February 14, 2021--Allemande from French Suite No. 5 in G major by J.S. Bach

8개월 전

Today, I am breaking with my usual practice of posting videos of me playing organ to start recording more piano music--hopefully. Part of this is going to be instructive for myself as I have not really watched myself play piano (specifically the close up videos of the what my fingers are doing) before.
The second push for this is to play around with my new stuff--I got a camera tripod and an Iphone clamp to put on top of it to make recording easier. I also have been playing with OBS--so I can put multiple cameras on the keyboard! I am still working on the sound part--I have a SnowBall microphone that I use when I teach, but the recording sound is awful. Here, I am recording through the microphone in my webcam. Not the best sound, so I will continue to look for fixes. Also, I realized after this take was done that I had the camera mirroring what I was doing--so it looks like my hands don't line up between the two views. In future recordings, I plan on fixing this.

This Allemande comes from one of the French Suite's I had been planning on learning for a while. The term "French" is not the composer's title, but was given much later to separate it from the "English" Suites and Partitas. The Suite itself is a collection of French-i-fied dances from all over Europe. In this case, the Allemande is a German dance from the Allemaigne region. Here is a video of the stylized dance:

One thing I love about the dance is the spinning of the couple. I hear this in the constant moving sixteenth notes in both the melody as well as in the accompaniment. So while Bach was writing a piece of music that was not intended to be danced to, it is obvious he had the dance steps somewhat in mind.

The piece falls into two sections, often referred to as Binary Dance form. The two sections are related motivically and melodically, but the first section begins in the key of G and ends on the dominant (key of D). The second half reverses this key direction. A neat little thing to listen for: near the end of each section, Bach pulls a harmonic fakeout. Instead of directly cadencing in the key he is in (First section D major, second section G major), he shifts ever so briefly into the darker minor key for a couple of beats to prolong the end of each section.

I was watching a video the other day about this piece, and the harpsichordist discussing the piece made the comment, "this suite is probably the most Italian of all the French Suites." And he is absolutely right, but in the Bach's sense of Italian music. There is a focus on the melodic line played predominantly with the right hand in this piece, but the accompaniment is equally lively, often incorporating melodic motives and even once taking over entirely (in the second half of the piece). There is a complexity in this music that is entirely Bach's.

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