Solo Bach: Questionable Notes & Errata

September 17, 2016 at 06:12 PM · Image from Bach 1720 manuscript:

http://imgur.com/wJH2eeb

Bach G Minor Adagio, BWV 1001, m. 3: E-Natural or E-Flat?
E-Natural
E-Flat
I don't know
Poll Maker

Until I started reading solo Bach from the fascimile, I didn't know that e-flat isn't in the key signature. I suspect most people play an e-flat because it was added by the editor in Bach gesellschaft ausgabe and in other later editions without any editorial remark. I am curious how many people are aware of this note, and for those who do, what is your decision and justification? Playing it as an e makes a piquant clash against the e-flat later, or perhaps Bach simply forgot to give it a flat—what do you think?

What are some other interesting errors or debatable notes you've come across in the Bach 6 Solo BWV 1001-1006? The three notes in parallel thirds in D Minor Partita, Allemande comes to mind!

Replies (71)

September 17, 2016 at 07:37 PM · In my edition (the Barenreiter Urtext) it's marked as an E flat, and there's only B flat in the key signature. That's the way I learned to play it, and that's how my ear recognizes it.

For the D Minor Allemande, which measure are the parallel thirds in? Now I'm curious :)

September 17, 2016 at 09:29 PM · Eb. There's an Eb in the run immediately following.

September 17, 2016 at 10:10 PM · Dorian,

You may have made a very simple reading error: if you look closely at the facsimile included at the back of Galamian (I assume that's what you are using), note that the third bar does NOT start with the line but at the end of the line before, and there is clearly an E-flat marked.

This question has come up in this forum before so I'll briefly recap my argument:

1. Bach is very consistent in his harmony, which is why university harmony classes use him as THE model for 4-part harmony and voice leading.

2. In spite of the ornamental scales, this movement is constructed with a very standard set of chord progressions as the backbone.

3. the progression here is iv-V6/4-V-i. It would be very rare to find this progression with a IV (major). It's always

iv.

4. In this case, an E-natural followed so quickly by a flat would be labeled a "cross relation," something generally forbidden. Almost as strict as parallel 5ths. There are bars in which a note changes from natural to flat, such as bar 5. However, the harmonic rhythm is such that one needn't consider it a cross relation-- just changing harmony. Thus is is not intrusive.

As to the reason why all the E-flats are written in instead of a key signature: I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. Some will say Bach was "thinking modally" but this work is clearly diatonic harmony and NOT modal in any sense. Who knows--maybe he had a student fill them in as an exercise while he went to to a brewhaus downstairs for a refill? We'll never know.

September 17, 2016 at 10:15 PM · "The three notes in parallel thirds in D Minor Partita, Allemande comes to mind!"

Could you be more specific? I'm not seeing any parallel thirds in the Allemande.

September 17, 2016 at 10:32 PM · Well, Scott kinda dropped the mic on that one. LOL

September 17, 2016 at 11:26 PM · I agree that it's supposed to be an Eb but I have always wondered why Bach wrote the out the Accidental on the fourth beat of the same measure. I guess even great geniuses make mistakes.

September 17, 2016 at 11:59 PM · Scott - re your last paragraph, I took a specialized theory class on the sonatas and partitas at one point. It's been a while, but I believe that at that point in time in Germany it was still fairly common to think of dorian as the default minor, with aeolian as a variation on it. It's not a modal work, but the modal conventions for defining keys were still prevalent - similar to how you could have a piece that emphasizes harmonic minor, but the key signature still be natural minor.

Compare the title page of the Well Tempered Clavier: "The Well-Tempered Clavier, or preludes and fugues through all the tones and semitones, both as regards the tertia major or Ut Re Mi and as concerns the tertia minor or Re Mi Fa."

September 18, 2016 at 12:59 AM · Irene,

You may be right. But this explanation does beg the question: Why did Bach do this only in the g Minor Sonata, but not in the other minor sonatas? They were all written in 1720. What about other instrumental works written by Bach in this period or those of other German composers?

September 18, 2016 at 07:03 AM · Irksome how Bach-Gesellschaft Ausgabe misread two note slurs and turn them into three note slurs in triplets. There's just zero sense of style.

