What sorcery is this?
I've finally made up my mind to ask this question, even though it's been on my mind since forever.
How exactly does one go about playing the andante from Bach's A minor sonata?
There's the pulsing lower notes and then the higher uninterrupted melody. How does one bow (and one arm) do both?
This is my (limited) understanding of the process:
Play C/E double stop. Tilt bow slightly to the right, so that bow is only touching D string. Rinse and repeat.
But honestly, I don't get it.
Whenever I listen to recordings of this piece, it doesn't sound like the process described above.
Instead, it sounds like one violinist is playing the lower notes, while a different violinist is playing the melody.
To be more specific, the main melody doesn't seem disturbed at all by the complex manoeuvring which (I think) is necessary. The higher notes sound perfectly smooth in spite of the ruckus going on in the right arm.
I thought the trick might be something supernatural, so I looked through all the grimoires in my library. There were spells for all sorts of things – levitation, shape shifting, necromancy, mind control, and even waterbending.
Oddly enough, there wasn't any spell to help with solo Bach.
So, how exactly is it done?!
First I establish a steady open D while making a gentle wave motion towards the G and A. Then I "tip" the whole wave sightly so it brushes the G intermittently
It's one of those things that is both not that crazy when you get it, and also full of near infinite minute variations.
The right arm isn't truly going through any "ruckus." The movements are calm and straightforward, though they take some practice. Avoiding any effect on the melody when playing the pulses is simple, though sometimes challenging to attain due to gravity. The solution is only to change the angle of the bow when adding in the lower string. Avoid adding
It might help to watch some videos, rather than just recordings.
It indeed sounds like magic when done right. Obviously you alternate between double stops and single notes. First get rid of the bumps, the unintended accents when changing string levels. What I prefer is to have the bow arm at the level of the upper string, then let gravity pull the bow over to the double-stop level as needed. The right hand needs to be in control, loose, relaxed, and flexible. It's a workout for the right fourth finger.
Thank you all for the responses.
I think there is some excellent advice above.
I was going to suggest that some Dukas might help, but maybe I'd be wrong.
There is a trickier application of this technique in Telemann's Fantasia no. 2, first movement Measure 6,7 and 19, 20: While playing triplets in the top (legato) voice you are supposed to play pulsating 8ths in the lower voice. I can do the Bach example reasonably well, but I fail on Telemann. Decoupling the right hand from the left hand rhythmically is really hard.
Is this it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WV15SoAq3I
This "melody + pulsating under-accompaniment" technique also occurs in Fiorillo's Caprice No. 32 in E-flat major (Op. 3, No. 32). It's a beautiful work generally studied as an étude but immensely more interesting than most pieces regarded as such. This "study" was one of the two études required for Texas All-State competitions this year. I found it very satisfying to learn, and the style is quite different from that of Bach: serenely romantic, with some spontaneous, almost Chopinesque runs here and there. I highly recommend checking it out. It isn't as demanding as Bach's Andante in that there are no triple stops, and the under-accompaniment is not as markedly ubiquitous. All the double stops present are relatively convenient for the left hand.
Though it's an unconventional reading, I think the opening phrase of the Ciaconna uses a version of this trick, that you hold the F in a down-bow, pulsing the open A for the melody as part of the down-bow. It's what Johann wrote.
I remember when a young student that I know was working on this piece. Her father described to me the stress and frustration that she endured. The same student had previously given a convincing performance of Sarasate's "Zigeunerweisen".
That's pretty good, Christian! However your written points evade the real difficulty rather elegantly: To finger a triplet while bowing a duplet (doublet?). The only issue that makes this thing harder than the Bach is this rhythmic thing.
continued,-- "rhythmically decoupling the right and left hand"-- sorry guys, but pianists do that all the time. There is another 2:3 spot in the Kreisler cadenza for the Beethoven concerto. I remember playing that Bach selection by the campfire on a cold night after doing a session of fiddle tunes. It does sound like two violins.
Hmmm, yeah, I don't know if there is another step to bridge the gap of coordinating the two hands, or if that just comes down to practicing and eventually the brain just snaps it into focus when it's ready. I think that it probably comes down to drilling the hands separately very thoroughly, and eventually the coordination won't break down when combining them, and then it can be sped up with some metronome work and polished up.
As Mr. Quivey said,
revisiting that Telemann spot; Fantasia #2, Largo, ms. 6, this time with the violin in hand. Subdivide the 3;2 triplet thing into 6 - 1/16th notes: