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Violin Lessons: Bach - A Minor: 4th Movement

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The watch word for this last Movement
of the Bach A Minor Sonata is clarity in
the articulation and clean string
Aside from that, it's, it's a virtuoso
And the more shapes that you can show and
the more variety in the articulation,
the more interesting it is and the more
So, a basic stroke would have just a
little bit of articulation to it.
And that articulation shouldn't
be affected by the string crossings.
You should be able to cross the strings
while still doing the articulation
that you want.
Now, there are just a couple dynamics in
this, and they're written near
the beginning and then, near the beginning
of the second half and those show echoes.
So those should be taken as an indication,
I think, that you can modify the dynamics
through the whole movement because if it,
of course should not be played all the
So, this is a common device, the echo and
Bach gives his blessing, at least for that
So in addition to playing softer at
the echo, I like to use a slightly shorter
here we encounter the first real
difficulty here,
these 30 seconds, how to make them come
out clearly because,
especially in the larger space, they
really don't want to speak.
You need great left hand articulation but
you can also help with the bow a little
That's an exaggeration of how you help
push the first note of the 30 seconds with
a little bow just to bring it out.
Some people, some editors,
have actually changed the bowings to make
those speak more easily.
That can be your decision.
They would do something like
Changing some of the bowings so that the
bow changes come at the start
of the 30 seconds giving a natural
articulation there.
So if you like you can attempt the
original bowings and use your ear,
decide how much help the slurs might need,
or you can change them.
It's not going to change the
interpretation of the piece all that much.
What I will say is that if you do change
the bowings, don't over do it.
In other words, to put an accent.
That's, maybe too much of a good thing.
Let the, let the bow change do the work
for you and, and not enhance it.
Now how do you choose your shapes after
One way is to look for series, series that
go down or series that go up.
So right near the beginning, after the
echoes are done, we have such a series.
So we have a couple
downward series there and
I think that's a natural
place to come down.
It may seem very conventional and
predictable but it is effective and
I think it makes less sense to try and do
the reverse.
So although a series looking for the
series is only one technique to, to show
your variety it's a very effective one and
there are so many series in this movement.
So I am a big believer in marking dynamics
in pencil, anyway so
that you get used to a choice that you
You know, make a choice, write the
dynamics in, don't expect
to be able to improvise in performance or
in a run-through in your practice room.
And then you're always free to change your
mind later, but at
least you're starting out with something
that's interesting and that, that's yours.
Now the abundance of string crossings in
here can be a challenge.
And Kreutzer number eight is a perfect
example of how to work on something
like this.
Almost the same thing.
So what you're looking for is the ability
to use lots of bow when you want,
to have a strong sound.
I've seen many people get in the interest
of being clean in the string crossings,
they restrict the bow.
Because then their hand and their arm have
less distance to travel, but it does
promote a small and
a tight sound, so go ahead and free, be
free with the bow.
Let your ear be your guide as to whether
you're getting the crossings cleanly and,
if you're not, change something about the
arm and
the hand rather than just restricting the
It's important not to be too
quick on the slurred 30 second notes,
because there's only so
much that the left hand articulation and
the help from the bow can do.
At a certain point, they're just too fast
to be heard clearly.
So, that you have to moderate.
Look at the stroke for when they're
It should be a very tiny bow for
these separate 30 seconds.
Here, articulation isn't the problem
because you're changing bow on the notes
again the speed of them, you can only go
fast before they start to disappear.
So you may want to practice it.
If you were practicing under tempo you can
still play those notes quickly to get used
to the quick bow change.
So decide your own dynamics,
make interesting shapes and write them in
your part so
that you can practice those for