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Topic Options
#2295342 - 06/26/14 02:10 PM Bach invention no. 13 fingering
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 51

I have looked at editions by Willard Palmer (Alfred), Griepenkerl (Peters), and also Busoni but the fingering suggestions are very sparse and I am really left in the dark as to what fingering to use for the many broken chord figurations.

I am considering buying the Henle edition with fingering but would like to know how abundant (and how good) their fingering suggestions are compared to the editions I mentioned above.

Which editions of the Bach inventions do you prefer and do you also find the invention in A minor much more difficult than the other ones?

Edited by JanVan (06/26/14 02:43 PM)

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#2295359 - 06/26/14 02:53 PM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
MysteryMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/14
Posts: 29
Loc: North Carolina
I am working on this invention now as well, and I have the Wiener Urtext edition. The fingerings in that edition for this invention are bizarre in places and make no sense to my hands. I finally had to sit down and try a bunch of fingering progressions as well as discuss it with my teacher to settle on something that works for my hands.

After getting the fingering down, I am not finding it more difficult than the other two-voice inventions that I have learned...
Walter W190

#2295375 - 06/26/14 03:30 PM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3553
Loc: not in Japan anymore
JanVan, it's been a long time since I worked on Inventions, but at the time, I used the Henle edition on the recommendation of my teacher. I also have the Busoni one, but as I recall, I never used it and relied completely on the Henle. However, any fingering issues I discussed with my teacher at the time, so I don't really remember whether I found Henle lacking in terms of fingering guidance.

I take it you're not working with a teacher? If you are, of course ask him/her. But if you're working on your own (and can't or don't want to get a teacher) I would recommend the following:

1) get the Henle edition, it's well regarded.
2) compare fingering in Henle, Palmer and Busoni (by compare I mean of course try them out at the keyboard)
3) if you can't settle on a fingering you're comfortable with, take photos of specific measures, post them here and ask others which fingering they use or would recommend.

Also, you might do a web search for "piano fingering" or similar terms and see if you can find some advice and general guidelines, that might help you as well. Fingering is a huge issue, I really benefited from working with my teacher and getting both advice on fingering for specific pieces and general ideas. I'm much better at choosing fingering on my own these days, but I still bring fingering-related questions to my teacher, so it really is one of the big factors of piano playing.

Good luck!!
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:

#2295568 - 06/26/14 11:06 PM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
zillybug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/11
Posts: 223
Loc: upstate NY
I did this invention last year. I have the Henle Urtext edition. The urtext edition has very little fingering written in. I worked with my teacher to figure out the fingering that worked best for me and then wrote almost every finger in the score in the beginning. With Bach you really have to be consistent with your fingering. I did find that invention harder than the ones I did previously (one and eight) and number 14 that I am working on now. god luck with it. I do like the sound of it.

#2295577 - 06/26/14 11:30 PM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 13324
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Baroque keyboard music in general is awkward to play. That is due to the highly contrapuntal nature of the style. This results in fingering that may not make a lot of sense for that particular note or set of notes, but it sets you up for what is to come. There are times when there's very few other options, and even a few when there's only one way to do it.

Which passages are troubling you? If you can post pictures of those measures and the fingering that you are using that isn't working, we can offer alternatives. In the end, it's totally up to you as to what works best.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#2295923 - 06/27/14 07:47 PM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
stumbler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/10
Posts: 362
Loc: Toronto
I have two editions of the two part inventions.

1. old beat up Edito Musica Budapest
- I haven't used it in a long time, but I remember disliking the fingering choices.

2. Wilhelm Hanson edition (Edwin Fischer)
- I used this recently (a year ago) for Inv 13
- In some cases I initially used fingering different from that suggested, but changed back to the suggested ones in several cases as on reflection the suggested fingerings seemed to relect deeper understanding of phrasing.
- One drawback of this edition is that copious interpretive footnotes yield awkward page breaks in some cases (though Inv 13 is fine).

