J. S. Bach’s canonic Sarabande, BWV 1067#3, presented, decomposed, and reassembled into a new canon by BSG

7 parts9 pages16:025 days ago74 views
Flute, Violin(3), Cello, Contrabass, Harpsichord
CLICK "Show More!" One of the most affecting and beautiful canons in Bach, the Sarabande of the B Minor Orchestral Suite, previously available as https://musescore.com/bsg/scores/830006 , but here represented with another purpose, as the first of five sections. Please read THERE ( https://musescore.com/bsg/scores/830006 ) for my lengthy encomium (and analysis) to this singular movement.

In subsequent sections, I strip the canon (between the top part (flute/vn1) and the bass) down to its essentials in two successive stages, until it reads one note per measure, note-against-note, in canon at the 12th. One can hear that the great beauty and poignant harmony of the Sarabande are all latent in that skeleton; it is the secret of this superlative movement incomparably perfectly balancing technique and beauty.

Then, to show how one might reverse that process, and use it as a model of engineering a complex canon at a non-unison interval, the lower 5th/12th in particular, I flesh out a wholly new canon (or is it truly wholly new?) upon that skeleton, and provide inner parts in style and instruments (part V of this posting).

If you like canons and the lower 12th/5th generating suite movements, check out my earlier canonic menuet in this style (not based upon Bach's skeleton, so to speak (currently in Leipzig)) https://musescore.com/bsg/scores/4905490 .

[5/17: Harpsichord operating properly now in Bach and BSG canons].

Trio 10/16/2018 (di BSG 2018) for Organ - Hauptwerk/Sonus (Doesburg)

3 parts3 pages02:337 months ago121 views
Flute, Oboe, Cello
Hauptwerk rendition of https://musescore.com/user/1831606/scores/5273434 on Sonus Paradisi image of the Walcker organ at Doesburg, the Netherlands. It is eminently playable by hands and feet (this is a MIDI-driven performance, though).

RouteStaves: II, I, Pedal
I: Gr.-Prinzipal 8, , Praestant 4, Rohr-Flöte 4, Oktave 2
II: Syntemat. 8, Orch. Flöte 4, Nazard, Orchester Oboe 8
Pedal: Prinzipalbass 16, Oktavbass 8, Violon-Cello 8

J.S. Bach: BWV 232 (B Minor Mass) - Crucifixus (figured)

6 parts6 pages03:117 months ago357 views
Flute, Violin, Voice(2), Cello, Contrabass
Posting this for the annotated harmony, in meticulous "closed score". There is nothing to say about this tour-de-force of gut-wrenching, agonized harmony, the last word in the classic "lamento bass". While this is based upon the opening chorus of the Cantata BWV 12, "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen", Bach has upped the harmonic and dramatic ante considerably for the B Minor Mass.

J.S. Bach: Der Gott, der hat mir versprochen (BWV 13, #3)

9 parts12 pages03:189 months ago173 views
Violin(2), Viola, Flute, Oboe, Voice, Other Woodwinds, Cello, Contrabass
A superlative concerted chorale-prelude movement on "Freu' dich sehr, o meine Seele" from the incredible cantata "Meine Seufzer, meine Thränen", BWV 13.

Those who, like myself, strive to learn this art are encouraged to study the bass chosen to underlay the Cantus when it appears. The harmonic creativy in these places is deeply inspiring.

Chorale Prelude: Jesu, meine Freude (di BSG, 1980), with full phrasing, on Hauptwerk/Sonus Zwolle (Schnitger)

4 parts8 pages03:53a year ago218 views
Other Woodwinds, Flute, Recorder, Trumpet
See earlier posting (https://musescore.com/user/1831606/scores/842596) for my description of this early chorale prelude of mine, nel modo jazz, canto fermo in tenore. See also Clarin Pardo's organ-simulation of it at https://musescore.com/user/1831606/scores/851296.

This rendition is on the Sonus Paradisi imaging of the famed 1720 Schnitger organ in the St. Michaëlskerk, Zwolle, Holland.

In order to add the phrasings with which I have played it all these years, I used the approach I used in https://musescore.com/user/1831606/scores/3649631, i.e., wrote an "execution track" (the staff marked “esecuzione”) with all the phrasings written out as shortened notes and rests. The piano roll editor is completely inadequate for this (leaving aside its constant corruption and crashes on the Mac); with 24 notes per measure, it is profoundly difficult to identify notes or immediately hear what you have done, let alone see at a glance what you have already done or still needs doing.

