August 26, 2010


I was flipping through John Thompson's Modern Course For the Piano The Third Grade Book looking for some tunes to play when I came upon this interesting excerpt on page 39:

"To Johann Sebastian Bach, students of piano playing owe more than to any other composer of the Baroque period. Before his time, owing to the system of tuning, it was possible to play in only a limited number of keys. Bach, who had always tuned his own clavier, devised the "Tempered Scale" system of tuning which made it possible to play with equal ease in all major and minor keys. Then he composed his famous Well-Tempered Clavier (two volumes of Preludes and Fugues written in each major and minor key). He also introduced a systematic use of the thumb-a custom not observed before-which greatly increased technical possibilities of keyboard instruments."

Upon further inspection, it turned out to be a very informative passage. We learn the origins of the Well-Tempered Clavier. We may wish to engage in further readings and learn of the means by which J.S. Bach invented such system(s).

My readings have (unfortunately) not gone very far as I am engaged at the moment in preparation for my music exam and research for a term paper due when I resume classes. I was quite joyful in my discovery of this snippet; it was much more concise than those books ever shall be. To my dismay, the ABRSM 6th Grade Piano Exam does not include any selections from J.S. Bach this year. So far, I have chosen Handel's Allegro and Cecile Chaminade's Elegie, sensible, pleasant pieces, but somewhat not as enjoyable as an afternoon of Bach. In self-consolation, I continue to work on Prelude and obstinately hide Beethoven in the closet.


August 19, 2010

Step 3: Read the First Book and Practice

Good morning! It's about breakfast time at the moment.

I will begin reading the first book, The True Life of J.S. Bach. As I read, I hope I will come across some interesting facts so I may update the L&M Notes page. I picked this book out of the four because I felt like I need to begin generally before I study in depth. I planned for this to be a long-term project so I may read as carefully and slowly as I need. Tote Bag won't be taking any trips to the library for a while.

As for actual music, I am working on a prelude from Book II of First Lessons in Bach. The piece is going smoothly except for the trills which is basically the main purpose of the song. I know that these pieces are meant to be technical exercises, and technically I am not passing if I fail to execute those inverted mordents properly. Sitting back from it all, the feel of the song is somewhat medieval with a regal air. I left my hiatus and took up piano lessons again because I thought firsthand experience might help in my quest to understand the composer, that it would perhaps foster a better connection. When I have it all nailed down and practiced, I might post it up. I have never posted any videos because my camera doesn't record well; it always sounds likes there is buzzing in the background. When I find out how to fix that...we'll see.

This is my piano with a cute Eiffel Tower model.

This is the prelude I'm working on.

Although reading and studying Bach is an area of interest for me, it require enduring patience to analyze, and understand hundreds of pages of writing. I might ask my music instructor for help, but then it would not be an independent study, would it? Oh well, wish me luck!


August 18, 2010

A Key

I am posting here when I should be doing my theory homework. Music theory will be essential to understanding those books I borrowed. (I have yet to begin) I have been taking classes for about five weeks now and this is my circle of fifths to the left. It's a great tool for remembering the flats and sharps of the eight-note scales, major and minor. I made this little thing in effort to please the crafty side of me but otherwise, I am supposed to be drawing it on whatever paper surface I come across in order to memorize it for an examination this October. I must pass this exam if I wish to advance in my musical studies. I appreciate the convenience though; this will definitely aid in my studies on JS Bach: the key perhaps!


The First Snapshot

Here you are! This is my buddy, Tote Bag. He's is black and white here instead of the brown and cream he really is because I am not such a great photographer yet. 

For my own consolation, I favor the unique effects of the digital alteration. Tote Bag is one of my best friends that I got met when I was just in the sixth grade. He follows me to my music lessons, to the library, to class.  A simple bag can go a long way. A girl can have many handbags but there is always one that will work for any adventure, a million fat books, and even just a wallet. He is a faithful friend. Back to work on those photography skills!


Step 2: --------

Now if only I got around to reading these lovelies... I am halfway through Mythology by Edith Hamilton, one of my summer reading assignments. I must say, despite my disinterest in the Classics, the book does provide stimulation of the mind. Step 2 of the Project is to finish the assignments and write that darn history paper.

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