I was so pleased, awed, amazed, and intrigued at the simplistic scales and chords that I discovered in the piece. It always amazes me how a composer can use the simplist of chords and scales and turn it into something that sounds so complex and becomes famous! Bach's 2-Part Invention #6 starts out in the key of E Maj. and the "simpler" voice I mentioned starts as a basic E Maj. scale that is repeated in the r. h. Then that voice goes back to the l. h. becoming a string of simple chords and ends up in B Maj. by the end of the first section. In the second section, the same basic scale starts in the r. h. in B Maj. and toward the middle of the second half returns to E Maj. You can find simple scale patterns and chord progressions throughout. I have just been enjoying the discovery of the simplicity of the one voice that I keep playing that part so when I ever get around to checking into the other voice perhaps I will post back.

One question I have - should the eight notes in this piece be played smoothly and connected, almost legato or more of a disconnected sound between each eighth note? I always thought the latter was more in keeping with the correct way to interpret Bach's music.
Anyone else want to comment on any of this or their experiences with learning any of the 2-Part Inventions or any other of Bach's music?




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Postby 97-1128742375 » Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:59 pm

I am not very experienced, but I think that usually[U] the eighth notes are mostly disconnected, except in some of the long passages :D
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Postby Beckywy » Wed Oct 26, 2005 7:12 pm

For the invention- you have to look at the horizontal lines and disconnect that way. Meaning you don't disconnect in the middle of the theme, or in the middle of a motif.
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Postby 97-1128742375 » Wed Oct 26, 2005 7:50 pm

that sounds right; not disconnecting in the middle of a motif or phrase :D
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:22 am

Bach inventons are not my favorites as I too like more emotion.
As for finding music - I do not think you can have a book or even many books to go through inorder, from beginning to end. I have found it is trial and error. ( I can hear "horror" from some). I find music for each student as meets their needs - be it technical or a piece they have requested, or an easy one needed to boost self confidence, and so on. It is very time consuming, but it is the way I think works. I do not drill on scales and exercises, but use as needed for key signatures, working up speed, trying dynamices and rhythm patterns. Unless you have an older child who is going to be a concert pianist, I try only to have the child enjoy the music and want to continue the next year. After over 40 years of teaching, it has been successful.
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Postby Beckywy » Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:21 pm

One thing about Bach inventions 2 and 3 parts as well as the fugues. Once you've learned it, and memorized it, it stays in your head. If anyone asks me to play the piano, it isn't the chopin nocturnes, or the rachmaninov preludes that I can play readily, but a Bach fugue or invention.
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Postby Glissando88keys » Sun Jul 09, 2006 9:12 pm

Stretto wrote:It always amazes me how a composer can use the simplist of chords and scales and turn it into something that sounds so complex and becomes famous!

One question I have - should the eight notes in this piece be played smoothly and connected, almost legato or more of a disconnected sound between each eighth note? I always thought the latter was more in keeping with the correct way to interpret Bach's music.

Stretto, are you still working on the Two-Part Invention No. 6? If I may offer my opinion, I believe that the notes should be connected, while still putting light emphasis on each note and preventing any muddiness. The action on a harpsichord worked by plucking each string, producing, if you imagine, a thinner, shorter, more metallic sound than the piano, with its striking action. Almost comparable to when you pluck a violin or guitar as opposed to strumming. Hear the difference? If you were plucking a stringed instrument, you would need to play almost legato, to avoid too disconnected of a sound. The piano does this automatically, so legato would be too muddy a sound. These are exercises, after all, and like scales, need to be slightly connected, in my opinion. I also prefer to keep the tempo up to the pace of a brisk walk, but that is me.

That being said, I don't think that it is absolutely necessary to think of Bach's works this way, but it sounds a bit more authentic. For fun, I play the inventions on my keyboard in pipe organ mode, which yields quite a grander more dramatically spiritual effect, and not at all delicate. Maybe not quite authentic, but Bach was also a church organist, so not out of the realm of possibility.

My favorites? Nos. 1,5,6,7,8,13, and 14.

Bach's music is so intricate yet so simple I can't help but try to understand it. So vital I can't be without it. And so emotional I want to sit down and cry... ~W. Frederick Yohe
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Postby Stretto » Mon Jul 10, 2006 8:45 am

Thanks for the suggestions and posting your favorites! I actually decided not to work on any Bach 2 Pt. Inventions afterall, but that's not to say I won't come back to them sometime. Also, I may do some other Bach pieces sometime so I will keep your ideas in mind.

At the time I posted a thread or two in this forum, I didn't have any sense of direction in what pieces I would like to work on. I mentioned I have several books sitting around not having done many of the pieces out of them that I should dust the covers off and try to learn. However, where to start? So I thought, Bach 2 Pt. Inventions would be a good starting point. But after listening to them and playing through some to see how they sounded, I decided I really only liked #13 and #14, while the rest, well, just seem "o.k.", not so say a person shouldn't know how to play them. But I decided to move onto something else.

I looked through all my other books and fiddled around with some of the pieces but could never settle on what to work on. Nothing just jumped out at me. I probably need to do a lot more listening to music to find some pieces I would really like to play. But even then there are some pieces that are nice to listen to but maybe not so nice to play! :laugh:

I have learned a lot in my quest of trying to find some direction in what music I should be working on. I've learned more about what music really appeals to me and what doesn't. I had actually even questioned "do I even really like piano music at all?" and "do I really even like playing the piano?" :D I really do love music and learning about music, but I had questioned, "am I really into the piano as much as I thought I was?"

I did keep gravitating back to simple pieces I have in a few books that I really like. But I would still like to do some things a little more complex and challenging just not sure what.

After years of going without having a piano teacher myself, I finally started taking lessons again and that's the best thing I could have done musically and should have had a teacher all along. I got a teacher primarly for the purpose of helping me improve and advance my technique. But some of the secondary reasons I started lessons again is to help stay on track and provide a sense of direction.

I've just been taking lessons again for about 2 or 3 months but my teacher already helps inspire me. I told her I wanted to back track a ways and start off from a little easier point so I could concentrate on technique without struggling to learning notes for now. I thought I liked simpler music but now after doing simple music, I've gotten a hankering for something more difficult! :laugh:

Well, I said all this again to explain that I started these threads in the repertoire forum when I was trying to find a sense of direction of where to go on learning music. Unless an individual trying to learn on their own has a clear idea of how they want to go about learning and what they want to learn musically, I would highly recommend finding a good teacher. A good teacher helps guide and inspire.

Now I've had this melody in my head for a few days from some work but I can't think of what work it's from. I do know that if I figure out what it's from, I definitely want to learn it! I know it's something famous and I should know the name but . . . I'm going to play the parts of the melody for my teacher at my lesson and see if she recognizes what it might be. I'll post back if I figure it out.
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