The registrations are:
Hoofdwerk: Praestant 16, Octaav 8, (left hand)
Bovenpositief: Holpyp 8, Holpyp 4, Octaav, Tertiaan, (right hand)
Pedaal: Trompet 4

J.S. Bach: Coro: Herr, unser Herrscher (BWV 245 (Johannespassion), #1)

15 parts49 pages10:142 years ago1,854 views
Oboe(2), Flute(2), Violin(2), Viola, Voice(4), Other Woodwinds, Cello, Bassoon, Contrabass
The magnificent, pain-wracked yet glorious opening chorus of Bach’s Passion according to St. John, BWV 245. Surely one of Bach's, or anyone's, greatest choruses.

(“A section”, (da capo))
Herr, unser Herrscher, (Lord, our ruler)
Dessen Ruhm in allen Landen (Whose fame in all lands)
Herrlich ist! (Is glorious!)
(“B section”)
Zeig' uns durch deine Passion, (Show us through Thy Passion)
Daß du, der wahre Gottessohn, (That Thou, the true Son of God)
Zu aller Zeit, (Through all time)
Auch in der größten Niedrigkeit, (Even in the greatest humiliation)
Verherrlicht worden bist! (Hast been glorified!)

The Passion according to St. John, as its eponymous Gospel, emphasizes the Kingship of Jesus in contrast to the Passion according to St. Matthew, which more emphasizes his humanity. The “St. John” setting, written (first version) in 1724, Bach's second year at Leipzig, is grittier and angrier than the later “St. Matthew”. For many a music lover, myself at least, although replete with exquisite moments, the “St. John” is harder to love than its better-known peer. But what it does it does well, and nothing conveys that grittiness and anger as well as this opening chorus.

Although few works produced by humanity stand comparison with the opening chorus of the St. Matthew Passion (https://musescore.com/user/1831606/scores/812951), here such a task seems inescapable. While “Kommt, ihr Töchter” presents a broad tragic panorama with extraordinary elements, the double chorus, the redemptive chorale with its tug on the modality of the work, and its double-counterpoint chromatic motifs, “Herr, unser Herrscher” is more narrowly focused on unremitting harshness, with its tonality never straying more than 2 flats (or want thereof) from G Minor, and a conventional “da capo” framing its inner “B Section”. Flutes double the oboes (save in one passage where Baroque flute tessitura interferes), wailing away in long notes, outlining sequences of diminished fifths and painfully grinding at each other in frequent suspensions of the minor second.

The most striking feature of the setting is surely the interlocking sixteenth-note figure stated at the outset and kept for almost the entire movement by the strings (but often infiltrating the chorus, and at three points the basso continuo). These undulating, pulsating figures form a vocabulary of harmonic shading, whose subtle changes of shape and detail color the entire harmonic fabric in a unique way that defies my, for one, understanding. Often the edges of the shapes provide chromatic conflict allusive to the Cross. The shapes of these patterns and their consequent peculiar counterpoint among themselves (e.g., m. 88) merit detailed study.

Twice the chorus hushes, and sinks to a low tessitura, at “auch in der größten Niedrigkeit” (even in deepest humiliation (i.e., “nieder” = “low”)) to rise again at “verherrlicht” (glorified).

Occasionally conflicting tales told by the oboes and the string figures produce striking and unexpected harmonies. The jazz chord on the second half of m. 24, figured (inadequately; it cannot be fully realized in four voices) by Bach 9b-7-4 (the 6 (jazz “13th”), Eb, provided by the second violin, is the source of its striking color) is the best such (it also occurs in m. 74, and at the climax (m. 47) of the famed Mozart “Elvira Madigan” Andante K. 467 #2, on the same bass, G, no less). As in “Kommt, ihr Töchter”, Bach exploits extended pedal points to spin forth an abundance of exotic harmonies (as does Mozart in the cited passage).


I haven't figured the bass (the BGA is fully so) nor realized such figuring, nor done any PRE phrasing work, but the rendition above is wholly “honest”, my only contributions so far being pan, balance, and tempo (including the 2 ritards), and an occasional hidden staccato-dot phrase break (esp. in the B sec). The dynamic changes (although I use different marks, e.g., mp for ‘forte’ in the instruments) are Bach’s. The beaming follows the BGA. My model is the 60’s performance of the late Karl Richter; the forces available to MuseScore do not include the Baroque instrumentation or vocals necessary for a more “historical” performance.

I may or may not address the continuo; the harmony speaks perfectly without it. The PRE on MuseScore/Mac is too painful.

[2016-08-30 Hid flute parts (changed to JSB/BGA hack at split), managed bar line extents, added text underlay.]

J.S. Bach: Kyrie II from B Minor Mass (BWV 232, #3)

13 parts17 pages03:592 years ago630 views
Flute, English Horn, Bassoon, Strings(5), Voice(4), Organ
The grave second Kyrie from the B Minor Mass – a four-voice choral fugue doubled by instruments with intermittently independent continuo bass.

