Bach Partita intonation
In general, intonation is very important, especially for Bach's solo Sonatas and Partitas. I am currently working on the Prelude from Partita No. 3, and I am wondering if you have any tips for improving intonation for Bach. I have tried: droning an E, slowing down the tempo/ playing with the metronome, and practicing legato and in chords/ double stops.
In addition, do you slur the first and last 16th notes in the m. 43 section? It is easier to play with the up-down bowing when slurring them, but I've heard that it is "historically incorrect (?)." How do you play it? Do you think it matters?
Also, when working with a pianist/ orchestra, do you prefer working with sections (A, B, C,...) or measure numbers?
Arpeggio and chord practice is quite different from scale practice: even in familiar finger-groupings the intervals stretch and contract diagonally.
Practicing in 5ths is invaluable. Check out Rodney Friens’s videos on youtube.
I've been practicing scales in 4ths and 5ths, and both are pretty common in Bach; I think it's helpful practice. There's a Heifetz scale book that has them, and while I'm not totally bought into Rodney Friend's concept of turning everything into 5ths, his book on 5ths is pretty interesting.
Although it is not aboutt the Bach "Sonatas and Partitasw," I recommend the book "The Well Tempered Cello" by Miranda Wilson, which is about Bach's Six solo "Cello Suites" and the author's life with them. Ms. Wilson is Professor of Cello at the University of Idaho. The book is a memoir of her life as a woman, a wife, a professional cellist, a professor of music, and ultimately her preparation to perform a concert of all six of Bach's Solo Cello Suites. I think it is a wonderful book.
I'll start with "well tempered 5ths" before playing the first note.
Yes, Casey. I agree to a point. But how about Sometimes this, sometimes that? I think temperament should vary depending on the situation at the moment. At times melody should dictate tuning, and other times harmony. When it's both, well, that's the glory of these beautiful pieces. You must choose, and critics be damned!
hi C, to answer your question about the measures starting with m.43, I believe it is indeed quite standard to slur the first two, and the last two, sixteenth notes of each measure. it is violinistically very natural. if you could ask your friends for a bibliographical reference about this way of execution being "unhistorical" and post it here, I would be interested. but be assured that thousands of violinists since Bach have played it like that, quite possibly including Bach himself!
Good intonation is not just a matter of placing your fingers in the right place, it is the result of learning to adjust the pitch of a given note instantly. To train that skill there are differing ear training exercises you can utilize which force you to listen very carefully in order to adjust intonation.
One suggestion about intonation in the Bach is to challenge your assumptions from time to time. Something doesn't sound right, and you're sure one of the notes is well in tune, so it must be the other, when in reality your whole hand frame has drifted. That kind of thing.
Isn't it just fantastic that a player of Dr Berg's calibre is so willing to share his ideas? I just had to say that.
I especially appreciated the listening exercise.
This performance is interesting.
ms. 43--, yes, slur the 1st and last pairs in each measure. The mechanics of the string changes are less complicated, more reliable that way, and it sounds good. In general, I think we should have a lot more freedom with the bowing for Baroque era violin.
The book "Violin Mind" offers some very interesting and helpful information on intonation that can certainly be applied to Bach. Since so much of Bach's music is chordal or broken chords/arpeggios, double stop practice helps a great deal. Simon Fisher's book "Double Stops" is a great resource.
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