Learning to play Bach - What can Bach Inventions teach us




Bach's Inventions, along with the works from Anna Magdalena Notebook and the Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, are fundamental to building keyboard technique for pianists, and instrumental to facilitating the understanding of music theory and the development of skills in music analysis and keyboard performance.

Bach Inventions offer us opportunities to explore topics such as: Bach’s compositional writing devices,

phrasing, ornamentation, cantabile playing, articulations, fingering, dynamics, touch and sound, balance between the hands, use of the pedals, contrapuntal music playing, and more.

Interpretation of Bach’s music

Rosalyn Tureck, the world renown Bach scholar and performer, said in her book “ An Introduction To The Performance of Bach”:

“For as long as one remains human there will remain nuances of all sorts, and as long as music remains an art and not a mechanical reproduction, there will always be more than one possible detail of phrasing, dynamics, tempi, etc.., and sometimes possibilities of marked difference in conceptual, all of them good.”

She continues, “But they must adhere to the frame and idiom of the work itself; a valid, living, and communicative performance is the result not of license but of information, experience, and insight.”

Understanding Bach’s music requires understanding where Bach comes from and why he wrote the way he wrote. It is essential that we learn from those who have done their research, studied and performed Bach’s music, and have a thorough understanding of the historical background of Bach’s music and the performance practices.

Conclusion

Bach should be taught and played more because of its richness in helping us develop our musicianship at a fundamental level. This invaluable gift enlarges our potential to handle more complex music. There is a profound universality to such knowledge, and that makes it arguably the best place to start for the new, and to review for the experienced!