Above my head while I write
Chords above the staves.
I'm practicing the last section of BWV 572 and wondering if at that fast tempo it's best to just write down the chords above the staves. What do you and Ausra think about that? Thanks again!
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Today's question was send us by Robert. He is practicing Piece d'Orgue BWV 572 by Bach. He writes, "I wonder if in that fast 32nd note tempo it’s best to just write down the chords above the staves. What do you and Ausra think about that? Thanks again."
So, Ausra, I think he struggles with the ending part, right?
Vidas: Très vitement, Gravement, and Lentement. The last one, Lentement. The last part where you have 32nd note passages. And he suggests, maybe would it be helpful to write down the chords above the staves in order to grasp the meaning of the chords and master this passage easier.
Ausra: Yes. That's a good idea, if you know what those chords mean. It depends on how advanced you are in keyboard harmony, because for some people to realize what the written chord is might take longer than actually to read actual music. So, it all depends on that. But you know, if you are advanced with harmony, then yes, go ahead and write the chords down. It might be very helpful.
Vidas: But you have to know the meaning. I remember also, when practicing this piece a number of years ago, you see you have to understand how the chords move in this passage, right? So, not every note in this passage is a chord or a note.
Vidas: I think five notes in the hands, total, and one is in the pedal. So you have to skip, in your mind, every other note, I think. Right? And they then constantly change note by note every half of the measure.
Ausra: Yes. I think, you know, the best way would be probably just to memorize those couple of pages in the last section. This would be the very easiest way to do it. Because, I think when you will be playing in performing tempo, final performance tempo, you will not have time, neither to look at the score, nor to look at the chords. So maybe just follow the pedal part and memorize the hand part.
Vidas: But, this part is not too fast. It should not be very fast.
Ausra: Well, yes, because with 32nds the tempo is not that fast. It's not like Prestissimo, you know, on 32nds.
Vidas: The first part, Très vitement, is very fast.
Vidas: You have to be careful and play with good articulation.
Vidas: Sometimes people miss that by playing everything legato. And the second movement is Gravement, and it's so slow, right? So that everything is, again, legato. And it's a mistake, actually. You have to play all those intricate syncopations and difficult rhythms in the middle voices, as well as in outer voices with good articulation. But in the last part, it's not too fast. So, as Ausra says, slow down and memorize. Memorize one passage at a time, right?
Ausra: Yeah. And I'm still thinking about that middle section, that it shouldn't be so slow, because actually the metre is cut time. So you have to have only one accent, one strong beat per measure. So this will give the feeling of a flow, of a general flow.
Vidas: Exactly. But this is for later stage of practicing. For now, still keep counting in four and practice a little slowler.
Ausra: Yes. Especially that last section. And actually opening section, too, because it's very easy to overwork on those spots if you are playing fast, and then you will never be able to correct them.
Vidas: Yeah. That's a common problem with fast passages. Your fingers can play faster than your ear can grasp the meaning of the passage. Every time you practice, every time you play, you have to hear what you're playing. Listen exactly.
Ausra: Yeah. And in that last section, just listen to all those beautiful dissonant chords. They are so important.
Vidas: Okay. And perhaps, yes, try to write the chords down above the staves. Maybe, write down abbreviations of chords, not entire chord, but the meaning of the chord itself.
Vidas: Right. And that will be helpful, too.
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So, thanks guys. This was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice ...
Ausra: ... miracles happen.