Tagged: Johann Sebastian Bach

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