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Translated from the Russian by Henry Orlov Henry Orlov

Edited and Introduced by Julian Martin Julian Martin
This publication has become possible due to a Faina Bryanskaya
generous sponsorship of Faina Bryanskaya


It is far too complicated to ponder here why the movement
toward what is now called 'authentic performance practice' did
not take root until very recently As early as the turn of the
century, there were a few musical societies dedicated to
revitalizing early music. Although we have had access to dozens ForkelGeiringerSpitta Neumann
of distinguished Bach scholars Forkel, Geiringer, Spitta
and Neumann, to name a few, it could be argued that their
research has rarely resulted in altered performance practice.
Bach has endured, as he had since Mendelssohn first
'rediscovered' him, because his genius was strong enough to
survive changing styles and tastes. However, it is not until the
last few decades that we have begun to ask some inevitable and
essential questions. With the recent proliferation of early music
ensembles and the availability of high quality recordings, our
thirst for authenticity and our curiosity continue to grow. This
naturally leads to the question, exactly why are we still studying
Bach at the modern piano? In the last three decades, the number
of recordings and public performances of Bach at the piano has
plummeted. It seems that only Glenn Gould, incidentally an
artist much championed by the author of this book, could
convince the public that the piano was still a viable, even Isaiah Braudo
glorious vehicle for this repertoire.

Isaiah Braudo lived and died in Soviet Russia. Little more than a
decade has passed since Gorbachev's Perestroika, and already,
for those of us peering safely from the land of supermarkets,
Laundromats and drive-ins, memory fades of the days when life
behind the Iron Curtain loomed large, threatening, Kafkaesque.
In a world where only the politically well-placed had any Meanwhile in the West, we had only a
chance at luxury, or even comfort, it is understandable that the miniscule sampling of Russian artists,
arts were guarded with a passion to rival religious fervor. carefully doled out by the Soviet regime and
vigilantly watched by a coterie of KGB agents. Most of us were
hungry to know more about the education that had formed a
Richter, a Gilels, or an Oistrakh. As the cold war drew on, the
flames of our curiosity were fanned by the defections of such
stars as Rostropovich and Nureyev. Still we knew virtually
nothing of the training behind these artists. Perhaps we had good
reason to be fascinated by what was stirring in the musical life Braudo
behind that wall.
The Russian imagination has always held a seductive cachet for
the outside world. Russia's literature, theatre, ballet, and, above
all, its music have always been characterized by a distinctive Isaiah Braudo
color and vibrancy. Even at the earliest levels of music
pedagogy, as demonstrated by the remarkable literature for
children, a high premium is placed on creative vitality and Braudo
imagination. Braudo represents the best of this imagination,
supported by a profound scholarship, and the powerful instincts
of a great teacher. As I became acquainted with Braudo, I was
often reminded of the words of the great Russian pianist/teacher,
Heinrich Neuhaus. Although his words were intended to Braudo
describe his then young pupil, Sviatoslav Richter, those words
could as easily be applied to the talent and vision of Isaiah
Braudo: "like the eagle, he can, at one moment, soar to the
heights, taking in a vast landscape, and at the next, swoop down
to pick up a mouse." Braudo too has this kind of sweeping
vision, yet he can zero in on the minutest of details to illuminate
a point for the willing student.
We must bear in mind that Braudo did not live into the age of
Xerox, much less the era of Internet. In his day it was not
uncommon for Russian conservatory students to copy scores by can't compose, at least copy the scores of
hand. Whether this was necessitated by their late adoption of the masters." While this taxing method
Western technology or whether they were stubbornly clinging to seems an unthinkable burden to us now, it
tradition, we must admit that this painstaking method of study added an important dimension to the learning
was far closer to the experience of a student in Bach's day than process, one we have probably lost forever.
to the experience which we all too often fostered with our We live in an age of microwaveable waffles,
predigested and frequently over-edited texts. One of our western paint-by-number kits, and CD- ROM's that
pedagogues, Artur Schnabel, had offered similar advice: "If you teach us everything from typing and solfege
to the manufacture of Bach Minuets. As we
KGB become more accustomed to the
instantaneous retrieval of information at the
click of a computer mouse, we also tend to
read more and more selectively. Unhappily,
this often means reading only as much as
necessary. For all its magic, modern
technology inexorably stunts our growth,
shrinks our ability to reason, to search out our own solutions,
and, most frightening, to imagine.
As time further removes us from our musical ancestors, there is
a relentless, and perhaps inevitable, watering down of
awareness. In Bach's day the concept of pedagogy was far more
holistic. No one thought of specializing. It was only natural that
learning to perform was inextricably linked to composition and
analysis. Even today, the recipe for any productive lesson should
include a few standard ingredientssolfege, keyboard skills,
analysis, and at least enough awareness of improvisation as to
allow the student to retrace the composer's process.
Unfortunately, in striving to renew and upgrade our teaching
methods, the tendency toward streamlining, time-saving, and
short-cutting can be tempting. We seek out the 'most effective'
(read: 'the quickest route to success,' no matter how one-
dimensional) means of manufacturing progress in our students.
Bach is particularly vulnerable to this formulaic pedagogy .The easy-to-grasp formulas keep every note
challenge of transferring his works to an instrument which did clear, hold to a steady tempo, articulate
not exist in his time naturally fills us with uncertainties. Do we cleanly, don't 'romanticize' (whatever this ill-
need to update him, like Shakespeare, with leather jackets and chosen, usually meaningless term is supposed
motorcycles? Do we brush away the cobwebs and pretend that to conjure).
we know only what we might have known in his lifetime? Given my long-held fascination with, and I
Further complicating matters, one of Bach's greatest strengths must admit, a certain skepticism of things
can be used to work against him; his unfailing mathematical Russian, I was captivated by this text, one of
perfection speaks with such eloquence and immediacy that it Braudo's many documents, in Henry Orlov's
sometimes eclipses other vital aspects of his personal voice. It is brilliant and respectful translation. I was
all too easy to dehumanize him by reducing him to a few reassured and warmed by Braudo's gallant,
lifelong endeavor to bridge the gap between
Bach and the 20th century. His wisdom and
insight have timelessness not unlike Bach's
CD music. Braudo creates a vocabulary which
clarifies structure and vitalizes detail. He
encourages the student to cultivate experience
and taste as a result of his/her own initiative
and creativity. Keeping an eye firmly on the
past for inspiration, and underscoring the
human qualities which survive in this and all
music, he infuses the learning experience
with vibrancy and immediacy. His inventive
pedagogical devices find relevance well
beyond the realm of Bach. Although the
intention of this particular document was to
guide the teaching of Bach in the earlier
years, Braudo's thoughtful definitions,
imaginative descriptions, and solid practical advice can be just
as readily applied to most any composer, of most any time.
Julian Martin

This little book offers the first opportunity to
introduce its author, Isaiah A. Braudo (1896-
1970), to the English-speaking musical
community. Published in Leningrad in 1965
and reprinted in 1979, the book has become
the bible to music school teachers across the
former Soviet Union, and it is still held in
high esteem as an authoritative guide to the
study and performance of keyboard works by
J. S. Bach.
One can hardly expect a casual browser to
comprehend the reverence enjoyed by this
book or to see in it but a tip of an iceberg.
For, behind the detailed analyses, meticulous
, Henry Orlov Braudo technical discussions, and practical
Braudo instructions, there lies a half-century
Braudo experience of an uncommonly versatile
musician, scholar, and teacher to whom
Bach's music had remained a constant
challenge and the fertile ground for ideas and
Braudo To the patrons of concert halls in his
homeland Braudo was first of all a great
Julian Martin organist. From the early 1920's and through
his last years Braudo captivated musical
audiences in many Russian cities by his
strikingly individual, irresistibly convincing
interpretations of Bach's organ compositions.
He was able to expand and use the vast
potential of this instrument because not only
he knew its intricate workings from inside
out, like a professional organ-builder, but also
because he recognized and appreciated the
specific historical origin and unique 'soul' in
each particular organ he happened to
The organ was the first choice of the young musician enrolled in
1914 to Saint Petersburg Conservatory where Ya. Ghandshin, guidance of M. Barinova, and continued these
the Swiss organist and musicologist, a pupil of Max Reger and studies during the next five years with A.
Charles Vidor, became his mentor for a number of years. In his Goldenweiser in Moscow and A. Blumenfeld
insatiable urge to learn more, Braudo later travelled abroad to in Odessa.
Paris in 1924 and to Berlin, Hamburg, and Leipzig in 1926 However, for all his great accomplishments in
where he met and consulted with leading European organists of both fields, Braudo was neither dedicated
the time. exclusively to the organ, nor to the piano or
It may seem strange that this consummate organist devoted harpsichord. Rather he was, like Albert
himself with equally great vigor to mastering the piano, an Schweitzer, primarily a scholar devoted to the
instrument that has nothing in common with the organ except study and interpretation of Bach's musical
the keyboard. From his freshman year at the Conservatory, legacy which inspired and informed his
alongside his organ studies, Braudo took piano lessons under the performance activities. But, unlike
Schweitzer, he was also a born educator.
Braudo's life-long teaching career in his alma
mater started in 1923. During nearly five
Isaiah A. Braudo (1896-1970). 1965 decades he concurrently conducted two
1979 classes organ and piano. These were not
separate but closely connected and mutually
complementary. Almost all of his piano
students dreamed of becoming organ players.
But the lucky ones already accepted to the
organ class were doubly baffled and
disappointed: regardless of their level of
musicianship and specialization, they were
presented with the challenging task of coping
with Bach's Little Preludes and Inventions,
Braudo and had to do this, not at the organ, but at the
20 20 Braudo piano!
The seemingly easy two-voice pieces turned
out to be exceedingly difficult to perform in a
natural and meaningful way. Faced with the
necessity to control the dynamic level,
placement, and quality of each tone relative
to the overall context, the students felt
1914 exposed and awkward, not knowing how to
Ya.GhandshinMax Reger make the performance musically satisfying. It
Charles Vidor Braudo was there that Braudo's ideas about
1924 1926 performance of Bach's keyboard
compositions took root and then, over the
years, were developed, refined, and
Braudo believed that, in performing Bach's
music, no detail, however small, is
unimportant. One of his most difficult requirements was to devices becomes inseparable from
achieve a 'unity of the sound plane' for a particular voice which spontaneity of artistic feeling. But the field to
would set it apart from the other voices. Thus, he expected his which the art of articulation applies is much
students to recreate on the piano the effect easily available on wider. Logical, sensible shaping of structural
the organ and the harpsichord by merely choosing a keyboard units of different magnitudes and hierarchical
and setting a register for each voice. levels, from motif and phrase through
Keeping each voice within its particular 'sound plane' by no composition as a whole, helps to grasp and
means implies that all its tones must be timbrally homogeneous reveal the rhetorical eloquence of Bach's
M.Barinova music.
A.Goldenweiser A.Blumenfeld As the reader of this book will not fail to
Braudo notice, analytical results and suggestions
derived from an objective approach to Bach's
musical texts are least of all dogmatic.
Characteristically, Braudo immediately and
enthusiastically embraced Glenn Gould's
unorthodox interpretations of Bach, was
1923 Braudo fascinated by the vocal rendition of Bach's
instrumental pieces by the Swingle Singers,
and avidly listened to pieces of his favorite
composer in various jazz arrangements.
Braudo's teaching method can be defined as
heuristic. He himself called it 'the method of
variants.' Often, when working in class on the
same piece a week later, he would come up
with a new performance plan and devices
which were quite different from those
developed earlier. At such occasions the
Braudo puzzled students had no choice but to
sacrifice the contentment of the previously
found solution and to work out a new one. As
Braudo repeatedly stressed, 'the very
Braudo expectation of finding the one and only true
rule is harmful. Such expectations make the
student blind to the real diversity of possible
solutions and to the vast possibilities of music
itself.' The 'method of variants', in his view,
helped the learner assimilate and solidify the
entire spectrum of possible interpretations
and dynamically even. A performance of Bach's music is lifeless thus making rational analysis of musical
and mechanical unless every melodic idea is presented logically syntax a springboard for improvisatory
and emphatically, so as to create the impression of an engaging artistic freedom.
utterance, a spoken sentence. This task requires from the student He was well prepared to deal not only with
a total command of the art of articulation. Here matter-of-fact diverse issues of interpreting Bach's musical
analysis of various motivic types and corresponding articulatory ideas but also with psychological and
physiological aspects of playing an instrument. In his early 20's which he called 'the entrance into the stream
Braudo studied mathematical logic at the Odessa University of playing.' His principle idea was to match
the pianist's motions, as formed by the
music's texture, pace, and emotional tonus, to
the natural muscular potentials of the human
body, as it is evident in the act of singing or
speaking. Braudo insisted that the pianist's
hands, arms, and body must 'speak the music'
in order to make it an effective vehicle of
communication. 'The culture of motions
degenerates as the interest to articulation
decreases,' he wrote. 'The art of articulation
was vital to Bach's music, so much so that
Braudo correcting the articulation of an orchestral
Swingle Singers part was to him more important than
correcting the notes.'
Braudo was by no means a secluded cabinet
thinker. His scholarly and artistic explorations
were conducted in constant cooperation with
Braudo younger colleagues. From 1926 he led the
Bach Circle at the Leningrad Institute for the
History of the Arts. Ten years later he
Braudo organized another Bach Circle at the
Leningrad Conservatory, which functioned,
with active participation of several of the
Conservatory professors, until the beginning
of the World War II. After the War Braudo
resumed his educator's mission; during a
dozen years he conducted a weekly seminar
for piano teachers of Leningrad music
Braudo This experience is reflected in a number of
articles, papers, and books written by Braudo
and published either during his life or
A few years earlier, while continuing his musical studies, he posthumously The most important of them is
entered the Moscow State University where, for three years, he the book Articulation subtitled 'On the
studied in the Department of Medicine and participated in Pronunciation of Melody' (Leningrad, 1961,
seminars on philosophy, and Pavlovian physiology, among other 2nd ed. 1973). Here, in a highly systematic
subjects. In his mature years he often shared his ideas with way, the author discusses aspects of
leading Russian physiologists. articulation in different stylistic conditions,
Little wonder that one of his works was directly related to the including works of Mozart, Beethoven,
study of pianists' movements. It centered on a discussion of the
initial movements which establish the logical and emotional
character of the entire act of a particular performance, and




