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Violin Lessons: Bach - E Preludio

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[MUSIC]
Preludio.
The first movement of Bach's E Major
Partita, is a showpiece.
It's, it's something you can study
seriously but
when it's performed it should be
virtuosic.
You should show off what you can do.
And Bach recognized that, too.
He wrote this piece also for organ and
larger ensemble.
And it sounds very impressively grand.
As a solo violinist, it's going to be a
different sound, a different aesthetic.
But it's still the same spirit.
So, it should be powerful, brilliant.
Part of that is playing it in tune with a,
a great sound.
But since it's all 16th notes, basically
you somehow have to maintain interest.
It can't be just loud and fast for four
minutes or however long it is.
There needs to be, of course, direction.
It's a word that I use all the time.
And that's because it's such an important
part of music.
To get direction, you have to be able to
handle the considerable
technical challenges that are in this
movement.
And those include string crossings, fast
string crossings.
Especially in two sections that we'll talk
about more in-depth and
then some, some reaches stretches with the
hand that aren't entirely comfortable,
and so yes, stamina comes into play here
in, with both hands.
The constant motion of the fingers
combined with some,
some stretches that you have to hold for a
little bit.
You need to be comfortable with, with
reaching and
of course with leaving fingers down,
that's essential in this movement.
And then as far as the right arm goes,
you want to achieve the brilliance and the
power with the least possible effort.
So, enough bow to get sound but not more
than that.
Enough movement of the arm to get you to
the proper level but not more than that.
Especially when you're just going in
between two strings.
There aren't very many dynamics in this
movement, but
the ones that are there are Bach's.
So, follow them.
Let's talk about the very opening of this
movement it
starts in fourth position of course.
There's really no, aren't any other good
ways.
[MUSIC]
I like to cross strings there,
you can stay on one string if you like to
reach back.
[MUSIC]
It's a bit much sometimes to do that
reach accurately as the very first measure
that you're playing.
That's just been my experience.
So I'm fine with that string crossing but
that, that'll be up to you.
Bar nine, here's the start of a section
where
good fingering can take you a long way.
[MUSIC]
So you use the open string now,
to go down into third position.
[MUSIC].
And you again, using the open string to
take you back to fourth.
[MUSIC]
And then here.
[MUSIC].
[MUSIC] Up to fourth. [MUSIC]
And now we reach
a famous section.
I'll just warn you that this took me quite
a while to get and
it was one of those lightbulb moments.
I've talked to a lot of people, and it
seems to be how it is for
everyone, you kind of struggle with it and
then it just works.
The way that it is performed is this.
[MUSIC].
So you're going over three strings, and
you're in fifth position.
Number of ways to work on it.
I think the, the first option, as it is in
so many cases, dotted rhythms.
[MUSIC].
And
[MUSIC].
Just keep in mind that because you are
going across three string there is going
to be a fair amount of arm movement.
When you're just between two string you
can do it mostly with the hand.
Over three strings you have to move that
arm
from the E string level to the D string
level.
The thing is that it needs to be a smooth
movement.
[LAUGH] Otherwise you're gonna be, there's
just no way to do it accurately.
So the good news is that when you finally
get it, in quotes,
it'll be a nice smooth movement.
And you'll, you'll wonder why it ever
seemed difficult.
When you're on the way there, there's
probably gonna be
more jerkiness to the motion, and that's
okay as you're working it out.
[MUSIC]
So as I say, in performance it'll be
one smooth movement back and forth.
The one way that I do not find useful to
work on this is exaggerating
the three different string levels, one at
a time.
[MUSIC].
It's too much motion, and that kind of
jerky
motion is gonna be ironed out by the time
you perform it anyway.
So it's, it's no good exaggerating that on
the way.
Now just because there are some dynamics
in there by Bach,
that doesn't mean that you can't add even
more, in fact you should.
And so the shape of this, of these,
sections, once you've gotten the bowing
to your liking, the shape of the section
can be up to you.
Starts forte.
[MUSIC]
At some point,
you're gonna have to drop the sound
somewhat,
otherwise it's just too much forte all the
time.
So where you do that, and how you end the
section.
In other words how you get into bar 29,
that's up to you.
I think bar 29 should be an arrival of
some kind.
