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Sorry, MM, but if you wish to delve amongst obscure Eastern Bloc composers - or to resurrect forgotten western ones, that is fine by me, but, as they say: "One man's meat..."

 

 

 

=====================

 

There's no need to be churlish.......just because you can't play it!!

 

:lol:

 

MM

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Have a look at this: Bremen, Schulze, 1849:

 

HAUPTWERK

Large scales, loud

 

Bordun 32' (dessus)

Principal 16' (à partir de c, seconde octave)

Bordun 16'

Prinzipal 8'

Gedackt 8'

Hohlflöte 8'

Gambe 8'

Quinte 5 1/3'

Oktave 4'

Flöte 4'

Quinte 2 2/3'

Oktave 2'

Cornett 3r à partir de c

Mixtur 5r, départ en 2'

Cymbel 3r, départ aussi en 2'

Trompete 16'

Trompete 8'

 

BRUSTWERK (vast!)

Smaller scales, softer

 

Bordun 32'

Bordun 16'

Prinzipal 8'

Flöte 8'

Gedackt 8'

Salizional 8'

Oktave 4'

Spitzflöte 4'

Quinte 2 2/3'

Oktave 2'

Mixtur 5r, départ en 2'

Scharf 3r

Clarinette 8' (Free reeds)

 

OBERWERK

Smallest scales, softest

 

Lieblich Gedackt 16'

Geigenprinzipal 8'

Lieblich Gedackt 8'

Flauto traverso 8'

Flageolett 8'

Harmonika 8'

Terpodion 8'

Geigenprinzipal 4'

Flauto traverso 4'

Zartflöte 4'

Quinte 2 2/3'

Oktave 2'

Scharf 3r, départ en 2'

Äoline 8' (Free reeds)

 

PEDAL

Largest scales, loudest

 

Prinzipal 32'

Quinte 21 1/3'

Majorbass 16'

Prinzipal 16'

Subbass 16'

Violon 16'

Quinte 10 2/3'

Oktavbass 8'

Flötenbass 8'

Gedecktbass 8'

Violoncello 8'

Oktave 4'

Mixtur 5r

Posaune 32' (Free reeds)

Posaune 16' (Free reeds)

Fagott 16'

Trompete 8'

 

NO SWELLBOX...

Pierre

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====================

First of all "custom & practice" during the baroque period. Generally speaking, it seems that there was a tradition which everyone knew and didn't need to write down or particularly specify. It was just "the way things were done."  C P E Bach alludes to ornamentation in some of his notes, but even that is open to considerable argument, yet it is the closest we get to his father's intentions.

 

More specifically, the "Dorian" has certain changes of manuals indicated, but I do not recall whether this was in the original autographed manuscript or whether it was the work of a copyist such as Krebs or some other.

Those indications appear in a copy by Walther. Of course that's not like they were written by Bach himself. On the other hand, since there is no autograph, you hardly can get any closer to the origin than by the copy of Bach's cousin.

 

It could be argued that the change of musical texture is sufficient to satisfy the purpose, but somehow, this doesn't seem quite right to me.

I think it is a matter of choice, and of the character of the instrument. If you look at the Passacaglia, for instance, you immediately notice how the texture shapes the dynamics of the piece, and how well it does.

 

There is this simple rule for the organ: the more notes are played at the same time, the louder the sound gets. Spacious acoustics can result in a virtual simultaneity of sounds that still enhances that effect.

 

This natural crescendo is somewhat flattened out by complex sounds, such as mixtures with multiple or, if there are several, overlapping breaks.

 

Thus, the question is one of what you prefer: to let the inherent dynamics of the piece work for themselves, or maybe to support them by one registration that brings them out best, or to enhance them by having the registration follow the dynamic line of the texture.

 

And of course, there are organs the choruses of which just were not meant to sound attractive over more than 10 minutes of playing.

By some complete miracle of metamorphic trascendence, the music of Bach can be played in so many different way and still survive the ordeal.

Indeed. But nevertheless, I am glad that, where I live, the density of Ukrainian accordionists playing Bachs's Vivaldi arrangements has decreased a little. After years of "El condor pasa" before that, and now with them disappearing, I wonder what will be next. Maybe "Nessun dorma" done by Mongolian overtone singers.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Have a look at this: Bremen, Schulze, 1849:

...

PEDAL

Largest scales, loudest

...

