Monday, September 14, 2015


I believe in Bach. I believe that Bach wrote his non-contrapuntal unaccompanied string music for musicians to play with imaginary accompanying voices (that do not need to be notated). I believe that every string player has a different set of accompanying voices to the violin partitas and cello suites, and I believe that those accompanying voices change as we grow as musicians. Perhaps those silent individual and personal accompaniments are what make each individual interpretation unique.

Of course the word "Credo," has religious associations. I think about Bach and the concept of God often. You could even say that when I play Bach or hear Bach played I feel connected to the concept of God. I could even go as far as saying that I feel the idea of God within the music of Bach. Sometimes it seems to be present in between the lines of counterpoint in the Well-Tempered Clavier, kind of like those phantom voices that lurk below and above the cello suites and the violin partitas (that I get to play on the viola).

Today is Rosh Hashanah, and I had the honor of blowing the Shofar during services this morning. In light of my Bach musings, the Gates of Repentance passage, "The Psalmist affirms: God stands revealed amid acclamation; the Lord, amid the sound of the Shofar," really resonated with me today.


Anonymous said...

Try as I might, I am unable to understand the careful wording of "I feel connected to the concept of God" as perhaps opposed to "connected to God." The Gates of Repentance makes no such cautious avowal. Would you care to clarify?

Elaine Fine said...

I have no authority to think of what people refer to as "God" as something other than my own concept. I believe, as with interpreting Bach, that there are many "correct" interpretations. Your God and my God might be the same (as Judiasm teaches us to proclaim), but I just don't feel right "naming" an unnamable entity.

Michael Leddy said...

Glenn Gould says somewhere, “I believe in God — Bach’s God.”

Stephen Owades said...

Sometimes Bach shows us explicitly what those "imaginary accompanying voices" might be. A great example is the opening Preludio from the third Violin Partita (Gidon Kremer's performance of the entire Partita is at, which he expanded for a rather grand orchestra as the opening Sinfonia to Cantata 29 Wir danken dir, Gott (Masaaki Suzuki's performance of the Sinfonia is at