Tagged: «Гольдберг-вариации» BWV 988

J.S. BACH’S CANONS BWV 1087: MORE ON MUSICAL EMBLEMATICS

Abstract: The article focuses on 14 canons by J.S. Bach, BWV 1087, written by the composer in the printed copy of the Clavierübung IV (Goldberg Variations) under the title Various Сanons on the First Eight Foundation Notes of the Preceding Aria. The article compares this cycle with the canons from the Goldberg Variations. In particular, it explores the information accompanying the canons. Every third Goldberg Variation is called Canon. This first group of canons is marked by an imitative sequential form of variation with a completely open and fixed musical text. The second group of Fourteen Canons is marked by specific encryption. Here, the notation does not contain the complete melodic material: the melodic material given is the foundation for the full text of the composition to be derived by means of, inter alia, titles and a set of signs that serve as a guide to their reading. Each of the 14 encrypted canons features an eight-sound soggetto as an initial construction of the bass melody from the Goldberg Variations theme, the Aria. As a canon-forming voice on the whole, in part or as a cantus firmus, an eight-sound theme is the audible and visible basis of all the canons in question. Due to its brevity and constructive isolation, the theme is perceived entirely and at once. The analysis of the encrypted canons BWV 1087 revealed parallels to the three constituent parts of an emblem: the word (a motto) is the soggetto, the image is the musical text of the canon as a voluminous and polysemantic entity subject to decoding, and, finally, a signature that allows you to “read the depicted”. The latter, in case of the canons, implies hearing the decrypted whole and understanding the accompanying signs and explanations. Download the article

BACH’S “FOURS”

Abstract: The grouping of pieces is the matter of concern for both composers and researchers. For the former, it manifests itself already in the titles of collections, while for the latter it is an impetus for a comprehensive study of hidden mechanisms behind composers’ thinking. Milka in his article Bach’s Sixes (1999) identified several ways Bach approached the grouping of works. However, in his large cyclical opuses another “measure” stands out: the four, formed by canons (Die Kunst der Fuge) or duettos loaded by canonical work (Clavier Übung III). By way of a reminder, Bach’s canons are usually grouped by ten and/or four: Einige Canonische Verænderungen, BWV 769, contains four contrapuntal canons (variations I–IV) and four thematic ones (variation V); Musicalisches Opfer features ten canons: six countrapunctal and four thematic; Verschiedene Canones, BWV 1087, includes 14 canons written in groups of four, six and four canons. In fact, the grouping of four is not limited to Bach’s canons alone: he is known for numerous four-part suites and sonatas. So, it is not surprising that four orchestral suites, created in different years, were collected and numbered by W. Schmieder as a specific group of four. Research should focus on how Bach organises his compositions in groups of four, but also how, under the pressure of circumstances, he himself violates his plans (e.g., his engraving of Musicalisches Opfer and Die Kunst der Fuge). Whatever approach to grouping we take, a question begs itself: what provides diversity and what facilitates integrity? A. Milka answered this question through his analysis of the “sixes”. This article is an attempt to approach the Bach’s “fours”. The internal organisation of the “four” depends on its context: in a contrasting environment, it demonstrates the diversity of its components, in a balanced environment, it is organized in the order of the main technical characteristics. The functional and semantic content of the “fours” depends on how they are presented in a large cycle: together or in random order. In the first case, the highlight is the difference between the “four” and the pieces surrounding it. In the second case, it strengthens the structure of the whole, as its part, from inside. Download the article