Schumann, and Tchaikovsky, and within the contexts of various

musical forms (fugue, sonata, symphony, etc.). The present book
is a simplified exposition of his main ideas tailored to practical
needs of music school instructions.
Henry Orlov
Braudo's Legacy
Translator's Note
I. Pedagogical Importance of Bach's Keyboard Music
II. Originals and Editions
III. Harpsichord and Clavichord
IV. Dynamics
Melodic Shading
On Playing Simple Iambic and Trochaic Motifs
V Articulation
VI. Tempo
VII. Fingering
VIII. Ways to Studying Polyphonic Compositions
IX. The School Year

The study of Bach's easy keyboard compositions should
constitute an indispensable part of young pianists' learning
process. One can contend without exaggeration that the pieces
from "Little notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach," the small
preludes and fugues, inventions and sinfonias are familiar to
every student of piano. Bach's legacy of instructional keyboard
literature is especially important since it is by no means limited
to small easy pieces. Some large-scale works of Bach also
belong to the body of compositions designed primarily for W.F
didactic purposes.
Obviously, the pedagogical goals of his keyboard pieces
reflected the style of musical life in Bach's time, a time when
playing and studying music in the privacy of the home was
much more common and important than public performances.
At times instructional ideas happened to become a source of
inspiration for some of Bach's greatest creations. In fact, the
notebooks he compiled for Anna Magdalena Bach and Wilhelm
Friedemann Bach include French Suites and Partitas, along with
short dance-like pieces. Fifteen two-part Inventions and fifteen
Sinfonias were written with pedagogical aims in mind as well.
Here are Bach's own words from the title page of the Inventions
with which he described their high educational goals: he
characterized the collection as "a thorough guide which shows
to keyboard lovers, and especially to those eager to learn, a clear
way to cleanly execute two voices but, and with further
perfection, to perform correctly three obligatory voices as well, I, II, III, IV
while learning at the same time the art not only of good
invention but also of correct development, and, most
importantly, to acquire a songlike manner of playing and a taste B
for composition."
During Bach's lifetime four didactic collections were Variations.
published under the title Klavieriibung numbered I, II, III, and Especially interesting are the contents of
IV. Klavieriibung III. It contains Preludium and
Klavieriibung I includes six Partitas; Klavieriibung II, Italian triple Fugue in E-flat major for organ, choral
Concerto and Partita in B minor; Klavieriibung IV, Goldberg transcriptions for organ, and four Duos for
I harpsichord.
As one can see, the choice of different
instruments (harpsichord, on the one hand, organ, on the other)
in no way hindered the didactic goals common to these pieces.
Finally, the two most famous collections point to certain
instructional ideas by their very titles: in "Das Wohltemperierte
Klavier" Bach illustrates the advantages of equal temperament
by including preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor
keys, and "Kunst der Fuge" is presented as a practical treatise on
the art of fugue rather than a mere collection of polyphonic
The instructional goals so clearly evident even in Bach's II
largest works are addressed directly in the pieces that comprise
the classroom repertory proper. These should not be viewed as
simple pieces intended for performance in public by unskilled
beginners. They aim much higher, namely, at turning a student
into a musician.
Issues related to the performance of Bach's keyboard
compositions deserve special attention, considering the
tremendous amount of time and effort they require from
students and teachers. To grasp the historical peculiarities of this
body of composition is particularly difficult. One issue concerns <>
the text from which the student has to proceed. The other is
related to the characteristics of the 18th century keyboard
instruments for which these compositions were written. 48
When studying any of Bach's keyboard works, one becomes
aware of a nearly total absence of performance-related remarks "Das Wohltemperierte Klavier" (hereafter,
and directions. In the area of dynamics, only three indications W.K.), the signs f and p are used only once, in
are used, namely, forte, piano, and rarely pianissimo. Nowhere the G-sharp Minor Prelude (W.K. II).
shall we find remarks such as crescendo, diminuendo, mp, ff, <, Equally rare are tempo indications. Bach
>, or accents. In the Italian Concerto and Chromatic Fantasia never notated accelerando, stringendo, piu
and Fugue there are only the general indications forte and piano; mosso, rallentando, ritenuto, meno mosso,
and, of all the 48 preludes and fugues in the two-volume and the like. Tempo indications are to be
found only in the beginning of each of the
E-flat movements of the instrumental concertos.
Here Bach apparently followed the practice
established by the great Italian concerto
composers (Vivaldi, Corelli and others). In
his preludes and fugues, the initial tempo
indications, as a rule, are absent. Of the 48
Das preludes and fugues in W.K., the tempo is
Wohltemperierte Klavier 24 prescribed solely in the Prelude and Fugue in
Kunst der Fuge B minor (W.K. I): the former reads 'Andante/
and the latter, 'Largo.' Important tempo changes are marked D B E
more often yet also in rather rare instances. One finds such F A B-flat
markings in the Preludes C minor and E minor (W.K. I) and C-
sharp major (W.K. II), even though the initial tempos of these .
pieces are not defined.
As to articulation signs, their use by Bach varies greatly. F
Some of his works are entirely free of such signs, while in F
others (Brandenburg Concertos, Mass in B minor, St. Matthew
Passion), articulation and accentuation details are meticulously
spelled out.
In the majority of his keyboard compositions such signs are
absent, the exceptions being the Fugues in D minor and B minor
in W.K. I, as well as the Prelude and Fugue in E minor, the
Fugues in F major, A minor, and B-flat major in W.K. II.
There are absolutely no performance-related indications in the they offer little practical help to the young
easy keyboard pieces of Bach's repertory for young pianists. Of learner.
all the short dance pieces in "Little Notebook of Anna One should keep in mind that the copious
Magdalena Bach," there is only one authentic slur, that is, in the performance-related remarks (slurs,
F major Minuet: 1 (It is noteworthy that Bach's editors do not dynamics, etc.) often contained in a musical
always pay due respect even to this rarest authentic detail.) Of text offered to the student, usually come from
the 30 inventions and sinfonias only the Sinfonia in F minor editors rather from Bach himself. Obviously,
contains two slurs. whatever respect and interest a particular
What follows from these observations is that rare edition can arouse, it cannot be considered
performance-related indications in Bach's manuscripts demand authoritative, since alongside it, there exist
full attention as an invaluable source for clarifying issues of other editions which are not only different,
authentic performance of old music. However, as such, but which sometimes even contradict one
f p G-sharp another.
What, then, should we believe in when
working on early keyboard music? What text
should we give to the student? Here we face
considerable and specific difficulties to which
we must neither close our eyes nor try to
48 B evade by taking any text with Bach's name on
AndanteLargo it for Gospel truth.
C From the very beginning we have to
E C-sharp separate two aspects: 1) the author's musical
text and 2) performance-related remarks
added by various editors. And it is the
author's text that has to be treated as the
starting point for the study of Bach's
B keyboard compositions.
The author's text can be approached in two
ways. Along with editions designed to help
the performer by supplying additional
indications, there are publications aimed at faithful reproduction
of the composer's authentic texts. However, the original can be
derived from any sensible performance-oriented text: it emerges
if we ignore all, or nearly all, the dynamic, tempo, and And the student must feel free to question
articulation indications. The few dissimilarities between the the editor's advice, to come up with ideas of
texts so purified are mostly those between the originals chosen his or her own, and to discuss them with the
by the editors. Such deviations, which may be of interest to an teacher.
historian, again, have no practical bearing on the classroom Teaching the student to uncover an original
studies. Bach's text behind an editor's additions is a
The editors' suggestions added to the original text deserve task of great educational value. Inability to
attention, for these are the first helpers in the student's work. make such distinction leads to serious
They not only hint at certain ways to perform a given piece but misunderstandings:
sometimes also help to grasp its character and musical meaning. 1) If, during the many years of studying
Yet these suggestions must remain just thatsuggestions which music, the student remains unaware of certain
are not to be believed in or followed unconditionally. The features in Bach's original texts (for instance,
teacher, on his part, too may have and can offer to the student the absence of dynamic signs), he or she will
different ideas concerning performance and interpretation. never comprehend what makes them different
from musical texts of the 19th-century
composers and, as a consequence, will not
understand the true spirit of Bach's music.
2) As we shall see later, the very scarcity of
dynamic signs in Bach's originals responds to
certain technical properties of the musical
instruments (harpsichord, clavichord, organ)
for which he composed. Unless the student
becomes aware of this hidden connection,
basic features of the 18th century keyboard
literature will escape his or her
1 2 comprehension.
3) Being unable to distinguish between the
author's and the editor's texts, the student is
incapable of following the thought process of
an editor who proceeded from the original
and, in an attempt to assist and guide the
performer, added certain performance-related
directions. The student trying to read the
editor's mind can better understand the
stylistic features and logic of the Bach's
original, which his additions were meant to
make explicit.
The ability to distinguish between the
author's and the editor's texts is the first step
on the road to independent thinking.
Certainly, the development of the ability to
make sense of, and interpret, the author's text is one of the most true that the beginner still unfamiliar with the
difficult, remote and time-consuming pedagogical goals. Even if notes and keys can be taught to grasp a
this task can never be fully accomplished, it will continue to melody, a mode, a question-answer two-bar
serve the student at every stage of his musical development. pattern, and to recognize them? Since, over
There is a profound truth in the these words of Heinrich the years of study, the teacher and the student
Neuhaus: 'Only by striving ... for the impossible does one meet hundreds of times, even a casual remark
attain ... all that is possible.' dropped in the course of a lesson can light a
Music teachers frequently express doubts as to whether a spark of curiosity about the text written by
the composer's hand many decades ago, as
well as the editor's contribution to it, and
encourage the student to venture his or her
own interpretation of the music.
When and to what extent the student's
initiative should be given free reign is also a
1 matter of the teacher's tactful decisions.
19 Premature uninformed 'initiative' is false and
can be harmful. True initiative develops from
thorough analysis and clear comprehension. It
is not something auxiliary to the learning
2 process but its integral complement. It is
present from the very beginning in pupils
18 who exhibit intellectual curiosity, interest in
music, and persistence.

