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#348790 - 01/16/06 02:09 AM Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1492
Do you all piano pedal once per measure for the Prelude #1 in C from the W.T.C.?
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#348791 - 01/16/06 03:07 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
Matthew Collett Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 536
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
 Quote:
Originally posted by rintincop:
Do you all piano pedal once per measure for the Prelude #1 in C from the W.T.C.? [/b]
I assume you are talking about Book I, and that by 'piano pedal' you don't mean 'soft pedal'. ;\)

I don't use pedal at all in this. All required sustaining (and then some) can be done with the fingers.

I'm not in the camp that says you should never use pedal in Bach, but I can't see why you want it here.

Best wishes,
Matthew
_________________________
"Passions, violent or not, may never be expressed to the point of revulsion; even in the most frightening situation music must never offend the ear but must even then offer enjoyment, i.e. must always remain music." -- W.A.Mozart

212cm Fazioli: some photos and recordings .
Auckland Catholic Music Schola .

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#348792 - 01/16/06 04:49 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
rvw Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 34
Loc: Woodstock, GA
I play it differently every time I play it. More often than not, I use the pedal as you suggest. The score does not indicate the pedal, but I like the sound. \:\)

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#348793 - 01/16/06 05:29 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
-Frycek Online   confused
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
I don't use the pedal on it at all. I don't think it needs it.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#348794 - 01/16/06 05:55 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
Dsus2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 95
Loc: Sweden
Neither do I. Allthough I sometimes feel like it and use it in a few bars here and there.
I enjoy this piece, now that I memorised it... Thought I'd never do! But now the whole thing is in my head, and I sometimes play it way too fast just for the fun of it!

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#348795 - 01/16/06 07:58 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
L'echange Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 634
Loc: Romney WV
Like rvw, I play it differently every time.

Sometimes I pedal every measure.
Sometimes I pedal every half-measure.
Sometimes I dont pedal at all.
Sometimes I only pedal sparingly, using it maybe only in the last few measures.

Really it doesn't matter to me. I think you should play it however you like it.

Little story about one of the reasons I might have such a liberal view of pedal and Bach:

My teacher went to Julliard in the 50's. She told me that this was a time when Bach extremists were all around. Some of her friends and teachers didn't want bach played on piano at all. Some wanted no use of pedal. And it was rare to find someone who approved the pedal. She had a young and talented friend who not only played WTC books 1 and 2 before college, she used the pedal. At her Freshman recital she played several Preludes and Fugues, and selections from The Art of Fugue. Some of those extremists happened to be in the audience and jury. She didn't finish the program due to people throwing rotten apples and diapers amung other things. She ran out crying, and didn't play Bach in public until much later. I think that is a horrible story myself.

And further more, I just dont understand why people wouldn't... if they wanted to that is.

I think you should be wise about using it, don't overuse the pedal, But $*#%! It is there isn't it!?
_________________________
"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

Jim

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#348796 - 01/16/06 08:50 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
"But $*#%! It is there isn't it!?"

Exactly, we're not playing it on period instruments, and there is no reason why we shouldn't use the sustain pedal (or any pedal for that matter), as long as you can justify it musically.

But having said that it does need to stylistically represent Bach, so you can't go overboard. In the WTC1 #8 prelude, I use quite a lot of pedal, because it just suits the nature of the piece IMO. But I wouldn't in the prelude to #13 I don't think.

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#348797 - 01/16/06 10:06 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
thunderFingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/05
Posts: 42
Loc: Maryland
In answer to your specific question: I like it without the sustain pedal. I also like it with the sustain pedal as long as you play it softer than you would if you played it without. And furthermore if you use the sustain pedal, use it once per measure (or twice per measure), except for the last two measures, in which you should use it only for the first 75% of each of those measures....

Generally speaking, I have some thoughts about Bach and the use of the sustain pedal. I read on the web that the sustain pedal was not invented until 1783, and J.S. Bach passed away in 1750. J.S. Bach evidently didn't like his friend Silberman's piano (which it seems Silberman modeled after Cristofori's early piano), but Bach changed his opinion about it later.

I feel that if you look at the whole scope of J.S. Bach's persona, you'll find that he is quite conservative about some things (despised certain types of popular music, read and copiously annotated Luther's commentaries on the Bible, etc.), but was very advanced and forward looking on others (modern organ building and tuning technolgies, and twelve-tone music: check out WTC I fugue in B-minor!!)

