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#3139003 07/19/21 04:45 PM
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I learnt these inventions during a break but this is my first one with my teacher? It was suggested to help with agility so I think a useful piece but it did take me ages.



I was wondering:

- The piece is relatively easy (grade 7) but took me a long time, is this a common problem with bach or lack of experience with baroque ?
- Do you think it would be interesting to play to others (have heard they are technical pieces and not enjoyable for others)

Thanks smile

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I think it's a common problem with Bach due to lack of experience with Bach. I think some of the Inventions would definitely be interesting to some listeners but am not sure if this Invention is in that category. I suggest practicing with a metronome since the tempo is a bit unsteady. If you listen to your recording and put on the metronome, I think you will notice this if it's not apparent to you.

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Thank you. I will try the suggestion.

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Originally Posted by Moo :)
I was wondering:

- The piece is relatively easy (grade 7) but took me a long time, is this a common problem with bach or lack of experience with baroque ?
- Do you think it would be interesting to play to others (have heard they are technical pieces and not enjoyable for others)

Thanks smile

It is a matter of practice and overall technique. When not used to Bach, it can take a long time indeed.

I think the piece can be perfectly well be played to others. But you have to have to add more articulation and interpretation into it rather than a pure mechanichal exercice. As is, I dont think it would be really enjoyable, but you can certainly share it with other students.

Here is the result when played by a top pianist.


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Thank you. It is the first Bach piece I learnt with a teacher as adult. I found it easy to play a note wrong and it got lost. I am learning another invention 5 so i will keep this one going a little later longer. It's very quick to play so not too hard to practice. 🌡

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I did practice with a metronome but had to make it much slower.



Please let me know if it is even now and how best to get it up to tempo with a metronome. Thanks

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Originally Posted by Moo :)
I did practice with a metronome but had to make it much slower.



Please let me know if it is even now and how best to get it up to tempo with a metronome. Thanks
Very even now. I think even at this slower tempo it sounds extremely good. You may be able to increase the speed gradually. If that doesn't work, here several standard methods:
1. practicing in rhythms I don't know why this method works(I think I once started a thread about it and almost every poster had a different answer) but almost everyone recommends it
2. practice hands separately at increasing speeds and then put the hands together
3. I don't know the name but the method is practice a short phrase quickly and the next phrase quickly and put them together OR practice x notes quickly and then starting on the same place practice x + y notes quickly. There's a terrific video by someone who has lots of excellent videos demonstrating this but unfortunately I can't find it. Maybe some one else can link it.

The final think I think you need to work on are the long trills. I don't know what to suggest but they don't sound right in relation to what's going on in the non trilling hand.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/25/21 01:29 PM.
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I dont think that you can increase speed just by trying to play faster one piece, unless you already have the skills to do so. It is a general ability that comes with practice. The metronome is just a tool, it does not in itself help you to play faster per se.

When trying to play faster you should go down to simplier pieces. If you can play at moderate speed a piece of lets say RCM level 8, then practicing fast tempo should be done for pieces at level 5 or 6. Trying to play pieces fast when you are already at the technical limit is going to be much slower.

It is better to take easy pieces and work by mid size increments of tempo and play the whole piece faster and so on.

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Thank you. This is a current grade 7 trinity piece sidokar. I did get grade 7 distinction in 2015 so 6 years ago but I spend a long time on Bach invention but still challenging. This one my teacher recommended it so hopefully the skills will prove useful in time.

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Originally Posted by Moo :)
Thank you. This is a current grade 7 trinity piece sidokar. I did get grade 7 distinction in 2015 so 6 years ago but I spend a long time on Bach invention but still challenging. This one my teacher recommended it so hopefully the skills will prove useful in time.

I think one of the issue with the grading is that it does not specify the minimal tempo. Invention 12 is an RCM level 8 piece. But if you increase the tempo while trying to still play with control, articulation and phrasing, the difficulty level goes up very quickly. Try to play invention 1 at anywhere near the tempo used by Lisitsa and you will see its impossible, unless you have advanced skills. Playing fast and well is a whole different challenge .....

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Lisitsa plays many of the Inventions at what I think is an absurdly fast speed but she actually plays No.12 at about the same speed as your second video and I think it sounds excellent that way. She does play the extended trills very differently from your rendition.

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Thank you. I was not aware there are so big differences in tempo! I think it's better to be slow and even so my plan is move on with this piece and spend more time on the new invention. I will take a look at long trills again if I plan to play to others.

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Yes, and she explained that it was her intention to play some of them as pure technical exercices and to do so as fast as she could. Not saying it is musical but it just demonstrates that even a relatively simple piece can become very difficult when increasing the tempo. Nikolaevna BTW plays it 85% of that tempo (ie roughly in one minute), and even at that more reasonable tempo (still quite fast) few students could play it cleanly.

