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Tocatta and Fudged in D Minor
November 1, 2005 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Did Bach compose Tocatta and Fugue in D minor?
posted by daksya (66 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sorry, it was me. I take full responsibility. It won't happen again.
posted by Balisong at 10:00 PM on November 1, 2005


The fact that there are many places in the score that spell SUCKERS when you transscribe them properly, and not BACH as usually in his work, should have given it away. But these music types always listen, never read.
posted by genista at 10:05 PM on November 1, 2005


I blame Bush.
posted by Rothko at 10:07 PM on November 1, 2005


Everyone knows Francis Bacon really wrote it. For banjos.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies at 10:10 PM on November 1, 2005


oh god - what about the piano puzzlers!? WHAT ABOUT THE PUZZLERS!!!?
posted by odinsdream at 10:10 PM on November 1, 2005


They make the point that the piece breaks the "rules" of counterpoint, but the fact is that Bach broke the rules all the freakin' time.
posted by speicus at 10:11 PM on November 1, 2005


Of course, the Minuet in G minor is now accepted as Dresden organist Christian Petzold's work.
posted by daksya at 10:11 PM on November 1, 2005


I transcribed D(T&F)m for 12-string acoustic guitar. Even in a tuning based on 4ths rather than the violin's 5ths, if falls very nicely on a fretboard. The 12-string also simplifies those pesky octaves.

Is it Bach? I don't really freakin' care, I still love it.
posted by mischief at 10:23 PM on November 1, 2005


They make the point that the piece breaks the "rules" of counterpoint, but the fact is that Bach broke the rules all the freakin' time.

True fact.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:34 PM on November 1, 2005


You know, seriously, I always kinda thought it didn't fit with any other Bach I was familiar with.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:40 PM on November 1, 2005


Funny thing, when you look at a spectrograph of a recording of the said piece you see this.
posted by mr.marx at 10:40 PM on November 1, 2005


(Post-Gazette classical music critic Andrew Druckenbrod can be reached at adruckenbrod@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1750.)

dear andy:

whoever told you it would be a good idea to write about classical music was lying ok?

<3 naxos s.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:43 PM on November 1, 2005


I just think it's awesome that they included an mp3. When is the New York Times gonna start doing that?
posted by kyleg at 11:54 PM on November 1, 2005


Did Bach compose Tocatta and Fugue in D minor?

yes?
posted by shmegegge at 12:32 AM on November 2, 2005


Everybody knows it was the Phantom of the Opera.
posted by deusdiabolus at 2:02 AM on November 2, 2005


It's true, the thing about him breaking his own rules. He did it ALL THE TIME. And why is it ok? Because he's Bach. Us lowly students have to stick to the rules.
posted by Lotto at 2:40 AM on November 2, 2005


Bach did NOT composed The Tocatta and Fugue in D minor - but he did compose the ToCCata and Fugue in D minor.
posted by tzikeh at 3:09 AM on November 2, 2005


Yes.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:58 AM on November 2, 2005


Blah, I don't have time to Wiki it, but someone should add a reference to the original Donkey Kong, Jr. arcade game on teh wikipedia!
posted by Eideteker at 4:55 AM on November 2, 2005


I'll presume were talking BWV 565, not BWV 538, also entitled Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

BWV 565 is problematic. We don't have an original score -- we have a copy from a student of a student of Bach's, Johann Ringk, who is suspected of passing off other works as Bach's. The score is loaded with dynamic markings, which weren't often used on scores written for the organ.

Finally, there's the Fugue itself -- the parallel octaves in the opening are very much Not Like Bach on an organ. Notably for a composer that avoided them, there's ten bars worth of consecutive fifths, and while the theme is certainly complex enough for Bach, the answer isn't -- it's just a bunch of parallel chords.

The very large broken chords are also problematic, esp. on a weaker organ -- many people find that they can't play the first crescendo as written, because the organ can't sing with that many pipes that long without running out of air.