I conclude that Bach would have generally welcomed the sustain pedal, but would have used it wisely and judiciously in a way that would cause us to say things like: Why didn't I think of that? or How beautiful? I'm sure he would have MANY things to say about the minutest details of modern piano construction and preparation (why doesn't someone do "time warp" kind of movie about that..."Bach to the future II")

I also enjoy Glenn Gould's interpretations of Bach (though sometimes they are too eccentric for my taste). Does anyone know about Gould's use of the sustain pedal when playing Bach? Anyway, it seems to me that he uses it, but very thoughtfully and economically. For example, in the recording I have of Gould playing WTC I B-flat Major Prelude, it seems like he uses it to marvelous effect. He starts it out sans sustain pedal, breaking all speed limits, then comes the first inversion B-flat dominant 7th chord. I think he uses the sustain pedal there and it is quite wonderful.

In conclusion, I disapprove of those who despise others who are creative with Bach interpretation. It seems to me like it is completely against the spirit of art itself, which is closely allied to the principles of freedom and beauty!

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#348798 - 01/16/06 05:05 PM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
brenthoven Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 109
Loc: Alpine, WY
Time and time again this subject is mauled over and over. IF one is a "purest" then you should NEVER, play Bach on a piano to start with! That would be pure sac-relige. Bach left us a marvelous set of "BLUE PRINTS" that we can improvise upon, create emotion, develope our skills in hearing, technique, and freedom to discover the same musical concepts from 1685 when Bach was born to the present is much the same except Bach did not have the modern inventions of musical capabilities we enjoy. HE USED HIS MIND and IMAGINATION to the max.
Use the pedal if you like it Don't if you Don't like it.
I enjoy reading Bach's scores away from the piano as much I do playing and performing them. Great stuff for the mind.

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#348799 - 01/16/06 05:18 PM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
I agree entirely with brenthoven and others. Personally, I use pedal throughout this particular prelude.

To quote the old cliché, music is a living, breathing organism. To suggest that one should not play Bach on the piano using pedal and dynamics with original interpretations, simply because 300 years ago nobody could play it that way, is a denial of this important concept of music as alive and organic.

IMO, that is how you make music 'dead' - by stubbornly refusing to acknowledge advancement and progress in technology and interpretation, so that the Prelude in C Major from book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier can sound exactly the same for the rest of pianistic eternity.
_________________________
Sam

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#348800 - 01/16/06 05:33 PM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
"is a denial of this important concept of music as alive and organic."

Who said that a lot? Was it Messiaen? Or Stravinsky? (actually probably not Strav)

Ugh. \:D

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#348801 - 01/17/06 02:37 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
Bill Finn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Florida
I don't use any pedal when playing Bach.

I'm certain that Bach was likely aware of the limitations of the keyboards of his time and so wrote his music to it's best advantage. I don't doubt it. Trust the music, don't second guess it.

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#348802 - 01/17/06 03:55 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
-Frycek Online   confused
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
I'm not a Bach (or any kind of) purist but I do try to limit my use of the pedal on principle. Overuse of the pedal was one of my real weakest spots. My teacher used to chide me about trying to use it to "cover my sins." I'll never forget that phrase, so first I try to get pieces to sound the best I can without it.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#348803 - 01/17/06 09:51 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
drumour Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 829
Loc: Scotland
It is good practice to do as much practising/learning as is possible without using the sustaining pedal. By doing so one's attitude to that pedal changes and it is seen as a colouring device more than as an aid to legato etc. Practising without pedal means that control of the playing is primarily at the hand end of the body and, among other things, helps eliminate sloppiness. That done, it is then up to you whether or when or how to use the sustaining pedal - it is a choice of different sounds, use of the palette.

John
_________________________
Vasa inania multum strepunt.

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#348804 - 01/17/06 11:08 AM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
If this is true, then you have to play his music on harpsichord.

Playing Bach on piano is, by definition, a transcription. The concept of the sound is different as well.

We have to approach Bach on the piano with a classical or romantic concept of sound, because there is no such thing as an authentic baroque piano sound. (Sorry Landowksa.) Same goes for other instruments, too. Violins were played using gut strings, flutes were made of wood and not always transverse, and brass instruments didn't have valves.

