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3.2.

2014

Bach | Chaconnes & Passacailles

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Bach

(http://chaconnespassacailles.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/bach-signature.png) TRACK 6-Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Ciaconna, partita 2 BWV 1004 (transcription Galle Solal) Masterpiece which culminates the second partita for solo violin, it has a symmetrical structure: theme, 30 variations, theme, 30 variations, cadential theme and variation. Built on a plaintive and well-known four-measure bass line that descends stepwise from tonic to dominant.This basso figure was known as the Romanesca in the Renaissance and occurs in music today, even in popular styles, as a ground for a set of variations.

22-06.jpg) So, the subject S is one note per bar and four measures long descending from tonic to dominant. However, it does not occur in a pure form at the outset.
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Bach | Chaconnes & Passacailles

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S is altered at the beginning, because the passage is harmonic. The harmonic minor is used in order to avoir the an augmented second, the forbidden interval,

22-19.jpg) variation 1: the subject S. In order to avoid this forbidden interval, Bach circumvents it as D C# D Bb A, returning to D before descending to Bb, an interesting evasive maneuver.

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22-39.jpg) variation 2-7: The subject occurs this way, every four measures, variation 8 +9 : with exceptions to this harmonic bass occur when there is a chromatic descent in these 2 variations.

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22-30.jpg) variation 10: the subject (chromatic form) temporarily shifts to the soprano variation 11: the subject (chromatic form) is back in the bass variation 12: The lines become more melodic. From this point there is an alternation of the subject between bass and soprano. S shifts again to the soprano, occuring off the beat, but accentuated, nevertheless, by the leaps that precede each subject-note. From this point the subject S is used in
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Bach | Chaconnes & Passacailles

its the pure form, the diatonic form. variation 13: the subject goes back into the bass, but still off-beat. variation 13+14: S consists of the bass notes of each measure. variation 15: the bass descends chromatically variation 16: S returns to the diatonic form till variation 22 variation 22: arpeggiated chords return, and the harmonic bass resumes. Bach wrote the arpeggiations as block chords, as in a Schenkerian reduction. The arpeggios are to be improvised variation 23: Bach made the bass melodic, and the diatonic form resumes variation 24: S switches to the soprano variation 26: S back to the bass variation 27: It picks up some alto notes finishing in the bass variation 28: S is in the soprano (chromatic descending form) variation 29: resumes in the bass variation 30: S goes back to its normal form with diminutions. bar 126: The Theme returns. This is the half way point in the form. variation 31: the last variation in a minor key variation 32: changes to D major, and the music remains in major until variation 51. variation 41: S switches to an upper voice (alto) variation 42: back to the bass variation 47: omission of C from S variation 51: D minor bar 249: return of the Theme 253-257: one extra cadential variation The work has an overall symmetrical binary structure: || Theme | 30 variations || Theme | 30 variations || It then ends with || Theme, cadential variation || 30 variation pattern, exactly as the number of variations in the Goldberg Variations. Variation techniques: Bach was fond of using the symmetric thematic transformations of transposition, inversion, retrograde, and retrograde inversion. These are normally supplemented with diminution, augmentation, interpolation, fragmentation, octave displacements, and elision operations. All of these are found in the chaconne.
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Bach | Chaconnes & Passacailles

In order to perform what is clearly scored and designed, the performer needs to be aware of these transformations of the basic four-note subject. Not only does S repeat every four bars in implied dotted half notes, but Bach restated and transformed it in many condensed versions, in sixteenth and eighth notes, and the performer should be aware that these segments divide the music into basic motifs, basic statements. Therefore, the whole piece begins to emerge as a multileveled musical fractal, with the same basic shape being reiterated in multifarious forms and sizes. But this is also the Chaconne! The violinist Arnold Steinhardt, first violonist of the Guarneri String Quartet) puts it this way: To prepare for [a friend's funeral] service, I had been practicing the Chaconne every day fussing over individual phrases, searching for better ways to string them together, and wondering about the very nature of the piece, at its core an old dance form that had been around for centuries. After the many times I had heard and played the Chaconne, I had hoped it would fall relatively easily into place by now, but it appeared to be taunting me. The more I worked, the more I saw; the more I saw, the further away it drifted from my grasp. Perhaps that is in the nature of every masterpiece. But more than that, the Chaconne seemed to exude shadows over its grandeur and artful design. Exactly what was hidden there I could not say, but I would lose myself for long stretches of time exploring the works repeating four-bar phrases, which rose and fell and marched solemnly forward in ever-changing patterns. Arnold Steinhardt, in Violin Dreams More on Steinhardt & the Chaconne (http://www.radioopensource.org/bachs-chaconne/) Complete analysis (http://chaconnespassacailles.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/bachs-violin-chaconne-in-d-analysis.pdf)

Original score (http://chaconnespassacailles.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/chaconne-bach-original_.pdf) (http://chaconnespassacailles.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/chaconne-bach-original_.pdf)

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