September 18, 2016 at 07:29 AM · Glad this started a discussion! At the moment I'm swayed on the side of the e-flat camp. I am not convinced it's a cross-relation because it makes rather jarring bass line for my ears, and I think he simply forgot to add it. What really motivated this post was my curiosity on how many violinists actually know the key signature of a piece they have probably played hundreds of times by memory and how many of us notice these details. And of course I would love to find new things I haven't noticed before because there's always something new to discover every time examining it. I'm however alarmed that it seems many people miss out on these opportunities to examine things when many modern editions, especially those that claim to be "urtext", unilaterally make corrections without alerting the reader!

Some thoughts on Scott's remarks:

"There is no voting, no opinion or discussion necessary on this note."

- Yikes! The point of this discussion...is to discuss how one could argue for both sides. But I'm glad you gave your opinion nonetheless!

"You may have made a very simple reading error: if you look closely at the facsimile included at the back of Galamian (I assume that's what you are using), note that the third bar does NOT start with the line but at the end of the line before, and there is clearly an E-flat marked."

- If the first e-flat carries through to the entire measure (across all octaves too), one wonders why he gives a (curtesy?) flat to the third e (and the fourth e as Marty mentioned) in the measure after the tied d?

"As to the reason why all the E-flats are written in instead of a key signature: I have no idea, and neither does anyone else."

- I think Irene gave a pretty good explanation and I'm glad she has an idea!

"What about other instrumental works written by Bach in this period or those of other German composers?"

- Bach followed a long tradition. The first example to come to mind is Biber's Passcaglia from the Mystery Sonatas. It's also in g minor with one flat in the key signature.

"Could you be more specific? I'm not seeing any parallel thirds in the Allemande"

- It's in measure three—however I think everyone would agree it's a curious/amusing oopsies from Bach!

September 18, 2016 at 07:41 AM · Another curiosity that comes to mind: to the best of my knowledge the only instance he gave a fingering in the 6 violin solos is in the E Major Partita Gavotte. How many people actually go to second position there? Have tried but it never worked for me!

September 18, 2016 at 02:19 PM · Accidentals do not carry across all octaves.

September 18, 2016 at 03:19 PM · Dorian,

I admit--my answer was rather "adamant" or even "passionate." Ok, "dismissive" works too...

However, in order to argue for an E-natural, someone would have to present a persuasive argument, and you can't just use your ear to justify your preference. You have to base it on the harmony.

"- If the first e-flat carries through to the entire measure (across all octaves too), one wonders why he gives a (curtesy?) flat to the third e (and the fourth e as Marty mentioned) in the measure after the tied d?"

I suspect Bach is giving courtesy accidentals, because he does it elsewhere when the bar carries across two lines, such as bar 5. The fact is, Bach is inconsistent in his accidentals. Here's a good example: in bar 12, there is a D-flat on beat 2. However, why does he neglect to give us natural on the very last D leading tone in the bar?

Sorry, I did find those odd thirds in the Allemande (they're on bar 4, not 3). I don't think he added the top, but rather goofed and started with the lower notes before realizing they didn't fit the sequence. The whole thing is handwritten--of course a very occasional mistake is inevitable. Are we absolutely positive this manuscript is Bach's hand?

"Another curiosity that comes to mind: to the best of my knowledge the only instance he gave a fingering in the 6 violin solos is in the E Major Partita Gavotte"

Sorry--can you give a bar? I looked through the manuscript but can't find it.

"Bach followed a long tradition. The first example to come to mind is Biber's Passcaglia from the Mystery Sonatas. It's also in g minor with one flat in the key signature."

It may be the case. And Bach seems to have been into numerology. Maybe he had a crush on "the Bibe"? Who wouldn't--look at that hair!

But anyway, the argument is unsatisfying (which is why I said that no one really knows) because there don't seem to be any other examples, either in the violin sonatas and partitas, or in other works that I've seen, such as the Well-Tempered Clavier.

Does anyone know if there is anything similar in the cello suites, which were written about the same time?

Here's one more mystery to discuss:

How can we explain Bach's very limited/inconsistent use of dynamics? For instance, we do see them in the A-minor allegro and occasionally in the E-major Preludio. I found one each in the A-minor fugue and the G-minor Presto.

