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🍔  💀  📸  😭  🕳️  🤠  🎬  🥔 posts about Johann Sebastian Bach

Three Pieces That Prove Bach’s Genius

In this video, pianist David Bennett explains three pieces composed by Johann Sebastian Bach that show how much of a musical genius he was. Two of the compositions are puzzle canons, “a piece of music where the performer has to decode what the composer wants in order to perform the music”.

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Reading About Listening to J.S. Bach

For the past couple months I’ve been enjoying CFO and real estate developer Evan Goldfine’s newsletter about listening to J.S. Bach. Called Year of Bach, it often includes more Bach than I can handle, but in a good way, and I like letting it wash over me.

Yesterday’s installment was more of a primer — I mean it was literally labeled “Where to start with Bach” and “a primer for new listeners” — which was especially up my alley.

Through this project, I’m attempting to write for the masses about a niche topic, which embeds the danger of writing for no one. So today I want to recognize my readers who are in earlier stages of their Bach journeys, and in this post I’ll be recommending some of the grassier pathways into this music.

Of the tracks and musicians he linked to, my favorite is the Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer rendition of Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major (above), from their Bach Trios album of 2017. I also loved Brad Mehldau’s Prelude No. 3 in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, which Goldfine describes as “damned perfect, a one track playlist on repeat forever.”

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Yo-Yo Ma Performs Bach in Alaska for Earth Day

This is a nice thing to end the week on: Yo-Yo Ma playing “Bach’s Prélude from Suite No. 2, amidst the melting permafrost on Lower Tanana Dene lands in Fairbanks, Alaska.” He was brought to this birch forest by Princess Daazhraii Johnson, a member of the Neets’aii Gwich’in people, who wrote:

Our relationship to our birch relatives, our salmon relatives, and all the beings of Alaska are sacred. Our traditional stories tell us that at one point we all spoke the same language … we still do. If we find the time to truly listen, we might recognize ourselves in the melting permafrost or the fallen birch, but we might also recognize ourselves in the songs of the birds or the freshness of the Arctic breeze. There is still hope when we experience life. We should all fall in love with the places we live and let this love drive our determination to protect the waters, the salmon, the caribou, and all our plant relatives so that future generations may also experience such joy and sustenance.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Dinnerware Smashing in Slow Motion Accompanied by Bach

Optical Arts conceived this video as a “live action musical animation” of cups, plates, and glasses smashing and un-smashing accompanied by the toccata section of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous organ piece, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. I thought it was fully CGI at first (as The Morning News reported), but then I found the making of video on the project page and it’s not — they filmed all the glasses and dished smashing at extremely high speeds between 1000 and 5000 frames/second on Phantom cameras.

I don’t know about you, but this video is what it looks like inside my head lately. Smash smash smash! (via the morning news)

Bach’s Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1, Deconstructed

The Prelude in G Major to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 is one of the world’s most recognizable pieces of music. You’ve likely heard Yo-Yo Ma play it — he’s been trying to master it for almost 60 years now. In a new episode of Earworm, Estelle Caswell and cellist Alisa Weilerstein break the song down to see what makes it such an effective and interesting piece of music.

In the early 1700s, Johann Sebastian Bach did something few, if any, composers had ever done. He composed six suites for the cello — a four stringed instrument that, at the time, was relegated to the role of accompaniment in larger ensembles.

Each suite consists of movements named for various dances, and they all begin with a prelude — an improvisatory movement meant to establish the key of the suite, as well as reoccurring themes and motifs. These suites are all masterpieces in music and considered a rite of passage for cellists to study and master.

But there’s one movement in particular, the Prelude in G Major, that has taken on a life of its own in the minds of musicians and music lovers alike.

If you hear the first few measures you’ll likely recognize it. A simple G major arpeggiated chord played expressively on the cello opens a short, but harmonically and melodically rich, 42 measures of music. Bach makes a single instrument sound like a full ensemble. How does he do it?

Bach’s Crab Canon is a musical palindrome

In a series of pieces written for King Frederick II of Prussia in 1747 called The Musical Offering, Johann Sebastian Bach included a canon that is popularly referred to as the Crab Canon. The piece is a puzzle to be worked out by the reader/player.

You may notice that the Crab Canon is performed by two instruments, but only one line is notated. What’s the deal?

Bach published the canons in the Musical Offering as puzzles, giving the reader the minimum amount of information with which they can figure out the piece as long as they understand its structure. To “solve” a puzzle canon is to give it a structure that makes it fit together in pleasing harmony.

The solution to the Crab Canon is that it can be played forwards or backwards or forwards and backwards together in accompaniment. It’s a musical palindrome of sorts. (via open culture)

All of Bach

Every week, the Netherlands Bach Society puts up a new recording of one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works on All of Bach.

Eight hours of Bach for three bucks

Amazon’s mp3 store has another one of those deals today where you can get hours and hours of classical musics for pennies a song: 99 Bach masterpieces (8+ hours!) for $2.99. Even though Bach’s works preceded copyright protection, this is a good example of how our culture benefits from sensible copyright term limits: eight hours of some of the finest music ever composed for about the price of a Happy Meal. More good classical music mp3 deals here.