Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08


Student: Grace Walsh

Mentor: Hal McKusick




Title: Two-Part Bach Inventions Transcribed for Saxophone

Description: For my project I recorded and made a cd of 2-part Bach Inventions on the alto and tenor saxophone.  I recorded the inventions in Hal's studio at his house.  I recorded the tenor lines first, then the alto lines.  Hal then put the two lines together on a cd.  I also wrote a paper on Bach describing his life and music and the influences he had on other musicians.








Bach Invention #2


Bach Invention #3


Bach Invention #12


Bach Invention #13


Bach Paper




For my senior project I recorded and made a cd of two-part Bach Inventions for the alto and tenor saxophone.  I also wrote a research paper on Johann Sebastian Bach, discussing his life, family and music.  I have been playing the alto saxophone for nine years.  I started playing in my school band, and then then started taking lesson with Hal McKusick.  Over the summer of junior year, I started playing the tenor saxophone.  I had never recorded before, so I knew I wanted to make a cd playing the saxophone but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.


I had played the Bach Inventions with Hal during some of my lessons, and I really enjoyed them.  He would usually play the tenor lines and I would play the alto lines.  Once I started playing the tenor saxophone, we were able to switch lines during my lessons.  I really enjoyed playing the inventions.  I finally decided that I would record a cd of some of the Bach Inventions.  I wanted to choose inventions I had never played before though,  so it would be more of a challenge to learn them. I chose Inventions 2, 3, 12 and 13 to record since I enjoyed those the most.


I started recording towards the end of October.  Hal and I set up a schedule in which we would record two inventions every Sunday.  I recorded the tenor lines first.  During the recording process, Hal set up a click track.  He set up the click track by setting up the exact tempo I would be playing each invention by recording while a metronome was playing and saving it onto the hard-drive of his recording machine.  I recorded the tenor lines first, then the alto lines.  While I recorded the tenor lines, I would have the click track playing through my headphones so I would not lose the tempo.  When I recorded the alto lines, instead of having a click track playing through the headphones, I would have the tenor lines playing, since they were saved in Hal's recording machine.  The first session took about two hours.  After the first recording session, I realized that each session became shorter.  I think I was very nervous the first time because I had never recorded before.  It was a whole new experience for me.  I decided to record the inventions that were hardest for me to play first, which were Inventions 2 and 13, just to get them over with.  I recorded two inventions each session.  After I had recorded the first two alto tracks, something had went wrong with Hal's machine and lost the two recordings.  As a result I had to record them again.  Overrall, I had five recording sessions.  Once I finished recording both lines, Hal and Dominick, who helped with the recording machine, put the two lines together to make my cd.


For my paper, I researched Bach's life, all the different cities he lived in, his family and of course his music.  After completing this project, I feel that I acquired many useful skills during the process.  This project helped me obtain time management as well as organization skills.  I realized that I had to set up a schedule between practicing, recording, writing my paper and as well as other school work.  I had a great time doing this project, especially recording.  I am thankful for everyone who helped me create this project.  It was a challenging experience but a great accomplishment. 

Works Cited


Boyd, Malcolm. Bach. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. Publishing 1983  


Butt, John.  The Cambridge Companion to Bach.  Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge Press.  Publishing 1997 


Dowley, Tim.  J.S. Bach: His Life and Times.  New Jersey: Paganiniana Publicatins Inc.  Publishing 1981


Gaines, James R.  Evening In the Palace of Reason.  New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.  Publishing 2005


Geck, Martin.  Johann Sebastian Bach:Life and Work.   Florida: Harcourt Inc.  Publishing, 2006


Glennon, Christine.  Senior Project Comments.  E-mail to Christine Glennon.  14 Jan. 2008


McKusick, Hal.  Personal Interview.  Sep. to Jan. 2008


Williams, Peter.  J.S. Bach: A Life in Music.  New York: Cambridge University Press. Publishing 2007


Wolff, Christoph  Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company.  Publishing 2000



Community Member (Details)


My outside consultant for my senior project was Christine Glennon.  Mrs. Glennon is my sister's piano teacher, as well as a family friend.  When I was in tenth grade, I started taking piano lessons with her as well.  All of my siblings has taken piano lessons before except for me, and I knew that if I was to study piano with anyone, it would be her.  I wasn't very serious with the piano as I am with the saxophone,  I really just wanted to learn how to play.  Mrs. Glennon is the mother of four daughters and one son.  Two of which play the cello, one plays the violin and the youngest plays the piano.  All of them are highly accomplished musicians, as is Mrs. Glennon.  I chose Mrs. Glennon as my outside consultant because she has studied music all of her life, particularly classical.  I knew she would be able to give me great advice as well as criticism throughout my project.  She is one of the most talented musicians I know, and was a great help for my senior project.