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Re: Bach's "Dissonances"

>The fast parts of the Courante of the 6th partita for keyboard seem to be a
>wee dissonant (I'm sure they only sound weirdly). Is this present
>exclusively in the swift Gouldian interpretation or is it just another
>exibit of Bach's humor?

You're probably reacting especially to bars 90 to 98, where the left hand
keeps playing a G pedal point while the right hand gets farther and farther
out of the expected keys.  That's just a fun thing for composers to do with
a pedal point (named for having the feet stay stuck on the same notes on an
organ's pedalboard while the hands go off and do something else).  It's not
uncommon in Bach or others.

The dissonance here shows up to some extent no matter who's playing it, but
especially in a *slow* tempo.  (In a fast tempo the listener groups the
notes and phrases more easily into the bigger beats, and details fly by.)
It also depends a lot on how much the player chooses to emphasize the
syncopations and dissonances throughout this movement.

If I remember correctly, part of this movement in the 6th partita was
derived from a piece originally for violin.  It's also clearly related to
the E major two-part invention.

Bradley Lehman, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
Dayton VA