When it comes right down to it, I’m always drawn back to Bach for solace, counsel, wisdom, insight, and more. He was the Father of our Western music in all its infinite forms.
In the composer’s ingenious 2 volume, Well-Tempered Clavier, Bach explored all keys around the Circle of Fifths in impeccable counterpoint. It’s the gold standard in keyboard learning and the musical equivalent of the Bible.
During the past few weeks, I’d been pleasantly enduring a Bach fever that had swept me off my feet and onto the piano bench.
In this exalted spirit, yesterday and into the night, to the dismay of my neighbors, I recorded the Prelude and Fugue in C minor BWV 847–WTC I (Don’t ask how many times I pressed the Capture Event button on my iMac) And for each undying effort, I typed in a title with an auto-suggestion, like I was coaching myself ringside for a big match:
“Relax,” “Take it slow,” For God sakes, LISTEN,” “pep talk again,” “You’re not listening,” “Where’s the darn melody?” “Control tempo,” “Where are you racing?” “Courage,” “Fortitude,” “Give it another whirl,” “Oh come on, don’t give up,” and the beat goes on….
Now the Prelude poses the same challenge as WTC Prelude no. 1 in the parallel C MAJOR, because a melody is ingrained in the harmony but must lead the player, measure by measure through a miasma of notes. It’s easy for the busy-body 16ths in both works to become the mainstay of the music, but resist the temptation. The Messiah melody emerges if you listen intently through a magnificently created Harmonic rhythm. (Block out the harmonies or chords as a start)
The Fugue in BWV 847 is the next challenge. It’s crafted in three voices, with each needing recognition and not any, falling by the wayside. Some performers like to whiz through it, others linger. I tend to place myself somewhere in the middle.
To parcel out each voice in the very beginning of learning is a must, not to mention the value of selecting a voice and combining it with one other, until you have permuted them in such way that the mosaic is thoroughly understood. Patience, patience and even more are required.
So after all was said and done, here’s what finally rose from the dead and made it to You Tube.
RELATED: Exploring the chordal outline of the Prelude by blocking out harmonies
Claudia, age 11, a piano student, plays the Prelude with me in duet form, 4 hands, two pianos. We’re at practice tempo.
Bach to Nature (Okay, so music historians are now questioning whether J.S. Bach really wrote this, and claim his son, C.P.E. is the true creator)