There is a theory that this piece was written by Bach as a worst case test piece for an organ, and it is a pretty solid test of an organ's ability to move air, and of the pedal board -- in the last exposition before the cadence and coda, the pedals sing the main theme of the Fugue, then improvise on it -- and both the pedalboard and the musician need to be in top form to pull it off.

I accept another theory: The Fugue was originally in A minor, and played on the violin, not the organ.
This explains many things -- including the fifths and parallel octaves in the opening, which would play quite naturally on the violin, the thin texture at times (there's only so much one can do with 4 strings). By playing the work at A minor, rather than D minor, it fits the range of a violin very well, and many of the alternating 16ths in the theme end up with one string open, making them very easy to play, and so on. There's one passage that makes no sense -- until you realize that Bach often played multiple stops on the violin, and that the notes required are such that you can easily quadruple stop the chord -- which implies that they were meant to -- the chance of the notes lining up so, every time, is pretty low.

Finally, Bach is known to have transcribed violin works to the organ, so we've seen that transition before.

The Toccata then becomes more problematic, which is the biggest argument against. The counterargument is that the Tocatta may not even be Bach's, but was added later. This, however, is much harder to support.

It would be lovely to find a signed score of BWV 565, which would certainly prove that this is, indeed, Bach's work. The idea of Bach writing a crash-test piece for the organ makes perfect sense, given Bach's critical approach to the organ, and his sheer ability at playing them. Indeed, the pedal line is possibly the best argument that the work really is both Bach's and meant for the organ -- simply because Bach could have easily played, and not many others of his time could.
posted by eriko at 5:20 AM on November 2, 2005 [2 favorites]


You say fugue, I say ricercar. Let's call the whole thing off.
posted by nofundy at 5:31 AM on November 2, 2005


This immediately made me think of playing Castlevania 1 at my friend's house when I was 14 or 15. So controversy or no, thanks anyway.
posted by patgas at 5:33 AM on November 2, 2005


Now that's a comment.
posted by mr.marx at 5:34 AM on November 2, 2005


(pointing towards eriko)
posted by mr.marx at 5:34 AM on November 2, 2005


"I'll presume were talking BWV 565, not BWV 538, also entitled Toccata and Fugue in D minor..."

Damn! Exactly what I was going to point out, but I'm a slow typist.

After all, you'd expect a German guy to be driving a BMW.
posted by Mike D at 5:42 AM on November 2, 2005


Don't miss Wolfdog's "Yes" link -- it's a very funny essay by David Hurwitz.
posted by languagehat at 5:56 AM on November 2, 2005


MetaFilter: the organ can't sing with that many pipes that long without running out of air.
posted by Floydd at 6:15 AM on November 2, 2005


But you still hear the messages to Satan if you play it backward, yes?
posted by NemesisVex at 6:46 AM on November 2, 2005


The Fugue was originally in A minor, and played on the violin, not the organ.
This explains many things


You got it eriko. I've heard it played live on the violin, and once you've heard it, there is no question that this is, was, and was always meant to be a violin piece. Not that I have anything against transcribing it for organ, "Fantasia" or any other instrument. Time for classical music to get flexible.
posted by Faze at 7:30 AM on November 2, 2005


Not that I have anything against transcribing it for organ, "Fantasia" or any other instrument. Time for classical music to get flexible.

In Bach's day it was much more common to play the same piece on different instruments than it is with more modern music. Sometimes pieces would be written without the composer even specifying an instrument. Contemporary music, on the other hand, tends to be extremely specific with regard to timbre.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:21 AM on November 2, 2005


Yeah, ludwig_van, too many classical performers pride themselves on being transparent vehicles for the composer's intentions. And composers are way too high and mighty about the "proper" ways of performing their pieces. The strength of a composition may in fact be measured by its transportability from instrument to instrument, or genre to genre. These pieces are fragile pieces of china. They can be moved.
posted by Faze at 9:25 AM on November 2, 2005


What the fugue?
posted by Foosnark at 9:40 AM on November 2, 2005


Did Bach compose Toccata and Fugue in D minor?