Posaune 32' (Free reeds)

Posaune 16' (Free reeds)

Fagott 16'

Trompete 8'

Dear Pierre,

 

wasn't the Fagott stop the famous "Riem 16'" with wooden boots, resonators, and even reeds?

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Thus, the question is one of what you prefer: to let the inherent dynamics of the Indeed. But nevertheless, I am glad that, where I live, the density of Ukrainian accordionists playing Bachs's Vivaldi arrangements has decreased a little. After years of "El condor pasa" before that, and now with them disappearing, I wonder what will be next. Maybe "Nessun dorma" done by Mongolian overtone singers.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

You have my sympathy.

 

Have you considered taking-up archery?

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You have my sympathy.

 

Have you considered taking-up archery?

Well, as a motter of fact, I have. When I was six. Still don't know the stopping board too well, though.

 

As far as weaponry is concerned, I think I would prefer the Way of the Sword. It's messier.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Indeed. But nevertheless, I am glad that, where I live, the density of Ukrainian accordionists playing Bachs's Vivaldi arrangements has decreased a little. After years of "El condor pasa" before that, and now with them disappearing, I wonder what will be next. Maybe "Nessun dorma" done by Mongolian overtone singers.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

=======================

 

I can think of several neo-baroque organs in the UK, where the pedal-reeds closely resemble the sound of Tuvan throat-singing.....all harmonics and not much fundamental.

 

:lol:

 

MM

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Well, as a motter of fact, I have. When I was six. Still don't know the stopping board too well, though.

 

As far as weaponry is concerned, I think I would prefer the Way of the Sword. It's messier.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

In that case consider a chain saw. They can be obtained legitimately and transported through city street without provoking the attention of any passing plod.

 

Brian

 

PS For the benefit of anyone reading this at GCHQ. This is intended as a JOKE.

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====================

I think Brian makes some very good points concerning "evidence."

 

My knowledge of Bach is perhaps somewhat disorganised, and I may make mistakes as I work from memory.  However, let's give the "evidence" a bit of a whirl and see where it leads.

First of all "custom & practice" during the baroque period. Generally speaking, it seems that there was a tradition which everyone knew and didn't need to write down or particularly specify. It was just "the way things were done."  C P E Bach alludes to ornamentation in some of his notes, but even that is open to considerable argument, yet it is the closest we get to his father's intentions.

 

More specifically, the "Dorian" has certain changes of manuals indicated, but I do not recall whether this was in the original autographed manuscript or whether it was the work of a copyist such as Krebs or some other. However, does it matter?

It was doubtless "within the meaning and spirit of the period" no matter who's hand it may be written in.

 

Similarly the "Gigue" Guge, which may not be by Bach, but which is certainly "of the period" and in the "style" Of JSB. (Who COULD have written it but Bach, I wonder?)

 

Bach's organ works are surely founded on Italian models and the concerted-style, and in BWV 596 (The D-minor Vivaldi Concerto transcribed by Bach to the organ) there are clear registrational directions. I believe he transcribed this work whilst at Weimar sometime between 1707 and 1718; the Vivaldi work being published in 1711 in Amsterdam.

 

In the first movement, there are specific indications of changing registration, with an 8ft Principal and a 32ft flue being added at some point which I cannot recall with any degree of accuracy without the music before me.

 

We therefore have EVIDENCE of variety and changing timbres, clearly concerned with the Italian concerted-style.

 

On the other hand, the final fugal movement has no indications at all, even though this is a movement which clearly utilises the contrasting "tutti" and "solo" dialogue of the original Vivaldi score. Should it therefore be played on one manual without reference to that division of resources, or was it simply "custom & practice" to play it as Vivaldi wrote it, irrespective of Bach's lack of clear indication one way or the other?

 

It could be argued that the change of musical texture is sufficient to satisfy the purpose, but somehow, this doesn't seem quite right to me.

 

By some complete miracle of metamorphic trascendence, the music of Bach can be played in so many different way and still survive the ordeal. It can be played fast or slow, with or without changes of registration/manuals and sometimes even chopped up into tiny nuances of voice-leading and phrasing. God knows, Glenn Gould managed to convert Bach's linear flow into a mass of vertical "events," and even had the cheek to sing along to it at the same time, but he has his followers.

 

Well, why do I restrict myself to words when there is real music to be heard by Bach, each played in radically different ways.