So yes, Bach was aware and wrote knowing the limitations of the instruments, but playing Bach on piano without pedal would be like telling a violinist to change his strings or a flute player to use a wooden flute. (Of course, some people do believe that, so the authentic performance debate rages on as it has for the last few decades...)

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Finn:
I don't use any pedal when playing Bach.

I'm certain that Bach was likely aware of the limitations of the keyboards of his time and so wrote his music to it's best advantage. I don't doubt it. Trust the music, don't second guess it. [/b]
_________________________
"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)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#348805 - 01/17/06 04:40 PM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
In line with what Pianojerome said, there is a story I read (can't remember which book) where some famous pianist/composer sent Beethoven a letter asking him about dynamic markings for a piece. He received no answer so he wrote again and again a 3rd time. Finally Ludwig answered him scathingly with words to the effect of *Do you think I'm such an idiot that I would play it twice the same way? Play it how you feel it!* So much for purism.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#348806 - 01/17/06 11:21 PM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
Bill Finn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
If this is true, then you have to play his music on harpsichord.

Playing Bach on piano is, by definition, a transcription. The concept of the sound is different as well.

We have to approach Bach on the piano with a classical or romantic concept of sound, because there is no such thing as an authentic baroque piano sound. (Sorry Landowksa.) Same goes for other instruments, too. Violins were played using gut strings, flutes were made of wood and not always transverse, and brass instruments didn't have valves.

So yes, Bach was aware and wrote knowing the limitations of the instruments, but playing Bach on piano without pedal would be like telling a violinist to change his strings or a flute player to use a wooden flute. (Of course, some people do believe that, so the authentic performance debate rages on as it has for the last few decades...)

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Finn:
I don't use any pedal when playing Bach.

I'm certain that Bach was likely aware of the limitations of the keyboards of his time and so wrote his music to it's best advantage. I don't doubt it. Trust the music, don't second guess it. [/b]
[/b]
I do understand that Bach did not write his keyboard works for the piano. But also I do know of no reason why a pianist MUST always use the pedal either. I know it's there. It's always a challenge to use as little pedal as necessary.

I wasn't trying to be a purist about playing Bach. Far from it. I enjoy my Bach switched-on sometimes, or on different instruments.

But to get to the point, don't you think Bach is better when there is more clarity? On harpsichord the clarity is kind of already built in. On piano one can change it, muddy it. Bach sounds better to me when there is not too much legato (and I'm really thinking of the clavier pieces here) but just a bit of detachment between the notes, yet also not staccato by any means.

In any case, to each his or her own. Try it both ways and decide for yourself.

I'm probably more of a fan of Glenn Gould's Bach piano recordins, rather than any purist concept.

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#348807 - 01/17/06 11:31 PM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
I wouldn't suggest that one must always use the pedal, and I wouldn't suggest that one must never use the pedal.

It is there, and if it can be used to enhance the performance of the music, then why not use it? And if the performance is better without it, then don't use it.

There can still be clarity with use of the pedal. I heard a performance this morning by a young lady who played a Bach prelude and fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier (E minor, Book 2) with constant use of the pedal. She was constantly pressing and lifting the pedal, and the effect was quite nice. The piano she played tends to have a very rich, long-lasting sound, and even with that and with the use of the pedal, her playing was still very clear, even in the fugue.

Pedal does not always equal inclarity. In fact, it is kind of a neat effect to play very clearly and distinctly with the fingers while also using the pedal. It ties the notes together, but because of the way you are playing with your fingers, the notes are also clear and distinct.
_________________________
Sam

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#348808 - 01/17/06 11:32 PM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Good point!

And I completely agree about clarity. I tend to use pedal in Bach mostly for resonance and a warmer sound. I sustain mostly with fingers and always try to keep the harmony clear (and melodies clear in the case of fugues, etc...)
_________________________
"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)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#348809 - 01/19/06 07:06 PM Re: Pedal Bach's prelude #1 from Well Tempered Clav?
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
I personally like to keep the pedal pressed down very lightly (moonlight sonata-wise) for the length of each bar, so the notes sustain sightly, but dont blur into each other.
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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