Bach G minor Presto

March 13, 2013 at 07:12 PM ·

Replies (36)

March 13, 2013 at 07:15 PM · I think it should be played in 1 beat per bar. If necessary, subdivided into 3 beats. But NOT 2 triplet beats.

March 13, 2013 at 08:10 PM · Scott is right on I think. I try to feel this 3/8 movement in one. If you play each measure as two groupings of triplets, you might inadvertently accent the off beat, which I think can sound a bit out of place.

March 13, 2013 at 08:10 PM · I play it in BOTH rhythms, just look at the music and you can easily see where these rhythms occur.

March 13, 2013 at 08:18 PM · I think it would be indistinguishable only if you played with no accents or phrasing. I think the emphasis should be on one, but the phrases are several measures in length.

March 13, 2013 at 08:25 PM · I think we should always precieve and experss both, the microstructure as well as the macrostructure of any music.

The microstructure is 3/8, hence 3 x 2, maybe with e few exceptions, the macrostructure could be called also phrasing (correct me please if I am wrong with my English) and should be sculpted in measures, or even rather measures groups.

It is the same as architecture or any other kind of art in my opinion.

March 13, 2013 at 08:32 PM · That's right......

Bars 1,2,3 = triple

Bars 4 - 16 = duple.

Bars 17- 24 = triple.


March 13, 2013 at 08:58 PM ·

March 13, 2013 at 09:00 PM · So you are listening the wrong recording :-) Not all stars know (and knew) how to play Bach.

March 13, 2013 at 09:12 PM · Listen to any recording you'd like- it's always the same. I hear the pattern I want to hear, regardless of the intent of the player. I wondered if anyone else had the same experience.

March 13, 2013 at 09:15 PM · No. If the intention of the player is clear and obvious, you have to hear it clearly.

March 13, 2013 at 09:21 PM · Ok, the triple rhythm there are 'three' notes, this means the 'accent' is on the first note of the group of 'three'...

In duple rhythm there are only 'two' notes, the accent occurs on the first note of each group of the twos....

Listen carfully and you will begin to distinquish the rhythms.

March 13, 2013 at 09:36 PM · Although the slur pattern sometimes looks like two dotted quarter notes, whether bar 111 or bar 25, I would avoid suddenly making what sounds like a tarantella or gigue pattern out of it. Still keep to a predominant beat of 1 per bar. If the beat sounds like two beats of 3, you're over-emphasizing the second 3.

I think of those second three 8ths as weak, rather like a pickup to the next bar.

March 13, 2013 at 09:53 PM ·

March 13, 2013 at 10:04 PM · I do not disagree. You asked, I replied. I am not able to write anything esle byt my honest opinion, sorry...

I have never problem accepting diffrent opinions, but as for my own, why I should lie? :)

March 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM · To be fully honest, I confused this topic with just the same, but started earlier here You can read easilly, that I stated the same there :-)

March 13, 2013 at 10:12 PM · I agree with Bohdan in that one should be hearing a clear beat pattern. The dances of Bach are, after all, about weak and strong accents. There is little in the way of melody.

There's one other curious thing about this movement, and I'm surprised no one has mentioned it:

If you have the Galamian or Bärenreiter editions, you will notice that Bach does not use full barlines on every other bar (this is what he does on the manuscript). What does this mean? It's hard to say. Is he trying to get us to group two bars together as one? This concept has a name: "hypermeter." If that were the case, then the beat would indeed be 2 main beats of 6, with the second grouping being slightly weaker. However, I have been unable to make this work convincingly.

Perhaps like the key signature with one flat, it will remain an isolated notation by Bach.

March 13, 2013 at 10:18 PM ·

March 13, 2013 at 10:20 PM · One more thing:

Look at bars 12-15. Bach, with the slur pattern, is asking the player to syncopate the rhythm. Otherwise he would presumably had the first note separate and the following 5 slurred (some play it that way and it's much easier, of course), or just 6 separate notes. However, I hear very few performers able to bring out the syncopations. It's not easy to do, especially with the string crossings.

March 13, 2013 at 10:25 PM · "What I am talking about is metrical ambiguity"

Yes, but there should be no ambiguity if the performer is emphasizing the important pitches. Much of the movement is sequences, and one would theoretically wish to bring out either the circle-of-5ths or the scalar pattern (it's always one or the other).

Naturally one can hear what one wishes, even if the performer is exaggerating something else. Sometimes people see the Virgin Mary in a peanut butter sandwich as well...

That's why I prefer a Reuben.