 

Below are three links to some outstanding Bach performances IMHO, and all as different as 'fromage blanc' and the 'white cliffs of Dover."

 

If you like your Bach slow, romantic and majestic, there is no better example than the following:-

 

http://www.orgelnieuws.nl/wcms/modules/new...hp?storyid=1064

 

Scroll down to Fantasia & Fugue in G Minor (Tracks 6 & 7) and listen to Jaap Schwarz performing the work from the Straube edition on the Batz organ of the Domkirk, Utrecht, in the Netherlands.

 

Next, travelk to Leipzig and hear Bach played in a less generous acoustic, and therefore a wee bit faster, without manual changes or contrasting registration.

 

http://www.orgelradio.nl/wcms/modules/news....php?storyid=79

 

Tracks 19 & 20 Ulrich Boehme - St.Thomas', Leipzig.

 

But if you want to hear the BEST recording of the "Little" G minor Fugue ever, listen to the following:-

 

http://www.kfki.hu/~/zlehel/zene/

 

Now I wonder who is playing THAT and where?

 

Any guesses?

 

:lol:

MM

 

PS: If this post appears again, these links don't work!

''First of all "custom & practice" during the baroque period. Generally speaking, it seems that there was a tradition which everyone knew and didn't need to write down or particularly specify. It was just "the way things were done."

 

MM - I wonder if that is not the opposite of the actual situation? Theorists codified existing widespread performance tradition, surely, rather than leaving things out of their treatises because everyone knew about the procedures anyway? Does that mean, for example, that the use of inegales (recorded with some degree of consistency by all sorts of people, as you know) was incredibly unusual? By the reasoning you outlined, if it had been a widespread practice no one would have needed to write it all down....

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Personally, I find the lack of directions with respect to manual changes less compelling than I otherwise would because registrational directions are likewise far from comprehensive though more instances exist. Yet Bach must have registered each piece. If he or his copyists did not always consider it necessary to specify registrations, why would they feel it necessary to specify manual changes. And if the answer is that the practice was to leave it to the discretion of the performer, then that provides a route out of the problem...
When considering evidence we need to decide what it is (or may be) evidence of before we can begin to draw conclusions, however tentative. So, where the use of more than one manual is specified by the Bach or the copyists, it is worth considering the circumstances in which this occurs. I'm currently at work so working from memory, but the only ones I can think of are:

 

1) For an ongoing dialogue (e.g. the concertos, the Dorian Toccata)

2) To project a solo melody (e.g. many of the Orgelbüchlein preludes)

3) To effect trio textures (e.g. some Schübler chorales)

 

If we also include forte and piano markings, which are frequently more easily effected by changing manuals than stops (and could conceivably always indicate this), we can add

 

4) Echo effects

 

The odd man out is definitely the opening movement of the D minor concerto with its change of tone colour (albeit stops, not manuals) in mid flow. If I recall correctly this marks the entry of the ripieno in the orchestral original.

 

Somewhat similar is Ein feste Burg, which starts with a trio texture on two manuals, but later moves to both hands on the Hauptwerk. But this is a very individual piece - and an early one - and I also seem to recall something about the source(s) not being as straightforward as one would wish so that is it not clear whether all the directions are Bach's (though the opening ones certainly look as though they are).

 

If we then look at how many instances of the above four categories do not have different manuals specified when we should expect them to, how many do we find? Without my scores I'm not sure, but I suspect it's rather few. The trio sonatas (though the texture leaves no other option), Alle Menschen from the Orgelbüchlein, the adagio from the Toccata, Adagio & Fugue, the echo passages in BWV 565 and some of those in the "jig" fugue (the new Bärenreiter edition gives me the impression that there is more than one source for this piece and they disagree about the echo effects, none showing a complete scheme - does anyone know anything further about this?) There must be a few others, but maybe the copyists' information is not nearly as incomplete as might seem.

 

In no case are manual changes specified to highlight the episodes of fugues or their preludes and, as I said before, the absence of any such directions in the fugue of the D minor concerto is very suggestive. It is common to cite the concerto influence in the later preludes and fugues, but the fact remains that they are not concertos - there is not the degree of dialogue you find in the arrangements.

 

So, as far as I can see, the D minor concerto is the only piece that provides some crumb of comfort to those who like changes of tone colour in the preludes and fugues. It's a pretty weak case, though.

