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~ An Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments ~


C.P.E Bach
Translation: William J. Mitchell
W.W. Norton & Company Inc. New York, 1949
Essay 1
Introduction
Bad Keyboardists propagate a tarnished reputation of the instrument and repertoire
Bad teachers who enforce poorly composed repertoire and transcribed arias are to blame
Poor left hand, distasteful musicality, forgotten notated conventions are results
Description of quality keyboard instruments, their functions and strengths
Fingering
anything can be expressed with the wrong fingering, although with prodigious
difficulty and awkwardness.
Correct employment of the fingers is inseparably related to the whole art of
performance. More is lost through poor fingering that can be replaced by all the
conceivable artistry and good taste.
Bach expands on hand positions, use of thumb for span, avoidance of black keys with
the thumb, and proper finger crossing along with exercises to develop technique
Embellishments
Embellishments connect and enliven tones and impart stress and accents while
heightening expression. The best melodies die without them.
Use like spice in recipes. Must not disrupt affect of piece or melody line.
Taste in embellishment unique to each country.
the appoggiatura, the trill (normal, ascending, descending, half), the turn, mordent,
compound appoggiatura, slide, snap and fermata
Performance
Keyboardists whose chief asset is mere technique are clearly at a disadvantage
Such technicians overwhelm our hearing without satisfying it by stunning the
mind without moving it
Good performance :one hears all the notes and their embellishments played in a
correct time with fitting volume produced by a touch which is related to the true
content of a piece
play from the soul, not like a trained bird! Introduction to rubato
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Essay 2
Intervals and Signatures
Basic explanation of music rudiments, such as intervals, key signatures, and notation
used for thorough bass
Thorough Bass
Figured Bass. This chapter deals with each type of chord individually
Triads, inversions (not notated as such), seventh chords, ninth chords, suspensions
Function of each chord, voicing for each, how to prepare and how to resolve
Accompaniment
Unison as a musical effect. Usually when other instruments in an ensemble playing in
unison, the keyboard should as well
Tasto solo- musical notation stating that the notes in the bass should be played alone as
written without added
80 pages of the use of embellishments while accompanying with thorough bass
Improvisation
Requires comprehensive knowledge of harmony and construction, but not necessarily
composition
Improvisation= Fantasia. Free in form aside from initial and final key, and a perfect
cadence in the middle and end.
When time is available, feel free to modulate to not only related keys, but distant keys
Ensure you give time to listener in the beginning and end to establish the home key
Note, this is improvisation upon a figured bass

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