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But I mean also the use of various instruments in the increasingly large ensembles of the 18th and 19th centuries. We tend to obsess over temperaments in keyboard instruments mainly because there is the most discussion in historical treatises about how to temper keyboard instruments. But that's simply a practical concern that grew first out of organ tuning, as organs have long sustained tones and timbres with rich sets of harmonics that makes tuning choices particularly important. Later, temperaments became important to harpsichord and other keyboard players, as these instruments were some of the only ones that required the detailed knowledge of tuning to maintain them.

A harpsichord needs to be frequently tuned, and unlike other instruments like strings bowed or plucked that typically only needed a few intervals tuned, a keyboardist needed to know how to create adequate relationships between all of the 12 chromatic pitches in the octave. My point is that our perspective is biased toward keyboard instruments in tuning discussions because practically that's one case where knowledge of tuning was important historically.

Bach Two-Part Invention No. 9 Piano Tutorial

However, if one considers the practical considerations of playing in large ensembles with baroque instruments, it's easy to see how tuning compromises would generally lead to something approximating equal temperament. Baroque wind instruments, in particular, didn't have most of the valves and keys of modern orchestral instruments. A natural brass instrument without valves would be in-tune for some notes in its natural harmonic series, but other notes were often approximated through changes in embrochure and sometimes holes in the instrument that could be strategically used to better approximate chromatic notes or those not in the harmonic series of the fundamental of the instrument.

Meanwhile, woodwinds with few or no keys depended on all sorts of cross fingerings, half hole techniques, etc. These tunings could be all over the map. Skilled wind players would learn to use different fingerings in different circumstances -- some fingerings might be higher in pitch and appropriate for a leading tone , others might be in the middle of the chromatic range.

Some might be better for softer or louder notes, but might be more or less out of tune. Now imagine ensembles like those seen in Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and think about the challenges inherent in having all of those instruments trying to intermingle and be in tune with each other.

You have brass pitched in one key and in tune for most notes in that key , but woodwinds might be primarily pitched in another key and using chromatic fingerings attempting to be in tune with everyone else. And these all needed to play well with the strings who had more flexibility in tuning their individual notes, but mostly tended to anchor to the perfect fifths in their tuning as well as whatever keyboard in whatever temperament that was accompanying them. If one reflects for a moment on the disaster inherent in trying to mesh all of these tuning considerations together, it's easy to see that the larger ensembles of the 18th and 19th centuries required gradual compromises to a standard tuning across the scale.

All of the tuning debates about organ tunings and meantone and well-temperament fly out the window when you're just trying to have the flute, the oboe d'amore, the horns, and the strings sound okay when playing along with harpsichord in several keys. So, as instrument builders started to invent and add keys and valves in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to wind instruments, the obvious choice was to approximate something like a compromise temperament where all the chromatic intervals of the scale were roughly equal.


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Players of these instruments were already doing this in large ensembles, out of necessity. The expense of creating these more complex instruments increased, so gone were the days when a wind player might expect to have several instruments pitched in many different keys. Instead, the new holes and keys and valves were meant to make instruments useful in just about any key. Wind players today might choose to still have two instruments usually one pitched in a flat key and one in a sharp key, like the B-flat vs. A clarinet for convenience in fingering, but the new systems for chromatic scales on instruments were necessarily close to equal temperament simply to allow ensembles to play together reasonably in tune.

None of this takes away from the role that keyboard temperament theories and increasing chromaticism may have played in leading to equal temperament, but the simple fact of larger ensembles trying to play in tune in several keys was also likely to lead toward a compromise tuning for the chromatic scale anyway -- regardless of the piano or even the use of keyboard instruments generally.

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Listen now. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered. Was equal temperament caused by the invention of the piano, or was it inevitable? Ask Question. Asked 6 days ago. Active 4 days ago. Viewed times. The piano was more of a tool than an instrument, allowing practice accompaniment in any key. Unfortunately when one writes music on a piano, any concept of tonality is lost. Ray Butterworth Ray Butterworth 1 1 silver badge 7 7 bronze badges. A lot of factual errors here, to address a couple: 1 Most modern music is not written without tonality.

