The last from the famous cycle of 8 short preludes and fugues, the prelude and fugue in B flat major, BWV 560 is also one of the easiest to master. Earlier it was attributed to J.S.Bach but currently it is believed to be by someone from the Bach circle, possibly by Johann Ludwig Krebs. Although the prelude has virtuoso pedal solo and the fugue's imitative writing style makes it look technically challenging, it is possible to learn it if you follow these 9 easy steps.
1) Analyze the form of the piece. Look for cadences and modulations in the prelude. Indicate all important key changes on the score. Count the subject entrances in the fugue in each voice and indicate tonal areas of each entrance.
2) Write in fingering. For the best results I recommend you write in fingering in every technically challenging spot of the piece. It is especially important to figure out the fingering in places when one hand has to play two voices.
3) Write in pedaling. Write in each pedal choice for each and every note in the pedal line. Since it is a piece written in the Baroque style, avoid using heels.
4) Figure out the ornamentation. All the short and long trills notated in this piece stylistically have to be played starting from the upper note. Only the mordents have to start from the main note.
5) Articulation. Since it is a piece written in the Baroque period, the basic articulation is articulate legato. This touch means that you should leave small spaces between each note unless indicated otherwise by the composer.
6) Tempo. Because of the joyful character the concert tempo of this piece could be quite fast. Keep the same tempo both in the prelude and in the fugue. Note that practicing tempo should be much slower.
7) Registration. The traditional way of registering a prelude and fugue in the German Baroque style is to use "Organo Pleno" registration or a principal chorus. Note that it is best to practice using only the soft stops, such as 8' and 4' flutes with 16' in the pedals.
8) Practice the piece. For the best results, practice in short fragments and in voice combinations. Try not to advance to the next combination or fragment unless you can to play the current one at least 3 times in a row correctly.
9) Memorize the piece. This is an optional step but I highly recommend it. After memorizing this composition you will have a much deeper understanding of it. In fact, if you truly want to master this piece, you should be able to play it by heart. Refer to the practice instructions in step 8 for memorization as well.
Follow the above 9 steps and start practicing this wonderful composition today. In order to achieve the best results, be precise in each step. You will have to show some patience and perseverance but the results will be well worth your effort.
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