Should I use the sustain pedal when playing Bach fugues?



Asked by: Bernard Portwood

Bach. Many teachers, performers and adjudicators of exam and competition students insist that because the sustain pedal did not exist on the instruments for which Bach wrote, it therefore should neither need to be used, nor be used when playing his works on the modern pianoforte.

Should you use pedal when playing Bach?





The important thing is that you must practice Bach using no pedal at all. In fact, I recommend practicing all of your music without any pedal until you can play as connected as possible finding the best fingering that accomplishes this first. Then it becomes obvious where the pedal can be utilized.

Do you use pedal for Bach Prelude C major?

Re: Pedaling and Bach prelude in C



, and you will likely use the pedal, especially at the “climax’ (I’ve done so myself at times).

How do you know when to use sustain pedal on piano?

Since we already know that the Sustain Pedal makes the notes that we play sound longer and blend together with other notes, we can use it whenever we have whole notes, half notes, even quarter notes; or anytime we are playing a slower tempo.

Why are Bach fugues so hard?

The reason why Bach is being criticized as being very hard, I believe is because of a few elements: scarce articulation marking, zero dynamics marking, awkward fingerings and confusing contrapuntal style. Compared to Mozart it does take more time to figure out in the early stage.

Did Bach have a sustain pedal?





The sustaining pedal was not at his disposal on any of the keyboard instruments of his time. That means that the pieces that he wrote could be played without the use of the pedal which didn’t exist.

How do you play Bach’s music?


So you're playing two notes with your left hand. And then three notes with your right hand repeated twice. And this repeats throughout the song. For example the next bar.

Do harpsichords have sustain pedals?

A characteristic feature of a harpsichord is the sound of the quill that hits the string again when a key is released. Harpsichords do not respond to velocity and they are not equipped with a sustain pedal. It is however possible to use the sustain pedal to emulate keys being held down, on our sounds.

Does harpsichord have a damper pedal?

Some pianists (who should know better) state that the harpsichord does not have dampers. Of course it does, or finger pedalling would not be possible (more about this in a moment). It is true that none of Bach’s keyboard instruments had a sustaining device, but piano sound without pedal tends to be dry and boring.

How do I practice Bach fugues?

With the parallel minor. So you have C major and then you go to your parallel minor which is C minor. And then you go to C sharp major and then C sharp minor. Other composers such as Chopin.



How do you memorize fugues?

Re: Memorizing Fugues

  1. Write all the Finger numbers..
  2. Memorize Right Hand(1 bar at a time) then Memorize Left Hand(1 bar at a time) after memorize each hand in a bar, …
  3. Play 20 times without mistake, slowly, Fortissimo, both hands from memory 1 bar(or 1/2 bar) at a time from the beginning to the end.


What are the easiest Bach fugues?

The easiest fugue in the WTC is arguably no. 15 WTC II in G major. However you do not need to start at the WTC. Bach wrote several easy – relatively speaking – fugues (around grade 5) for the instruction of his sons.



Why did Bach write the Well-Tempered Clavier?

He did this in 1722 and then again 20 years later; books I and II. In Bach’s own words The Well-Tempered Clavier was composed “for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study.”

Did clavichord have a sustain pedal?

Since the pieces originally would have been for clavichord or harpsichord: their sustain was very limited, so very often, pieces could only make more use of smaller notes rather than longer ones. The main argument is those who are against using the pedal are for historical reasons: ‘the pedals didn’t exist back then’.

Can clavichord sustain notes?

Too many ‘historically informed’ clavichords have a blunt, unmusical sound without sustain. This is what you risk getting if you make mechanical copies of old instruments, relying perhaps too enthusiastically on evidence of old string practices that suggest the old clavichord makers used rather thick gauges of wire.

Can a pianist play a harpsichord?

For pianists, the chance to play a harpsichord can be critical to understanding works written originally for that instrument. But even those who do not have access to a harpsichord can learn a few techniques that can help capture its magic on a modern piano.



Are harpsichords still used today?

The harpsichord was an important keyboard instrument in Europe from the 15th through the 18th centuries, and as revived in the 20th, is widely played today.

What instrument was invented by Benjamin Franklin?

Glass Armonica

Ben Franklin’s Glass Armonica



Franklin began to take his beloved armonica with him when he traveled and played popular Scottish tunes or original compositions for his audiences. Later, composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Donizetti would write music for the armonica.

Why was the glass harmonica banned?

The Armonica was accused of causing evils such as nervous disorder, domestic squabbles, premature deliveries, fatal disorders, animal’s convulsions. The instrument was even banned from a German town by police decision for ruining the health of people and disturbing public order (a child died during a concert).



What is the only instrument invented in America?

The Mandolin.



The mandolin, like the guitar, came to America from Europe.