Point of Sound

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The S P Rules: Do they yield the movements Dorothy taught?


Now kids, we’re going to do a puzzle! Here is Bach’s d minor invention:

Bach Invention in D minor: unmarked score


and I’ve written in fingerings (which you may very well disagree with, and I hope we will agree to disagree for the sake of argument). Starting with the second note of the piece, I would like you to label all the notes of the piece in terms of whether you prepare for them by supinating or pronating, using the six S P rules as a guide. Use an “S” for supinating and a “P” for pronating. All this involves is a first grader's knowledge of numbers. When you are done, go back to the beginning of the piece and label the first note following rule 6. Then, wherever you have a sequence of opposite letters, circle them. I went ahead and got you started.  If you would like to check your puzzle results against mine, click here.

Here is the same invention with the same fingerings, and I’ve labeled every note as many Taubman trainees are taught, according to the current convention, in terms of singles and doubles. (n.b.: ”S” here stands for “single.”):


Bach's Iinvention in D minor, marked with S and D according to Dorothy's notational convention

I will ask you to take my word for this—the process is complicated to explain but a Taubman teacher could ramp you up. I’ve circled all of the places accounted for by the alternating pronation and supination of single rotation. Are your circles in the same places? Double-check, and if you find a good reason to disagree with me that the two ways of describing forearm movement amount to the same thing, please [let us know].

Here are four more, varied, examples of passages where the hand plays one note at a time. (We’ll talk chords later, the treatment of which has some peculiarities.) Again, I’ve fingered them for the sake of argument. The six rules would work irrespective of the fingerings you choose, but our immediate goal is to prove that if you evaluate a passage in terms of Dorothy’s conventions of single and double, you will end up with precisely the same motions called for by the six rules I just gave you.

Next: Six of one, half a dozen of the other?