How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well?

Posted by: computerpro3

How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 12:02 AM

Back when I was at home, I could easily spend two months working on a prelude and fugue and still have an immense amount of work to do.

Ever since I got to CCM the pace of learning has been dramatically increased out of neccessity. You're not even allowed to look at the sheet music during lessons - everything has to be memorized. You should have seen the look on my face when he gave me the first prelude from book II of the WTC and told me I would be performing it in Studio class in less than a week.

The next lesson I had was on a Friday, and he assigned me the Fugue for tuesday's lesson and another performance on Friday.

It's good on one hand because if you had asked me two months ago if I could have learned a fugue in four days I would have just laughed at you. It's amazing how much you can accomplish when you have to. On the downside, while the notes are there after a couple of days, musically it at least takes another week or two before it really speaks like I want it to. I think part of it is just living with the peice and absorbing it into your system completely.

What's the average amount of time it takes for you to memorize a prelude and fugue and be able to play it well?
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 12:37 AM

How long is a piece of string?
Posted by: playadom

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 05:24 AM

A month at least. I think my biggest weakness is Bach.
Posted by: computerpro3

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 07:27 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
How long is a piece of string? [/b]
I fully realize that no peice is ever "done", but I was referring to getting it to the point where you can comfortably play it in public and know what you're doing in terms of understanding the peice.
Posted by: Aviator1010110

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 07:43 AM

Comfortably I do it in a few weeks (1 week play, 1 week memorize). I suppose I could do it in a week, but I'd definitely loose some sleep over it.

I had to learn Liebestraum No.3 in one week to be put on the program of a recital coming up, but I spent an uncomfortable amount of time at the piano. Wasn't fun!
Posted by: 8ude

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 11:48 AM

I could probably learn one to a pretty good level in a week or two. Consider yourself lucky - in college I had to learn 4 Preludes and Fugues AND 4 Chopin Nocturnes per week...
Posted by: jazzyclassical

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 12:10 PM

Yes, everybody is different. And it probably depends on which prelude and fugue it was. But I think my fastest rate would be similar to Aviator, but adding one week to that. One week playing methodically, one week memorizing, and one week perfecting...
Posted by: Brendan

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 12:32 PM

Who did you decide on for your teacher? This sounds like what Chertock would do to me during my freshman year! :p
Posted by: computerpro3

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 01:29 PM

........
Posted by: Dan101

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 01:37 PM

That's a tricky question. If I have time, with no family interruptions, a week. In real life, about a month.

If you want to learn quickly, try imposing a pretend deadline. Don't give yourself an ulcer or anything, though. Self-imposed deadlines often accelerate learning proficiency. Good luck!
Posted by: Brendan

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 06:11 PM

Hahaha, I know exactly which practice room that is.

I broke the blinds in there once by accident.
Posted by: w1cbs

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 07:45 PM

How about a million years, give or take a few days? LOL.
At this point I'd be happy to get through Willy the Whale!

Actually I'm just starting to learn and I admire the ability of all the contributers to this forum and the varied repertoire I've seen posted.

Keep up the good work everyone.
Posted by: Lemon Pledge

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 08:21 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by w1cbs:
At this point I'd be happy to get through Willy the Whale!
[/b]
Eeek, I think I just had an early childhood flashback. Weird.

CDEFEDGABC ?

I'm not a piano teacher. Is everyone still using the same primers as 25 years ago?
Posted by: Outrageous

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 10:07 PM

When you guys say you can do it in a week, about how many hours a day are you putting in? If I go at my normal learning rate of practicing a new peice for around 30 minutes a day, probably a month or two..?? haha
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 10:36 PM

Ya, 30 minutes a day isn't going to do much, but if that's what you can do, and you're not on a deadline, then that's great if you can do it consistently. \:\)
Posted by: 8ude

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/07/07 10:46 PM

When I was running the 4 P/F and 4 Nocturnes per week gauntlet back at IU (I see you're from Bloomington Outrageous - I assume that's where you are too \:\) ), I was putting in probably between 4 and 6 hours a day. Under those circumstances, I was able to learn them at that rate, (though some of them I was still sight-reading passages at my lesson \:\) )

