How difficult it is to play works that include frequent leaps, syncopations, and hand divisions?
Today I've been sight-reading No. 6 of 8 Fugues Without Pedals, F. 31 by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784), the eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach. This fugue has 3 voices and is written in E minor (6/8 meter).
The subject of this fugue is rather long (6 measures). The rhythmical unit is eighth-note and the melody consists of several arpeggio figures.
There are total of 6 subject entrances in this fugue:
1. E minor, tonic, the middle voice (1-1-1). Note: since the measures are not numbered in this edition, the first number refers to the page of this fugue, the second - to the system in this page, and the third - to the measure number within this system.
2. B minor, dominant, the top voice (1-2-1).
3. E minor, tonic, the bottom voice (1-3-5).
4. B minor, dominant, the middle voice (1-5-5).
5. A minor, subdominant, the top voice (2-2-3).
6. E minor, tonic, the bottom voice (2-6-5).
For me, the main difficulties were:
1. Remembering to prepare for the 3rd subject entrance in the bottom voice in advance.
2. Deciding which hand has to play the middle voice in certain passages.
3. Playing rhythmically the grace note - it should become a sixteenth-note played on the beat (1-2-6, and also in other places).
4. Making sure that syncopations and tied notes in various voices are rhythmically precise.
5. Playing without hesitations the outer voices in places where there are larger leaps at times.
If you want to play this fugue, click here (pages 10-11). Before playing, make sure you first locate all 6 subject entrances and understand the keys used (tonal plan).
Take a really slow tempo because it will make it easier for you to sight-read fluently and pay attention to the above 5 points because I suspect they might present difficulties to other people as well. Use articulate legato touch except where you see the legato sign. If three-part texture is too difficult for you, play separate voices or two-voice combinations.
Share your playing experience of this colorful fugue in the comments.
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Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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