cognitive task so advanced and difficult should be put before
youngsters who continue to struggle with the rudiments of
music. Is it at all possible to explain the meaning of an author's
text to a student who is still unsure about identifying the notes in
the treble clef? Here much depends on the teacher's tact. Isn't it
this instrument. However, since it is sensitive
to the quality of touch, a melody can be
enriched with certain flexibility of the tones
and even with vibrato.
As distinct from the clavichord's soulful,
intimate tone, the harpsichord's sound is
resonant and bright. Pressing one key,
depending on the player's choice, activates
from one to four strings. The typical
instrument of Bach's time had two keyboards
the lower one (indicated: manual I) and
the upper one (indicated: manual II). The
keyboards ranged from G to d3. Later, the
range was extended to f3 and g3. However, in
reality, the tone range is much wider.
The harpsichord has several sets of strings.
The set whose pitches correspond to the
written notes (as in example 2a) is defined as
the 8-foot register, or 8'. The set that sounds
an octave higher (2b) is the 4-foot register, or
4'. And the set that sounds an octave below
the written notes (2c) is the 16-foot register,
or 16'.
Overall, the harpsichord has four sets of
strings, i.e., four registers, which are
distributed among the two manuals in the
following way: manual I has one 8-foot and
one 16-foot register; manual II one 8-foot
and one 16-foot register. The player can
switch each or all of the registers on or off by
means of special levers. Furthermore, the
HARPSICHORD AND CLAVICHORD player can couple the manuals so that when a
The second difficulty encountered in Bach's keyboard key is pressed on one manual then the
compositions is the fact that they were by no means intended for respective key on
the forte-piano.
They were written for the instruments that in the 18th century
bore the generic name 'clavier,' and a piece written for any
keyboard instrument was classified as 'clavier piece'. Of the
three main keyboard instruments of the time (harpsichord,
clavichord, and organ) we shall discuss performance issues 18 clavier
related to the first two.
Clavichord is a small instrument with a correspondingly soft clavier piece
tone. Pressing a key makes only one string produce a sound.
Strong variations in volume and sharp contrasts are foreign to
In order to make the music sound imposing
and bright, all four registers may be turned on
and the manuals coupled:
The initial tutti of the Italian Concerto
will, in this case, sound as follows:

G d3 f3 g3

2a 8 8'
2b 4 4'
2c 16 16'

I 8 16 8

the other manual is also lowered producing an additional tone an
octave higher or lower. When all four registers are switched on
and the manuals are coupled, then in response to each key
pressed on manual I, four strings will sound. The total sound
becomes widespread and enriched with upper and lower octave
To complete the description of the harpsichord's sound
resources, one should mention the device called 'Laute' (lute).
Moving a special lever dampens the strings of the chosen 8 C
register making the sound softer and shorter, more like the lute
Below are some brief examples which illustrate the effects of
a harpsichord's registration. 4
When the beginning of the Little Prelude in C major is played
with only the 8-foot register, the sound will correspond to the 16
written pitches:

If only the 4-foot register is used then the same measures will
sound an octave higher:
With the 16-foot register it will sound an octave below the
dominates, it must blend with the upper voice
in a restrained and not excessively bright
sound. The Prelude can be 'orchestrated' thus:
the left hand plays on manual I with one 8-
foot register, and the right on manual II, also
with one 8-foot register, muted by employing
the Laute register. The resulting dynamics
will be: 13 II (81 Laute)

By changing manuals and registers, different colors can be
applied to different parts of a piece. For instance, in the first
movement of the Italian Concerto, after the initial tutti (bars 1- tutti
29) in bar 30, Bach prescribes forte in the right hand and piano 16 8 4
in the left:
This forte, unlike the tutti, is usually played without the 16- 8
foot register. The right hand now plays on the manual II which
uses two registers (8' + 4') (forte), while the left hand plays on D
the manual I with only the 8-foot register switched on (piano).
The resulting sound is this: 21
In the Little Prelude in D Major, the following distribution of 37
manuals would be quite consistent with Bach's spirit. It begins 40
with a full sound of the manual I (forte). From measure 21 (the
second section) both hands play on the manual II (piano). In bar
37 the right hand returns to the manual I, followed in bar 40 (on
the last eighth) by the left hand (forte):

Below are but a few examples illustrating the possible ways
of playing, on the harpsichord, pieces in which two voices have ..
different functions (i.e., melody and accompaniment). In such G
cases it is reasonable to make use of both manuals. 8
In the G Major Minuet from "Little Notebook of Anna 8
Magdalena Bach," to bring out the right-hand part without mf
resorting to octave doublings, the two manuals, each using one p
8-foot register, should be coupled. Then two 8-foot registers will
respond to manual I and only one to manual II. The right hand C
will sound vtf, and the left p:

In the Little Prelude in C Minor the melodic idea appears in
the lower voice. However, the pensive, contemplating mood of 8
the piece would be compromised by an overly contrasting 8
coloration of the two voices. Even though the lower voice

It is necessary to mention a particular implementation of the 4- 4
foot register. In the 17th and 18th centuries the 4-foot register
was employed, not only in addition to the basic 8-foot register to ..
achieve upper octave doublings, but also independently, and as a Bagpipe II -4'
result, the music sounded an octave higher than notated. Such I-8'
use of the 4-foot register was not always indicated by the text.
The contemporary performer may see an octave transposition as
an improper liberty, but in Bach's time in certain cases
(depending on the specific characteristics of a particular
instrument, the acoustics of the room, etc.) a performer did not
hesitate to give preference to, and freely employ the 4-foot
register. This can be especially effective in fast and lively as
well as song-like pieces. For instance, it is quite appropriate to 1.
perform the Bagpipe from "Little Notebook of Anna Magdalena 2.
Bach" by playing with the right hand II-4', and with the left 3.
hand I-8', in which case the music will sound as follows:
To summarize this brief discourse of the harpsichord's sound
resources, the use of the manuals and registers makes it possible

1. to vary the character of a musical piece,
2. to provide various sections within a piece with different
coloration, and
3. to provide different coloration to the two voices of a two-
part piece (or to the two groups of voices in a multipart
The resulting diversity of sound can emphasize the music's
character as well as clarify its structure. It must be pointed out,
however, that manuals and registers were never switched in the
middle of a melody, for rather than increasing its flexibility and
expressiveness, this would tear it rudely into artificially
separated fragments.
On the harpsichord melodic flexibility is achieved, not by
means of dynamics, but by two other features that make not by the soft hammer head (as on the
harpsichord playing particularly impressive, namely, by means piano). The string is not struck, but plucked
of rhythm and articulation. by the wedge which conveys the pressure
On the harpsichord, rhythm plays an especially important role exerted by the player's finger on the key
due to certain technical properties of the instrument. The sound directly to the string. The plucked string
of the harpsichord string is caused by the little hard wedge, sounds sharp and clear, and this provides a
4 17 18 4 graphic clarity to the rhythmic outline in a
8 series of tones.
4 The role of articulation in playing the
harpsichord is difficult to exaggerate, since this instrument does
not have the right pedal of the piano which allows to blend,
prolong, or dampen the complex sound summarily. On the
harpsichord, on the contrary, connecting and detaching the tones
in each voice individually must be achieved only by proper
actions of the player's fingers on the keys.
Turning to the issue of performing harpsichord pieces on the
modern piano, we shall begin with the use of dynamics which
must receive entirely different treatment on these two

