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Violin Lessons: Bach - Concerto for Two Violins (2nd Violin)

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The Bach Concerto for
two violins is a favorite of violinists
every where.
And as an added bonus of course, there are
two different parts to learn.
And we're going to make it fun by giving
you the chance to play with
the other part.
Which is something that,
is hard to do unless you have another
violinist there in the room with you.
So, the two violin parts are very, very
Once you've learned one it's very easy to
learn the other one.
And, in this,
the intermediate curriculum we start to
get into more matters of personal choice.
So, you know, in the beginning curriculum
we're very strict about specific strokes.
And of course in the,
in the real world of grown up music things
aren't always so cut and dried.
You need to know all of those strokes, but
you need to know also, how to be flexible
in applying them.
So, the Bach double is a perfect example
where you have basically,
sixteenth notes and eighth notes.
And the eighth notes can be played in
different ways, especially,
at different lengths.
And so that's one of the big challenges to
face in this.
As well as very strict and steady rhythm
especially when you're coming off of ties.
Because to match up with the piano
accompaniment or
orchestral, whatever setting you're
playing this.
As well as matching up with the other
violin part,
those sixteenths have to keep going.
It's just a, a real motor.
Whether you're playing the sixteenths, or
whether you're listening for them.
So let's, let's look at the very
Now this piece is marked in two.
And, the reason that's important is
because you don't want it to sound beat-y.
That just gets heavy very quickly.
If you think of it in two
Then it's much easier to put some
direction into it, and we, we always talk
about direction, even from the very
And it's so important in Bach, where there
are few dynamics written.
You, you make your dynamics by choosing
your own directions.
And, you know, I like to say there are no
wrong choices.
It's important that you make a choice and
go for it.
And so we'll talk about how, how to make
some of those choices.
All the sixteenths in this are on the
That's the easiest way to control them
and, and make direction.
So that's easy but the eighth notes,
how do we want to play those?
And what we do is use a Martele stroke.
And within that, you can decide how long
they are.
It can be
Or slightly longer
And you can even mix that within one line.
Maybe they start out short and
they get a little bit longer as you build
some direction, build dynamic.
So you'll hear that in the performance,
and so
you'll start building more flexibility in
that stroke.
So, in the very beginning, that opening
line, that's a line that always leads up.
So, whenever you see that,
that's an easy clue to make a little
And there are many other such clues, just
looking at the directions on the notes.
That's another kind of series that goes
up, so it's an easy choice to make a
crescendo there.
So bar four starts at a low dynamic, and
then just there where I played bar eight
also starts at a low dynamic.
As far as the bowings, you can largely do
what's there,
but there are a few places where it makes
to throw in a hook or two, such as bar six
And that's of course, so
you don't get stuck at one of the bow or
the other.
And again, it's a hook not a slur, so that
you keep the sound, what the original
bowing would have been.
So in the second violin part here,
when you get to bar 21 the end of that bar
where you rest,
that's where the first violin takes the
first big solo of the movement.
And so, you count rests during that solo.
And then, you get your turn later.
Just four bars later.
And, for these string crossings since
they're double,
double string crossings, two strings.
Then you may know what I'm gonna say next.
The arm leads those, so that you're not
just moving the arm exactly in time.
Nobody would do that.
But it may be useful to actually, have a
thought of a nice smooth
arm leading the way, like a ship's rudder
in the water.
So you have you take away all
the bow pressure during the crossing.
So the bow doesn't actually leave
the string, because that's gonna lead to
loss of control,
and maybe unsteady rhythm.
But you take away the bow pressure during
the crossing, and
that'll make it nice, and smooth, and
Now in 28, the end of the solo here,
it can be traditional to throw in a couple
Many people like
Something like that to use
a little variety.
But you can keep all separate bows as
as long as you put some direction in it.
Slurs help many people remember to put
some direction.
But you can, you can use separates if
if you're able to keep the direction in
mind without the slurs.
33 is, those eighth notes actually have
dots on them, so of, of course,
they're Martele, but I think the dots also
signify that they're,
they're a little bit less important.
The rhythm is important, but it can be a
little bit lower dynamic,
because you're accompanying the first
violin there who has sixteenths.
36, bar 36 leads into your solo again.
And while the first is.
Having a little flight of fancy
You accompany that, and so it's nice to
contrast the character,
not quite so strict.
Something more
And then leading into the solo,
which you get, you get before the first
violin this time.
Leading into the solo, you can bring the
sound back.
Similarly in bar 41, which is the end of
your solo,
you get to accompany the first violin.
So, it's not marked at a lower dynamic,
just bring it down there.
Every time 2-D is marked in this music,
2-D is Italian for everyone.
[LAUGH] And so the, the rest of the
orchestra comes in there, and
so you can infer the crescendo into each
That, that dovetails nicely with the
orchestra there.
Bar 50 is a nice little challenge.
You want smooth string crossings, and you
also want smooth articulations.
In other words, when you, when you have
three notes slurred, and one separate,
that separate note often wants to get an
accent, if you're trying to make a bow.
So, no need to make a bow.
If you work your way to the tip,
that's just fine.
What's more important is that you have a
smooth sound throughout that.
And just one note the,
the parallel passage the come a lit bit
later in bar 61, this of course,
is perfect chance for second position,
it's just made for second.
And then a little shift back to first,
and then right back to second
Now in 65, you can see by the notes that
you're gonna have a crescendo there.
So, when you see that you're going to have
a crescendo it's nice to
start that at a lower dynamic.
Same thing into 71.
That's a series that's gonna go up, and so
you wanna start that with a low dynamic.
So, those are the kind of clues I'm
talking about.
As I say no real wrong decisions, but,
those clues are perhaps nudging you toward
a, a certain decision.
And finally,
the very end of the movement, works well
with just a little bit of retard.
But I often play with orchestras, and you
at the end of every movement gets a big
Everybody's waiting for that last note.
Nobody knows where it's going to come.
So, you don't need anything as dramatic as
that, but
something to add little weight and gravity
to the end of this great movement.