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#2076123 - 05/02/13 07:40 PM advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor)
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
I really love Bach and one of my goals is to play as many 2-part inventions as possible. I've played #1, #4, and #8 and now I'm on #13.

Can anyone tell me why 1,4,8 were totally playable with a lot of practice and concentration, but #13 is giving me all sorts of trouble. Is there something that makes #13 harder than 1,4,8 that I should be more aware of?

Thanks!

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#2076138 - 05/02/13 08:12 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Fingering

Grouping of notes into hand "positions" to minimize shifts
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#2076145 - 05/02/13 08:23 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I have a student who has memorized the inventions easily....until she got to #13!
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#2076153 - 05/02/13 08:36 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1038
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Gee, I'm glad you asked this. I thought it was just me. "How could I *possibly* still not know these notes?" I've wondered. Now I sort of know them, but it's still a challenge to play them.

I like to go back and play through #4 now and then, just to remind myself that I'm capable of learning!

Don't have advice, just fellow feeling!
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#2076280 - 05/02/13 11:15 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
13 has lots of broken chords that change directions a lot.

AZNpiano is right, it's all about fingering. I'd recommend practicing the entire piece as legato as possible. It helps the hands feel the distances between the notes.
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"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2076281 - 05/02/13 11:15 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
zillybug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/11
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
I am working on 13 now also and found it harder to play and memorize than 1 and 8 which I had already done. When I first started playing Bach, I remember my teacher emphasized that using consistent fingering was really important and he was so right. He also has me memorize each hand alone before I put it together. I know there's quite bit of disagreement on that but I have found that it really helps when I put the hands together.
It's coming but I am still playing it fairly slowly. I like Bach but find I have to spend way more time when I am first learning it than other music.

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#2076305 - 05/02/13 11:29 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Another problem is with the 1, 4, 8, 13 progression. 13 is significantly more difficult than other Inventions. I would do 2, 6, 10, and 14 before tackling 13.

Don't be afraid to try different fingerings, and change the fingering further down the line. Some fingerings work well at Andante, but when you have to play Allegro, you might have second thoughts.
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#2076315 - 05/02/13 11:42 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I think the A major is the most difficult. A minor never gave me any trouble.
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#2076455 - 05/03/13 07:01 AM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Well I'm glad I'm not alone. I took your suggestion and stopped #13 and started #2 which seems much easier to me. I'll work my way up to #13 eventually. Thanks.

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#2077022 - 05/04/13 06:36 AM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
Have you memorized it yet? I worked on it a long time ago and it only became easier when I had it memorized and could look at my hands. Also you need to have your own associations of all the phrases and shapes, if you look at it as a bunch of 16th notes it's hard to play smoothly. Figure out what chords they make up and make sure your fingering is suitable for the faster tempo. Stick with the proper fingering once you find it. Practice in little sections till you master them then connect them.

Also I don't care how painfully boring it is to play it slowly. The piece is supposedly fast, however you will never get there unless you concentrate and slow relaxed practice. Take it as slow as you need. If you make mistakes then it's time to slow it even further. It should be so slow that you can process every single thing going on and not make any mistake. If it's still difficult then it needs more work hands separately. The HS should be almost up to performance tempo, it should not be difficult hands separately.

I could sight-read invention 1 for example and it didn't need practice to play smoothly but invention 13 needed more attention and a lot of hands separate practice. Actually if you memorize each hand separately and then the two hands it would probably benefit you even more and the piece will inevitably get easy or at least easier note wise.

Also analyze it a bit. Figure out what is going on. There is dialogue and there is imitation. Before you start listening for what the two voices are saying you can't really expect to play it well. It makes a lot of sense after that.

