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#2078827 - 05/07/13 01:27 PM "The Bach style"
pianovirus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 959
Loc: Basel, Switzerland
It's a broad topic for discussion (maybe too broad)... but I'd be curious to hear what others have thought about the variability of Bach's (mainly keyboard) writing style across his works.

In particular, if there are some good books or articles (something like "The Classical Style", but for Bach?!), I'd be very happy about some pointers.

For example, I would be interested to learn more about his variability in texture, e.g. his different (also in terms of "strictness") treatment of individual "voices" in different genres of his works, and his mix of polyphonic and homophonic ("melody/accompaniment") writing.

In terms of polyphony, on the "strict" side there are of course the fugues (and inventions/sinfonias), in which the number of voices is clearly set out at the beginning and notation is clear enough that you could write out each voice on its own stave without ambiguity.

On the other extreme (it seems to me) there are works like the Italian Concerto in which many notes are there mainly as "accompaniment" (i.e. for the sake of harmony, and not as part of an independent horizontal line).

Many WTC preludes, or movements from the Suites/Partitas seem (again just my impression) to be somewhere in the middle between these extremes, mixing "less strict" polyphonic writing (e.g. voices that are silent are not notated by breaks; additional voices can occur and disappear within a movement) with "accompaniment"/homophonic elements.

Well, I guess that leaves room for any random observations or thoughts on Bach's style... laugh
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#2078967 - 05/07/13 06:56 PM Re: "The Bach style" [Re: pianovirus]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 20692
Loc: New York
"Variability" is right. The main thing I'd say about his "style," besides the superb counterpoint, is that it covers so much ground that I don't think we can describe it in any simple or single way. More than any other composer, I think his styles span virtually the entire history of music, even including the most modern kinds. (BTW the cadenza in the 1st mvt of the 5th Brandenburg almost encompasses all of this by itself.) If someone were to quiz me with a blip excerpt of almost any music (leaving aside issues of instrumentation/orchestration), I think only rarely would I be able to swear it wasn't Bach. I don't think I could say that about any other composer.

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#2079819 - 05/09/13 12:21 PM Re: "The Bach style" [Re: pianovirus]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 20692
Loc: New York
Hey, nothing else about PV's good post? I can't imagine the above reply says it all! (Especially with all that silly hyperbole.) grin


(BTW, PV -- if it's still possible to edit out the "quotes" in the title, that'll help the navigating of the thread. Like, if you can change it to 'single' quotes, that does it.)

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#2079865 - 05/09/13 02:37 PM Re: "The Bach style" [Re: pianovirus]
Vid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 1205
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
What's the question? wink

The Italian Concerto is interesting because it was in a way Bach's response to critics claiming that his style was old fashioned (which it was by the early 1700's). I think he wanted to assert that yes he could write like that too if he chose to.

.. and then he went on to write the "Art of Fugue".

This resource is indispensible: Keyboard Music of Bach
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#2079992 - 05/09/13 07:16 PM Re: "The Bach style" [Re: Mark_C]
pianovirus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 959
Loc: Basel, Switzerland
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Hey, nothing else about PV's good post? I can't imagine the above reply says it all! (Especially with all that silly hyperbole.) grin


Thanks for pulling the thread up again...I already guessed the topic is probably not focused enough for a discussion thread.

Originally Posted By: Vid
What's the question? wink


There's none! laugh

This was more like "Share everything you ever thought about the characteristics of Bach's widely variable keyboard style"...or give me a book that does this. So thanks for recommending the Schulenberg book; I will surely order this one!

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
(BTW, PV -- if it's still possible to edit out the "quotes" in the title, that'll help the navigating of the thread. Like, if you can change it to 'single' quotes, that does it.)


Oh no, I don't see an "edit" button (maybe it's only there when a post is new (?)). But now you made me curious, Mark: smile In what way do the double quotes in the title affect the navigating of the thread?
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#2080031 - 05/09/13 08:57 PM Re: "The Bach style" [Re: pianovirus]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 20692
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: pianovirus
Oh no, I don't see an "edit" button (maybe it's only there when a post is new (?)).

Yeah -- it goes away after some time.
The length of time varies and, from what I've been able to tell, is random. ha

Quote:
In what way do the double quotes in the title affect the navigating of the thread?

Well, just see what happens when you click on this thread in the Pianist Corner page.

Instead of taking you to the first "new post," it takes you back to the very top.

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#2080040 - 05/09/13 09:25 PM Re: "The Bach style" [Re: Mark_C]
pianovirus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 959
Loc: Basel, Switzerland
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Well, just see what happens when you click on this thread in the Pianist Corner page.

Instead of taking you to the first "new post," it takes you back to the very top.


I see, oh no! cry

Well, at least I can proudly say it took me less than 1000 posts to learn about this "feature" laugh yippie

Now, back to Bach (in case anyone has some more random observations or literature to share). Too bad Charles Rosen didn't write a book about his style. I'm currently reading his book on the Beethoven sonatas, and even though there is little space for each sonata I'm finding something new and interesting on every page...
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#2080050 - 05/09/13 10:18 PM Re: "The Bach style" [Re: pianovirus]
Piano Person16 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/11
Posts: 75
Just wanted to add a couple interesting pieces to this converstation:
Duetto in e minor (couldn't find a recording I liked, so here...)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJDb00Go7vE
Art of the Fugue, Contrapunctus 13
Note: the "inversus" version of 13 was stolen by Brahms for the finale to the e minor cello sonata
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az2eEE3YYEE
And just because it's such a STUNNING recording:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bL2qhrGeJA
Gould plays everything incredibly, but this is so unique and honest that even if it doesn't add to the content of this thread, it might make your day a little richer.
_________________________
Working on: Rachmaninov concerto 3, Mozart K488, Beethoven Waldstein, Bach Goldberg Variations, Stravinsky Petrushka, Bach Art of the Fugue, Brahms 118, Rachmaninov op. 39 no. 6 (Red Riding Hood), Chopin etude op. 10 no. 1, Chopin nocturne op. 55 no. 2, Bach Prelude and Fugue in g# minor (Book 2)

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#2080136 - 05/10/13 03:09 AM Re: "The Bach style" [Re: Piano Person16]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8621
Originally Posted By: Piano Person16
Just wanted to add a couple interesting pieces to this converstation:
Duetto in e minor (couldn't find a recording I liked, so here...)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJDb00Go7vE


The duets are wonderful pieces, I think. I like the ornaments in this version of the e minor, from Blandine Verlet (warning: harpsichord ahead!) -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLO084UnWeA

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