Having compared the dynamic resources of
the fortepiano, on the one hand, and of the
harpsichord and clavichord, on the other, we
can summarize:
1) The fortepiano has neither registers to
change nor two manuals that permit octave
doublings and contrasts of sound on the
harpsichord, nor the expressive vibrato of the
2) Instead, the fortepiano offers a much
wider dynamic range, and, furthermore, it
affords the performer an extremely fine and
flexible control over the volume and sound
coloration inaccessible to either harpsichord
or clavichord.
How, then, are Bach's pieces for
harpsichord or clavichord to be played on the
contemporary piano? How should we use its
rich dynamic capabilities unknown to
performers in the 18th century? Ignoring
these possibilities is out of the question. A
remarkable property of the piano lies in its openness to music of
very different historical periods and styles. Mastering the piano
means, among other things, developing the ability to employ
those of its resources which are appropriate to the given musical
style. And one of the necessary areas for such development is
the study of Bach's clavier works.
It should be made clear from the very outset that the goal here
is not to mimic the sound of the old instruments, but to find the
dynamic means by which Bach's clavier pieces can receive a
true and meaningful realization.
On the harpsichord the volume of a given note does not
depend on how the key is pressed. The harpsichordist cannot
control the sound's qualities while playing; the desired register
has to be set up prior to the performance. The pianist, on the 'auditory picture' of the piece can be called
other hand, has no levers to pull or push before playing a piece; 'piano orchestration.'
instead he must imagine, in advance, the desired dynamic plan, Sometimes due to accidental
the coloration and shading, and then to create them during the circumstances, technical or psychological,
course of performance. pieces very different in character are played
Therefore the teacher's first task is to develop in the student within the same gamut of sound qualities.
the ability to produce tones of certain qualities called for in the Most often this happens when the student
given piece. The ability to make logical and consistent choices pays too much attention to so-called dynamic
and, following a chosen dynamic plan, to present an organized markings, executing them in an exaggerated,
IV random or forced manner. The usual result
then is a monotonous patchwork of dynamic
fortepiano contrasts indiscriminately applied to pieces
very different in character.
1fortepiano To help the student in developing an
individual dynamic and coloristic plan
revealing the unique character of a piece, the
2fortepiano teacher should appeal to the student's
imagination. For instance, the majestic,
festive Little Prelude in C major can be
likened to a short orchestral overture
punctuated by trumpets and timpani. The
18 contemplative Little Prelude in E minor can
be interpreted as if it were a piece for a small
chamber ensemble with oboe solo and
accompanying strings.
The next step in developing the skill of
piano orchestration is the exercise in
juxtaposing elements of different volumes
and qualities. The student should understand
that dynamic and coloristic variations are
highly effective means of setting sections of a
piece apart one from the other. However, juxtapositions of
different dynamic levels will sound crude if the pupil's attention
is focused only on the prescribed contrasts and disregards the
context of the piece as a whole. In order to sound natural,
dynamic shading and coloring must be felt as subtle nuances On the contrary, we expect the dynamics,
within the range of a well-chosen overall tone color of the piece. within the boundaries of the chosen particular
In developing sensitivity to the piano's coloristic possibilities, gamut of sound qualities, to be as flexible and
it is extremely important to practice playing two voices of a expressive as the melody itself.
piece in contrasting orchestration. In the simplest case, each of Thus, dynamics serves two different ends.
the voices should retain its particular color and character On one level, it is used to endow the melody
throughout. Such exercises are absolutely indispensable in with a certain orchestral color; this function
mastering the piano's dynamic capabilities, particularly in the can be defined as orchestral shading. On the
polyphonic styles. other level, it serves to enhance flexibility
Although neither on the harpsichord nor on the piano can the and expressiveness of melodic material, and
orchestration be changed from one motif to the next, this is not to reinforce its logically correct presentation;
to say that the melody is confined to a constant dynamic level. this function can be called melodic shading.
The piano cannot compete with the
harpsichord in creating juxtapositions of
distinctly contrasting sound planes, but it by
far surpasses its old predecessor in the
capacity to animate the sound with endlessly
changing, flexible dynamics.
Melodic shading is, by definition, different
from orchestral shading. It is more detailed,
since it accompanies all the turns, crests and
C troughs of the melody, and often very
delicate, since it must remain within the range
of the overall tonal palette. Unlike orchestral
shading, which well may be indicated in the
text, melodic shading is difficult if not
impossible to indicate by written remarks.
Obviously, it has to be discussed and
developed at the keyboard with the aid of the
teacher rather than the editor.

Melodic shading
Dynamic nuances necessarily associated
with melody are too manifold and varied to
be listed and described. One can single out
only some issues frequently encountered in
pedagogical practice. The first of them
concerns the interpretation of dance-like
melodies; another, the execution of
polyphonic imitations; the third, the treatment
of iambic and trochaic motifs; and the last, with inflections student play at two pianos: the first 4-bar unit,
which define the direction and perspective of an unfolding the 'question/ is played by the teacher; the
melody. student 'answers' with the second four bars;
In the G major Minuet from "Little Notebook of Anna the same goes for the third and the fourth 4-
Magdalena Bach," the right hand plays the melody throughout, bar units. The teacher and the student then
accompanied by the bass in the left. Naturally, the melody must exchange places. Now the student 'asks
sound bright and clear, and the bass line lighter and softer. This, questions' and the teacher 'gives answers.' In
however, does not mean that the entire melody should be played this exercise the student learns not only to
at a constant dynamic level. To make it meaningful and play a little louder or a little softer, but also to
expressive, one has to recognize the 'question-answer' relations 'ask questions' and to 'answer' on the piano.
When offered to play the entire Minuet by
himself, the student must experiment. The
'questions' could be demanding and strong
while the 'answers' timid and soft, or vice
versa. It should be left to the student to decide
which of the versions is preferable as the one
which endows the dialogue with the
particular desired character and meaning.
Unlike orchestration shading which have to
be clearly set apart one from the other,
melodic shading is to be perceived as subtle
changes of motivic expression rather than
changes in the sound volume. The teacher
should not be afraid of the difficulties
involved because the all-important goal,
development of the student's ability to 'speak'
on the piano, is by no means beyond reach.
The exercise described above can apply to
all musical contexts where melodic
expression is confined to 2- or 4-bar units.
Another example is the Polonaise from the
French Suite in E major:
By succeeding in such relatively easy tasks
the student gains experience which will
subsequently help him or her in much more
complex situations.
The above discussion was intended to
..G demonstrate how the requisite control of the
piano's tonal palette is challenged by the
necessity of dynamic nuances called forth to
shape an expressive melodic line. However, a
4 - challenge of another kind comes from certain
between its 4-bar units: structural features of polyphonic composition
This relationship can be better understood if the teacher and itself, first of all, from the imitation.
loudness. The same effect can be achieved by
Imitation giving to the important voice a sound
Often the question is asked: 'When playing one of Bach's different, even if less sonorous, from that of
the surrounding voices.
This is particularly true in regard to the
4 bass voice. Softly played, the bass is often
perceived more distinctly against the ringing
upper voices than if it were played at the
same dynamic level and drowned in a loud
monotony. If, in the Polonaise from the
French Suite in E major, the right hand plays
energetically and with expression, and the
left, unaffected by the melodic shadings,
plays evenly at the pianissimo level, then the
bass line becomes more conspicuous and the
entire texture more transparent.
Now what about imitations? Must they be
emphasized dynamically? There can be no
simple or unambiguous answer to this
question. Marking imitations is not the most
effective device determining the performance
2 4 dynamics. There are other substantial
requirements which overshadow the issue of
imitation, one being the principle of
polyphonic orchestration.
An imitation is a reappearance of the same
melody in a different voice. Therefore, the
first condition for the very possibility of
imitation is the presence of at least two
voices, this being most evident when the
voices are performed by two different
instruments or by two singers. In such cases
each performer creates a real, distinctly
characteristic melodic line unified by the
singer's breath or the violinist's bow
polyphonic pieces on the piano, should one emphasize the movements.
imitations so plentiful in them?' Or, more specifically, 'In To achieve a similar effect on the piano is
playing a Bach fugue, should one emphasize its subject every much harder. The pianist presses a certain
time it enters?' number of keys simultaneously and in
First, let us consider what the words 'to emphasize,' 'to succession producing a number of tones that
underscore,' 'to show' in regard to a motif can imply .Certainly, belong to both voices. And it would be wrong
in a polyphonic piece the imitations or, for that matter, the to believe that this sum total of
subject of a fugue must always be heard distinctly. Yet this does
not mean that all such instances necessarily involve increased
melody threatens to break up its unity and to
erase contrast between the voices since, in
each of them, the main motif receives the
same emphasis.
Dutiful marking of every imitation throws
the very existence of two voices into doubt
and leaves the impression of one motif
aimlessly wandering over the keyboard.
There is another reason to avoid dynamic
stressing of imitations. Often, as the second
voice enters with the subject, the first voice
E continues with a counterpoint which is an
organic extension of the subject and, as such,
must be kept within the same dynamic range.
In this instance a loud entrance of the second
voice also breaks up the musical unity
For example, in the Little Prelude in C
major (example 17) an overly emphasized
imitation in bar 4 would destroy the contour
of the upper voice which rises in the initial
three bars, culminates on e, and then descends
in resolute iambic motifs:
In the initial two bars of the Invention in C
Major (example ), it is important to preserve
a) the unity of the melodic line in bar 1, b) the
dynamic unity of the upper voice in both bars,
and 3) the 'question-answer' relationship
tones would, by itself, create the effect of two real voices. No between them. It is reasonable, therefore, to
matter how poorly or how well the notes are played, the treat the upper voice as dominating and
critically important and most difficult skill is the ability to create
an impression of two separate, individual voices conversing
with one another.
For this effort to succeed, the pianist must
1) provide the tones of each part with a sense of unity within
the range of melodic nuances required by it, and
2) establish a certain audible difference in character and color 1
between the parts, which is most helpful in creating the
impression of two coexisting voices. 2
It is necessary to recognize that there exists a fundamental
contradiction between orchestration of the voices and marking
(emphasizing) imitations by dynamic means. Orchestration
implies unity of character and distinct coloring of each of the
voices, whereas dynamic emphasis on the imitated part of a

1) Often the character of a piece is
determined by a motifs alternating between
the voices. This device is a key to the playful,
light, humorous character of the Invention in
F Major and the Prelude in E Major
(examples 20 a, b):
(zhong) The study of these pieces should begin
with a clear-cut marking of the imitated
motifs. Having done this, the student will be
better prepared to perceive the dialogue
between voices as well as the unity of the
C e main motif (the eights) and its continuation
(the sixteenths).
2) The marking of a motif now in one then
in another voice is quite justified within 3- or
C 1 1 4-part compact chordal progressions which
23 defeat attempts to separate the voices by
different orchestration. This enriches melodic
content of the sound texture and underscores
dynamically conspicuous. This would in no way obliterate the the logic of voice leading connecting
imitations in the lower voice, even if they were to be played
with a lighter sound:
With the right hand playing the principal melody, and the
supporting voice in the left hand imitating its fragment (usually,
the beginning), overstressing of the imitation would
compromise the orchestration plane of that melody. This could E
happen, for instance, in the Little E minor Prelude:

Similarly unnecessary it is to mark the left-hand sixteenths in

the Little Prelude in F Major (cf. further, example 32). Here, F
too, it is desirable to sustain a distance between the orchestration 32
planes of the right and left hands. A clean voice leading will
make the dialogue of fanfares between them clearly heard, 4
while, at the same time, maintaining the integrity of the 4-bar
Finally, in certain cases the marking of imitation becomes
impossible. A case in point is stretti in which a thematic element stretti
appears in voices entering in close succession. Here it becomes
imperative to sustain the integrity of the polyphonic texture in
its totality.
However, there are other circumstances in which emphasizing
imitations should be encouraged.
The last two examples certainly lie outside
1 F the grasp of an average school pupil for
E whom working on 2-part pieces will suffice
for developing the skill of consistent voice
coloring and differentiation. As the student's
polyphonic repertory grows in complexity,
the teacher's instructions should become ever
more sparse. The student must increasingly
2 rely on his own

the chords.
To sum up, there is no universally correct answer to the
question concerning the treatment of imitations. The very
expectation of finding the one and only true rule is, in fact,
harmful. Such expectations make the student blind to the real
diversity of possible solutions and to the vast possibilities of ##
music itself.
In most of the above examples we have focused on
differentiation of two voices by means of orchestration. With a
greater ciple becomes impractical. However, the experience 5 B-flat
gained in mastering 2-part pieces can be applied to working on 21
pieces with more voices.
In the exposition of the 5-part B-flat minor Fugue, W.K. I
(example 21), there is no need to mark-off the entrance of each 2 3
of the voices. It is far more important to establish a certain order 4 5
in their orchestration. It seems advisable to play the second
(alto) voice with a firm tone which will provide clarity to the 2-
and then 3-part structure. Later on, as the voice flows into the 4-
and 5-part texture, it will not be lost, providing that the pianist E-flat
maintains in it the initial firm tone up to the cadence (in the
relative major) at the end of exposition:
In the exposition of the Fugue in E-flat Minor (W.K. I), the
marking of the middle voice, the first to enter, is also desirable.
Here, too, this will help coordinate the orchestration and create
an audible axis of the entire structure:
Emphasizing a voice does not necessarily make it the most
prominent. This separates it from the other voices rather than
overshadows them. At the same time, by sustaining its
characteristic tone and coloring, the emphasized voice cements
the unity and serves as a reference point for the surrounding
voices thus facilitating a clearer perception of the whole.

imagination, sensitivity of the ear, and previous experience.