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In that case consider a chain saw. They can be obtained legitimately and transported through city street without provoking the attention of any passing plod.

 

Brian

 

PS For the benefit of anyone reading this at GCHQ. This is intended as a JOKE.

 

Brian - did I ever show you my Warrant Card?

:lol:

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''First of all "custom & practice" during the baroque period. Generally speaking, it seems that there was a tradition which everyone knew and didn't need to write down or particularly specify. It was just "the way things were done." 

 

MM - I wonder if that is not the opposite of the actual situation? Theorists codified existing widespread performance tradition, surely, rather than leaving things out of their treatises because everyone knew about the procedures anyway? Does that mean, for example, that the use of inegales (recorded with some degree of consistency by all sorts of people, as you know) was incredibly unusual? By the reasoning you outlined, if it had been a widespread practice no one would have needed to write it all down....

 

======================

 

It is so long since I made even the most cursory study of "inegales" (so much for my harpsichord studies!) I couldn't possibly comment with any degree of accuracy.

 

However, my rather dim and fading memory of the subject seems to throw up the "Tables de agreement" of Couperin, something I saw written down by d'Anglebert and, of course, the C P E Bach treatise.

 

I seem to recall that Couperin wrote the table down because people either did not understand, or just "did their own thing" to his annoyance. The problem is, each composer seemed to have different ways of doing it, but again, memory fails me.

 

C P E Bach is oft quoted as the source of Bach ornamentation, but there are certain difficulties associated with that, if I recall correctly.

 

Where is my copy of "Keyboard Interpretation" when I most need it?

 

Whilst I can well understand the various treatise about ornamentation; especially when a composer/performer such as C P E Bach travelled so much outside his native land, I just wonder if "performance practice" wasn't really a fairly regional businesss, where articled pupils learned almost by rote from their respective masters?

 

It's a lot quicker and more efficient to use one's ears, and I confess to the fact that when in doubt, I just pop on a CD or record and listen to what finer men (and women) than I do with ornamentation. To that end, I am master of none but pupil of all, and from my student days I owe Kenneth Gilbert a great debt of gratitude.

 

Of course, we must always ask, "How regional is regional?"

 

I am often amazed just how FAR some of those great musicians travelled. Bach's friend travelled to work in Poland (Bach almost followed him to S.Mary's,Gdansk), and one wonders if Bach didn't first come into contact with Italian concerto style in the Hanseatic Port area, where Italian musicians were resident at Kiel, with its' extensive library.

 

My instincts have always ruled my life, and variety is the spice of life. I find the music of Bach absolutely brimming with life, and I just cannot believe that he would not have made absolutely maximum use of the resources of every organ he ever played. Bach may have been conservative and conformist in many ways, but I like to think of him as a closet show-off who could raise eyebrows from time to time.

 

Without full use of the concerted-style, IMHO, the music of Bach dies a death, and short of thumb-pistons and swell-pedals, any resource which can best emphasise the tensions and dialogue of his contrapuntal writing are, at least to me,extremely welcome.

 

Yorkshire puddings may be conservative fayre, but they should never be flat and lifeless!

 

MM

 

PS: I don't DO French!

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But if you want to hear the BEST recording of the "Little" G minor Fugue ever, listen to the following:-

 

http://www.kfki.hu/~/zlehel/zene/

 

Now I wonder who is playing THAT and where?

 

Any guesses?

 

Inspired guess here: how about E Power Biggs at Busch Reisiger in Harvard? Apart from the pedal reeds (which do sound like Tuvan throat singing to me), I could easily believe it. Mind you, I've really enjoyed listening to it, it is very good.

 

I remember hearing this piece on my beloved 1910 Walker. All that was needed was OD II, Principal and fifteenth and the pedal bourdon coupled to it and it was quite a damascine moment for me. It was beautifully clear, suave sound and you could have listened to it all day without wearing of the sound. It was wonderfully played by the organist at the time, very similar, in fact, to the recording but for the registration changes.

 

On this subject, I'm tempted to say horses for courses. I wouldn't play the Bach Passacaglia on a single registration but I might consider playing the entire fugue on a single registration.

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...(which do sound like Tuvan throat singing to me)...

 

I have never even hear of this - what on earth is it?

 

However, I have heard a recording of Tibetan monks singing so low, that they managed to produce harmonics (and therefore to sing more than one not at a time).