March 13, 2013 at 10:27 PM ·

March 14, 2013 at 01:40 AM · I disagree. If you changed the slur to 1+5, you'd get a heavy downbeat and 5 weak notes. I don't mean to sound snooty, but at this point in life I like to examine the score closely and make my own decisions.

March 14, 2013 at 01:50 AM ·

March 14, 2013 at 01:52 AM · Wait, 1+5 is what's written.Sorry, he's talking about syncopation, but in measures 5 and 7. Sorry for the confusion.

March 14, 2013 at 01:58 AM · The great thing about Bach is that there is so much room for interpretive freedom. No violin player will play these works the same as another. The tactus changes in this piece more than "normal". There are a number of places that you can play it in either one meter or another.

March 14, 2013 at 02:10 AM ·

March 14, 2013 at 11:56 AM · Listeners interpretation is expected to be dependent on player’s interpretation. If not, the latter is vague and wrong. The problem with this piece is generally known, my father was even invited to give a lecture on ESTA (Europen ASTA) conference.

The same applies on Preludium from E major Partita, even much worse. There are measures 17 – 28 where there is an open E on every second sixteenth and sudden timbre change on any fourth sixteenth. If you listen literally almost any recording made by star soloists, there is just chaos and mess very often. The listener is forced to change to metrum forcibly and he/she gets totally perplexed, especially at the end of the passage transition form themeasure 28 to 29.

Of course, it is not easy to play it clearly, one has to compensate a lot. Not every performer is willing to do extra work :-)

March 14, 2013 at 03:03 PM ·

March 14, 2013 at 03:41 PM · Bach often made the rhythmic structure ambiguous. He seemed to enjoy playing around in that way. The outstanding example is the Minuet from the fifth Partita for keyboard where the time signature is the typical Minuet 3/4, but the notes are unmistakably organized into a 6/8 pattern. The G Minor presto is remarkably ambiguous. At least half of the measures work equally well in duple or triple meter. But then there are the other measures which clearly correspond to the time signature.

March 14, 2013 at 04:01 PM · Thanks, Bohdan, for mentioning the Preludium from E major Partita. Indeed, I am almost always perplexed as a listener when hearing the passage you mention culminate in a sudden rhythm change. I'm glad this was not just me, and also intrigued that one can actually play it without causing such a perplexing in the listener. I thought it was some effect intended by Bach.

March 14, 2013 at 09:44 PM ·

March 14, 2013 at 11:55 PM ·

March 15, 2013 at 05:48 PM · A number of years ago I was in a quartet with a cellist who was working on one of the Bach Suites for cello (#6 in D major). The first movement has some similarities rhythmically to the G minor Presto for violin. The piece is in 12/8 and in the beginning the rhythm is clearly in 4 groups of three eighth notes. However there is a passage of 16th notes in which one section (where there is one separate sixteenth followed by 5 slurred) tends to sound as if it is in groups of 3 sixteenths. I mentioned to the cellist one time that it sounded as if the meter changed at that point. When I asked her to try "just thinking" the notes as 3 groups of 2 instead of 2 groups of 3, I found that as a listener I could tell a significant difference, although she didn't think she was actually doing anything different. I thought the change was an improvement.

I think, as a listener, one can hear an "ambiguous" passage either way, but I do think that a player can make it much more likely for the listener to hear it one way than another.

March 15, 2013 at 05:54 PM · Speaking of the E major Partita, the issue brought up probably explains why I think that the Preludio is generally more effective in the guitar performances I have heard than in the violin performances. I think that bariolage passage must be much easier to do well on the guitar.

January 19, 2014 at 06:22 PM · I strongly suspect that Bach did it on purpose!

How about varying the accents during the repeat?

January 20, 2014 at 02:50 PM · Did you ever here the arrangement of the G-major praeludium that Bach made for organ? I heard it once on the radio, and it was a complete eye opener - It sounded more like a fanfare!

January 22, 2014 at 08:21 PM · I think Roy Sonne has summed up what I wanted to say much better than I could. I’m sure Bach and other great composers introduced rhythmic ambiguity deliberately, to make the music more interesting and to intrigue the ear, and the mind. The bariolage is another great example. I’ve heard others in Bach but the only one I can recall at the moment is the second movement of Brandenburg 6, where I had to go to the score to confirm whether it was in triple (6/4?) or common (4/4) time. Later composers did something similar with different means - Haydn and Mozart with irregular phrase lengths (surprising how often this occurs, especially in Mozart), Beethoven by displacing the main accent with sf’s or dynamic markings, Dvorak in his many Furiantes. And what about the finale of the Schumann piano concerto......

As far as the movement under discussion is concerned, I may hear it either way at different times and from different performers. I am quite comfortable with either.

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