Lacking initiative and asking for specific instructions, a poorly
prepared student provokes the teacher into giving shaky,
tentative, often casual advice which a good teacher should resist.
To give concrete instructions in simple cases is wiser than to
offer hesitant suggestions in complex ones. Anyway, to take up
Bach fugues and sinfonias without prior thorough studies of
inventions and little preludes is definitely not recommended.

On playing simple iambic and trochaic motifs
Bach's music overflows with such motifs and, by dynamic
means, the pianist can highlight a motif's important elements, C
soften others, thereby giving it a shape and clarity of a
meaningful statement.
Let us start with the iambic motif. It goes without saying that
the most natural way of playing it is by stressing the strong beat
to which the motif is directed. This most common understanding
is far from being complete. Along with the strong beat, an
iambic motif contains another important element, namely, its
beginning, and stressing it sometimes adds to the motif's
integrity. In the Invention in C Major we see in the upper voice a
succession of the main motif's inversions. Must we, for the sake
of clarity, separate the motifs by inserting breaks between them, 24
as shown in the following example
No doubt, such punctuation would sound forced and
unnatural. The problem can be solved without exaggerated
ceasuras, merely by marking the first tone of each motif. This
device leaves no place for formal execution. Nothing is easier
than, by casual accentuation, to turn the weak sixteenths into
strong ones and thus to throw the entire section into complete
confusion. The sixteenths indicated in the example 24 should E
not be merely accented, but presented as the initial tones of the in E Major, the first eighths of the trochaic
up-beat motifs. To facilitate such solution, certain editors motifs (cf. example 16, the last two bars in
suggest a special fingering which assigns the thumb to the the first line) must be energetically accented
motifs' starting tones: and the weak beats that follow 'hide in their
25 shadows/ as it were. In addition to this
Dynamics can sometimes assist in the articulation of trochaic dynamic feature, the strong eighths should be
motifs as well. For instance, in the Polonaise of the French Suite played tenuto and the weak ones
In Bach clavier compositions we often see
a stream of sixteenths which, at the first
glance, appear to be an unpunctuated passage. But by careful
listening we discover in such a passage a hidden motivic
structure, more precisely, a chain of motifs which a simple
dynamic device helps to reveal.
It is obvious that the following fragment of the Little Prelude D
in D Minor falls into groups of two motifs, each consisting of
three sixteenths joined by the iambic pattern. This structure
becomes apparent if the iambic segment (including the
downbeat) is highlighted while the trochaic segment (two
sixteenths following the strong beat) is played with a lighter
sound. The student can be given a simple instruction: "All the
passage must sound forte, except the two sixteenths which
should be played piano."
The passages from the Prelude in D Major (W.K. I) shown
below consist of motifs directed alternatively upward and
downward. This motivic structure can be clarified in two ways.
The first solution would involve stressing the initial tones of the
upward (even) motifs:
The second solution would introduce a dynamic contrast
between the motifs by making the upward ones louder, and the
downward ones soften.
The ways of accenting motifs described here are excellent C E
tools for the development of a keener sense of hearing,
attentiveness to detail, and inner discipline. Sometimes they from the Little Prelude in C Minor and the
transcend the mere practical purposes of the teaching studio and Allemande of the E Major French Suite:
can be applied in concert performance. However, once these The last area to be touched upon here is the
devices has been mastered by the student and ingrained in his role dynamics can play in outlining not only
musical mind, he should beware of turning them into a rote the contour of a rising or descending motif,
habit and using them indiscriminately. but also the general direction of a melodic
It is quite appropriate to mention also the role dynamics can process. In such application it combines both
play in bringing out a two-voice idea hidden in an ornamental melodic and orchestration functions:
texture as can be seen, for instance, in the following excerpts In the Example 30, the crests of the
16 melodic waves (each one bar in length)
outline a hidden melodic voice (marked with
slurs) as well as the overall ascending
stepwise motion. The dynamics
corresponding to this design should also be
two-pronged: it must emphasize the crests
and, at the same time, underline their
succession as the general direction of the
D melody.
The shading related to the motion of a
melody can be classified as melodic shading.
However, in order to understand their nature
better we must trace it back to the harpsichord and its specific
sound properties. This instrument does not allow the performer
to choose or change melodic shading at will. Instead it is
characterized by a robust, sonorous gamut extending from
majestic, lucid basses towards an increasingly light, sparkling
upper range. Thus, as the tones rise through the entire span of
the keyboard, their coloring imperceptibly yet continuously
changes. The interdepedence of pitch and color automatically
defines the timbral and dynamic shading of any melodic passage
played on the harpsichord.
With the piano, the situation is quite different. One of its most
powerful properties is precisely the possibility of controlling
volume and color. It is this new property which makes playing
the piano uniquely difficult, creates specific problems, and acquire the skills indispensable for
requires of young pianists the development of particular skills. achieving flexibility, definition and unity of
One such skill is the ability to sustain, in all dynamic variations, sound.
the unity of a tone-color assigned to a melody, and at the same The purpose of the preceding discussion
time to underline the direction of melodic motion by means of has been to draw a distinction between
dynamics. melodic and orchestration shadings. Here we
This challenging task alone explains why the study of the touch upon a profound dilemma of musical
clavier literature has become inseparable from the young performance which is, ultimately, the
pianist's learning process. The mastering of Bach's clavier realization of a preconceived plan versus
compositions is so important because it helps the student to spontaneity of improvisation, the intellectual
versus emotional powers of the pianist. In the
classroom such issues can hardly be
addressed directly, yet they are almost
impossible to ignore or to avoid. The
teacher's task is to find simple, concrete and
manageable paths to the acquisition of these
30 complex skills. The occasional advice and
devices offered here are intended not so much
as hard and fast rules, but rather as points of
departure in the development of the sensitive
and discriminating musical ear.

In Bach's clavier compositions performed
on the harpsichord, the dynamic features are
predetermined by the instrument's properties.
It is only natural that the most heated disputes
concerning performance of those
compositions on the piano are centered
precisely on the dynamics. In musical
practice the dynamics is often exaggerated, monotonous in its
excessive emotionality, and devoid of discipline.
In the area of articulation, however, the picture is different.
Here the technical properties of the harpsichord as well as other This implies that the keyboard player has to
keyboard instruments of the period clavichord and organ be in command of appropriate manual skills,
limit the performer's choices. None of the three instruments has and able to control actions and interactions of
the capacity of the piano's right pedal to extend the sound long each and all of his fingers.
after the finger is taken off a key. Unlike the piano, the sound of However, the importance of articulation in
the harpsichord, the clavichord, and the organ lasts only as long the art of clavier playing stems not only from
as the finger holds the key down. This alone explains the crucial the technical properties of the instruments,
importance of joining or separating the tones with the player's but also from the prominent role of
hands and fingers. Unlike the right pedal of the piano which articulation in Bach's music in general. Here
joins or separates the totality of sound, the old keyboard are some general remarks.
instruments require that joining or separating be performed Inspecting the originals of Bach's
separately and independently in each voice. compositions the cantatas, orchestral
suites, and concertos we find in a majority
of them, including in the orchestral parts, a
multitude of signs concerning various modes
of tone production. Sometimes Bach handed
over parts for copying which he did not have
the time to check and correct. Nonetheless,
they are rich in performance-related
If articulation is so important in Bach's
music, why then in some of his scores are
such indications completely lacking?
Hypothetically, articulation signs appear
mainly in the works that were to be
performed under someone else's direction.
Otherwise, when performing unmarked texts
and entire compositions, Bach himself
instructed the performers orally.
Obviously, this by no means implies that
such compositions can be played casually or
at will. Whether indicated or not, sensible and
proper articulation in performing Bach's
music remains vitally important. The only
difference is that, when an unmarked text is
the case, it is the musician, and not the
composer, who determines how the music is
to be articulated. Such is the general situation
with Bach's clavier works.
In order to prove the necessity of
interpreting an unmarked text, let us compare
a violinist's and a pianist's approaches to the same piece. The contrary, teachers and scholars alike have
violinist would tend to play detache until a slur appears which until recently all but ignored the issues of
makes him switch to legato. Conversely, a pianist would play articulation. That could be partially explained
the text legato until he comes across a sign requiring a non by a wrong, though not always conscious,
legato or staccato. Both practices are wrong. Instead of belief in universal applicability of the
thoughtlessly and routinely executing the plain text they should Romantic pianistic style, notwithstanding
attempt to understand its latent meaning and to grasp the music created in a decisively different
composer's idea. environment than that of the 17th-18th
Different branches of musical pedagogy stand in sharp centuries.
contrast in the degree of attention given to articulation. Hardly A much-debated issue in piano pedagogy
poses the dilemma: should preference be
given to connected or disconnected tone
production? Some musicians insist that in
Bach's polyphony it is imperative to preserve
melodic integrity in each voice, and therefore
legato must be the preferred way. Others,
referring to the name and authority of Busoni,
believe that Bach's clavier compositions
require detached tone production, i.e., non
legato. These views are often expressed most
categorically and vie for dominance in
pedagogical practice.
It is noteworthy that until the 1950's the
majority of pianists and piano teachers
practiced and preached legato; they felt
uneasy about performances of Bach's clavier
concertos by certain pianists who widely used
non legato. In the 50's, however, the attitude
changed drastically, and now the pianists
(particularly the younger ones) fascinated by
playing non legato are no rarity. Many of
them are convinced that all old music must be
performed with detached stroke. Sometimes
entire compositions consisting of several
movements very different in character are
played with one type of stroke which levels
off all melodic expression.
Obviously, it is pointless to argue whether
legato or non legato must prevail in Bach's
music. Both attitudes are lopsided and
therefore false. They are as fatuous as a
Hardly anyone doubts its importance in violin literature; here, conviction would have been that students
from the beginning, bow movements and strokes form an must be taught to play either forte or piano, or
essential part of the teaching process. In piano pedagogy, on the to concentrate either on allegro or on adagio.
The art of articulation requires both connected and detached harpsichord literature, the genres of dance
tone production, the perfecting and artful combination of both. suite, toccata, and concerto developed
The history of clavier music and performance is full of alongside polyphonic genres which
theories concerning connected and detached manners of playing culminated in Bach's sinfonias and fugues.
The authors of the 18th century treatises
often insisted on the importance of detached
playing. What they implied, however, was not
staccato as we understand it now but clarity
17 18 of each separate tone which was to render the
music texture lucid and transparent. This
device should by no means be seen as
obligatory or preferable, for Bach promoted
also its opposite, cantabile, seeing in the
development of the cantabile playing skills
one of the main pedagogical goals of his
inventions and sinfonias.
In any case, it would be pedagogically
impracticable to give preference to one
1950 manner of playing over the other. Both have
to be worked on, and the best way to start is
50 to practice 2-part pieces by articulating each
voice differently. Most suitable for this
purpose are the Sinfonia in A Minor, the
Allemande from the French Suite No 6, the
Little Preludes in F Major and in D Major
(see examples 31 a, b, c, d). In these
examples the lower voice plays staccato, and
the upper voice legato:
One faces a slightly more difficult but
essentially similar task in the beginning of the
Little Prelude in F Major where the left hand
has to play staccato two-note groups rather
than a string of single notes. And since, in this
piece, the legato sixteenths and the staccato
and their proper areas of application. In the treatise by eighths often exchange places, each hand is
Girolamo Diruta "II Transilvano" (1593) they are associated given an opportunity to practice legato and
with two different instruments, the organ and harpsichord non legato in its turn:
respectively, and with two different types of compositions, legate
dance-like and polyphonic.
However, the two manners and two musical genres had Girolamo Diruta Transilvano1593
peacefully co-existed within the literature for either instrument.
In the organ literature, the legato style, which originated in
choral polyphony (fugue), did not interfere with its opposite,
non legato tendency of keyboard virtuosity (toccata). In the
reference which otherwise would help the
student to hear and sustain a true staccato in
the left hand. These articulation devices
should be worked on and practiced not
mechanically but under control of the alert
and vigilant ear. In playing pieces with mixed
18 articulation, the student must hear, instead of
one tone-color, a lively combination of two or
more tone-colors, i.e., orchestration planes.
As the student progresses in mastering
contrasting strokes, the task before him grows
still more complex. Going beyond clearly
distinct legato and staccato, one must practice
juxtapositions of two different varieties of
non legato one more detached (the right
hand) and the other less detached, as it is
A implied in the following example from the
F D Choral Prelude in G Major:
Finally, even more difficult tasks will
become manageable, requiring one hand to
play staccato, while the other to alternate
F between legato and staccato in the groups of
sixteenths, as in the Allemande from the
French Suite No 6:
The last three examples call for
considerable skills which have to be
developed gradually, starting with the simple
juxtaposition staccato - legato , then
Another example of the same nature is the following fragment proceeding to staccato - non troppo legato,
of a fugue by Handel (see also examples 20 a, b): and so on.
An excerpt from a 3-part fugue in E Major (W.K. I) is more
complex (example 34); here the left hand plays two voices, one
legato, the other staccato. Pieces of this complexity should not 20ab
be studied at the early stages of learning, but they show what E
necessary skills a young student must strive to achieve. 34
When working on the above examples, one must keep in
mind the following: staccato in the lower voice will become
crisp and expressive only if the student hears it against the
background of tightly connected tones of the upper voice. It is at
this point that a typical pedagogical mistake is made: the
attention is focused on the left hand alone which actually learns
to play staccato while the right hand plays haphazardly, with no
sensible articulation.
The lack of character in the upper voice takes away a point of
The examples given so far illustrate the
articulation devices that define a tone-color of
a voice in its entirety and, in this respect, play
a role similar to orchestration shading. But
articulation should also serve to facilitate
sensitive and intelligent presentation of
melodic ideas. One of these issues, which
concerns punctuation of adjacent motifs, I
shall call intermotivic articulation. Another,
which deals with distinct delivery of a motif
itself, is to be defined as intramotivic
G 1. The main device for separating two
motifs is caesura. To introduce a caesura is
the same as to take a 'breath' between them.
The most obvious instance is a caesura
indicated by the composer with a rest before a
- motif, as in the B-flat Minor Prelude (W.K.
-non troppo legato I):