September 18, 2016 at 05:24 PM · Hey Folks! :)

Nice discussion.

I also think it is an e flat. why? Because harmony rules are I think distilled by composers inventing certain patterns, that they think is nice to the ear. Some push this far, and they are "ahead of their time", meaning, that the general taste as of what is nice to the ear is not yet ready to appreciate their compositions, because they themselves transform, or define what is pleasant, and what is not.

So, Scott, claiming that Bach does not adhere to his own rules, is ok, as long as you might be "ahead of your time" :)

Check this:

I know it's not violin, and it's not even piano. heh. It's for organ :) but.... please note my markings. I have no idea why I think it sounds better, or more Bach-ish like that but I played it over and over, and felt it sounds better like this.

Why would Bach make mistakes in his manuscripts? Well, maybe they are for a reason. Don't forget that this is sacred church music, and really religious people are very afraid of some unspeakable evil, so out of religiosity, they might write down their music coded. Is it possible?

For instance, check the key. What is it?? I know it's in F minor, because someone told me that, who studies exactly these pieces since 30 years.

Irene could it be some weird modal stuff that I don't really understand what You wrote.

But, Scott, as for chords, please also note, that the chord progressions you define as basic are mostly I think (I might be wrong, I won't really argue with anybody) a product of popular music since the end of classical.

Also, please be aware, that chords are just names for notes ringing at the same time, so the number of permutations are huge, and the reason you do not find some chords on the net are just because they're not really used.

k

September 18, 2016 at 05:34 PM · What I would like to say, that Scott is right in that someone before Bach could not judge what is correct by ear (if it sounds ok), but we grew up on Bach, and if it sounds Bach-ish, it might be like that.

But we wouldn't know, right, because maybe we played it wrong since the beginning of times (not really), and now what we think as Bach-ish is not. :) wow. am I'm making any sense???? ;-)

September 18, 2016 at 08:18 PM · Hi Scott,

"However, in order to argue for an E-natural, someone would have to present a persuasive argument, and you can't just use your ear to justify your preference. You have to base it on the harmony."

- To be clear, I'm agree with your harmonic analysis and feel the same way after having tried both e-flat and e-natural for a while. I was hoping those who are truly convinced with e-natural can come up with a good reasoning. I suppose working in the realm of Bach's accidental inconsistencies, for Bach to be unmistakably clear, he would had been obliged to write a natural-sign even though by our traditional note-reading convention, as Mary Ellen noted, the accidental doesn't carry over to other octaves and he isn't technically required to do so. The accidental situation is the same in Anna Magdalena's copy. Alas we can't email a note check to composer.

"How can we explain Bach's very limited/inconsistent use of dynamics? For instance, we do see them in the A-minor allegro and occasionally in the E-major Preludio. I found one each in the A-minor fugue and the G-minor Presto."

- Pretty consistent to me. They imitate changing manuals on a double manual harpsichord. Another movement that comes to mind with is E major Partita gigue—I think they are everywhere.

"Sorry, I did find those odd thirds in the Allemande (they're on bar 4, not 3). I don't think he added the top, but rather goofed and started with the lower notes before realizing they didn't fit the sequence. The whole thing is handwritten--of course a very occasional mistake is inevitable. Are we absolutely positive this manuscript is Bach's hand?"

- Thanks for the correction, I can't count to four! We know it wasn't meant to be published. Regarding authenticity, I trust those Bach-handwriting musicology folks who can identify everyone in Bach family-student human copy machine unit by their calligraphy....And, what do I know, but the handwriting looks pretty consistent with other things in his hand.

Re: fingering: since I cannot count to four, if you can bear with me and look at the manuscript in E Major Gavotte & Rondeau, fifth line, fifth measure double stop F & E, he writes 1 and 3. I would had missed if it weren't for the Henle or Barenreiter's editorial remarks (forgot which one).

"It may be the case. And Bach seems to have been into numerology. Maybe he had a crush on "the Bibe"? Who wouldn't--look at that hair!

But anyway, the argument is unsatisfying (which is why I said that no one really knows) because there don't seem to be any other examples, either in the violin sonatas and partitas, or in other works that I've seen, such as the Well-Tempered Clavier.

