The Full Story
Music lives forever, but it doesn't sound the same to us throughout time. Follow me on my new J.S. Bach Prepared Project, where I want you to experience his Wohltemperierte Klavier in a new light of old and new, with a new life and new sound. I love projects that are labors of love and loooonnng ones at it. As I create the sounds and interpretation, I'll bring you along one by one through the volume of preludes and fugues. I don't know how far this project will get, but one thing is for sure that it will take a long time.. for now let's start with no 1...
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As is often the case with analysis, it begets more Qn's than As. Not having yet stumbled upon answers to my own questions online, I dare to pose them as a novel quest. You see, a listener does not need to have preconceptions about music to experience it. That's not the case with a performer, whose task at hand is never an art of pure mimicry. And yet, having not explored the entirety of the musical subject leaves me with the feeling that its never complete.
More to come.. Meantime, check out the blog post on Prelude No. 1
Let me make a case against the 'Schwenke' measure. The pedal points of mm.22-23, the F# moving to Ab, make an appoggiatura approach to the long pedal point on G. This effect would be broken if the 'Schwenke' measure introduced the G pedal point prematurely outlining it as a passing tone.
From the moment I opened the WTC vol. 1, one Question stood out the most: Why would Bach repeat each pattern twice in one measure? This may be a Baroque musical pattern? Why not extend the rhythm to one figure per measure? Or, perhaps it was meant to be slow and the repetition is to reinforce the harmony? This patterns also appears in Prelude No. 2. Surely that's not a coincidence! There is one exception to this rule in the second Prelude's measure 18, where the lower note changes in the second half of the measure.
By definition, a Prelude is a preamble. Like a closed book ready to be discovered, a prelude sets the scene for the unfurling of all the complexities of a fugue. The harmonies remain mostly diatonic and feature either triads or seventh chords up until measure 23. It is my observation that despite weaving most complex counterpoint, Bach is a master of outlining diatonic harmonies and uses chromaticism and added dissonance to underline form and climaxes. In measure 23, for the first time in Prelude 1, there are 5 different pitches in the harmony. Next time this occurs is in measure 28, and then measure 30, and in a very curious way in measure 34. In measure 34, we see Bach not just outlining a dominant harmony into a tonic, but presenting almost the entire CM scale with 6 pitches. Curiously, he omits the A, which is the highest pitch of the Prelude. The omission of the 6th scale degree also partially keeps the integrity of a dominant 7th chord resolving into the final tonic.