 

On this subject, I'm tempted to say horses for courses. I wouldn't play the Bach Passacaglia on a single registration but I might consider playing the entire fugue on a single registration.

 

There is quite an interesting recording of Philippe Léfébvre playing this work at N.-D. - before the rebuild. At one point, he cuts down to just 4p Prestant and Flûte - and very effective it is, too.

 

Then there was the time at Exeter Cathedral, in one of the celebrity summer evening organ recitals, where Graham Steed commenced playing the Passacaglia on the Pedal Bourdon and Octave (Wood) - it sounded as if an ancient Old English Sheepdog was trying to sing along....

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When considering evidence we need to decide what it is (or may be) evidence of before we can begin to draw conclusions, however tentative. So, where the use of more than one manual is specified by the Bach or the copyists, it is worth considering the circumstances in which this occurs. I'm currently at work so working from memory, but the only ones I can think of are:

 

1) For an ongoing dialogue (e.g. the concertos, the Dorian Toccata)

2) To project a solo melody (e.g. many of the Orgelbüchlein preludes)

3) To effect trio textures (e.g. some Schübler chorales)

 

If we also include forte and piano markings, which are frequently more easily effected by changing manuals than stops (and could conceivably always indicate this), we can add

 

4) Echo effects

 

The odd man out is definitely the opening movement of the D minor concerto with its change of tone colour (albeit stops, not manuals) in mid flow. If I recall correctly this marks the entry of the ripieno in the orchestral original.

 

Somewhat similar is Ein feste Burg, which starts with a trio texture on two manuals, but later moves to both hands on the Hauptwerk. But this is a very individual piece - and an early one - and I also seem to recall something about the source(s) not being as straightforward as one would wish so that is it not clear whether all the directions are Bach's (though the opening ones certainly look as though they are).

 

If we then look at how many instances of the above four categories do not have different manuals specified when we should expect them to be, how many do we find? Without my scores I'm not sure, but I suspect it's rather few. The trio sonatas (though the texture leaves no other option), Alle Menschen from the Orgelbüchlein, the adagio from the Toccata, Adagio & Fugue, the echo passges in BWV 565 and some of those in the "jig" fugue (the new Bärenreiter edition gives me the impression that there is more than one source for this piece and they disagree about the echo effects, none showing a complete scheme - does anyone anything further about this?) There must be a few others, but maybe the copyists' information is not nearly as incomplete as might seem.

 

In no case are manual changes specified to highlight the episodes of fugues or their preludes and, as I said before, the absence of any such directions in the D minor concerto is very suggestive. It is common to cite the concerto influence in the later preludes and fugues, but the fact remains that they are not concertos - there is not the degree of dialogue you find in the arrangements.

 

So, as far as I can see, the D minor concerto is the only piece that provides some crumb of comfort to those who like changes of tone colour in the preludes and fugues. It's a pretty weak case, though.

 

Almost anything [/i]canbe evidence - even "nothing", like the curious behaviour of the dog in the night (Silver Blaze which was significant in leading Holmes to his conclusion - but a single item of evidence is a pretty puny thing. It hunts better in a pack with fellow like-minded pieces which come together to form a narrative , into which each piece fits, with which each piece is consistent, and which is not contradicted by any other evidence. This narrative has to be placed within a context. The context with which I am most familiar is the legal one which provides rules as to both who has the burden of proof and the standard that proof has to meet. Thus in the context of a criminal trial it is for the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubt; not for the accused to establish his innocence.(Admittedly there are a number today who find this an inconvenient rule and would like to do away with it or water it down in certain contexts but that issue is hardly germane for discussion here). More appropriate to this discussion is proof on the balance of probabilities (the civil standard)

by which something that is shown to be more likely than not on the evidence is taken to be proved. In civil cases the claimant has to establish his case and if he has no evidence he will fail: the defendant is not required to introduce evidence to establish that he is under no liability.

 

The relevance of all this to this discussion is

(1) for the subject under discussion on this thread the civil standard would be more appropriate, but more importantly

(2) your carefully crafted argument is based on the assumption that it is for those who desire to introduce manual changes into the preludes and fugues to prove that this is permissible but on what basis is the burden of proof placed on them rather than on those who argue that in the absence of any indications such changes should not be made ?[b]

 

If we adopt the converse approach to that you have assumed, the evidence bears a rather different appearance. There is some slight evidence in favour of the practice but none(at least none introduced so far) against it. So such evidence as there is tends to support the practice rather than argue against it.