Maybe it was Bach (I know it wasn't me). But it sounds like it might have been eriko.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:02 AM on November 2, 2005


I think classical music fans are probably a bit more stuffy than classical music performers. I think there is a note from Beethoven to a concert master somewhere saying, "Please rehearse this symphony once before performing it in front of an audience." Performers I've found are willing to try anything at least once for the heck of it.

I don't think that transportability really means much more than transportability. Certainly, a good catchy tune will still be catchy when performed on a different insturment. On the other hand, a piece written to stretch a virtuoso's talent becomes less impressive when all the harmony and color is distributed among an entire orchestra. Rhapsody in Blue sounds ok as an orchestral arrangement, but is jaw-popping amazing with a good piano soloist.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:07 AM on November 2, 2005


I don't think there's anything inherently better or worse about a piece being open to different instrumentation or performance styles. Some pieces of music focus on melody, others on harmony, others on texture and timbre, etc. Changing the texture of a 20th century piece might be like changing the melody of an 18th century piece; either way, you're re-composing it. It can be interesting to try to hear pieces as the now-dead composer heard them. There is often a very big difference between an "authentic" performance of a piece and a more contemporary one.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:28 AM on November 2, 2005


Fascinating stuff. I'm a big Bach fan but had never encountered this controversy.

I was about to come in here and bloviate that if the parallel octaves were in the toccata, no biggie, but if they were in the fugue, that would prove it wasn't Bach.

Then I remembered my favorite fugue of his, the tenth from WTC I, which has entire bars of parallel octaves. So much for that.

I think there is a note from Beethoven to a concert master somewhere saying, "Please rehearse this symphony once before performing it in front of an audience."

Heh. I bet Rachmaninoff was kicking himself for not including a note like that with the score of his First Symphony.
posted by soyjoy at 10:30 AM on November 2, 2005


I think there is a note from Beethoven to a concert master somewhere saying, "Please rehearse this symphony once before performing it in front of an audience."

Perhaps you're referring to this (found on wikipedia):

Occasionally, the written record tells us things we might prefer not to know. For instance, a letter from Haydn (Oct. 17, 1789) says:

Now I would humbly ask you to tell the princely Kapellmeister there that these three symphonies [ 90-92 ] because of their many particular effects, should be rehearsed at least once, carefully and with special concentration, before they are performed.

posted by ludwig_van at 10:48 AM on November 2, 2005


Ohh, yeah. That's it. Right sentiment, wrong composer.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:55 AM on November 2, 2005


eriko, I agree, absolutely a violin piece. Possible it was written for violin, then co-opted to use as an "organ tester", eh?

(Organ tester...heh)

FWIW, Transportability (with regard to instrumentation) in Baroque music is built in, and it was indeed standard practice to arrange works for a variety of instrumentation. Bach himself arranged his own works, depending upon the occasion and forces available.

It's built in because the approach to composing music in the Baroque was more about "pure" music: the tones themselves, and how they are manipulated. Concert music from the recent past does not transport well, not because of dogmatism on the part of composers (though there are plenty of dogmatists out there), but rather because ideas about composition evolved. As instruments became more technically advanced, composers had more opportunities to create new and interesting sounds, and eventually the orchestration (the qualities of the sounds themselves) became an unalterable component of the composition.

It would be hard to imagine a Debussy orchestral score transcribed into another medium effectively--the timbres and textures he creates are as much a part of the work as the harmonic language or any other more "absolute" element.

That trend becomes more pronounced as one moves through the 20th century--try to imagine "Rite of Spring" or "Turangalila Symphonie" or even something like a Mahler Symphony translated into another medium. Much would be lost, certainly. With living composers, the trend is even more prominent: the orchestrations are absolutely integral to the piece itself, and to change that would be akin to changing pitches in a Mozart melody.

It started with Berlioz, methinks--try to imagine "Symphonie Fantastique" moved away from its original orchestration....it would suck, no doubt. (Upon further reflection, really it started with something Mozart did in his later symphonies, that became a staple for Beethoven, using exact repetition of musical motives but changing the tone color--think of B's woodwind dialogues in his symphonies--and later composers picked up on that seed of an idea and ran with it.)