Now, with two kids (one of them 6 months old), I'm lucky if I can get 15 minutes in a day - so under those parameters it would take me quite a bit longer to pick up a Prelude and Fugue.
Posted by: LVB1770

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/08/07 01:14 AM

Unanswerable question!
Posted by: pianist.ame

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/08/07 01:55 AM

my biggest weakness is Bach too, so I can't answer your question, It can take me just a couple of days to learn a sonata but weeks and weeks to learn a Bach fugue.
Posted by: computerpro3

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/08/07 10:52 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Brendan:
Hahaha, I know exactly which practice room that is.

I broke the blinds in there once by accident. [/b]
Oh yeah? If you can get the number, THEN I'll be impressed (hint, it's one of the best two pianos in memorial).
Posted by: ctnski

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/08/07 07:13 PM

In his The Art of Piano-Playing, Heinrich Neuhaus claims to have learned the entire "Hammerklavier" in 96 hours, during which time he hardly slept.

Craig
Posted by: Loki

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/08/07 07:55 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by ctnski:
In his The Art of Piano-Playing, Heinrich Neuhaus claims to have learned the entire "Hammerklavier" in 96 hours, during which time he hardly slept.

Craig [/b]
and theres a fugue in there too!
Posted by: Loki

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/08/07 07:56 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
How long is a piece of string? [/b]
about this long:
Posted by: Will335

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/09/07 11:50 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
How long is a piece of string? [/b]
The distance from one end of a piece of string to the other is about the same as the amount of time it took before someone had to use that annoying cliche.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/09/07 01:47 PM

If the shoe fits...
Posted by: Bassio

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/09/07 03:52 PM

Yes it takes a lot of time ..

I also find it helps when you know exactly when subjects enter (although I have not attempted to play a voice alone as some people advise) but I try to listen to every voice as I play

Check out this site
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc.html

This site was one of the first sites that sparked my interest in Bach. A great site
Posted by: playadom

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/09/07 04:47 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bassio:
Yes it takes a lot of time ..

I also find it helps when you know exactly when subjects enter (although I have not attempted to play a voice alone as some people advise) but I try to listen to every voice as I play

Check out this site
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc.html

This site was one of the first sites that sparked my interest in Bach. A great site [/b]
This is surely one of my top favourites. I've used this site for a long time. I highly recommend it!
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/10/07 01:09 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Bassio:
...I also find it helps when you know exactly when subjects enter (although I have not attempted to play a voice alone as some people advise) but I try to listen to every voice as I play [/b]
It helps?!
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/10/07 07:38 PM

Hehe, keyboardklutz ;\) . One really does need ot know whenever the subject enters, becuase that is the part that should be brought out above all the other stuff going on. This is what makes it interesting. I hear a lot of people play Bach fugues without taking this into consideration. If you have trouble bring out the subject, I suggest photocopying the music, then highlight all the subject entries and repetitions.
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/11/07 02:29 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
Hehe, keyboardklutz ;\) . One really does need ot know whenever the subject enters, becuase that is the part that should be brought out above all the other stuff going on. This is what makes it interesting. I hear a lot of people play Bach fugues without taking this into consideration. If you have trouble bring out the subject, I suggest photocopying the music, then highlight all the subject entries and repetitions. [/b]
I would like to offer a different view, and quote Tovey's commentary, from the Associated Board edition of WTC:

"b. Part-playing.[/b] The nature of polyphony has been obscured rather than illuminated by Ouseley's famous definition of counterpoint as 'the art of combining melodies.' Much 'pianistic' fugue-playing has passed as 'scholarly' when it even fails to realize that definition, inasmuch as it 'brings out the subject' as if all the rest of the fugue were unfit for publication. This notion is peculiar to pianists. Organists, who perhaps play fugues more often than most people, do not find it necessary, whenever the subject enters in the inner parts, to pick it out with the thumb on another manual. They and their listeners enjoy the polyphony because the inner parts can neither 'stick out' nor fail to balance well in the harmony, so long as the notes are played at all. On the pianoforte constant care is needed to prevent failure of tone: and certainly the subject of a fugue should not be liable to such failure. But neither should the counterpoints; indeed, the less often a characteristic countersubject recurs the more important it may be that it should be hard clearly (e.g. the clinching third countersubject of the F minor Fugue in Book I.) Most of Bach's counterpoint actually sounds best when the parts are evenly balanced. It is never a mere combination of melodies, but always a mass of harmony stated in terms of a combination of melodies.

