Bach S&P

March 9, 2019, 5:28 PM · Hello all,
Not sure if this has been asked already or not, but what are some of the technically easier movements of the sonatas and partitas? I'm looking to start some soon after I learn the A minor and E major concertos.

Thanks for any suggestions

Replies (17)

March 9, 2019, 5:37 PM · Funny, because I never saw the E major concerto until I had already played partita 2 (no chaconne) and the sonata 1 fugue.

Any of the doubles are easy. Partita 3 prelude isn't too bad. Partita 2 gigue, as well.

March 9, 2019, 6:07 PM · There was a thread that recently discussed this topic - you might want to look for it.
March 9, 2019, 8:42 PM · The first four movements of Partita #2 (the Allemande and Gigue are the easiest of those)
The Gigue in the E Major Partita
Edited: March 9, 2019, 9:06 PM · I "like" Mary Ellen's suggestion. Why are they the easiest? Because they are not lightning-fast (the Gigue movements are somewhat fast), and because they do not have more than the occasional double stops. Along these lines (but after those that Mary Ellen listed) you might consider the B Minor Corrente and Double. Once you have done the E Major Concerto (up to a good standard, that is), these pieces should not be terribly hard for you.

Using Bach to hone your double-stops is one thing. Even Hilary Hahn said she does that! But using Bach to *learn* double stops from ground zero will be a frustrating nightmare.

March 9, 2019, 9:45 PM · I don't mind the speed. After all, if you can play it slowly you can playbit quickly...
March 10, 2019, 7:16 AM · I agree with Paul and Mary Ellen's suggestions. The Presto movements of the Sonatas are also not that difficult as long as you start slowly and work the speed up.
March 10, 2019, 10:57 AM · What Mary Ellen said was my intro. IMO the best one to start with was P2, Alemande and then the Gigue. As said, they avoid double stops but they allow you to get used to the 'unrelenting notes' Bach style though undoubtedly you have come across this in studies before. After those two the Preludio of P3 which really introduces double stops as sort of 'broken double chords' because you have to make the same L hand frames without the R hand technique necessary for the multiple string chords. OTOH the string-to-string bowing necessary is another dimension.

Jake wrote: "After all, if you can play it slowly you can play it quickly... " Just want to put in a caveat there - only if you have actually learned how to play fast. This is something the adult student crashes on because fast-playing technique is something that is generally not taught; I think because young students pick it up during their training. I had to work hard on 'fast playing technique' in order for slow playing to serve as sufficient to play it fast. [Sorry if that is a bit off topic.]

March 10, 2019, 11:22 AM · "But using Bach to *learn* double stops from ground zero will be a frustrating nightmare...."

Yes, and for the student as well!

March 10, 2019, 1:28 PM · I think there 3 levels of difficulty in the Bach S&P Collection. 1) the single note movements, 2) Double-stop movements, 3) the Fugues and the Chaconne. You want to do a lot of double-stop training from the various exercise and etude books, encounter the mysteries of fine-tuning intervals, before doing Bach. My mistake in my early years was starting Bach S&P before mastering the higher positions.
March 10, 2019, 1:44 PM · LOL Scott

Bringing back memories of the many times I found myself thinking, "I am not charging enough."

March 10, 2019, 4:23 PM · From ground zero, no, but if you've done some Sevcik and Kreutzer double stop exercises, I wouldn't wait too long to start getting to know Bach.

The C major fugue is a monster because of its length, but because of the key, a lot of the chord passages are pretty straightforward and don't require some of the contortions necessary for the other two fugues.

Not that an intermediate student should even think about performing a Bach fugue, but there is lots of good material to work with if you're in the process of learning how to play chords.

It just depends on the student and how much challenge they want. Bach can be discouraging if given too early to the wrong student, but for others it's exhilarating to start climbing Everest.

March 10, 2019, 4:41 PM · Joel why is that? In general these don't go too high up the positions.
March 10, 2019, 4:45 PM · The E major one does, if I remember correctly
Edited: March 10, 2019, 6:10 PM · I don't know why someone would want to work on a "monster" like the C minor fugue before doing the D minor and B minor sarabande movements. It's very rare for students to perform entire sonatas or partitas anyway. Maybe a student recital might have a couple of contrasting movements from the same sonata (my daughter is going the Loure and Gigue from E major on her upcoming recital). So skipping around isn't really a problem. Silly Bach ... didn't write them in the order of difficulty. Fugues are super hard musically too. I mean, I learned them as a child studying *piano* and they were hard then, even when you've got ten fingers to play the various lines.
March 10, 2019, 6:28 PM · @--Gabriel, - clarifying that- I meant that the practice time and effort that I put in at that stage would have been better spent working on my high positions, instead of the Bach S&P double stop movements. I still have trouble finding and tuning those ultra high notes in the 1st violin orchestra parts, especially when they come from a long distance shift, unprepared.
March 11, 2019, 2:04 AM · @joel - so play second violin parts;)
March 11, 2019, 12:21 PM · @- Jake,- Yes! I am usually 2nd violin or viola.

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