Noteworthy for its severity of aspect, this 59-measure plea for mercy is poised in BWV 232 between the upbeat “Christe, eleison” duetto and the exultant Gloria. The unusual chromatic subject features a flattened second exited as a diminished third to the leading tone, creating a Neapolitan sixth on the very second note of the movement. Comprising two and half long 4/2 measures, it is so constructed to accompany itself as a canon at the fifth (or fourth below) at a half-measure (whole-note, “arsin et thesin”) remove – see the stretti beginning in m. 35-36 (alto/tenor) and 40-41 (soprano/bass). As with the gargantuan first Kyrie (https://musescore.com/user/1831606/scores/811691), study of the various basses which underlay the subject (when it is not actually the bass!) teaches much.

Other than for the stretti mentioned above, the fugue is notable for relative paucity of inversions and other fugal devices upon the subject, and of full expositions, and consequent profusion of lengthy episodes. The flat second of the subject does engender notable chromaticism, supporting the imprecatory message of the movement.

The continuo realization (here for MuseScore “Pipe Organ”, as I sometimes opt for weighty choruses) is, as usual, my own. (There seem to be some errors in the Bachgesellschaft (BGA) figuring, which I have marked with question marks or parentheses in the figures). There are hidden oboes, flutes, and bassoon, which tightly coupled -colla-parte- (as per the score) to the visible strings.

J.S. Bach: Sinfonia 9, F minor (BWV 795) (w/ detailed commentary!)

3 parts3 pages03:212 years ago2,260 views
Flute, Viola, Bassoon
A 35-measure permutation-fugue in triple invertible counterpoint as an elegiac web of delirious chromaticism from the Sinfonias (sometimes called “Three-part inventions”). Set here for three instruments instead of clavier (no modifications).

“Invertible counterpoint” is a fundamental technique, the writing of (usually) two parts such that either one can serve as the upper or lower part to the other without creating invalid counterpoint. When two voices are so written, it is often called “double counterpoint”. When three or four can be restacked at will, it is often called “triple” or “quadruple” counterpoint, respectively, and is quite difficult to get right. This Sinfonia is a tour-de-force of triple counterpoint.

A fugue which explores permutations in this manner (see the "Art of Fugue") is called a "permutation fugue". That term has been applied to this movement. "Triple fugue" is not appropriate, as there are no expositions on the individual subjects. It is debatable whether "fugue" is even appropriate (the opening two measures suggest it).

There are three “subjects”, which I call I, II, and III, and so mark in red whenever they appear, which is usually together, in the eight expositions in hyperstretto, at mm. 3, 7, 11,13, 18, 24, 31, 33.

The subject I call “I” consists of a chromatic scale starting on its own tonic on the second beat of a bar, descending chromatically over the tetrachord to the dominant, ending with a cadential gesture ending on the tonic an octave lower at a bar-line. A typical appearance, in F minor, is that starting on the second bassoon note. (Note that Subject I is not “fully playing the game”—the second half of its second measure varies between a bass-suitable cadential figure (m.2) and a different, typical upper-voice one (m.4), the latter when it is in any voice other than the bass.)

The subject I call “II” starts on its own tonic, climbs up via two three-eighth-note sighing figures, rises up via a near-crazy defiant augmented fourth from its own subdominant to its leading tone and tonic, falling back through a descending-minor scale to its own mediant (third). It appears in F minor at the very beginning in the viola.

The subject I call “III” is a very rhythmically, melodically, and harmonically complicated one, obviously devised to work in triple counterpoint with I and II: no one starts with a contortion like this. It starts on its own subdominant, hums around in three weird jazz-like figures, ending on a very typical cadence bass pattern. It may be seen in c minor in the bassoon in mm. 3-4. Note that the end of the second jazz-like figure, colored green in m. 4, is always the tonic. (Owing to the need to play it in two hands, the appearance in m. 3 includes an internal octave leap up not otherwise present; I have not “undone” it.) If the sixteenth-notes are removed, the first "riff" of Subject III very much resembles (an off-beat) Subject II! See also the discussion below of the enharmonic notation of the starred note in this subject.

When the three subjects appear together, they always are in the same key, i.e., have the same tonic (i.e., all “inversions” are all'ottava). All subjects have more-or-less major and minor variants (clarity needed for their cadences at the end); sometimes this changes in mid-sentence.