Does anyone know if there is anything similar in the cello suites, which were written about the same time?"

- I think Irene's explanation is pretty spot-on! Biber was just following how his musical ancestors wrote and likewise, Old Bach had one foot in the modal world and another in the tonal system. Rameau around this time (1722) publishes the first major treatise on tonal harmony, which seems to me as a milestone on centuries-long gradual shift from modality to tonality. It sounds like from the works of Bach and his contemporaries I am familiar with, that their concept and training in harmony wasn't the same as our modern day-conservatory first semester theory 101 class where everything is major/minor and makes things like one flat in the key signature for g minor look weird to modern eyes.

Another curious spot I've been thinking about is the parallel fifth in Bach Chaconne (m. 190-191). Perhaps that was the better sounding solution which he chose over doubling the third of the chord?

September 18, 2016 at 08:23 PM · Krisztian,

When you say that chords are a "product of popular music" which popular music do you mean? Modern rock? And can you define "end of classical?"

Actually, The progressions used by Bach were used at least until Brahms. Popular music of today uses similar progressions, but as far as I know there are also important differences- things Bach never would have done, such as the progression V-IV, which is called a " retrogression."

September 18, 2016 at 08:25 PM · "What I would like to say, that Scott is right in that someone before Bach could not judge what is correct by ear (if it sounds ok), but we grew up on Bach, and if it sounds Bach-ish, it might be like that."

I'm not sure I said something like that...

September 18, 2016 at 08:50 PM · "Another curious spot I've been thinking about is the parallel fifth in Bach Chaconne (m. 190-191). Perhaps that was the better sounding solution which he chose over doubling the third of the chord? [Flag?]"

I see a couple of instances of what appear at first to be parallel fifths, but I'm not sure in this case any rules are violated here. In this case, I think he's doing his best to adapt the voice leading to the idiosyncrasies of the violin, instead of following rules as closely as he would have for a real 4- voice motet. I think it's hard to pick out with the ear, and if it were audible Bach would not have done it. Texture does matter: in an orchestral score you may have many instruments in parallel, but it just isn't perceived that way. Here's another, more modern example: on an electric guitar, a player can change chords by simply shifting the entire hand, say moving from IV-V. One of the first rules of voice leading we learn is that that voice leading is absolutely verboten for a 4 independent voices--you have to arrange it so that you have contrary motion in a voice. But clearly, in the case of the electric guitar, you don't hear four independent voices, just one texture mushed together, so no one notices.

September 18, 2016 at 08:52 PM · Scott, yes, shorry, I just skimmed over the chord progressions you identified, well, true, it is not relevant concerning songs on the radio.

On the other hand, I think that we're in deep waters. I tell you why. How do you know which part is the melody, and what is the chord? I ear-played so many pop songs, and their chord progressions are usually simple, but if you add the melody, then it is a more complex chord.

More than that, it is known, that it's extremely difficult to compose harmony for a solo instrument, like a violin. So for people less educated than You, bach uses a lot of hints to harmony and bass lines are just pointing to a hidden chord progression (that your brain processes as a harmony). How do you know what exactly Bach was surmising? The chords you wrote are the chords on the sheet, and not the hidden harmony.

Moreover, please guide me, because I am also not sure where are those chords, they are not even on the sheet, it's mostly a melody. Do you count notes following each other as chords?

The product of modern music, I just meant that structures are more simple in pop songs, and even in jazz, since chord progressions follow a head/improvisation/head bundle.

"I'm not sure I said something like that... "

- ok, shorry.

September 18, 2016 at 09:05 PM · shorry, a violin is not a solo instrument, it plays melody, so it is a lead instrument in jazz. But with my friends, it is usually the piano which guides the song, the guitarist solos, and I somehow hold together the whole thing with the melody.

Don't forget, that it can be hell to transpose your knowledge of a "lead" (quotation marks are because I'm not sure what's the definition of this instrument in classical) instrument when it goes berserk, and does the harmony on you ;-)

September 19, 2016 at 01:11 AM · Krisztian,

You're right in that there are many notes obscuring the harmony. But when you study harmony, and especially Bach chorales, you also learn to see the underlying chords through the suspensions, appogiaturas, accented passing tones, and other confusing added, delayed, or anticipatory notes.