I dont find her version very good. In general I would say VL is not really my first choice in Bach music. On the other extreme, here is a version by Gould, which I think most students would be incapable of playing. Most pianists would play that piece in the range of 1:10 to 1:30/1:40. But of course one is free to play it in any other way, as long as it is well done.


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Do you think it would be interesting to play to others (have heard they are technical pieces and not enjoyable for others)

I think it would be a lovely piece to play for others. In terms of where you are, I think you're playing it clearly enough for it to be quite enjoyable and I can understand what is going on in the music, but it's definitely not concert-ready.

Your second version is a bit steadier, but the voicing is a bit flatter and less nuanced (always a danger when spending too much time with a metronome). In both cases, you definitely are able to articulate when certain motifs come in and I can hear the interplay between the two voices, but it could use a lot more work on the details and the sculpting β€” there are times when the voicing is clear and there are times when it just sounds like you are playing notes. Each run of notes should have its own shape and you should be a bit more conscious about that β€” there are definitely times when you do this, but it feels like you haven't worked through the piece enough with this in mind.

I would keep recording it and playing it back to yourself, and whenever it feels a bit flat try to think about how you can sculpt it to give it a bit more character β€”Β experiment with being slightly more legato or non-legato, using crescendoes and decrescendoes, sometimes starting slightly late or early (without changing the tempo β€” this is where the metronome is handy). Remember that on harpsichord that dynamic changes aren't really an option, so expression is done mostly through texture and timing β€” on a piano you have more tools, but then it becomes easy to lean just on dynamics and forget you have a whole toolbox to work with. In the end, each motif or fragment should stand out, both against the counterpoint and against what came before and comes after.

One of the downsides of playing slower is that it makes the voicing much harder β€” timing subtleties are lost and fragments are stretched to the point that continuity is really hard to hear, especially when playing nonlegato. Listen to how beautifully Gould introduces the right-hand fragment at 0:09: it's so clear, and then it sort of recedes into the background β€” that sort of thing is easier to get to "pop" out at a faster tempo. At your second tempo, making it pop like that is nigh impossible, and at your faster tempo it's still quite difficult.

So I would also recommend experimenting with different speeds (with and without the metronome) to see how your ideas of it change as the piece expands and contracts, and finding your optimal tempo β€” the one where it's slow enough that you're not struggling, but it's fast enough that the voicing isn't too much of a challenge. You can increase this with effort and time, but at any stage of working on the piece there's likely to be a natural balance point in that tradeoff (it will vary in sections of the piece, but you should pick just one :-). Overall, it will probably sound nicer and more engaging if you can get it to a faster tempo, but it's far more important to get the voicing/articulation to a better place regardless of the tempo you choose, so pick the tempo where the voicing sounds most beautiful to you when you record it and play it back to yourself.

Recording yourself is especially important with counterpoint/Bach, I find, because if you think about the voicing then the fragments will pop out to you as you play, but it may not pop out to the listener, and it's very easy to deceive yourself into thinking you're making it clearer than you actually are β€” listening to your recording is a way of forcing some honesty about how much is actually coming across.

Listening to other recordings is a great way to steal some ideas of how you can sculpt the musical fragments and create more interplay between the counterpoint (I'd especially recommend finding a few recordings of it on harpsichord and clavichord to see my points about texture/timing), but I would recommend against trying to play like any particular recording β€” for a piece like this, it's especially important that you're able to create your own mental model of what it is that you're playing rather than trying to imitate a sound.

When you listen to professional recordings, listen for two things: what is your ear drawn to, and what is it about the way they play that draws your ear to those bits. And equally, what is your ear sort of drawn away from, where one hand recedes into the background, and how do they do that (playing lighter, less legato, more legato, playing it slightly faster and letting it end early, etc.). The second part (making the counterpoint recede into the background) is the most important part of counterpoint β€” anyone can make a new entrance "pop", but shifting the balance around in the counterpoint is where all the magic happens.

If you can get it concert-ready, this is absolutely a piece that people will love to listen to (if they enjoy Bach, that is β€” it always surprises me, but there are definitely people for whom Bach is not their cup of tea). It has some really lovely motifs with a nice yearning quality to it. It's not a piece most people would seek out, but it would not be out of place on a recital of Baroque or Bach keyboard works, say.

Last edited by Jun-Dai; 07/28/21 06:58 PM.
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Thank you. I have not got anywhere to play it atm for a while so I have moved on but I have learning another bach invention so a similar piece ;p !


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