Saturday, December 22, 2012

My favorite Bach prelude

kw: classical music, scores

I am not as deft as I would like to be on piano, so I appreciate music that is very pretty but doesn't require Olympic-level finger gymnastics. The Preludes in Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach are favorites of mine. My ultimate favorite is the first one, the C Major, because it is so algorithmical I was able to condense the 4-page score to a single sheet:

This image (click for full size) is a 300 dpi GIF, if you wish to download and print it. It is derived from a 600 dpi scan that I'll e-mail anyone for the asking (the GIF is 4.4 MBytes). Since I moderate comments, you can safely send an e-mail address as a comment; I can then send you the file and discard the comment (unless you want it published as a comment to this post; just say so).

For those not familiar with this piece, the chord in each "measure" of measures 1-32 represents 16 sixteenth-notes, to be played at a rock-steady tempo, usually so slowly listeners might think they are quarter-notes. The left hand plays the two lower notes, lower then upper, followed by two runs through the three higher notes, in upward sequence, and then those 8 notes are repeated. Pedal to sustain the whole of each measure. Measures 33 and 34 are played as shown, with the left hand playing the two notes, followed by the right hand playing the next 14 notes. Measure 35 is a 5-note chord, held a full measure.The challenge comes from the dynamics. It is hard to play p and pp at a slow tempo, and the very gradual crescendos and diminuendos take more attention than the notes do.

This prelude is very delicate. It has been used as the background for a well known "Ave Maria". When I practice it, I sometimes go quickly, or at all kinds of tempi. But it truly is the loveliest at 2 or 3 notes per second, or slower.

1 comment:

Leen Ammeraal said...

On the condensed page, did you forget a measure after measure 22?
According to the normal sheet music, you omitted G Eb B C Eb between F# C A C Eb
and Ab F B C D.
Could you please update this very useful condensed page?