The degree of detachment between the tones cannot be
classified in any definite way. The ear must decide it in each
particular context. Yet it is possible to describe a few types of 1.
staccato worth practicing.
1. On the piano, light, short staccato frequently used in the
bass helps to soften the heaviness of the register, to make the
polyphonic texture more transparent, and to add clarity to the
voice next to the bass. By virtue of contrast with the light bass
line, the upper legato lines appear more extended and closer 2.
connected. D F
2. Sharp, energetic staccato is appropriate in joyful, festive E F
pieces (the March in D Major, the Little Prelude in F Major), as
well as in lively imitations (the Little Prelude in E Major, the 3. non legato
Invention in F Major). C
3. A more prolonged stroke, often indicated as non legato, is
appropriate in pieces similar to the pensive Little Prelude in C
Minor (example 37) in which the eighths in the left hand should
be played as if they were the sixteenths separated by the 4.
sixteenths rests: .M.
4. Finally, non legato is sometimes played with barely G
noticeable separation between longest possible tones. An
example is the Polonaise in G Minor from "Little Notebook of
Anna Magdalena Bach."
various means: a rest, a vertical or a double
intermotivic slanted line, the end of a slur, or a staccato
intramotivic mark at the note preceding it. The last three
features can be conveniently illustrated by the
following fragment of the lower voice in the
1. Invention in C Major.
Let us now turn to issues of intramotivic
articulation. First of

In the absence of such indications, it is up to the performer to
find proper points for logical caesuras. Here help can be found
in a good edition, yet, in order to make use of the editor's C
suggestions, one must be able to understand the melodic a1 a2
structure and its inner logic. b1 b2
In the opening two bars of the Invention in C Major, the rest
in the lower voice divides the two appearances of the main motif
(a1 and a2). In the upper voice in place of respective rests we C
find the motifs b1 and b2, which logically calls for caesuras
before and after each of these two motifs:
In the Little Prelude in C Major, a better understanding of the
motivic structure can be achieved by placing caesuras before the
second eighths in each bar (see example 17). However, after the C
student has recognized the role of these caesuras, they should be 51
'erased. Often the task can be made simpler by the use of a
fingering which by itself forces the creation of a caesura (see,
for instance, the fingering in the right hand in the Invention in C
Major, example 51). C
A caesura properly placed not only clarifies the structure of
motifs and phrases but sometimes punctuates entire sections of a
piece as well. Such is the caesura in the upper voice in the
conclusion of the first section of the Sinfonia in C Major:
There can be no general rule as to how a caesura should be
performed. The performer must decide about its length in each
particular instance. It is worth mentioning, however, that the
note immediately preceding a caesura should not be played with
sharp staccato (a mistake young students regularly make). Often
(especially in Bach's music) it is preferable to play this note
tenuto in which case the caesura introduces a short break in the
sound texture. With attention and practice the student learns
both to sustain the last tone of a melodic phrase and to take a intermotivic
short breath before the next one.
In the above examples, intermotivic caesuras are indicated by
First of all, the student must be able to identify different types of
motifs, at least the two main types: G
1. iambic motifs, often called 'up-beat motifs/ that start from a G B-flat
weak beat and end on a strong one, and
2. trochaic motifs, often called 'down-beat motifs/ that start
from a strong beat and end on a weak one.
In playing iambic motifs, much attention must be given to the
mastering of detached articulation. The following excerpts from
the Concerto for clavier in G Minor, the Fugue in G Minor C-sharp E
(W.K. II), and the Prelude from Partita in B-flat Major help to
grasp the main idea:
Here the up-beat tones are played staccato, whereas the
central strong tones of the motifs are fully sustained. Such C
articulation provides energy and clarity. Many of the themes in
Bach's fugues acquire a sharp relief when their up-beat tones are .M.
played staccato as, for instance, in the Fugues in C-sharp Major a b
and in E Major (W.K. I):
If a iambic motif consists of several tones, in certain cases, all
of them should be played in a detached manner (as in the
Sinfonia in C Major):
In the March from "Little Notebook of Anna Magdalena
Bach," two groups of iambic motifs {a and b) appear in the left
and right hands alternatively. It seems sensible to heighten the E-flat
contrast between them by applying two different varieties of non
48 F
However important, staccato is by no means the only way to E .M.
play up-beat tones. Along with detached articulation, in many F-sharp
contexts iambic motifs require legato (as in the Trio-sonata in E-
flat Major):
The typical trochaic motif begins with a strong beat and ends
on a weak one. (See example 48, excerpts from the Prelude in F
Minor W.K. II, the Fugue from Partita in E Minor, pieces from Sometimes in a three-note motif an iambic
"Little Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach," and the Fugue in beginning staccato is combined with a slurred
F-sharp Minor W.K. II). One should not fail to notice that what trochaic ending:
these examples illustrate are not isolated trochaic motifs but In the Polonaise in G Minor the fingering
trochaic endings of more complex motifs, or trochaic inserts in a itself determines the trochaic groupings of the
melodic line. parallel thirds:
The difficulties of mastering all the diverse
articulation devices should not be
1. overestimated. As practice shows, the student
who has learnt to play legato well is already prepared to take on
staccato. And the one who has mastered staccatissimo will
encounter little difficulties in making non legato notes more
extended. The way to success is making the student to listen
actively and critically to the outcome of his or her articulating
actions and to realize the expressive value of the way the finger
releases the key.