September 19, 2016 at 04:27 AM · I see :) thanks :)

September 19, 2016 at 07:10 AM · I believe it was Corelli who invented chords and besides, even a monophonic piece contains its underlying harmony. Basically there's no escaping the overtone series.

September 19, 2016 at 07:41 AM · It was a common practice in barroque minor keys to write in dorian, but some well-known barroque players like Monica Hugget or J.Gandelsman play E natural in bar 3, although in similar cords and melodic line in bar 16 Bach writes half step in the bass from G to bA which reinforces the idea of the E flat. I guess you can play either without being arrested ;)

September 19, 2016 at 04:39 PM · Dorian isn't Dorian when you consistently use a leading tone, though. Or when an ascending scale raises the 6th. It would seem that, by definition, the composer is not thinking modally. An authentic cadence with a subtonic would never happen in Bach.

Are there any players that leave off the final F# at the end of the movement? I doubt it.

"I believe it was Corelli who invented chords"

Not sure that statement is entirely true....like saying Al Gore invented the internet.

Even if a famous player uses an E natural in that bar, it doesn't mean it's right. Wrong information gets passed on all the time. Many textbooks by famous theoreticians use the label I6/4 (instead of V6/4 to describe a cadential chord.

September 19, 2016 at 04:42 PM · wow :) someone argues in favor of the e flat ;-)

José, can you please expand your argument? I think everybody is interested in a different opinion ;-)

September 19, 2016 at 05:23 PM · Scott,

"Dorian isn't Dorian when you consistently use a leading tone, though. Or when an ascending scale raises the 6th. It would seem that, by definition, the composer is not thinking modally. An authentic cadence with a subtonic would never happen in Bach."

-Not sure if yu are referring to the OP, or yesnot.

"Are there any players that leave off the final F# at the end of the movement? I doubt it."

- Witch movement?

"Not sure that statement is entirely true....like saying Al Gore invented the internet."

Or Trump the politics. I think it was machiavelli who invented politics. no?

"Even if a famous player uses an E natural in that bar, it doesn't mean it's right. Wrong information gets passed on all the time. Many textbooks by famous theoreticians use the label I6/4 (instead of V6/4 to describe a cadential chord."

-Which famous player, mister? I men, I wonder if this violin has to do anithing with the sound of the strings. Just interested ;-)))))

September 19, 2016 at 06:05 PM · Two usual practices at that time:

- using one less flat in "flat" minor keys, but not one extra sharp in "sharp" ones, so I don't think it's the dorian aspect, butrather a sort of laziness, since the 6th degree is so often raised;

- repeating accidentals during a measure; in fact if an accidental is not repeated, we don't know whether the composer (or copyist) forgot the accidental or its cancelation: inspired guesswork required!

September 19, 2016 at 06:11 PM · Krisztian,

Which famous players? The ones mentioned-Monica Hugget and J.Gandelsman.

Which movement? Well, any movement, or any cadence with movement to I (or i).

Leading-tone movement to tonic is a defining difference between modal and major/minor common-practice diatonic harmony. We only really start seeing modal writing again with composers such as Stravinsky or Vaugh Williams.

No, I don't think one should start changing very straightforward harmonic patterns based on the "sound of the strings." Harmony is harmony, whether a piano, harpsichord, choir, or violin.

September 19, 2016 at 06:24 PM · "Two usual practices at that time:

- using one less flat in "flat" minor keys"

Can someone point out any other works by Bach that do this?

September 19, 2016 at 07:40 PM · Scott,

"Leading-tone movement to tonic is a defining difference between modal and major/minor common-practice diatonic harmony. We only really start seeing modal writing again with composers such as Stravinsky or Vaugh Williams."

-yes, and I'm not sure, but I think I remember, that a leading note is usually outside of the chord progression.

"No, I don't think one should start changing very straightforward harmonic patterns based on the "sound of the strings." Harmony is harmony, whether a piano, harpsichord, choir, or violin. "

-andwhynot? You see, I really don't like to read the measures, but I am asking with the max benevolence, did anybody got arrested before, bicause of writing things on violinist.com?

