Bach Solo Sonata No.1 in G minor

February 3, 2004 at 12:27 AM · After years of performing and teaching the Bach Unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas, I have only just noticed that Bach placed the wrong Key Signature (one flat) at the start of each movement of the first Sonata in G minor. It should of course be two flats. Explanation anybody?

Replies (5)

February 3, 2004 at 06:25 AM · Right, it's written as G dorian, but sounds aeolian (3rd mvt exempted). I'm curious too, since the other minor sonata/partitas are written out with straightforward key signatures.

This page:

pointed out a few bars in the Presto: 34, 46, 102 that sound more modal than the rest, but I don't know WHY the key was written as dorian, yet the sonata is full of E flats when descending, and the 3rd mvt begs another flat, too.

I can't imagine what the advantage of this key signature was, unless it was meant to spur some kind of avant-garde fuss...but I doubt that. There must be an explanation. Sorry to belabor the point.

February 3, 2004 at 09:50 AM · If you do a little research you will soon notice that it is not just HIS G-minor sonata that lacks a flat.

Most Vivaldi concertos show the same thing.

There where a discussion about this a while back, but I cant find it in the archives.

February 3, 2004 at 03:47 PM · This was the norm for the baroque, and extended to some other minor keys as well. Composers mainly used the harmonic minor scales, so they cut out the hassle of accidentals next to Es.

mmm. . . could be melodic, not harmonic. i don't remember which is which. you know what i mean, though.

February 3, 2004 at 04:20 PM · A harmonic minor scale is a minor scale with an augmented 7th; melodic minor scales augment both the 6th and the 7th.

February 3, 2004 at 05:59 PM · a jazz melodic minor scale is the same as you described but with a dominant 7th

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