Whatever musical text we deal with, the
performance-related indications to be found
in it are neither comprehensive nor related to
all aspects of the piece. Subtle gradations of
tempo and volume which are necessary in a
decent performance can in no way be
precisely notated.
The degree of the 'indeterminate' varies
from one historical period to the next.
G However, no matter how wide the scope of
divergent interpretations of a piece, in a
majority of cases the limits of acceptable
character and tempo variations are reasonably
clear. It is obvious that the first movement of
Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata cannot be
anything but calm and contemplative, and the
third movement, violent and impetuous. No
performer would decide to reverse their
characters and tempos.
With performance of early music in general and Bach's in
particular, the situation is very different. Paradoxically, one and
the same piece is sometimes treated by different performers and
editors in diametrically opposite ways. Such discrepancies can
only be explained by taking into account a number of different
1. The perception of music, which many believe to be
immediate, is, in fact, guided by numerous conditions. Much 2.
depends on one's knowledge of music in general and of the
given piece in particular, on the ability to identify and grasp the
meaning of musical elements, genres and forms, the properties
of particular trends, schools, and personal styles in composition books, editions, recordings, and live
and in performance, the features and use of various instruments. performances. Each of these sources presents
Such diverse knowledge, experience, and hearing skills are a particular idiosyncratic view on the music
essential in understanding and appreciation of early music. in question.
Thus, the first source of false impressions and mistaken Plunging into this sea of interpretations
interpretations is usually ignorance about the musical and only deepens the musician's bewilderment.
cultural environment in which that music was created. Clearly, if every performer of early music is
2. Even more often than by ignorance, false concepts are affected in very different ways by his period,
prompted by a wrong approach in familiarizing oneself with school, style, or individual predilections, then
music of the past centuries. In most cases, the musician wishing it would be futile to look for ready recipes.
to gain greater knowledge of early music turns to respective Today's musician would do better to search
for his own solution to every problem.
This is not to say that the vast experience
accumulated by generations of musicians and
scholars should be ignored. One must know
the main stages of the historical process,
works of Czerny and Btilow, the great
interpreters of Bach's legacy in the Romantic
era, the edition of "Wohltemperierte Klavier"
prepared by Busoni, the first anti-Romantic
proponent of Bach, and to compare his ideas
born in the early 20th Century with those of
subsequent decades. Neither Romantic nor
anti-Romantic trend in interpreting Bach's
music is solid, and the knowledge of each in
its diversity should warn the musician against
taking sides.
Beside the subjective factors, there is an
important objective reason that makes the
1. multitude of interpretations unavoidable.
It lies in a basic difference between
musical practices of the 19th- 20th centuries
and of the 16th-18th centuries. In those
remote periods the notation of musical pieces was by far less
complete and detailed than in the last 200 years. The paucity of which the keyboard player had to
such notations not only allowed but forced musicians to improvise on a basis of little numbers,
interpret, fill in, define, and embellishto re-create the written showing the intervalic structure of the desired
skeleton of the piece, to bring it to life. harmonies, stacked under the notes of the
In the 16th-17th centuries, polyphonic compositions were bass line.
often notated without bar lines, and performers could interpret The lack of definition and scarcity of detail
their rhythm structures differently. The composers gave rather in early scores should by no means be seen as
indefinite indications, or none at all, as to what instruments they a deficiency On the contrary, this gave the
had in mind. Moreover, whether certain parts were to be played musician the freedom to choose whatever
or sung was often open to the performer's conjecture. means he had at his disposal to realizate the
Compositions of the so-called Generalbass (or figured bass) era vast potential hidden in a sketchy notation.
(17th-18th cc.) implied a harmonic accompaniment (on the This applies to Bach's works as well. The
harpsichord, the organ, the lute) very nature of his musical subjects is such
that they allow different realizations in terms
of sound production, tone-color, articulation,
etc. Indeed, on what instrument was the
"Wohltemperierte Klavier" supposed to be
played? For what instrument were "Kunst der
Fuge" or "Musikalisches Opfer" composed?
Even if a work was explicitly designed for the
organ, the organist still had to decide what
manuals and registers to use. His instrument
Btilow could be a small one-manual three-register
organ in a room or a gigantic organ with five
20 manuals and 120 registers installed in the loft
of a great cathedral.
No doubt, Bach anticipated that his works
would be performed on different instruments
and under different conditions, and it is for
this reason that he endowed his ideas with
potentials for different realizations. Along
16-18 19-20 with a wide variety of sound properties,
volumes, and timbres, they also allow a
variety of tempos.
Pedagogical goals of Bach's clavier
compositions further encourage such
variations. A beginner, an advanced student,
1617 and an accomplished pianist would play an
invention (say, the Invention in F major) in
very different tempos which would not affect
17-18 the structure of the piece. The inevitable
question 'what tempo would best fit its
character?' affords no single or simple
answer. most useful to the student, that is, in which he
Naturally, a young student, learning the text and trying to performs the given piece best. It would be
grasp the idea of an invention, a little prelude, or a minuet from wrong to see the slow, 'learning' tempo only
"Little Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach," plays them at a as a preparation for ever faster playing. Its
calm unhurried pace. It allows him to listen into the details, to real importance, however, lies deeper: slow
develop a clear idea of the piece's structure, and it helps the tempo opens the way to a thorough
teacher to pinpoint particular problems to be worked on in the comprehension and assimilation of a piece.
Hasty attempts to play faster are harmful in
many respects. They imply that the progress
consists merely of gradual increase in speed,
and thus obliterate the pedagogical purpose of
slow tempo, the most important aspect of
studyan ever deepening grasp of the music,
of its character, structure, and logic.
Restrained tempos are important at all
stages of learning. They are highly conducive
to keeping the beats of the meter clear and
stable, to clear understanding of the melodic
material, and to treating passages and
120 ornaments as melodic phrases. It helps the
learner to imagine the themes as they could
be sung, and actually to sing or hum them.
Sometimes a fast-playing student cannot
perform the same piece at a slow pace.
Sometimes he can play both fast and slow but
experiences difficulties with a 'middle' tempo.
This is usually a sign that the work on the
piece is not complete, and that, due to an
insufficient knowledge of the piece, the
F student is unable to keep his mechanical
playing habits under control.
Learning a piece and working on it should
progress gradually through the entire range of
appropriate tempos, without sudden jumps

.M. from slow to fast, always checked by the ear

which must remain alert and vigilant at all
times. Then the playing will gain speed, as if
months and years to come. After this preliminary work has been by itself, often as a surprise to both student
done, however, the stubborn question returns: what is the true and teacher.
tempo for the piece? Slow tempos are not entirely free of
It is important to remember that Bach wrote the easy clavier hazards. Slow playing can become a senseless
pieces for teaching purposes, not for concert performances. monotonous process of producing notes from
Therefore the 'true' tempo for an invention, a little prelude, a the score, which has no pedagogical value
minuet, or a march is the tempo which at the given moment is and nothing in
rhythms in suites and partitas should be
considered the permanent and most important
objectives of work on Bach's clavier

Let us return to the hypothetical example
with the Invention in F major played by three
pianists from 8 to 30 years of age. Regardless
of the obvious differences in tempos and
characters, the basic structural elements of the
piece will be identical in all three
performances. The eighths in the main motif
are played detache throughout. Its imitations
always begin on the second eighth of the bar.
Unlike the main motif (example 54 a), the
sixteenths in the counterpoint (54 b) are
played legato or, at any rate, closer connected
than the tones in the main motif. In the bars
21-23 in the right hand (and in the bars 24-25,
in the left hand) a hidden melodic line is
unveiled lightly and transparently. The
energetic character of two endingsof the I
part of the Invention (in C major) and of the
entire piece (in F major)is enhanced by the
strongly punctuated up-beat motifs (bars 9,10
and 31,32, respectively) and by staccato of
the eighths (bars 11 and 33). All these
features are totally independent of the tempos
and tone-colors each of the players may
common with music. Playing slowly is only justified if it helps happen to choose.
the student to learn the piece in all its detail, to feel its meaning Understandably, when working with a
and appreciate its beauty, to sharpen his musical instincts, and to student, a thoughtful teacher, taking into
bring him a degree of artistic satisfaction. Endless repetition of a account the student's abilities and music
bad performance never results in a good one.
Now, having recognized the absence of concrete directions
and faced with vast possibilities in the choice of tone-colors and
tempos, are we not at risk of losing ourselves in a sea of the
indeterminate? By no means! By studying a work by Bach, the
performer uncovers many objective features that dictate certain
responses on his part. Such features are rooted in Bach's musical
language itselfrich, diverse, strictly logical. Comprehending
its grammar, learning to pronounce Bach's subjects correctly, to
build a balanced exposition of a fugue, to interpret dance-like
harpsichord players, by choirs and chamber
orchestras in oratorios, cantatas, and
instrumental concertos, rather than on famous
piano performances.
Experience shows that students and mature
musicians alike often tend to play Bach's
Allegros too fast, and Adagios too slow. One
*** has to remember that Adagio should not be
8 30 F artificially stretched out and that whatever the
tempo, it must sustain the feeling of motion.
On the other hand, in Bach's time Allegros
54a were not as rash and impetuous as some
54b contemporary pianists make them sound.
21-23 24-25 Usually, an Allegro sounds rash and fitful
C because some beat in the meter slips out of
F performer's attention and passes unnoticed.
910 3132 Often, when the defect is spotted, and the
11 33 student's attention is directed to all the beats,
the playing becomes insuperably sluggish.
This only shows that in many cases the urge
to play fast goes hand in hand with rhythmic
lassitude and with the inability to maintain an
internal feeling of the rhythmic pulse. As for
skills, will try to outline for him a general character of the piece, listlessness in slow tempos, the usual
to find its natural pace and the range of appropriate tempos.
Examples set by great performers and experts of early music can
offer some useful hints and ideas, yet they should not be seen as
models to be followed or imitated.
We can deeply appreciate the way Egon Petri, Busoni's
student, played Bach, as well as Busoni's editions of Bach's Egon Petri
works which reflect his profound understanding of melodic
structures, insightful articulation, dynamic plans, and fingering.
But no student should be advised to imitate Petri's unusually fast
tempi. Similarly, the tempi are exceedingly fast in Glenn Petri Glenn Gould
Gould's truly amazing interpretations of Bach's works, as well as Samuel Feinberg
in all the 48 preludes and fugues of W.K. I and II recorded by Maria
Samuel Feinberg. In my view, the best balanced tempi in the Yudina
performances of Bach's clavier works are those established by
Maria Yudina, precisely because she interprets them not as a
virtuoso but as a musician in possession of a profound
knowledge and penetrating understanding of early music to
which her phenomenal piano technique was put to service.
In search of true tempos in Bach's music, one should focus
attention on the ways it is performed by organists and
tempos and characters, the student will be
hopelessly lost. What they fail to understand
is that 'wandering' in search of the true tempo
Allegros and character of a piece represents an
Adagio Adagio important and indispensable part of the
Allegros learning process. Without such wandering,
Allegro being guided by a single word, it is nearly
impossible to discover the music's true spirit.
3.In my opinion, the most useful way is to
bypass both

cause is that the student, being too preoccupied with observing Allegro
all the beats of the meter, fails to embrace the whole of a
melodic line behind the beats.
Punctuating beats in Allegro and consolidating melodic flow Adagio
in Adagio are not the ultimate goal. The former is but a phase in
achieving natural, effortless motion; the latter should not be
pursued at the expense of metric awareness, highly important in
playing the ornaments so plentiful in Bach's Adagios and which
often include groups of sixteenths, thirty-secondths and sixty-
The last issue to be considered here is the three accepted ways 1
of denoting tempo and character in music: 2
1) commonly used Italian terms, 3
2) descriptions in the local language, and 1.
3) metronomic indications.
1. As mentioned earlier, Bach's clavier works, as a rule,
contain no tempo-related indications. Therefore it seems
inappropriate to describe their tempos with Italian terms which
have been developed later, in the Classic and Romantic eras, and 2.
are essentially foreign to Bach's music.
2. In recent editions of Bach's clavier pieces there has
developed a tendency toward using, in place of standard tempo gailymajesticallyexpressivesong-
indications, descriptions in the local language, such as 'gaily,' likeenergetically
'majestically/ 'expressive/ 'song-like,' 'energetically,' etc. These
can be helpful during piano lessons. Some of them are lucky
findings of an editor. However, by claiming to define the music's
contents, such descriptions often suggest the false and
dangerous idea that the character of a piece can be embraced
with a single word, and lure the student away from listening
into, and getting a deeper feel of the music itself. Partisans of
verbal descriptions argue that, without the hints at desirable

both Italian tempo terms and verbal character descriptions, and
to indicate the area of desirable tempo for the given piece by the
Whether the student and teacher accept one edition over the
other or disagree with them all, the metronomic indication can
serve as the reference point in their search. And by comparing
the tempos prescribed by different editors they will continue to
experiment with greater confidence.
The metronome allows the student to compare his tentative
tempo with those recommended by different editors, to check its
constancy over an entire piece or within its parts. This is not to
imply that the student should be permitted to play the whole VII
piece with the metronome; such practice can do more harm than
good. However, inability to obey the metronome, to coordinate
one's playing with its clicks, reveals a serious defect which has
to be corrected and ultimately eliminated.