At each hyperstretto I have annotate the top-to-bottom “stacking” order of the subjects in blue. Of the six possible permutations, Bach uses four, three of them repeatedly (measure numbers in Arabic numbers):

I-III-II 7, 24

II-I-III 3, 13, 31

III-II-I 11, 33

There are several “episodes” built of sigh-figure fragments from Subject II, chromatic rising fragments that allude to Subject I (inverted), and more. I have marked them. If you look closely, for instance, at the episode at m. 9-10, you will note that the half-measure figures composing it are, in fact, exposited in triple counterpoint four ways! These fragment subjectlets are marked "Epith-A" (Episode theme A) etc.

When the half-note-long motifs epith-A,-B,-C are juxtaposed, in any stacking, the harmony modulates one key flatward on the cycle of fifths – see the bass figuring at m. 9 – I have the keys indicated in purple. When one of two “patch” figures (Patch1, Patch2) is used instead of the chromatic step epith-B, that modulation does not take place, stasis on the key occurs, although major-to-minor modulation is effected. Bach uses these cycles algorithmically to modulate by fifths in half-notes from f (minor) to Ab (major) in mm. 9-10 and from c (minor) to Db (major) in mm. 20-24.

Other than the hapax legomenon two-voiced, imitation-at-the fifth episode in mm. 5-6, there is one other episode pattern, seen in mm. 13-14 and and 28-31. Here also, each half-note modulates, but up one diatonic scale degree. In double counterpoint, not triple, in the upper two voices, a step-figure in quarter-notes (Epith-D, which thus interfaces to Subject I), and a figure broken off of subject II, viz., the two sighing-figures, combine with an “arsin et thesin” (beat-shifted) version of the latter in the lowest voice, sometimes with the first note an octave higher for no clear reason other than seeming variety. Twice, a fifth-turnaround is accomplished by changing a 6 to a 5 (e..g. 30 downbeat). Again, I have marked the keys, showing how Bach operates this machine to move through many keys sequentially. “This dude was pretty good at this music stuff".

The overall effect of odd little essay is threefold: First, it is an incredibly tragic little piece in F minor, which can be conveyed by a sensitive performance. Secondly, it is wildly chromatic, luxuriating in Fb’s, Cb’s, diminished-fifth leaps into “blue notes”, B-double-flats and the like; it is so dissonant and rootless, especially during its episodes modulating between hyperstretti, as to qualify as atonal and test belief that it was written 300 years ago. And finally, its secret which is not revealed except by study, the miracle that its three subjects are three-way position-invertible, and the concomitant miracle that its tragic, emotive affekt is wrought “behind the scenes” through this virtuosic application of advanced technique.


There is an issue about the enharmonic notation (I follow the BGA) of the “weird chromatic note” in Subject III, the one I mark with a red asterisk above in all 8 3-way expositions. In the ones cadencing in the minor (#1 and #5 in c, #2, #7, #8 in f) (see blue numbers), it is notated as the flattened supertonic of the key (e.g. Db in c minor expositions). In #3 & #6 (Ab major) and #4 in Eb major, it is notated as the raised tonic (e.g., A natural in Ab major), resulting in a chromatic “twiddle” of natural-to-flat

Contrapuntal Line Example

2 parts1 page01:203 years ago749 views
Flute, Violin
For a friend. Demonstrates how two lines may be woven into one.

Canone dei Toni (di BSG 2016)

3 parts1 page00:513 years ago455 views
Flute, Oboe, Cello
A canon at the second below over the melodic minor scale as a -canto-fermo-in-basso-.

Written for exercise/instruction, I set out to harmonize the melodic minor scale as recommended in the "regolo dell'ottava" of the Venetian school as expounded by Francesco Durante (1684-1755) in
http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/music/gjerdingen/partimenti/collections/Durante/regole/17DurReg/17DurReg.htm , not as a continuo prescription, or even freely-composed piece, but as a canon; the result hews pretty well to the desired harmony (check the url), but had to make some compromises for the canon to work and the counterpoint to remain good.

This is an instance of what is classically called a "cantus firmus canon", where canonic voices are added to a given cantus firmus, in this case the whole-note scale. This is to be distinguished from what is sometimes called a "chorale canon", where a given melody is "adjusted" so that it can be set in canon with itself as a cantus firmus to which additional non-canonic voices added (e.g., https://musescore.com/user/1831606/scores/1608616 ), or in the case of "In Dulci Jubilo" from the Orgelbüchlein (BWV 608), yet further canonic voices. Note how the "way down" (mm. 8-15) is "easier" than the "way up", because the directed interval of imitation (downward second) is precisely that which separates each note of the cantus (see the notes to my canons from 2015).

Note the presence of many phrasing slurs ("what clumsy, drunken phrasing!'); having recently learned how to phrase with the Piano Roll Editor, may it fall out a window, I did so.