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September 17, 2002
1:11 PM   Subscribe

An unfinished work representing a centuries-old mystery and containing an encrypted signature, Pythagorean philosophy and celestial numbers... Could it be the new Neal Stephenson novel? Actually, it's Johann Sebastian Bach's "Art of Fugue", believed by some to have been conceived as "absolute music" never intended to be played at all. Artist Elizabeth Harington has created a lovely and loving visual interpretation of the work in the form of 14 folded sculptures (nicely presented by Colophon).
posted by taz (12 comments total)

 
For those who are interested: several short exploratory articles on "Art of Fugue" from Minnesota Public Radio; a Die Kunst der Fuge Bach blog of sorts, including reviews; and more reviews here. More Bach-inspired artworks (etchings on The Well-tempered Clavier) by Harington here.
posted by taz at 1:13 PM on September 17, 2002


lovely. thanks, taz. if y'all still need more visualized music, levitated.net does it to gorgeous effect with Beethoven's No. 14
posted by gwint at 1:31 PM on September 17, 2002


Place this post under the "Why I Love Metafilter" column. Thank taz.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:32 PM on September 17, 2002


thanks a thousand-fold for the links!
posted by DenOfSizer at 1:37 PM on September 17, 2002


So that's why there's a programme on BBC2 every now and then called 'Preludes and Fugues'. I never watched it though, because it didn't have any doctors, police or spies in it.
posted by Summer at 1:49 PM on September 17, 2002


this is truly an intriguing article. my brain hurts from reading it, but it makes me want to research some things I've never considered thinking about, now.
posted by trioperative at 2:22 PM on September 17, 2002


Nothing to do but join the chorus with a ditto post and say thanks taz....I also especially liked the intro, by the way. More FPP's could benefit from that kind of style.
posted by redshoes3 at 3:28 PM on September 17, 2002


Great! Where are the MP3s?
posted by Ayn Marx at 4:39 PM on September 17, 2002


Well, maybe. Love the subject, but I'm a little skeptical about the article's "solved" claims. For different answers to many of the same questions, check out this article at the Minnesota Public Radio site. Or this one.

I personally recommend the recording by Bernard Labadie and Les Violins Du Roy (Dorian xCD-90297). The first time I heard it, I had to wait patiently for the radio announcer to find out who it was so that I could immediately buy it.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:34 PM on September 17, 2002


I am very pleased with the Glenn Gould version of the piece, on piano and organ. Bach himself would often play the same pieces on different instruments (for example, two of his violin concertos are exactly like two of his keyboard concertos, except for the difference in lead instruments). Some of his pieces were even specifically meant to be malleable - intended to be performed in a number of different arrangements. So, I say, as long as your choice of instruments for the Art of Fugue makes it sound good, run with it, and even Bach would probably not mind.
posted by epimorph at 9:05 PM on September 17, 2002


This is truly great stuff. Thanks, Taz. I am now officially obsessed. This is like the Smile of the classical world.

For more mind-bending stuff about Bach, try this book.
posted by mikrophon at 7:11 AM on September 18, 2002


I love mind-bending stuff like this early in the morning, or really, at any time of day if it has something to to with Bach. I've always loved the theoretical and mathematical aspects of music the best, and nobody did intellectual better than Bach.
posted by kate_fairfax at 7:29 AM on September 18, 2002


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