I think I've digressed this into an entirely different topic...apologies....
posted by LooseFilter at 4:14 PM on November 2, 2005


I think I've digressed this into an entirely different topic...apologies....

No need. I think Bach's (and other Baroque composers) works are so portable because of both the nature of the music and the time period. Instruments were common, and very different that today. Other than the organ, most instruments spoke far softer than what we play now -- never mind amplification. Heck, today, you could score and perform a work for one pipe organ and one human voice -- and of course, one microphone, and a system to connect the mic to.

Baroque was, in many ways, Hacker's Music. Tonality was less important that texture, and instead of harmony, we had counterpoint. Both of these are easily expressible on any instrument, whereas tonality is very much a function of the instrument itself. That's one reason parallel octaves on the violin make sense -- you're trying for a powerful note, and two or three strings sounding at once is more powerful than alone. Which leads me to soyjoy's comment:

Then I remembered my favorite fugue of his, the tenth from WTC I, which has entire bars of parallel octaves. So much for that.

No, no, that's very much the point. Other than the organ, all of the keyboard instruments of Bach's time were very soft -- Harpsichord, Spinet, Virginal, Clavicle, etc. (The Pianoforte came out late in Bach's career.) All of these keyboard instruments had no control of dynamics, and were very quiet. Seeing parallel octaves on a clavicle or harpsichord makes tons of sense for dynamics, whereas on the pipe organ, they don't -- or rather, if you wanted such, you'd gang stops onto for the same effect. Pull, say, an 8' and 4' diapason stop, and you'd be playing parallel octaves automatically. Heck, throw in the 16' and wake up the kids in the back of the church.

So, I'd expect them from a work written for a clavichord or a violin, but not of one written for the organ. Bach could have made a living as a master organsmith, he knew exactly how they worked. He wouldn't write a parallel *anything* for the organ, at most, he'd suggest a mixture stop.

So, the fact that (looks it up) BWV 855 has parallels make sense -- it's written for an instrument that needs such for dynamics. The fact that BWV 565 has them is an argument that the fugue was written for an instrument that needed such, and not for the organ.

On the violin, the fugue is very much up to Bach's legendary skills, but other than the pedal work, it's very lacking on the organ. That's my opinion, of course -- not that the fugue is slack by any measure, but it's nothing compared to ...Clavier or the Offering. (Comparing it to The Art of the Fugue just wouldn't be fair.)

Furthermore, the dynamic markings are strange, given the limited dynamics of a pipe organ. You can control the volume, somewhat, of the pipes in the swell, but otherwise, the dynamics you have are adding pipes, not controlling the volume of the pipes you are playing. Ditto the other keyboard instruments of the era (and even more so -- you don't have ranks of pipes to choose from.)

But on a violin, dynamic markings make sense, because you can control dynamic on that instrument.

So.

I do like the image of Old Bach walking up to an organ, playing the opening 12 bars of Dmoll, Toccata und Fuge and sneering as the organ chokes on the sixth note of the first broken chord, then bitching out the organmaster about the proper keeping of the instrument and sizing of the air box (and, of course, laziness of the choirboys who were supposed to be pumping air into the organ....)

As a BOFH myself, the idea of BWV 565 being the equivalent of a burn-in program quite charming, and I must note that this doesn't argue against the work being written for the violin, then ported to the organ when Bach realized "hmm, I wonder if this organ could handle that....)
posted by eriko at 5:02 PM on November 2, 2005 [1 favorite]


Rhapsody in Blue sounds ok as an orchestral arrangement, but is jaw-popping amazing with a good piano soloist. -- KirkJobSluder.

I couldn't agree more. In fact, one of my favorite memories from my university days was sitting down with a friend of mine, whom I knew as a 'good' pianist, and watching him remember the RiB. A stutter here and there, but considering he hadn't played it for a few years that was more than forgivable.

