Definitive resource for classical guitar lessons. Curtis Institute and Cleveland Institute of Music Professor of Guitar teaches foundational, intermediate & adv. The Prelude, Fugue and Allegro (BWV ) is a composition dating from Bach’s published in , BWV was composed in the final decade of Bach’s. The Prelude from J.S. Bach’s Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV has always interested me. Actually everything Bach has ever written has.
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The Prelude from J.
Actually everything Bach has ever written has always interested me. But since I have only one lifetime so I think I will have to select a few of his works for study and this one I think is especially beautiful.
I have set up the analysis using two staves, the upper containing the actual music along with the harmonic analysis using chord symbols and Roman numerals and the lower staff showing the reduction in a way similar to what Heinrich Schenker would do. As I have said before, Schenker is a strong influence on my analytical technique.
I hope most of the analysis is self explanatory with the use of the pdf file above. I would like to take a closer look at some of the most interesting features.
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-flat major, BWV – Wikipedia
The most prominent and ingenious feature of this piece can be seen in the reduction staff. Almost the entire piece can be seen and heard as a series of ascending and descending step-wise lines in the soprano and bass. Notice the long step-wise descending line in the upper voice which begins on the high D in measure one and descends with two, one octave displacements in measures eleven and nineteen to the B in measure twenty-seven.
The bass support for this line is usually a tenth, sometimes a sixth, which descends step-wise right along with it after the pedal point breaks in measure four.
Once the B is reached third of subdominant in measure twenty-seven we have a short ascending line moving from the B to the F in measure thirty third of tonic forming another tenth with the bass.
This begins the next descent from F down to C in measure thirty-three with bass support a tenth below. An arpeggiation to the high A begins the next descent back to the F in measure thirty-six. This time the bass ascends step-wise in contrary motion with the soprano voice. Once this is reached an ascending step-wise line occurs in the soprano along with a descending step-wise line in the bass, taking us to the G and Bb in measure thirty-eight minor subdominant, a high point harmonically.
After the Bb descends as it should to the A in measure forty, the final step-wise descent begins, taking us from the high A in measure forty all the way down to the final tonic D at the close of the piece again with octave displacements occurring in measures forty-two and forty-six. The bass this time is a tonic D pedal point beginning in measure forty-two through the first half of forty-six with the traditional cadential bass line occurring at the close.
If possible, play the reduction staff along with a recording of this prelude and you will hear the underlying voice-leading clearly. With a bit of experience this reduction method developed by Schenker will allow you to see and hear this deeper structure which seems to exist in all music by the great composers of the tonal era. The harmonic plan is also quite interesting and a bit unusual. Notice how all closely related keys are touched on in the course of this prelude.
Beginning with tonic D major we move into the dominant A majorthen the supertonic E minorthen the submediant B minorthe mediant F minor before returning to tonic in measure twenty-three. Notice how these key areas are arranged in descending fourths rather than the more common descending fifths. We finally get the subdominant key area G major, measure twenty-four before the final return to the tonic key in measure twenty-eight in which we stay to the end.
Then, as if that isn’t enough, Bach resolves this Neapolitan Sixth chord in a most unusual way. Then of course we finally get the dominant A7 in the same measure. That is what I call cosmic! This may be helpful in understanding the function of the Neapolitan Sixth chord. Think of it as a variation of the minor subdominant iv chord. Raising the fifth of the minor iv chord one half-step as Bach does will form the Neapolitan Sixth chord.
The Neapolitan Sixth usually prepares or precedes the dominant. This is the reason it is usually in first inversion. The fourth scale degree is in the bass which then moves up to the fifth scale degree dominant while the other voices resolve in contrary motion.
This sets up a restatement of the opening two measures beginning in measure forty-two before the final wrap up in the tonic key. The m7b5 chord is known more commonly in classical analysis as a half-diminished seventh chord.
I prefer to use m7b5 as preluee is more descriptive of this chord type. I hope you will too. Bach The Prelude from J. May 11, Thanks so much for analyzing this ingenious and wonderful piece. This piece is lovely. How about analysing the Little Prelude in Cminor by Bach? Ending in a G chord is hard for me to understand. Hi John, Thanks for sending through the. Really enjoy reading your blog which I prelkde found to be very helpful. All the best and look forward to your thoughts on the Fugue!
Hi John, Thank you for putting up this blog.
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-flat major, BWV 998 (Bach, Johann Sebastian)
Your analyses are very important and helpful to the learning musician. If time permits, please put up more analysis of guitar pieces.
If not for being a starving student, I would provide a greater restitution. Prelud nice chord analysis! It helps me a lot to understand the whole piece!
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-flat major, BWV 998
Thanks for the analysis. This has long been one of my favorites. I first heard this mid 70s from a Bream LP. I could not find the printed score so being 99 good music student I took dictation from the record. After I filled up a page, sat down to study and figure out the guitar fingerings. Was only later that I learned that I got a couple notes wrong.
Sorry, now the right ones sound wrong to me!
But seriously, when I read Alphonsus Jr. Charlie– You know the question of what Bach works were originally intended for lute is pretty controversial. Usually PFA is considered to be a lute work; but my understanding is that the original manuscript was listed as for “lautenwerke” which is a gut-strung keyboard instrument. Somewhere I have a recording allegedly played on a copy of such an instrument; some of the pieces sound like lute; some sound like harpsichord.
Additionally, as my teacher pointed out, the structure of the piece might be broken down as follows: Hey John, Thank you for sharing your work.
I could spend a couple of hours going through your analysis but I am sooo damn lazy. I’d rather play it. I like the Schenkerian reduction.
John Hall | Music for Guitar | Blog : Prelude Analysis, BWV by J.S. Bach
I’ll have to learn more about his work. For what instrument was this prelude originally written? Sign-up Join the email list! Help Support This Site! Now Available as an E-book. Now Available for Purchase. Update Required To play the media you will prepude to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.
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