Music like writing

manuscriptBach.jpg

This entry is a complement to Painting like writing in which I compared the method of Chinese literati painting with the construction principles of a script. Here I compare the music of J. S. Bach with a script (defined as a system of stroke–shapes). Bach uses motives as ‘building blocks’ that are repeated with systematic variations and transformations.

This is one of the ‘building blocks’ of his Invention Nr1 in C Major BWV 772: 4 ascending notes and the same notes rearranged in ‘steps’ descending to the initial C.

bach772theme

The motif then appears on a lower C played by the left hand (base).

bach772themelow

The motif is repeated and transposed to G (a transposition is a repetition starting from a different note).


.bach772themelowup

Another repetition, but this time, with the left hand.

bach772themelowuplow

The motif is now inverted. The 4 ascending notes are now descending and the ‘steps’ are ascending.

bach772themelowuplowinv

The inverted theme is repeated and transposed.

bach772themelowuplowrere

At the same time, the first 4 notes of the original motif appear augmented (the note values are lengthened). The audio presents the original motif and the augmentation.

bach772themelowuplowrerebase

The augmentation is then transposed.

bach772themelowuplowrerek.jpg

This is what the first section of the piece sounds like.

Applying musical terminology to the strokes of a script:

Repetition

repetition

Transposition

transposition

Inversion

inversion

Augmentation

augmentation

 

 

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