Gavotte in violin book 5

Candida Wiley said: May 13, 2020
Candida WileyViolin, Viola
Indianapolis, IN
1 posts

My first time writing something here.
I grew up with the Bach cello suites as background played by my dad.
The opening chords in the Gavotte in Book 5 have sounded wrong to me, relative to what I’d always heard. On cello, the 1st downbeat chord was a GM7, not a b minor.
So I’ve changed it to G on D string instead of open D. The B and F# stay the same.
I know it’s not kosher to change for everyone but I can’t take that minor chord any more !

Candida Wiley

Jennifer Visick said: May 13, 2020
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1072 posts

You’re talking about Violin book 5, right? Why not just add an open G, and keep the open D?

Hatsuho said: May 14, 2020
Hatsuho Kuwayama
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Meguro-Ku Tokyo, Japan
8 posts

I used to teach violin but now that I am retired, I play the cello more than the violin these days. I play Bach Solo Cello Suite myself, so I agree with you. I would be frustrated, too, if I hear a b minor chord than GM7 right there.

However, I am a bit confused, because I used to teach with the old edition of Violin Book 5 (published by Summy Birchand Inc.) for 25 years, and I don’t have the newest edition at hand to compare. In my violin book, only the very first note of the piece is written as a D Major chord (DAF#), and the first down beat you are talking about is a single note:F#. There are actually very few chords written for the entire Gavotte.

I am wondering what kind of changes have been made, if there have been, and how carefully done, when SAA/ISA was preparing revised editions for all instruments recently.

If some chords and double stops were added, maybe it was to make the Gavotte sound as fancy as the original, or maybe because single note melody would be too simple and easy to be included in Book 5, I think whoever came up with the idea was missing the whole point.

Why would Dr. Suzuki have chosen to use this simple adaptation of Bach’s composition at the beginning of Book 5? I think his goal was not to teach the melody itself but to make students aware of the presence of harmony in music.

Any solo piece is composed based on harmony even though there is no accompaniment. I think Dr. Suzuki knew that students would be enough ear-trained already to understand harmony and hear that internally while paying single melodies on the violin, and it would enhance their performance.

If students are not aware of that, Book 5 is the time to introduce and develop this important “Listening” skill as musicians. I think that is why Dr. Suzuki chose this simple unaccompanied piece at the beginning of Book 5, otherwise seemingly out of place after such a challenging piece as Bach Double in Book 4. I don’t think it is only there to give students some break.

Since Bach originally wrote this Gavotte so that a cellist have to play the melody and accompaniment at the same time, it is easier for us teachers to come up with our own teaching ideas : have student listen to original version, show them the sheet music, play duett with them, play chords on the piano, etc. Doesn’t have to be thorough, but enough to make students become aware of the presence of harmony when they play.

For this particular arrangement of Gavotte in Violin Book 5, adding chords here and there if not strictly in line with the original is no good if we think of Dr. Suzuki’s intention. Although I have not checked myself yet, but in case there is such a revision, I hope SAA decides to bring back the old Summy Birchard version of this Gavotte at the same time making it clear the important teaching point.

Thank you, Candida, to have come up with the question of chords and harmony. Sorry my explanation got too long. In this case, I think it is perfectly OK for you to teach with the way you said or add an open G as Jennifer says. The purpose of learning this piece is not just to play all those printed notes correctly.

Jennifer Visick said: May 16, 2020
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1072 posts

The revised edition suggests adding open D and B (1 on A) under the F#.

This and other double stop suggestions are in smaller type and in parentheses, indicating that these revisions are suggestions. If you ignore all the suggestions, it’s basically the same as the older edition.

Overalll the suggested notes bring it more in line with what Bach wrote, though I don’t know why the G was left out—perhaps an oversight on the editor’s part?

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