The amazing part, though, was when he got to 'the hard bit' in the middle, where (typically) the right hand crosses back-and-forth over the left. Played correctly, this part is amazingly difficult, but of course he forgot how he was supposed to play it, so played it without crossing his hands, increasing the degree of difficulty through the roof.

I was simply astounded.

Bonus extra anecdote: Same guy, different day, playing Mendelssohn's first piano concerto. Without batting an eyelash, a few subtle shifts of key and chords and it was the most amazing jazz music I'd ever heard.
posted by coriolisdave at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2005


It started with Berlioz, methinks

A fact one should know about Berlioz is that, unlike almost all other composers—certainly of his day—he learned to play music not on the piano but on the guitar. This hampered him severely in his early career (in competitions you had to present your work in piano reduction, which worked fine if you'd composed it on the piano in the first place, but his pieces always sounded like crap because he'd composed them with the actual orchestra in mind), but it led to his mastery of orchestration and his unique sound. I'm proud to say I was a Berlioz fan before it became all the rage (I had the old pirate recording of Les Troyens with Beecham conducting when it was the only one out there).

But we were talking about Bach...
posted by languagehat at 5:36 PM on November 2, 2005


languagehat, you are trendy.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 6:30 PM on November 2, 2005


I love threads like this.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:21 PM on November 2, 2005


Hey loosefilter, have you ever heard Stravinsky's two piano version of the Rite of Spring? It totally sucks. So yes indeed, much of that piece's appeal has to do with the (totally awesome) orchestration.
posted by speicus at 9:37 PM on November 2, 2005


Seeing parallel octaves on a clavicle or harpsichord makes tons of sense for dynamics, whereas on the pipe organ, they don't --

Well, yeah, you'd need a lot, and I do mean a lot, of dynamic help on a clavicle. Or even on a, what's that other thing, the clavichord.

But seriously, yeah. This explanation makes a lot of sense. ..Where do I sign?
posted by soyjoy at 10:05 PM on November 2, 2005


Pictures at an Exhibition on piano is just as awesome as with orchestra...until you get to the finale of the "Gate of Kiev", and it just..deflates. You can throw in all the pedal and fortissississimo you can get on the piano and the end still sounds weird and disjointed and not quite so impressive.
posted by casarkos at 10:08 PM on November 2, 2005


oh, and i bow before eriko, and aspire to reach the same heights of Bach-geek-ness one day.
posted by casarkos at 10:11 PM on November 2, 2005


So where can I hear this A minor violin version of the fugue?
posted by kindall at 11:06 PM on November 2, 2005


It would be hard to imagine a Debussy orchestral score transcribed into another medium effectively--the timbres and textures he creates are as much a part of the work as the harmonic language or any other more "absolute" element.

Tomita. Pictures at an Exhibition.

It's a classic.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 PM on November 2, 2005


So where can I hear this A minor violin version of the fugue?

I think eriko meant the toccata, not the fugue. It would be mighty hard to play a fugue in any key on a violin.

Next week: Leonardo didn't paint the Mona Lisa, and Dante didn't write Inferno.
posted by epimorph at 11:29 PM on November 2, 2005


And eriko's organ geekiness too. Word. One thought about your last comment:

most instruments spoke far softer than what we play now

Absolutely true, except for the woodwinds (hence the 'most', I 'spose)--those things can honk. In a good way. (My favorite Beethoven cycle is the Gardiner period instrument one--so very, very excellent.)

have you ever heard Stravinsky's two piano version of the Rite of Spring?

Yes, I agree--nowhere near as good as the orchestra version. Have you heard Pierre Monteaux's story about hearing Rite for the first time? Diaghilev brought a young Stravinsky in to play his new score on the piano (after he'd informed Monteaux that he'd be conducting the premiere, much to Monteaux's chagrin), and the description is hilarious. Monteaux describes this odd, bald Russian banging away on the piano, sweating and grunting, and it was simply the weirdest music he'd ever heard. I think they had something like 17 rehearsals prior to the premiere, and still weren't ready.

