Playing J.S. Bach with an awareness of Harmonic Rhythm

In working through Bach’s two-part Invention No. 13 in A minor, an adult student and I explored harmonic resolutions and their influence on phrasing.


While many pupils expect cadences to be predictable resting points where pianists typically taper a musical line, they soon discover with teacher prompts that in the course of a composition, 7th chords in broken chord sequences, for example, can be sprinkled through a score and require an attentive ear to “resolve” them in random measures or across measures. Dynamic levels may dip at these junctures, but the phrase continues on its journey, needing proper shaping, dictated in part, by HARMONIC RHYTHM, as it flows to various semi- and complete cadences.

J.S. Bach’s A minor Invention, with its preponderance of unraveled chords is the perfect point of departure for this exploration which proved invaluable for mentor and student.


J.S. Bach Invention 13 in A minor


Bach A minor Invention p. 2


Bach A minor Invention p. 3

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: OR or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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