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Thread: How to learn Fugues

  1. #1
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
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    How to learn Fugues

    Hi all

    I think there may already be a couple of brief pointers on this but can anyone provide me with any information that could speed up my learning of a Fugue? If it is just practice, the how should I be practicing and what structure would you recommend to take on board for the practice?

    Thanks!

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi Bach>Meer,

    Personally, I take the fugue apart. I will master the manual parts, learning each voice part individually, then learn the pedal alone. Then merge the manuals and pedal together first with the right hand then with the left, and eventually both hands and pedal, but not at performance speed.
    Kh ~~.
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  3. #3
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    One thing that may prove helpful is to start off by simply playing the theme of the fugue in unison rh/lh/feet, with your desired fingering and "footing" (!). That way, you will get to know the theme and its characteristics very well very soon.

    Then, of course, you begin by writing numbers in your score, eliminating all doubt as to how the manual parts should be played. Then, when you add the pedal, don't play both hands at once, be sure to be able to play rh/lh and pedal before progressing. And don't stress yourself, mastering 20 bars is much more satisfying and prosperous than playing through too much without really getting into it.

    At some point you put it all together and get it going - VERY slowly at first, but at a steady tempo - if you realize that you're hesitating at some places, then isolate the problem. And when finally it flows all parts at once, don't forget to split it up sometimes, to make sure each part is played in a musical manner.

    That's what I can think of right now. Enjoy practising!

  4. #4
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Both of those approaches work for me. I also tend to do a little analysis on the thing. I'll go thru the score and find all the places where the subject appears and mark them so I can work on emphasising the entrances each time (especially during developmental sections). I also practice the piece out of order (with any piece, not just fugues) and I'll often practice the ending first. If there are any places where the subject and counter-subject are between hands and feet, they will get a fair amount of initial attention.

    Matt
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  5. #5
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso methodistgirl's Avatar
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    It has taken me about three months to get where I am. I can play
    the first three pages by ear. I figured that out today. I did better playing
    by ear than trying to read the music. Now try to figure that out.
    judy tooley

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by methodistgirl View Post
    . . . I did better playing
    by ear than trying to read the music. Now try to figure that out. judy tooley
    Hmmm, maybe because there are more notes now ...

    Seriously, it's difficult for anyone to memorize every single inner passage of notes when having never seen the score. In the T/F there are lots of intricate inner voice passages.
    Kh ~~.
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  7. #7
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso methodistgirl's Avatar
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    I know what you are saying Krummhorn about that. There are so many
    notes! After listening to the piece helps out a lot to teach me how to
    actualy play the piece. Right now I'm at the third page of the sheet
    music. Yes I actualy sat down at the organ yesturday and played that
    by ear. That was as easy as falling of the organ bench! Which I
    almost did after Paul one of our musicians raised it up a notch and I tried
    to get my short legs to reach the pedals! I know that you guys don't
    have that problem. Is there something for us short legged people to
    reach the pedals after the organ bench has been jacked up?
    judy tooley

  8. #8
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    years of rigorous training, plenty of memorization and practice.

  9. #9
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by methodistgirl View Post
    . . . one of our musicians raised it up a notch and I tried to get my short legs to reach the pedals! I know that you guys don't
    have that problem. Is there something for us short legged people to
    reach the pedals after the organ bench has been jacked up?
    judy tooley
    I'm certain it would be ok to remove the extra blocks for your practice session - just need to put them back as you found them. One needs to sit at the console in a proper manner in order to get some kind of consistency while playing.
    Kh ~~.
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    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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    fessional musicians practice until they can't get it wrong ...


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