One clever trick that is after you learn the rhythm and can play the notes without too much problem, play it in sections but alter the rhythm like this: (this is not my own video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDNGJ1TpB5Q

This will give you fluency later on because by experimenting with different rhythms you master the notes much better and when you go back to the way it is supposed to be it will be much much easier. I still use this technique for more difficult pieces and it works well. Oh also please don't try to replicate the teacher's over-exaggerated movements, her hands are all over the keyboard when she is playing in this video jumping up and down but she can afford it, since she has mastered the technique requires for playing Bach and right now she is showing something else. Bach requires a minimalistic approach to movement. No unnecessary up and down wrist motions, no hectic jumps. Be very precise, and make sure your fingers are as active as possible. Leave the showmanship locked somewhere in a box if you want to learn the piece. (if you get tempted) laugh


Lastly remember that a lot of problems with playing certain pieces that are otherwise within our reach is our own thinking. You are fully capable of creating mental blocks for yourself by thinking you can't do something. Instead gain some confidence by convincing yourself that you can. Take it up as a challenge and prove to yourself you were wrong to think this piece is too difficult for you. It's not. Right now since you've had so much frustration with it you could take a week off from it and when you go back start fresh and you will notice much improvement actually. Most importantly, though, is to memorize it if you haven't already.


Edited by Teodor (05/04/13 06:58 AM)
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#2077506 - 05/05/13 06:17 AM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Bach Invention 13

We mortals can’t play two hands fluently at the same time ...
the mighty Bach could allow his one hand to make a statement
while the other picked up an echo of the first or romped off on
an entirely different harmonious tack.

I suppose we will have to perfect memorising the hands separately
and later see if we can blend the two ... have only tested the water
up to m16 ... clearly a long way to go.

But I’m off for a round of golf ... back at the ranch in about 5 hours ...
more if the 19th proves lengthy ... frailty thy name is ...

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#2079334 - 05/08/13 02:00 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: btb]
Cudo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 138
Loc: Heidelberg, Germany
Most people forget that Bach wrote these little pieces for his students to teach them improvising with the so called "Sätzchen Spiel".
These pieces were never thought to be played exactly like they are written down. They were only suggestions for developing own musical thoughts!

The poorness of todays piano teaching is evident while missing the most important aspect of Bach´s teaching - IMPROVISATION!!!

My approach to Bach´s Inventionen can be listened here:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL98D0D77215D025AA

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#2079665 - 05/09/13 06:24 AM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
Cudo, how do you know, were you inside of Bach's head? Even so they are meant to be first studied so that you have grounds for improvisation. How can a student improvise on these themes if he doesn't know how to play them precisely first.

Your inventions have nothing to do with the style of the period to begin with. Although they are interesting to listen to.

The inventions are given to student's with a specific purpose and this is to serve as introduction to polyphony and baroque music, it helps with their entire course of music education because after they master some of the 2 and 3 part inventions they will have reached a level when some of the more approachable classical sonatas will be possible for them. They also work well for improving the inner ear and the ability listen to more complex musical ideas and understand their direction and purpose.

Piano literature can be used in as many ways as the teacher wants according to the needs of the student. An etude by czerny written in 16hs in the right and marked legato will not necessarily be played and practiced legato. The goal can be different with the etude and so are these inventions.

Imagine how stupid and predictable the world would be if we followed precise instructions for absolutely everything. Anything can have multiple purposes and narrowing it down to one purpose only is destroying the creativity.


Edited by Teodor (05/09/13 06:33 AM)
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#2079990 - 05/09/13 07:08 PM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1038
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I'm starting to feel encouraged by the idea that this one is harder than the rest of the inventions. It's starting to come together, so pretty soon all the others will be a piece of cake, right?
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#2080111 - 05/10/13 01:44 AM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: dcb]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
Not a piece of cake perhaps but certainly easier compared to this one since they will build up your technique. Not the 3 part inventions though, they are a whole different business but once you do learn a few of the 2 part inventions they become approachable as well. The G minor sinfonia is one of the best to start with after them in my opinion.
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#2080117 - 05/10/13 01:56 AM Re: advice on Bach invention #13 (A minor) [Re: jdw]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: jdw
I'm starting to feel encouraged by the idea that this one is harder than the rest of the inventions. It's starting to come together, so pretty soon all the others will be a piece of cake, right?

Not quite. No. 13 (A minor) is substantially more difficult than most of the Inventions, but the hardest one has to be No. 12 (A Major). There's quite a "difficulty cliff" among the Inventions.
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