Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Bach Invention

"Bach Invention," by Jane Tyson Clement

If I could live as finished as this phrase,
no note too strong; each cadence purposed, clear,
the logic of the changing harmony
building and breaking to a major chord
strangely at home within a minor web
of music; if I could define my end,
from the beginning measures trace my course,
I might be old and prudent, shown by laws
how to devise a pattern for my days
and still be free, unhampered, yet refined.

He sat before the keys and turned the notes
into a fabric of design and peace;
here are the notes, the keys, my fingers free
to run them through their course, and here my mind
seeing his wisdom work within the chords,
finding his knowledge in the finished line.
I would be wise if such restraint were mine.

Read more of Jane Tyson Clement's poetry here.

Read more about Bach's inventions here.

Listen to his 2- and 3-part inventions here.

Fun question for former and current piano students: Have you experienced the maddening frustration sheer pleasure of learning a Bach invention? If so, which one(s) have you played? Do you have a favorite?

I've played the 2-part inventions in C major (No. 1), F major (No. 8?), A major (No. 12), and A minor (No. 13), and the 3-part invention (sinfonia) in E-flat (No. 5). My favorite of those is the sinfonia. I hated learning inventions at age 14, but I love working on them now that I'm a grown-up. :)


Kim said...

Never did any inventions by Bach, but did Little Prelude in E Minor and Little Prelude in D Minor. Don't know as if I could manage with those any more. I don't play a lot of classical stuff any more, mostly accompanying others, playing for congregational singing. One summer, I decided I would memorize and perfect my playing of Moonlight Sonata, but when it become too much "work" I lost interest.

Have you ever read the book Godel, Escher, Bach? It's a great book.

Waterfall said...

Kim: No, I've never read that book. I'll put it on my "to-read" list.

That first movement of "Moonlight Sonata" is a good one to know, though I must admit that I've never learned it. Hope you decide to pick it up again one of these days! (And maybe I'll learn it one of these days, too!)

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