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Thread: Fingering Questions - Bach C Minor Fugue BWV 847

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    Default Fingering Questions - Bach C Minor Fugue BWV 847

    Hello everyone,

    I am an intermediate amateur pianist beginning work on the C minor fugue from WTC I, and am seeking advice on fingering the first three notes of the principal theme in the left hand.

    It seems to me the most intuitive fingering is 2 3 2. However, I have seen fingering of 1 3 2 suggested. I find 1 3 2 easy enough when the theme is isolated in the first measure, but at measure 7, when it is played in counterpoint, that fingering begins to trip me up. I find 2 3 2 works a lot better. So I am inclined to go with 2 3 2.

    At the same time, I often find that after hours of practicing, I eventually realize why a seemingly counterintuitive editor fingering that I rejected does work better. So I would like your advice so I can choose well now, rather than have to relearn fingering later.

    In your opinion, does 1 3 2 offer advantages over the more intuitive 2 3 2? What fingering do you use?

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    There are rarely any 'intuitive' fingerings for Bach, especially when it comes to the fugues. Without looking, but vaguely recalling the piece, I would say the 1,3,2 fingering is for a matter of clearer articulation.

    No matter how 'even' the use of fingers by the most advanced of pianists, that 1,3,2 better gives each note an individual character, where your preferred fingering of 2,3,2, might make the third note sound with less color, and that might lose the sense of contouring most desired.

    Intuitive fingering has everything to do with what is relatively 'intuitive' at your present technical level!

    Even at more advanced levels, it is easy to cave in first to what fits the hand more readily, and may seems like less effort, while that may not be the best fingering for the articulation.

    I would work to get the 1,3,2 fingering (on that second entry as you've commented) so you can execute it as readily, (as "easily") as the one you find easier at this moment... and that is as much or more a matter of concentration than 'what your hands / fingers' seem to now do easily. I.e. practice :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Oct-27-2014 at 10:33.

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    PetrB, thank you for your reply!

    Your point about what is "intuitive" being very much a function of one's present level really strikes home. I can recall times when I adopted fingerings that were easier to memorize but I later rejected because they prevented me from achieving the sound I wanted. And you are quite right--when I use 1 3 2, the third note does indeed have more color--is bolder and richer-- than when I use 2 3 2. I will stick to the 1 3 2 fingering.

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