...When Bach combines melodies, the combination forms full harmony as soon as two parts are present. (Even a solitary part will be a melody which is its own bass.) Each additional part adds new harmonic meaning, as well as its own melody and rhythm, and all are in transparent contrast with each other at every point. No part needs 'bringing out' at the expense of the others, but on the pianoforte care is most needed for that part which is most in danger of failure of tone. Thus, one of Bach's standard types of triple counterpoint consists of a theme with wide intervals and a lively rhythm, a countersubject flowing uniformly and in conjunct movement, and another countersubject consisting of a few long notes forming a chain of suspensions or a slow chromatic progression. This third and simplest of themes will be the keystone of the harmonic arch. On the organ it will dominate sublimely if the notes are played at all: chorus-singers will luxuriate in it; the clavichord will respond to it with a
vibrato; the harpsichord will manage it quite satisfactorily; the pianoforte--?

The pianoforte player will manage it when he can give a good account of Chopin's
Prelude in E minor." [(c)1924, renewed 1951, now p.d.]

And a Bach fugue (primarily a stretto fugue, concerned mostly with repeated entrances of the subject) without constant emphasis of the subject:

Bach - Final fugue from....

The point of this last example is that we can learn much about playing Bach from music composed for other than keyboard instruments.
Posted by: ocd

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/11/07 02:57 PM

I am yet to find out.

ocd
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/11/07 03:38 PM

Can't disagree with that. Tovey is saying - hear and play the counter-subjects as well. Here is some interesting Ralph Kirkpatrick:
 Quote:
...In most Bach fugues, the continuity is carried unbroken through cadences by horizontal voice-leading which permits no clean-cut vertical break. Even when there are perceptible pauses betweeen sections, the Bach fugue is essentially a one piece form.
He is saying here what Tovey is trying to articulate. If you stomp out the subject each time, especially at cadences, you cover up the fine nuance of continuity. Schweitzer used to complain about this as well. Bach is subtle, subtle, subtle - a life time's work. So how long does it take to learn a WTC fugue well? Do one of you REALLY think you have the answer?
Posted by: ctnski

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/11/07 05:15 PM

Bravo! I've always enjoyed reading Tovey on music.

Craig
Posted by: ctnski

Re: How long does it take you to learn a WTC fugue well? - 11/11/07 05:20 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by ctnski:
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
[qb] Can't disagree with that. Tovey is saying - hear and play the counter-subjects as well. Here is some interesting Ralph Kirkpatrick:
[QUOTE]...In most Bach fugues, the continuity is carried unbroken through cadences by horizontal voice-leading which permits no clean-cut vertical break. Even when there are perceptible pauses betweeen sections, the Bach fugue is essentially a one piece form.
He is saying here what Tovey is trying to articulate. If you stomp out the subject each time, especially at cadences, you cover up the fine nuance of continuity. Schweitzer used to complain about this as well. Bach is subtle, subtle, subtle - a life times work. So how long does it take to learn a WTC fugue well? Do one of you REALLY think you have the answer? [/b]
Bravo!


Does anyone else notice, when playing Bach, the near-constant combination of thirds between parts? I thought of high-lighting my music, but then I might as well smear the page in pale green ink. I'm sure this is an elementary observation for all you music majors out there, but I am continually fascinated by it as I play, and the more I see it in Bach, the more I see it in Beethoven as well, who as we know had learned most of the P&Fs before he was twelve.

Cheers,

Craig