September 19, 2016 at 07:56 PM · Adrian,

"using one less flat in "flat" minor keys, but not one extra sharp in "sharp" ones, so I don't think it's the dorian aspect, butrather a sort of laziness, since the 6th degree is so often raised;"

-yes, training in flat minor is very cool ;-)

"repeating accidentals during a measure; in fact if an accidental is not repeated, we don't know whether the composer (or copyist) forgot the accidental or its cancelation: inspired guesswork required!"

-uhh. does inspired guesswork is under copiright licence?

September 19, 2016 at 08:10 PM · "yes, and I'm not sure, but I think I remember, that a leading note is usually outside of the chord progression."

I'm not sure what that means. Leading tones are what help drive a harmonic progression to its conclusion. As Woody Allen once said, "diatonic progression is a like a shark. It has to keep moving, or it dies."

September 19, 2016 at 08:22 PM · Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor "Dorian" is written without a key signature.

September 19, 2016 at 08:58 PM · So is the Double violin concerto. C minor movements in the St John Passion have only 2 flats. On the other hand the D minor Partita has a flat. But then so does the G minor sonata.......

September 19, 2016 at 11:13 PM · There is a difference between a work written without all of the flats in the key signature and a truly modal composition.

Dorian lacks the leading tone. Bach's so-called Dorian (not called by him) has c#s. Therefore, it is not modal.

September 20, 2016 at 01:17 AM · Hi Scott,

I think everyone agrees with you on the difference between minor and dorian modes. The G minor Sonata adagio is for sure in minor— the guy literally wrote "Sonata G min".

But I also think what everyone is trying to say is that Bach and his contemporaries understood harmony in a more ancient context and hence the different convention in notation. Maybe we can all gain more insight if we try to listen with their ears. There are so much music by Bach that are modal, as well as music later on; modes never truly went away.

"We only really start seeing modal writing again with composers such as Stravinsky or Vaugh Williams"

I don't think I can agree with that statement—e.g. take Beethoven Op. 132 slow movement ("Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian Mode") or Brahms 4 slow movement in Phrygian mode.

Re: Bud's comment on Corelli inventing chordal writing for string instrument...don't think that's true either. Take a look at Biber's music, for example!

September 20, 2016 at 01:29 AM · Another spot I would love people's thought on is D minor partita corrente, measure 35:

Image: http://imgur.com/oWko2xE

In the modern editions I own, the second F's accidental is omitted and assumed an F# while it suspiciously looks like a natural sign (it is quite difficult to read)—would it be wrong to interpret that passage as a descending g melodic minor scale with a lowered seventh scale degree?

September 20, 2016 at 02:36 AM · Dorian,

Good call on Brahms 4--totally forgot that one. However, one should differentiate between Beethoven and Brahms' occasional nod the past and Vaughn Williams, whose music really is steeped in modality. I'll just disagree about the concept that Bach et al had an "ancient" concept of harmony. On the contrary-- I think his harmony can be considered truly modern. The progressions he used stuck around for 150 years. That's why we study him. Just look in any textbook. His chorales are usually the most quoted. Other composers added some colors here and there ( don't remember him using a French +6), but he did for harmony what Beethoven did for the symphony. The harmonies of Handel and Vivaldi are kindergarten by comparison.

I once heard about Debussy yelling at a composition student for using parallel 5ths...

September 20, 2016 at 03:46 AM · It's written with the key signature of D dorian. Isn't that what you were asking for? I know very well that it's not in the Dorian mode just by looking at the first measure.

September 20, 2016 at 04:54 AM · I think in the D minor (corrente), if it is a F#, then it is sill ok with the Eb, but the Bb is awkward if it is an F#.

Structures in Jazz are also melodic lines leading to out of key notes after a certain pattern sound right, but it is not really following a harmonic rule, it is more like learning lots of "licks" and passages that use these patterns.

A lowered seventh note might be possible, because somehow sevenths allow out of key notes to sound right.

About the double, it is full of unnatural fingerings, and it is extremely irritating to work through the techniques of Bach et al, like an animal :)

September 20, 2016 at 07:59 AM · Re: Bud's comment on Corelli inventing chordal writing for string instrument...don't think that's true either. Take a look at Biber's music, for example!

I'm referring to vertical thinking.

