The Well-Tempered Clavier – Part 1

Walkthrough - Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (1)

Prelude: Bars 1 - 6

  1. The underlying harmonic progression gives a sense of how to shape the constant stream of semiquavers (16th notes). To discover the harmonic framework, play the first two notes in each half bar together thus:
  2. Give more weight to the first and third beats of each bar. You may accent the first notes of these beats (if you decide on a toccata-like approach) or slightly overhold the first notes of these beats (a touch known as finger pedalling, or legatissimo). Second and fourth beats may be slightly drier or cleaner in touch. A dynamic of mf at the start allows for plenty of scope for growth towards the Presto section.
  3. The constant stream of semiquavers lends itself to practice using different rhythmical groupings for variety and technical control:
  4. Bars 5 and 7 are strong bars; bars 6 and 8 weak bars. The descending sequence implies a gradual diminuendo (deflation) from bar 5 to 8.

Resources and further reading

  • For complete score, see Practising the Piano Annotated Study Edition (click here)
  • Article on using the Practice Stepladder for learning contrapuntal music featuring this work (click here)
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