The OP seems to be using "tonal" to mean "in just intonation as opposed to equal temperament", but the comments are mostly interpreting it to mean "in a key". A v interesting question! Some thoughts of mine in a related vein. New contributor. Indeed, in the early centuries of keyboards, they didn't have 12 keys per octave. The piece is driving me crazy! I don't have problems playing any of the other Inventions, it's just this seemingly easy one that I can't play.

Anyone have some advice that might help me?


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  6. Anyway- I'm new here, I'm a HS student and have been playing piano for 8 years. I'm considering studying piano education or performance in college. IF, that is, I can conquer this Invention. Other pieces I'm working on are Chopin's Nocturne No. Member Posts: Bach is always a matter of knowing when to drop the hands and which groups of notes are played with miminal hand movement fingering choice.

    Sometimes both hands present difficulties since the direction of the notes move in many very pianistic hand co-ordinations. I think this can depress lots of people who master single hands of Bach music and then fail to put it together. Lots of my students who have played a lot of modern music that can be worked single handed very effectively, try to learn Bach the same way, but soon they see it is not the same.

    Bach is often like both hands playing melodies, weaving in and out and between the left and right hand. Difficulties always arise as the matter of fingering. I haven't seen as many varitions in fingering in any other composer than I have seen in Bach.

    It is a real mystery how his music can be played with so many different fingers but there is only really very few which will work for you ultimately. It is a matter of experience. I play lots of Scriabin which is ridiculously hard for pianists to control like Etude Op42no5 and yet I do still find lots of difficulties in Bach! I think Bach and Mozart are seriously underrated in terms of difficulties they pose to pianists. Before starting to work on this piece I made sure that I could play the E Major scale HT in contrary motion cleanly, securely, and with a singing legato.

    Do not rush things. Can you play the first bar hands together? Play it several times until it is secure. Add the second bar. Even though both melodic lines are strong as you say, and it is important to hear both as you play, in reality if you were to hum this piece you could only hum one line at time. So, play the first four bars of the left hand and sing or hum the right hand part. The actual scale degrees of the bass matter, sometimes even more so than the 'roots' of the harmonies themselves. Right: on to your piece now. I'll take a look at the first page up to the first 'cadence' in C, and I will make some comments about the general form.

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    I like the general tonal architecture of the piece: you close in the dominant for the first and the relative minor in the second no doubt you would have taken this from Bach, but there is a good sense of key progression in the second section nevertheless, from the dominant through the supertonic to the relative minor.

    However, the sequence in the third section drones on for far too long: you would need to possess the genius of a Scarlatti, one of the very few composers to use overly long sequences to good effect!

    Bach - Invention No. 9 in F Minor BWV 780 sheet music for Piano

    In fact, you could safely erase bars to no detriment to the flow and proportion of your invention again, with the necessary registral etc. Obviously, the above detailed remarks apply to the analogous points of your other sections. If I were you, I would attempt re-writing this piece after having carefully studied a handful of Bach's inventions those similar to the C major one, preferably.

    I'm sorry to say this, but the piece is quite unsalvageable, although I hope you would take it positively as a good learning experience. After all, progress arises from failure as much as it does from success. JohnBucket Thanks so much for taking the time to write as much as you did! I spent many hours carefully reading what you wrote and i think i I really gained some insights. I have got my hands on a copy of "Harmony and Voice Leading" which I'll be studying.

    I understood most of what you were saying but just some questions: 1.

    Three key skills

    Re bar 3 you say " in the absence of the fifth, the ear would interpret this as I6 over iii ". Does this apply to other chords to or just I6 and iii for example would you head V6 over viio? In Bar 4 you say " Furthermore, the accented augmented fourth, while having an acceptable downward resolution, is too on the nose, " which notes are you referring to?

    What do you mean by what larger harmonic progression do they represent?