Also, when I was at college we were taught that Bach was working chromatically with the top part of the minor scale. Hence loose key signatures. I've seen the missing flat in many of his contemporaries.

September 20, 2016 at 03:11 PM · "It's written with the key signature of D dorian. Isn't that what you were asking for? I know very well that it's not in the Dorian mode just by looking at the first measure. [Flag?]"

Ok. But my original charge was that no one has a good explanation for why Bach did this, and did it so seldom. That's the mystery: he wrote at least 1000 works, right? And yet on one hand people are claiming that he and his contemporaries "think modally" yet on the other, the works notated this way are 1. Not modal and 2. Exceedingly rare compared to his total output. You can't be "in the key of Dorian" and have a leading tone. It makes no sense at all. Probably some Victorian jackass named it and it stuck.

September 20, 2016 at 04:21 PM · and, also, the chord of the very first notes sounds eerily familiar to the tritonus ....

September 20, 2016 at 09:17 PM · Hi Scott, I think perhaps others are comfortable to look at Bach and his contemporaries working both in old church modes and the more modern and fashionable sounds of tonality, while you seem to want to box him in as either modal or tonal. At any rate this aspect of our discussion is turning to another rehash of this thread (G minor or D minor) and if all the ideas in that post and the chair of the theory department at your school hasn't at least lead one to consider other possibilities, I'll rest my case and agree we disagree :).

But I do hope the 11 people who voted for playing the note as E-natural and 12 people who voted for E-flat last time I checked would offer their explanation if they wish!

Bud, I'm don't quite follow on Corelli's vertical thinking...if anything the word horizontal comes to mind. He was famous for his moniker arcomelo (melodious bow), and while the 1710 Amsterdam edition with those super florid embellishments purportedy to be his are of course grounded on the bass, I think his harmony were quite conventional and his innovation was elsewhere.

September 21, 2016 at 05:47 PM · Hi Dorian, I think in the thread you mentioned they are talking about the neapolitan chord, or the naples 6th. Though I'm not sure.

And, well, yes, (what else, what else), some people could just as well expand their argument, it would be interesting :)

September 21, 2016 at 06:30 PM · Perhaps we should choose the oddest solution, on the grounds that it is not for us to "correct" Bach!

September 21, 2016 at 06:53 PM · Bach got the door open to the treasure of Corelli's music (or whatsoever), but then he was scared to enter into the secrets of jazz harmony (or whatever) :)

September 21, 2016 at 07:08 PM · Dorian - re the Corrente - have a look at bar 31 which has the same progression but less ambiguity because the first and second Fs are in different registers. In the manuscript 31 is unambiguously F# throughout.

The manuscript scans on IMSLP are also a bit clearer that 35 is also F#. Bach's natural signs always have pronounced ascenders and descenders while his #s do not always have complete strokes up or down from the box, so anything ambiguous is probably a #.

September 21, 2016 at 07:29 PM · Chris, could You please next time include the pic of the score with imgur (coded with the hfref thing)?

I think in the corrente, the structure is interesting. The redundancies, but I think the answer whether is an f# or an f is not in the harmony, but in the structure.

Notice the dense cluster of notes at the end of the bars ......

September 21, 2016 at 07:32 PM · It's on IMSLP: http://petrucci.mus.auth.gr/imglnks/usimg/0/0a/IMSLP324843-PMLP04292-bach_bwv_1001-1006_1013.pdf

September 21, 2016 at 07:38 PM · well yeah, whatever.......... for me imslp is a mystery, like chinese, or aramian :) You always have to click here and there, wait if you do not want to sign in, but then the download goes bad, because you never know which score to download, and end up with a midi file :)

September 21, 2016 at 08:46 PM · On the plus side, it gives you a good-resolution image of the original manuscript score of Bach's sonatas and partitas, for free. Kinda handy when discussing those works, and rather clearer than the images that have been posted in this thread.

And I've posted a direct link to the correct file. ;)

September 22, 2016 at 07:46 AM · Well, yes, I always use imslp (I even memorized the keyword i m s l p), but I was just pointing out the inconveniences.

Scanning (digitizing) manuscripts and putting them on the net would be awesome.

