PRACTICING THE BACH CELLO SUITES
DON'T BE AFRAID OF PLAYING BACH
The "Bach" word...
When it gets to Bach we often face 2 emotions: joy and fear...
The Bach cello Suites are like the Himalaya mountains for us, but with growing mounts! When you think you are about to reach the top of the mountains, a higher mount appears...
Playing the Suites is a lifelong journey, a beautiful one.
No matter the level, we always feel small in front of this masterpiece but it doesn't mean we cannot take the first step of the Journey.
Be aware of your technical level and of what you think you can achieve in order to make the best of this experience.
Ideas and suggestions
TEMPO & PHRASING
Choosing a tempo for the prelude does not mean choosing "the" tempo of the prelude. There is no absolute answer in music and in the art in general. Same thing for the movements of the dances.
Choose the tempo where you think the piece will sound at its best.
Suggestions on how to find your tempo
Free yourself of any technical problem. Singing the piece over and over is a good way to define phrasing ideas and tempo.
Think of the dance. Once you found a tempo, start thinking about phrasing. Keep in mind that besides the prelude, it is a Suite of dances. No matter if people were dancing on the Suites or not, the spirit of the dance should be there. What makes people dance together are the rhythm and the regularity of the strong beats. You can phrase and make move but don’t lose the rhythmic structure
Sing and feel the beat
Once you have a clear vision of the phrasing and tempo, you might want to consider 2 more points.
- The set up of your instrument / the acoustics of the room.
The set up of your cello and the room where you play have an influence on the choice of tempo. The speed of projection of the sound, the type of room and reverb, let your ears be your guide.
Your technical level
FLUIDITY AND ARTICULATION
- THIS IS BEAUTIFUL - this is beautiful
- this is beautiful - THIS IS BEAUTIFUL
- THIS IS BEAUTIFUL - THIS IS BEAUTIFUL
- this is beautiful - this is beautiful
- this is BEAUTIFUL - this is BEAUTIFUL
BOWINGS AND FINGERINGS
Ideally, your bowings and fingerings should not influence your phrasing but the opposite.
Be curious, experiment, question, doubt... there is not only one rule...
"Some move the bow as is customary on the viola da gamba, that is, instead of a down-stroke from left to right for the principal notes,
they make an up-stroke from right to left, beginning from the tip of the bow."
our alma mater
Because the Suites are (for most of us) our Alma mater , we have a personal story, and an individual approach to the text.
No absolute truth
Having a clear opinion is important, it will define your interpretation, but finding your absolute truth doesn't mean it is the absolute truth.
For example, it is not because I deeply believe the cello sounds better by reversing the bowing technique that I think it is the absolute truth, there is no right or wrong.
Stay open to discussion as well as different opinions.
> being opinionated vs being judgmental.
It is a scary topic for a cellist since everything can be argued... but discussions on the topic are very important because we can all learn from each other.
What is YOUR story?
LE MOT DE LA FIN
My personal experience...
I used to say "I will never play baroque cello" and "I will never record the Bach Cello Suites"... all in one, done ;) !
My aim with this project is to share what I learn(t) during my exploration of the Suites. I search, think, rethink, explore, try, experiment, etc. When I started this project, it was just a personal exploration of the Suites, a few years later I keep working on the topic, and my recording of the Suites has been released in May.
What I learned :
That we don't know, that everything is interpretation... the more we learn, the more we wonder.... and we keep trying to find possible answers.
One of the answers I found...
There is no place for the ego in the Suites.
Curious about my Journey -> clic here