Anyway, back on topic, eriko, you make excellent points about the dynamic markings not making so much sense in the context of an organ work, esp. considering Bach's extensive knowledge of the instrument.

One point if you really want to have a geek-out conversation:

Tonality was less important than texture

Hmm...maybe. I would submit that the foundation of all of Bach's musical thinking is tonality, and further, that he had a much more sophisticated sense of tonality than his contemporaries, indeed even than many give him credit for today--it was far more elegant than what succeeded him, but he never wrote a text, and Rameau did, so most followed Rameau's example (the Traite de l'harmonie of course). I'd be happy to follow with specific examples for those interested. This view also gives beautiful context to Mozart's apocryphal comment upon viewing Bach's work for the first time "finally, someone to teach me."

Seriously, if you listen to Mozart's Mass in C minor, the first work he wrote after studying Bach, it's very different in some important ways from his music prior to, specifically in its contrapuntal nature (duh) but more importantly in its chromaticism. Mozart encountered Bach's music around 10 years before his death, and there is a noticeable shift in his composition after that point. (Of course, a lot of that could be simply his growth as an artist. But I'm being poetical here.)
posted by LooseFilter at 11:35 PM on November 2, 2005


fff the Tomita is beautiful--I'd never encountered it before, many thanks for the rec. But I'd say that music is Debussy/Tomita, not Debussy re-orchestrated.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:37 PM on November 2, 2005


By the way, eriko, technically speaking, it's not true that there is no control over dynamics on a harpsichord. On most sophisticated harpsichords one has the ability to select the number of strings that are plucked with each key press (usually you can choose 1, 2, or 3). So there is control over dynamics, except that is comes in tiers: you have soft, medium, and loud (relatively speaking).
posted by epimorph at 11:40 PM on November 2, 2005


>> It would be hard to imagine a Debussy orchestral score transcribed into another
>> medium effectively--the timbres and textures he creates are as much a part of the
>> work as the harmonic language or any other more "absolute" element.
>
> Tomita. Pictures at an Exhibition.

Haven't heard it, but I predict it sounds more like Mussorgsky-Ravel-Tomita.
posted by jfuller at 2:57 AM on November 3, 2005


On most sophisticated harpsichords one has the ability to select the number of strings that are plucked with each key press (usually you can choose 1, 2, or 3). So there is control over dynamics, except that is comes in tiers: you have soft, medium, and loud (relatively speaking).

Is that a period feature? I didn't think so -- I know modern Harpsichords (the Harpsichord basically died out, and was recreated wholesale in the early 1900s) do, but I didn't think that earlier harpsichords did.

I would submit that the foundation of all of Bach's musical thinking is tonality,

Bad wording on my part -- I'm using the modern, rock version of "tone" -- which is to say, the character of the instrument's sound, not the notes it is played. I agree completely of Bach's mastery of the chromatic tone -- indeed, he appears to have no trouble migrating between different tunings, both keys and tempers.

What I mean by "texture" over "tonality" is this: Bach counted on the notes played (the texture) rather than the sound the instrument made (the tone), thus, his music transposes between instruments quite well. The Art Of The Fugue sounds magnificent played by string trio, by clavier (or like instruments) or by organ. The tonality of all three is quite different, but the texture remains. This is critical, because we are talking counterpoint, not harmony -- blurring the texture too much hides the counterpoint.

Another hacker comparison: I think one could easily compare, in terms of regard by the community, The Art Of The Fugue and The Art Of Computer Programming. Indeed, Knuth is both a Bach fan and an organ player, and I've little doubt that the title is homage to Bach's stated goal of creating the acme of counterpoint.

Of course, Bach didn't go off on a multiyear distraction to build a better music transcription system. ;)

I think eriko meant the toccata, not the fugue.

Nope -- the Fugue is what was composed for string, then modified for the organ. This transcription almost certainly added a full voice (the organ fugue has three voices.) The initial theme, linked in the article, screams violin. As a two voice piece, with the two voices alternating, it's very playable (by skilled violinists, mind you.) and with multiple stops, large parts of the third voice come to fore. Wikipedia has an article, including a bit of the score of the piece as playable on violin (this is from the coda, btw) using quadruple stops.