As to difficulty, it is certainly more difficult than Inv 1, learning Inv 13 required more thought about hand position. Some of the other inventions seem more difficult that 13 and I so far have avoided trying to master them.
Roland RD-700NX

#2296058 - 06/28/14 05:06 AM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 51
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

My first question is about the opening motif in bar 1 (RH and LH) and bar 6 (LH):

The fingering with no background is what most editions agree on while the fingerings with a colored background are where there is divergence.

I have tried out the different suggestions at the piano and found that each one has their own merits what makes it all the more difficult to commit to one or another.

What I am looking for is a fingering solution that allows fast play while at the same time minimizing the build-up of tension.

I would love to know which fingering you prefer (and why) for these different passages.

To avoid any confusion, please answer the following questions by indicating the background color of your preferred fingering or by indicating your own fingering solution (e.g. 1-2-3-4-5).

1. Bar 1, RH (blue, green or other)?
2. Bar 1, LH (blue, green or other)?
3. Bar 6, LH (blue, green, yellow or other)?

I hope this thread may be of interest to all those working on this very beautiful and popular invention.

#2296062 - 06/28/14 05:42 AM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
outo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 1741
Loc: Finland
I still remember this piece as one of the most unpleasant I have ever worked with. Bach in general does not suit my hands at all. One reason is the frequent 1-2 streches in the right hand. My right thumb does not extend normally, so it gets sore from practicing pieces like this. I also have little strech between my 4-5. I only have a very long hypermobile 3rd finger...

But this is what we came up with, yet I am not sure it was the best option...I haven't returned to the piece for about a year now.

Measure 1: RH 1354135 45 25
LH 51 3 2531 2521

Measure 6 LH 35 3121 5212 1521

So as you see there are differences extending the options you gave. One needs to look at the whole phrase usually in such music to make it work.

Edited by outo (06/28/14 05:46 AM)

#2296152 - 06/28/14 12:44 PM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1308
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I loved learning this piece. It's not easy, though!

Different things work for different hands, but for me:
Bar 1 RH, blue
Bar 1 LH, blue
Bar 6 LH, yellow
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Schubert, Impromptu Op. 142 no. 2
Scarlatti, Sonata K. 146
Beethoven, Bagatelle Op. 126 no. 5
Gershwin, Sweet & Down Low

#2296387 - 06/29/14 12:48 AM Re: Bach invention no. 13 fingering [Re: JanVan]
hreichgott Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 2062
Loc: western MA, USA
Here's what I think the different fingerings are getting at.

Bar 1 RH:
GREEN: allows hand to close more at the top of the phrase, enabling more freedom of the arm which makes it easier to shape the melody. Disadvantage: have to be careful to avoid unwanted thumb accent on the G#.
BLUE: maintains hand in the E-E octave position and uses the 4 on the C which is really familiar and easy if you play a lot of 4-note blocked chord exercises. Allows 2 on G#. Disadvantage: less freedom of arm, and 4-5 on C-E might be too stretchy for small hands or for people who don't play a lot of those exercises.

Bar 1 LH:
Just a choice of which inconvenience you want to avoid more: switching from 2 on A to 3 on A with only a 16th note in between, or switching from 2 on A to 2 on B with only a 16th note in between.
For what it's worth, I prefer this because it makes it easier for me to show where the theme begins in the left hand: from the beginning of the measure, 5-1-2-1-5-3-1-2-5-2-1.

Bar 6 LH:
BLUE: Makes crossing over the thumb easy. Might make it difficult to show that the phrase begins on the G.
GREEN: Makes phrasing easier (at least it does for me), replaces crossing-over with a long reach (10th). So if you do have a tendency to become tense to begin with, then maybe don't use this one.
YELLOW: This avoids large reaches altogether, and is the same as the blue fingering in measure 1 on the same melodic idea, but creates a lot of extra work for fingers 1 and 2 because finger 3 isn't used at all.

Edited by hreichgott (06/29/14 12:50 AM)
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Working on:
Bach, Partita no. 3
Memorizing Beethoven, Op. 2 no. 2
I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music


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