Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Practice Tips for Minuet No. 2 by J.S. Bach

    Now that we have grown more familiar with Johann Sebastian Bach's music through Minuet No. 1, we are ready for the 2nd of the 3 Minuets by J.S. Bach! Here are some tips to help you on the Bach journey:
The piece is organized in two main sections: section 1, lines 1-4 and section two, lines 5-10. It will be easier to think of the song in 4 parts, here’s what I mean: part 1, line 1-2; part 2, line 3-4; part 3, line 5-6; part 4, line 7-8; and part 2, line 9-10.

Hook Bows. In Minuet No. 1 we learned that hook bows are played up-up and indicated by a curved line over or under two notes with dots above or below them. In Minuet No. 1 the notes that are hooked are the same, but now in Minuet No. 2 we will not only play hook bows on the same note but also two different notes. We see this in measure 15, 22, 23, and 39.
Slurs. You have played two-note hook bows, not we are ready to play three notes in one bow smoothly. That is the main difference between hook bow and a slur, hook bows have stops between the notes while the notes in a slur are smoothly connected. The slur appears in measure 15, 23, 29, 30 and 39.

Tenuto. The first measure, which repeats a few times in the piece, has notes with dashes. This is the first we see these kind of notes in the book. The tenuto indicates that we use long, strong bows on these notes. The idea is to not allow the notes to be weak, but sustained.

Dotted-Half Note Decrescendo. At the end of part 2, both in the 1st section and the 2nd section, there is a decrescendo under the dotted-half note. So far we have done decrescendo over a few notes, but now we do it on one note. One way to make the decrescendo is by starting with fast bow and then slow down during the 3 beats.

High Three. Along with getting used to the low 2nd finger, now we are ready to try out the high third finger. To play a high third finger we need to stretch it a little further so that when you place the fourth finger they are next to each other (half step apart).

Finger Hopping. There is a hop from E 2nd finger to A 3rd finger in measure 5 into measure 6, then A 3rd finger to E 2nd finger measure 6, then E 2nd finger to A 2nd finger measure 6 into measure 7.

Artistry. We have already learned that the Minuet is a dance in 3/4 time, which means that we need to emphasize the first note of every measure with more bow. Now we are ready to make a difference between the mood of the 1st line and 2nd line. The 1st line is a little more aggressive, while line 2 play more legato and gentle. Then we can make this difference between lines 3 and 4.

1. Warm-up with the bow exercises, now with an emphasis on decrescendos on long notes.

2. Play the finger concerto with high 2nd and high 3rd finger with regular bows, hook bow, and try also slurs. 

3. Laying the bow aside for a minute, hop fingers E 2nd finger to A 3rd,
A 3rd finger to E 2nd, E 2nd finger to A 2nd finger each 5 times. Now do it playing with the bow. This will help your fingers used to the hops.

4. Play through the piece with no hook bows or slurs, just focusing on the fingering and rhythm.

5. Work on all the hook bow measures playing each one 3 times preparing the bow so there is no squeak or crunch. Do not be in a hurry because it will not sound nice, your arms need time to get ready. After you work on all the measures with the hook bows on their own it will be much easier to get the song to flow.

6.Play along with the Youtube video above and other recordings.

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