Whether it's an arrival at your softest
dynamic, or
a nice powerful arrival with a crescendo
into it.
Again, that's up to you.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC].
Now this movement, as, in most of Bach,
it's full of series, and so
right here at bar 29 is the start of a
series.
So if, let's say you get into that, a low
dynamic.
[MUSIC]
Then it's an easy
shape to build it up.
If you arrive at a high dynamic, then
maybe it's the opposite.
[MUSIC]
All you do is try both,
or try two ideas, and
then come up with a third and try that.
You won't know until you play them.
So you have to decide first, then play and
see which one you like best.
This movement also has plenty of
opportunities to, we'll put it in quotes,
to cheat [LAUGH] with the bow.
Some of the bowings, if you just play
straight down up the whole time,
it can be a little awkward.
If you look at bar 38.
[MUSIC]
That kind of pattern, where you're down on
an upper string, and then up on a lower
string, can be awkward.
So, what I do is to slur the first two
notes and the last two notes.
[MUSIC]
There are a number, I'll mention a couple
other places in this movement where I find
it useful to do that.
Bar 43.
Here's a start of a section where you're
going to be reaching or stretching,
and you may have to actually change the
shape of your hand temporarily to do that
a position that you wouldn't normally play
in.
[MUSIC]
Well, here's another, a cheat bowing.
[MUSIC]
See, here my four is really reaching and
I've put my wrist into a shape that I
normally don't like.
That's okay, because it's temporary.
If your hand is able to do that reach
without changing the shape,
that would be better.
But this is how I'm able to do it.
Bar 55 is a, or, it's a rare triple string
crossing.
You have to go from G to E.
So, make sure that the arm leads that one,
that your arm level is at E string before
you move, before you start moving fingers.
[MUSIC]
You don't have to take quite that much
time, but give yourself time to get that
string crossing in.
57 is another place where you can add the
slur.
Now, the second time that the the nice
bowing section comes at bar 67,
it's nice if you make a different shape
than you did the first time.
So it's gonna start loud again.
But, if you did one dim all the way to the
end the first time,
maybe this time you could do a dim and
come back up for the end of the section,
just to give a little variety.
Now, bar 87, going into some, some strange
harmonic lands, and
so make sure that your listeners have time
to hear these notes.
You could take a little bit off the tempo
to give yourself a chance,
and to give them a chance.
But because the changes are not really
expected,
it's nice if they don't just come too
quickly,
just straight in tempo like everything
else in this movement.
By the, it, gets stranger and stranger and
further and
further away, until finally, you arrive,
sort of, at bar 109, and that's a chance
to,
[NOISE] to let out a little breath and
[MUSIC]
you're in F-sharp minor, and
just take it easy.
[MUSIC]
Mentally and physically, your right arm's
gonna be wanting a bit of a break at that
point.
So that, that's a perfect place to take
the dynamic down.
119 is the start of a series, so
it's good to go into that at a lower
dynamic.
[MUSIC]
And finally,
by the time you arrive at bar 123,
this is really the beginning of the end,
because you,
you've arrived at the, the five chord.
You're, the movement's in E major.
Here you are in B.
[MUSIC]
So, from there on out,
it's just, you let it go.
You reached five, one is gonna come pretty
soon, and so,
bar 130 sounds like it's the end.
[MUSIC]
And then finally the epilogue.
[MUSIC]
A lot of people's E
strings wanna squeak here.
The, [SOUND] that sort of thing, so
when you're doing the string crossings
back and forth with an open E,
you can disregard my normal advice to do
it with the least distance possible.
[MUSIC]
When you do that,
you're inviting a squeak.
So, just in this one case, you may want to
[MUSIC]
exaggerate the motion a little bit, so
that you have less chance of that
happening.
134 with these chords,
you may like to do them separate
[MUSIC]
or
[MUSIC].
I do like the next bar, though, on a
downbow so that I can play.
[MUSIC]
And finally, to end this movement
it'll be a, a case of staying in fourth
position.
[MUSIC]
So that even though you reach back for
that one, the hand stays in fourth
position.
[MUSIC]
And ending with a flourish,
I don't like to make a retard in this one,
just really end with a bang.
[MUSIC]