1 ene. 2008

Suite 1. III. Courante. (3/4 Up tempo)

The courantes are fast-tempo, "running" dances. This one is written in mostly sixteenth notes in three quarter time. One distinctive rhythmic figure is a group of four sixteenths in which the last note jumps up to a much higher interval, giving a syncpopated feel (measures 14-15). As in the preceding Allemande, there are two sections that repeat one time each, and which are not strongly differentiated.


The falling arpeggio on the tonic chord is a mainstay of many movements. It signifies closure. A variation on this is to go up first and then down on the same notes.


One thing Bach will do a lot is to compose the same pattern, in terms of rhythm and the relation between pitches, but vary the actual pitches and hence the harmony. (We saw that in the first prélude.) This is a fairly basic musical technique, but Bach is the absolute master of it.


The order of the six movements in the Suites is Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, X, and Gigue. (X can be any sprightly dance, a gavotte, a minuet, or bourrée.)

In tempo, the order goes: moderate, moderate, fast, slow, moderate to fast, and fast.

I don't have something insightful to say about each of the movements, I realize. I'll discover what I am really looking for when I hit the fourth or fifth Suite. So far I have mainly noted rhythmic figures and the principle of repetition with variation. Not every movement needs a really distinctive melody, something that catches on the mind.


Do you know Coleman Hawkins' "Picasso"? It is an unaccompanied, improvised tenor saxophone solo played rubato, the first of its kind in jazz history. I imagine it transcribed and played by Yo Yo Ma. That's the closest thing you could find to the Bach cello Suites.

1 comentario:

Anónimo dijo...


this is not quite true. I have read recently, that Fats Waller's saxophonist Gene Sedric recorded an unaccompanied solo "Saxophone Doodle" already in 1937. There was also Charlie Parker, who recorded two solos on "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Body And Soul" in Kansas City, back in ca. 1942. Quote:

"(...) according to historian Vladimir Simosko, baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff made a solo tenor recording of 'Body and Soul' in 1939 or '41, suggesting solo flights began earlier and were more widespread than commonly believed."