Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Prelude and Fugue in F# major from Book II of the WTC

I just made it through the 13th Prelude and Fugue from Book II of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, and I feel like I have been through all kinds of secret doors to leading to secret corners of an uncharted harmonic world. Those six sharps are kind of like a chain of sharp rocks or some barbed-wire fencing, but once you face your fears and make your way in, there are all sorts of harmonic cushions that pull you forward in spite of the double-sharp-filled rough terrain.

And then there's the fugue.

I have to play it relatively slowly, and I have to be careful of every step, but the journey has rewards and resolutions that boggle my imagination.

This wasn't my first time through. My first encounter was this past August, and I found the twists and turns in the piece mirrored much of what I was going through at the time. I dragged myself through determined to get to the other side. This time the journey was different. I found it exhilarating.


Anonymous said...

Those delicious double-sharps as markers pointing from beneath to the current tonal domain, mark additionally in the WTC secondary dominant functions pointing "towards," while the naturals then mark the downward progress when as the minor seven of a current temporary dominant. The inclusion in the fugue subject of the leading tone twice as bookends around the interesting appearance of the lowered seventh of the scale is tasty, heightening the flow to and away from the tonic, with the delight of such as a D sharp minor being spelling implications of the signature itself. What might this look like in the complimentary G flat major? Easy for some to read?

I wonder when one thinks as a keyboard player confronting the parts as a whole if there is a difference as when one thinks as another sort of instrumentalist confronting a single line. Are the double sharps then as daunting, barbed wire and all in imagery? There is a delight in counting the appearances of what some call the "rule of three," but I prefer the aesthetic stance of three, as Bach shows us some sequence and then moves at just the right time to a next.

Given the "working through" musical ideas and notations as you mention from your preceding post about a young student, is this all merely -- quite an adverb -- on a continuum from one pole of your student to the other pole of our grand master of counterpoint and structure? We are all then works-in-progress.

Elaine Fine said...

Beautiful. Thank you.