The Prelude and Fugue in C Major of North German Baroque composer Georg Bohm is one of his most popular pieces. Contrary from the majority of multi-movement Stylus Fantasticus works of Buxtehude, Bruhns, and other composers from this region, it is a true two-movement piece resembling later works by Bach. In this article, I will give you 5 tips which will help you play this piece on the organ.
1. Articulated legato. Apply the articulated legato touch throughout this composition. This touch was also called the Ordinary Touch in the Baroque period. When you use it in your organ playing of Baroque pieces, make short breaks between each note. However, this touch should not make the music sound unconnected. Instead try to achieve a singing manner of playing.
2. Feel the meter. In addition to the articulated legato, feeling of alternation between strong and weak beats is very important. Make the beats 1 and 3 a little stronger while the beats 2 and 4 - weaker. Since dynamics on the organ are not achieved primarily through touch, make the strong beats longer and weak beats - shorter. You can also come in a little late on certain important downbeats to emphasize the meter even more.
3. Count the themes. Before you play the fugue, take a pencil and number the subject entries in each voice. This helps to understand how the piece is put together. You can also notate the main key areas of these subjects. If you want to take this one step further, write in the chordal functions of these keys in relationship with the home key of C Major. For example, C Major would be the Tonic while G Major would be the Dominant.
4. Keep the hands on the knees in pedal solo. As you play the long and exciting opening pedal solo, it is best to keep your hands on the knees. Although there are methods which allow you to hold with the hands on the bench or on the sides of the keyboard, I really suggest that the hands should be placed on the knees.
You see, you have to learn to play the pedals without the help of your hands. When you place them on your knees, your feet alone have to do the job and you will gradually learn how to keep your balance.
5. Change position in pedal solo. This pedal solo runs from the lowest C to the highest D of the pedal board. Therefore, it will be necessary to change your position while you play. If the melody goes upwards, like in the opening two measures, simply push off the pedal with the left foot and shift your lower body to the right. Remember, your upper body should always stay straight and face the music.
Use these tips when you practice Prelude and Fugue in C Major by Georg Bohm today. If you apply them carefully in your playing, you will be able to achieve stylistically correct performance, precision, and clarity.
By the way, do you want to learn my special powerful techniques which help me to master any piece of organ music up to 10 times faster? If so, download my free Organ Practice Guide.
Or if you really want to learn to play any organ composition at sight fluently and without mistakes while working only 15 minutes a day, check out my systematic master course in Organ Sight-Reading.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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