Fingering is one more feature almost entirely missing from 1
Bach's manuscripts. The fingering one sees in printed scores
usually belongs to their editors. It deserves attention and has to
be obeyed by the student who is supposed to know how to read 2
and understand it. This, however, represents but the initial step Reson Echo
after which it is necessary to decide: 50ab
1) to what motif or phrase the given fingering is related, and
whether it is aimed at highlighting a detail of articulation or
2) whether it is possible to find such free movements of the
hand without which the fingering becomes awkward and
uneasy; the piece 'Echo' by Reson can illustrate this point
(examples 50a, b):
Along with the ability to read and apply fingering, the student condition for this exercise to be successful is
must be taught to work out and write down his own fingering. a thorough and thoughtful study of the piece
The best way to do this is to supply him with a blank score, if at the piano. It will inevitably lead to
such can be found, or to instruct him to disregard the fingering observations, discoveries, and the emergence
present in one. Or else, the teacher can suggest that the student of further problems. The deeper the student
review critically and revise an editor's fingering. A crucial comprehends the piece, the more effective his
choice of fingering becomes, and the more
naturally the music flows. Thus, the fingering exercises and
experiments constitute an important, integral element in the C
process of mastering a piece.
In works for clavier of the 17th and early 18th centuries, the 42 c
fingering is sometimes characterized by certain peculiarities.
One of them is playing scale-like passages without participation
of the thumb; for instance, the fingering in an ascending passage
could be 3, 4, 3, 4, and in a descending one 3, 2, 3, 2.12 As a A
result, the playing acquires greater flexibility, and even
contemporary pianists have not neglected the device.
Special attention should be given to fingering which by itself
forces a particular phrasing. An example the beginning of the
Invention in C Major:
In the example 42 (from the same piece), the motif c is
shaped not by a caesura but by a slight accent placed on its
opening tone, which can be achieved by assigning to the first
tone of each motif the heaviest finger, the thumb.
In the following excerpts from the Prelude from the English
Suite in A Minor, the fingering is also aimed at clarifying
motivic structure of the ornamental passages:
In working out a fingering of a compact 3-part polyphonic
texture, the first thought should be given to the middle voice.
Since the upper voice is played with the right hand and the
lower one by the left, the middle voice in most cases is divided one of the three following ways:
between them, and this should be done so as to ensure that each 1) by switching fingers on the key which
hand can perform smoothly the 2-voice fragment given to it. makes a perfect legato possible;
In a 4-part polyphony the situation is different. The voices can 2) by playing one voice legato and the
be distributed in such a way that one hand plays one voice and other staccato. For instance, playing an
the other the remaining three, or each hand plays two voices. In ascending line in the right hand with the
the first case it may be difficult to connect 3-voice chords with fingering 3! \ \ \ or \ 52 \ 52 would allow to
one hand. However, even in the second case coping with two connect the tones of the upper voice.
voices with one hand is not always easy. The simplest example 3) both voices are played non legato; this
is a string of parallel sixths which can be performed in often makes a string of sixths sound smoother
than do difficult and often futile attempts to
connect the tones.
The latter can be applied to 4-, 5-, and 6-
voice textures as well. Here, too, a free and
even non legato often produces fluency which
is nearly impossible to achieve by attempts at
17 18 playing legato. However, the piano has a
device that permits motions, adjustments, and
3434 3232.12 position changes of a free hand without
breaking the continuity of sound: the right
On the harpsichord, the player's actions aimed at linking
multivoice complexes, whatever they may be, do not affect the
character of the sound which is determined by the chosen
register and therefore remains constant. The piano, on the
contrary, is highly sensitive to the touch, and the same efforts
would destroy the easy flow and homogeneity of sound. By
assisting the hands in such efforts, the right pedal becomes, in a
sense, an extension, an augmentation of fingering, a
'superstructure' which presupposes the presence of necessary
manual skills. Therefore it makes sense to study 2- and 3-voice
polyphonic pieces without the pedal.
Later, having achieved a degree of manual dexterity, the WAYS TO STUDYING POLYPHONIC
student may be invited to use the pedal. As to 4-voice pieces, COMPOSITIONS
however, learning them without the pedal would be In a majority of Bach's polyphonic works,
counterproductive. the main musical idea appears at the very
beginning, in the first bar or few initial bars.
Since the entire piece consists of
development of this idea, its demands special
attention and the most thorough study. The
student must work out and polish the
presentation of the main subject at its
introduction so as to be able to cope with
1 problems and difficulties that arise in its
subsequent development.
2 This means that the initial assignment
13/14/13/14 14/15/14/15 given to the student should not include the
whole piece, not even a half of it, but be
3 limited to the main musical idea stated in the
few opening bars. The assignment should
stand until it is fulfilled to the teacher's
satisfaction. This may take several lessons but
the time and effort spent will eventually pay
off: in working with the student on the entire
piece, the teacher would not have to face the
sad necessity time and again to point at, and
correct flaws in the treatment of the musical
idea in its further development.
"The one who is unable clearly and with
full immersion to perform the theme of a
fugue is no organist/' These words of the great
French organist Charles Vidor are widely
accepted in the community of organ players.
No less important these words are to anyone
playing a Bach clavier fugue, be it a pupil or an accomplished
musician. relationship between the two appearances of
The work on a fugue must begin with a thorough study of its the subject. Unless this relationship is
subject, and can continue only after it has been understood in all recognized and expressed in the beginning,
detail, fully absorbed by the student and has become, as it were, all that follows fatally degenerates into
his own statement. A fugue is nothing but an evolving of its monotonous re-statements of the same theme.
subject, and the student has to learn about, and be able to The dialogues between the voices, which give
identify, at least the main devices and features of this process. a fugue meaning and character, are ignored.
Of course, he is aware that the second voice enters with 'the The student will grasp the question-answer
same' theme previously introduced with the first voice, that is, relationship more readily if he is asked to
'imitates' it. Very often, however, imitations are treated formally, sing the subject at its first and then second
as literal repetitions. Even though the melodic contour and the appearances, or to play alternatively the one
rhythm in proposta and risposta, the proposition and response, and sing the other, or to play them in a
may be identical or similar, what usually escapes the student's dialogue with the teacher.
attention is the expressive value of the question-answer The next step is playing a two-voice texture
and getting acquainted with the phenomenon
of countersubject. Here two items should be
brought to the student's attention:
1) the transition from the subject to the
countersubject in the first voice, and
2) the interplay between the subject in the
second voice and the countersubject in the
first one.
Sometimes the main technical problem of
performing a fugue lies in the absence of an
organization that would integrate the subject
with its continuation, the countersubject. If
the transition from the subject to
countersubject lacks unity, the performance
of an entire fugue is disorganized. The
Invention in F Major can serve as an
Charles Vidor Until the motifs a and b are linked together
so naturally as to be played through in a
steady tempo, and the b is undisturbed by the
second voice entering with c, any further
work on the piece is useless. To understand
and control the structure of the subject, the
relationships of proposition and response, of
subject and counter-subject, of response and
countersubjectsuch are the primary
problems which must be solved before the
work on a fugue continues. Once this difficult
stage is passed, the entire exposition of a
fugue will be grasped and absorbed much more easily. This the main motif's direct and inverted versions,
preliminary experience helps the student to achieve the and its intelligent performance is hardly
desirable: to present an exposition as a rounded paragraph of possible without a clear awareness of their
speech. interplay. In the bars 3-4 and then 5-6,
After the above experiments on flexible melodic correlations, juxtapositions of the theme, in direct and
along with an analysis of the fingering and structural aspects of inverted forms, appear twice. And if the
a polyphonic piece (or even before it), the habitual student recognizes and brings out the
'demonstrations' of the theme cease to sound like a series of loud vividness of those dialogues at their initial
appearances, then he will easily handle the
similar developments in the rest of the piece.
The previous discussion by no means
implies that grasping and assimilating
structures of a fugue or an invention must
always be learned in a succession of slow
steps. The progress depends greatly on the
student's musical instincts, power of
observation, and intellectual capacity. The
1 teacher's instructions and hints which may
accompany it are but signposts on the main
2 route leading to gradual accumulation of
experience and knowledge by active and
creative listening.
F There are no general prescriptions as to
how to listen to polyphonic textures of Bach's
a b sinfonias and fugues. In the end, the decisive
b c role here belongs to thorough and methodical
preparation by working on pieces from "Little
Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach" and on
little preludes and inventions. These easy
pieces are invaluable in acquiring an
understanding of Bach's motivic and melodic
structures, in developing rhythmic calm and
stability essential for perceptive self-
controlled performance, and in getting a taste
for orchestration on the piano which is related
to performing imitations in many ways.
shouts and turn into a flow of expressive intonations. Nonetheless, a few devices commonly used
The need to grasp and control the question-answer in teaching of a fugue or a sinfonia can be
relationships discussed earlier is no less important in regard to recommended.
dialogues between themes (and motifs) and their inversions. The 1. In a three-part piece, the upper, middle,
following fragment of the Invention in C Major can thus be and lower voices
treated as an appealing dispute between two voices uncertain as are highlighted in turn.
to which version of the motif, direct or inverted, should prevail:
The entire Sinfonia in C Major is built on juxtapositions of
C enrich the student's hearing experience and
spur his auditory imagination. At times it
makes sense to transpose an entire piece an
octave higher, as many performers of the
C 17th-18th centuries felt free to do at their
3-4 discretion. This custom, however strange it
5-6 may seem in our time, often shines a new
light on the piece by exposing its previously
unnoticed expressive potentials which can
enrich an orthodox performance.
It would be wrong to think that the devices
described above are intended only for purely
technical training. Their application, in no
way mandatory, can enliven the study of early
music with exciting experiments in solo or
ensemble music making which require
discipline, patience, and zeal. Certainly, all
this takes time, but what more justifies
.M. spending pupils' time on if not on learning!

1. 2.a
2. Out of the three voices: a) two upper voices are played with
the right hand (the middle voice partially played with the right b
hand and the rest of it by the left hand with the same fingering
as in playing with both hands); b) two lower voices should be
practiced in the same way 3.
3. One or two voices are played by the teacher, the rest by the
student. 4.
4. One of the voices is given to an instrument other than the
piano; the rest is played by the student. 5.
5. The whole piece is played with 4 hands on one or two
pianos, the bass line is doubled in the lower octave. 6.
6. Wherever appropriate, the upper voice is played with the
higher-octave doubling. Such liberties are not distortions of the
composer's concept: being wholly in the spirit of playing the
organ and harpsichord equipped with octave registers, they ta
17-18 five forgotten pieces and one hastily learned,
he will have mastered six pieces which are
thoroughly understood and worked out in
Such regimen is not at all mandatory or
exclusive. In some cases fast browsing
through a large number of pieces can be
useful, since this greatly expands the student's
musical outlook. In other cases, the student
can be given a piece which is clearly beyond
his grasp in order to test his limits or to
invoke and mobilize his latent potentials.

The teacher giving to a student a clavier piece to study, must
be sure of the student's ability to cope with it and to understand
its meaning. Otherwise the study turns into indifferent rote ta
learning. Each assignment has to be oriented toward certain new
structural elements, performance features, etc, on the condition
that the student's acquired skills and experience are sufficient for
accomplishing the task. The goal set with each new assignment
should be to bring him/her a step further. Such a methodical
step-by-step process yields the fastest results and ensures real
progress in the development of musical proficiency.
Suppose that during a school year a pupil has to learn six
Bach's pieces. To work on each of them separately, one after
another, would be unproductive. Each would take several weeks
and even that time would not be sufficient to assimilate it fully.
Better results can be achieved if the pieces are studied
concurrently or alternatively. Then each piece is actually learned
during the entire school year, which gives the student ample
time to work on its particular problems and improve details of ta
performance. At such an unhurried pace the interpretation of
each piece will mature more successfully than it would during
the few weeks of an uninterrupted struggle with it. These pieces
will not be forgotten by the year's end and they become part of
the student's active repertory. As a result, by spring, instead of