For another example of going from keyboard to strings, check out Leo Kottke's version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. I think Bach would have been utterlly thrileld at both this version, and had he access to modern guitars, would have almost certainly composed works for them.
posted by eriko at 4:40 AM on November 3, 2005


Something extraordinary about Bach's music is that it plays well on almost anything. Playing around on a five-string banjo I found that the Prelude of BVW 1007 (the first Cello suite) plays as though written for that instrument, too. Which is unlikely.

I should get that banjo out again...

In other news:

Pictures at an Exhibition on two accordions and also on three.
posted by Grangousier at 5:34 AM on November 3, 2005


BWV, obviously.
posted by Grangousier at 5:34 AM on November 3, 2005


Playing around on a five-string banjo I found that the Prelude of BVW 1007 (the first Cello suite) plays as though written for that instrument, too. Which is unlikely.

Although that latter fact is unlikely, the combination of bluegrass instruments and baroque forms can be surprisingly seamless, as demonstrated in the Blaues Gras Cantata by, er, another Bach.
posted by soyjoy at 9:44 AM on November 3, 2005


someone said bluegrass + Bach?

As a kid first learning piano I got into Bach specifically because his music lacked dynamic markings, so my crazy neurotic teacher couldn't nitpick about them.

>>Haven't heard it, but I predict it sounds more like Mussorgsky-Ravel-Tomita.

Possibly Mussorgsky-Rimsky-Korsakov-Tomita?
posted by casarkos at 11:06 AM on November 3, 2005


eriko, I see--yes, I completely agree. I would suggest, though, reversing your definitions of the words "tonality" and "texture", esp. as used here:

The tonality of all three is quite different, but the texture remains.

To a musician (like me), that sentence means the exact opposite of what you intend. FWIW.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:20 AM on November 3, 2005


eriko, according to the Wikipedia article on harpsichords, two-manual harpsichords (with multiple stops) were around in the 18th century, perhaps even before that. But, your point about writing styles for harpsichords still stands.

Now I would really like to hear the thing on violin too...
posted by epimorph at 8:19 PM on November 3, 2005


two-manual harpsichords (with multiple stops) were around in the 18th century

Okay -- that hurts that part of the argument a little bit -- I'm recalling that the early 20th century "harpischords" were really pianos built as harpsichords, all had 16' stops, and all sounded really lame, because the weak action couldn't resonate the massive frame. It wasn't until some builders started taking apart and repairing old harpsichords that we really were able to start making modern ones that could perform well, but I thought multiple stoppings (as opposed to merely different ranks on different manuals) was a modern change.

LooseFilter: As a sound tech and hacker, I'd argue the words around, but I think we do in fact agree about the meaning of the sentence. "Tone", in modern rock/blues/jazz, is a description that differentiates between differing versions of the same instrument -- the warmer tone of a Gibson, vs. the brighter tone of a Telecaster.

I can certainly see "tone" used as you are doing so -- and I'd even argue that it is more correct, but I learned my definition first, so I tend to go with it. Two clutures separated by a common language, again.

Hmm. Threads been going for three days. Isn't this where we start posting the funny gifs?
posted by eriko at 4:51 AM on November 4, 2005


eriko, more the problem is that you're using "tone" and "tonality" as if they were interchangable. "Tone" is OK for what you mean, but tonality has a specific meaning that's not what you want. Even rock/blues/jazz musicians don't use "tonality" to describe the sound color of their instruments.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:23 AM on November 4, 2005


Wolfdog: Light dawns. Yes, I see was speaking cant incorrectly, and I understand just how confusing that is to those who speak it correctly.

Thanks!
posted by eriko at 6:40 AM on November 4, 2005


*posts funny gif of eriko being crowned with laurel wreath*
posted by Cranberry at 8:03 PM on November 5, 2005


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