By the way, talking about manuscripts, I read a book about the Wittgeinstein family, who were ardent music lovers (Ludwig's brother even went for being a remarkable concert pianist, with one arm, he was maimed at the trenches).

They were austrian jews, and had to flee to switzerland with the help of a gestapo officer (you never know), and guess what they took with them as money (they were very rich)??

Beethoven manuscripts :)

September 22, 2016 at 04:24 PM · "But I do hope the 11 people who voted for playing the note as E-natural and 12 people who voted for E-flat last time I checked would offer their explanation if they wish!"

Just to play devil's advocate, one could make the argument that the E natural is part of a typical ascending melodic minor scale pattern, like the E-natural in the penultimate bar.

However, I do see that as being different in the bar in question, where the E is part of a larger-scale chord structure, and not a scale. There is a difference in how the 6th is used--yes composers raise it in a scale pattern, but they don't in a iv chord. If the 6th were raised in a chord, you'd see the harmony itself going in a different direction, with a change of key or at least tonicization or secondary dominant.

So if any of the 11 would like to give a reason, it should be based on the simple principles anyone in beginning harmony learns, but not on the fact that you like the sound. If you'd like to run it past your theory prof, let us know what he/she comes up with.

September 22, 2016 at 04:56 PM ·

I found this, honestly, I thought we were talking about Bach 35 on imslp, but, there the clusters are somewhat evoking a same context as in this Scarlatti sonata. It is relevant anyway, because of the Neapolitan chords :)

September 22, 2016 at 05:14 PM · Scott, Isn't it close to the VIIth mode? I mean, that pattern.....somehow ;-)

September 22, 2016 at 05:15 PM · These are what you call "inverted chords."

Literally...

September 22, 2016 at 05:19 PM · "Scott, Isn't it close to the VIIth mode? I mean, that pattern.....somehow..."

You're reaching. That all you got?

September 22, 2016 at 05:20 PM · well. it's closer to the Adonai malakh mode, in it's plagal form !

September 22, 2016 at 06:52 PM · Other options include the Podolan scale, octatonic, and the Chord of Destiny.

(I made up that last one).

September 22, 2016 at 08:27 PM · I saw Chord of Destiny open for Aerosmith in 1983.

September 23, 2016 at 05:54 PM · I think Mary got the point there that not all signs carry over all octaves. You can also modulate in a certain mode with just by playing an octave, and a regular 7th (same octave) in a same lick..

September 23, 2016 at 09:21 PM · "You can also modulate in a certain mode with just by playing an octave, and a regular 7th (same octave) in a same lick."

Yes, you can add a minor 7th to a chord and treat it as a dominant in a new key (I and IV are often used this way), but that means the notes an octave apart differ by a whole step.

If the discussion revolves around an Eflat vs. and E natural, that situation is not really relevant. Major chords with an added M7 are not used as a dominant-sounding chord.

Besides, you don't modulate in modes. You modulate in keys.

Mary Ellen's point about an accidental being good for one register only is now fairly standard, but you have to be careful--publishers and composers sometimes deviate from this "rule." Especially when composers self-publish and forget to check their work.

The use of the computer in composition has led to more, not fewer mistakes.

September 24, 2016 at 05:48 AM · :)

October 17, 2016 at 06:56 AM · Sorry to beat a dead horse....

Miriam Fried plays an E-natural and talks about why here:

https://iclassical-academy.com/master-classes/sonatas-and-partitas-12-sonatas-first-movements

Not a strict harmonic analysis but I appreciate her effort nonetheless!

October 17, 2016 at 02:39 PM ·

October 17, 2016 at 03:23 PM · Well, Ms Fried has convinced me that it should be an E flat: the E natural just sounds wrong, not "interesting".

October 17, 2016 at 08:15 PM · Haha Adrian, my thoughts too! But what I admire is her explaining why she chose it, and whether we're convinced or not is another story. But it would be a shame if teachers and jurors fault people for playing what's written on the page and say, "Oops, this person played a silly wrong note" when it is they themselves who aren't aware of the key signature because they've been playing from corrected editions their whole lives.

October 17, 2016 at 08:55 PM · Yes Dorian, I normally tend to prefer the oddest choice, since I shouldn't presume to know better than Bach!


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