38

First, a history lesson: Peter Cornelius originally claimed that these "Three Bs" were Bach, Beethoven, and Berlioz. It was Hans von Bülow that then replaced Berlioz with Brahms, and Bülow did it with a little pun: since a flat looks like a "B," he said that "My musical credo is in E♭ major, with three Bs in the key signature: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms!" ...


36

While the point expressed in user77817's answer is an important part of the story, it isn't the whole story. Furthermore, the premise of the question is oversimplified, if not simply incorrect, but the answer fails to challenge it. It is, therefore, misleading. Much of Bach's surviving manuscripts were indeed produced as performance materials, but Bach ...


26

Well spotted! This is very common. Bach often uses a brief modulation to the subdominant key near the end of his fugues, preludes and inventions (presumably other pieces, too). Sometimes this is so brief, that we feel like we are just travelling through this key, without really modulating to it. Sometimes this is over a final tonic pedal, which is really “...


23

The counterpoint rules for parallel octaves (and fifths) apply in cases where two or more voices are meant to be heard as independent. Similarly for covered fifths and octaves. (Also for long strings of parallel thirds or sixths, maybe six or more for that matter.) Voices moving in parallel sound like a single voice with doubling or harmonization. These are ...


17

According to Wikipedia: From 1703 he was back in Thuringia, working as a musician for Protestant churches in Arnstadt and Mühlhausen and, for longer stretches of time, at courts in Weimar, where he expanded his organ repertory, and Köthen, where he was mostly engaged with chamber music. From 1723 he was employed as Thomaskantor (cantor at St. Thomas) in ...


15

It's actually a suspension, which is to say that the actual chord is F Minor (F, A-flat, C, in first inversion) but the G and B-flat are held over from the previous chord before moving to F and A-flat. Dissonant suspensions resolving to consonant chords are very common in Baroque music. In jazz, 9th chords are treated as normal chords, so a G#maj9 might ...


12

Tough question about an amazing book. "Hearing" the fact that that particular canon continues rising in key is more difficult, and I think it's more interesting just to know that fact. Hearing the sort of patterns Hofstadter discusses is far more important to your enjoyment of the book. I would get a recording of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, and listen ...


12

orthodox: adherence to accepted norms Is playing Bach like Glenn Gould orthodox or not? Some will swear by what he does with Bach and probably say yes, while others will cry out loud "Nooooooo"! I think answering your question about using the pedal with Bach faces the same dilemma: since Bach isn't there to tell you what he would like to have heard when ...


12

Small ornaments The smaller ornaments indicate an editorial addition. These additions are typically based on alternative sources or common practice, but which cannot be conclusively determined by the source material. Parentheses These are a variant marking for an appoggiatura from above (see #10 in the image below). (SOURCE) This is clarified further by the ...


11

For some reason, Bach is better appreciated by learned musicians. Talking to any well-trained musician who plays a lot of Bach, you will realize that it is fully possible to make an emotional connection with the music. In fact, I would argue that Bach alone has written the very most inspirational music, ever. Here's why: Bach was a genius. As user Widor (...


11

In addition to what's been mentioned above, the motion to the subdominant also has a plagal sound. What's more final than a big "aaaa-men" plagal cadence at the end of a hymn? Sometimes Bach's flat-7s come after the authentic cadence. Sometimes before. The use of the flat-7 was much more widespread in Renaissance polyphony and early baroque music. It was ...


11

One of the things my first piano teacher taught me when looking at Bach was to isolate the voices and play the parts by themselves to get to know how the individual lines sounded like, not just their congregation. Because we are limited to only two hands of five fingers only, we have to make some sacrifices sometimes, as you correctly noted. In your example, ...


10

I hope someone with actual harpsichord experience chimes in, since most of what I'm writing here is hear-say. As you no-doubt already know, the two main things that you lack on a harpsichord, compared to a piano, is a long sustain, and any appreciable dynamics. I've heard that one way to compensate for the lack of dynamics is to vary the duration of the ...


10

Bach was also director of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum which gave weekly concerts at Café Zimmermann (in Leipzig, of course.) He also had big family reunions which were described as big parties. Lots of people likely heard his stuff here. He wasn't quite the unknown the Nineteenth Century liked to believe. Bach at Potsdam — Otto L. Bettmann, The American ...


9

Generally speaking, a minority of Bach scholars question the piece's attribution. Christoph Wolf, who is for many the top Bach authority does not question the piece's attribution at all. For what it's worth, the mark's against Bach's authorship can mostly be explained away. There is no direct evidence against his authorship, unlike some other works where ...


9

According to Bach's father's own Explication concerning the trills and ornaments, we are given a guide on how to interpret the trills. The Expliation was later expanded on by C.P.E. Bach. There is no question that an historically correct interpretation will start the trill on the upper auxiliary note (in this case the A). The ornament does not descent to an ...


9

Yes, dynamic changes are predominantly achieved by choosing different stops. No, baroque music virtually never specifies which precise stops to pull. The most you can expect is something general such as "Sur les flûtes", or "organo pleno" - and even this doesn't mean what you might think (almost never "all existing stops", usually something more like "stops ...


9

The Goldberg Variations are considered infamous / demanding for a few reasons, which I will outline briefly below. Firstly, the reasons why the work is infamous: The work is a theme and variations, and to my knowledge there is only one other JS Bach piece that follow suit (see comments below). The work represents the highest model of Baroque theme and ...


9

It is actually misleading to think about this music in terms of chords as we know them, as the system we use to identify and speak about vertical harmonies was still under development during Bach's time. Bach had no concept of a "suspended chord" for instance. Bach did not think of chords the way a guitarist does (moveable stacks of exact intervals, with ...


9

Yes, this seems to have been Bach's (and his family's) practice in the early part of his career. Schweitzer mentions it in his book 'Bach' (1911). I don't think anyone's come up with a plausible reason for the inconsistency. From the two examples given I might hazard that there was one rule for structural harmony notes, another for decorative ones in ...


9

Yes and no. "Yes" because there are certainly moments where he uses the raised sixth and seventh scale degrees of a minor scale. In fact, a recent question discussed such an example: Functional analysis of chorale 'Wie wunderbarlich ist doch diese Strafe' BWV 244/46 But it's also "no" because there really aren't "melodic minor keys." Minor is just ...


9

Why didn't he just name both E♭ or both D♯? Why not both in D# major seems clear to me as D# major would need 9 sharps. Eb minor has 6 flats like D# minor has 6 sharps. As usual Bach’s pieces are extending to the dominant and subdominant what would imply additional sharps for the secondary dominants: e.g. F7 in measure 9 would be a E#7, the major 3rd of V/...


8

As someone who has no formal training in music whatsoever but who fell in love with Beethoven and Bach upon hearing them, I discovered that my visual senses are much better at picking out patterns than my auditory senses. Here is a rendition of Bach's great fugue BWV 542 which shows it all to you while sacrificing none of the auditory pleasures derived from ...


8

First of all, I think it's important to keep in mind that harmony is written for something. I'm going to follow the sort of academic rules of part-writing in my answer, but if this were for "real life" purposes, it would be worth subjecting a lot of those assumptions to the test of what makes the best music (and the most idiomatic music for whatever you're ...


8

I played piano for 10 years before starting harpsichord. I largely play harpsichord now, although I do a lot of pinch-hitting on piano for church services, etc. Learning to play harpsichord well will expand your mind as a pianist and open up new performance opportunities. Additionally, there are many fantastic Baroque composers that are rarely heard ...


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