 

Perhaps one day we will know the answer but two further traits of the way humans operate now , and are likely to have operated at the time of JSB , ought to be borne in mind.

 

(1) Every communication, however, carefully structured to be complete will always (of necessity) leave a lot unsaid on the assumption that the hearer or reader can fill in the blanks for him or herself. We have been using cooking analogies a lot . I claim no particular expertise - in fact I would normally caution anyone against eating anything cooked by me - but I have not encountered any recipe book which starts by saying, make sure all your pots and pans are properly clean, or when it says "add water" goes on to specify that the water should be wholesome, fit for drinking and not contaminated with sewage. Communication would be impossibly tedious if much in life could not "be taken as read" .

 

(2) Emerson said "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds..."and most of us are more than happy to act on that assumption. Indeed, we tend to look askance at those who insist on always doing things in the same fashion and suspect them of having obsessive-compulsive disorder. PCND has earlier on this very thread admitted to adopting a different approach to performing the same piece of music on different occassions, and that (as I understood it) using the same instrument. How much more would this be likely to be so if he had been performing on different instruments. I seem to recollect previous discussion on this board about how the same organ could sound quite different in different hands, with certain pieces not working. At least one explanation advanced to account for this was visitors registering a piece according to what looked to be right on paper rather than using their ears to determine what sounded right in a particular venue. If we are prepared to be flexible and accommodating to changed circumstances, on what basis do we assume that Bach and his generation were not likewise so prepared ?

 

And so I finish with a question. To what extent is there any evidence to support the view that in Bach's time a single ,uniform approach to performing a particular piece once composed was the norm in the area where he flourished ? In the absence of any persuasive evidence tending to establish that conclusion, I am inclined to adopt the assumption that he was just as likely to be inconsistent in his approach as we are today, and that it is perfectly possible that he sometimes played a piece one way and sometimes another, depending on such fortuitous occurences as whether there was anyone to hand to add or subtract stops or whether another keyboard was capable of producing an effect he liked.

 

Apologies for the length of this.

 

Brian Childs

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Eminently sensible, Brian - I whole-heartedly agree.

 

Just as long as you do not 'find' (possibly wrapped around some fresh meat) a miraculously-preserved treatise, purporting to be by the very hand of Johann Sebastian Bach, in which he extols the virtues of tonal percussion stops....

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Almost anything [/i]canbe evidence - even "nothing", like the curious behaviour of the dog in the night (Silver Blaze which was significant in leading Holmes to his conclusion - but a single item of evidence is a pretty puny thing. It hunts better in a pack with fellow like-minded pieces which come together to form a narrative , into which each piece fits, with which each piece is consistent, and which is not contradicted by any other evidence. This narrative has to be placed within a context. The context with which I am most familiar is the legal one which provides rules as to both who has the burden of proof and the standard that proof has to meet. Thus in the context of a criminal trial it is for the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubt; not for the accused to establish his innocence.(Admittedly there are a number today who find this an inconvenient rule and would like to do away with it or water it down in certain contexts but that issue is hardly germane for discussion here). More appropriate to this discussion is proof on the balance of probabilities (the  civil standard)

by which something that is shown to be more likely than not on the evidence is taken to be proved. In civil cases the claimant has to establish his case and if he has no evidence he will fail: the defendant is not required to introduce evidence to establish that he is under no liability.

 

The relevance of all this to this discussion is

        (1) for the subject under discussion on this thread the civil standard would be more appropriate, but more importantly

          (2) your carefully crafted argument is based on the assumption that it is for those who desire to introduce manual changes into the preludes and fugues  to prove that this is permissible but on what basis is the burden of proof placed on them rather than on those who argue that in the absence of any indications such changes should not be made ?[b]

 

If we adopt the converse approach to that you have assumed, the evidence bears a rather different appearance. There is some slight evidence in favour of the practice but none(at least none introduced so far) against it. So such evidence as there is tends to support the practice rather than argue against it.

 

Perhaps one day we will know the answer but two further traits of the way humans operate now , and are likely to have operated at the time of JSB , ought to be borne in mind.

 

(1) Every communication, however, carefully structured to be complete will always (of necessity) leave a lot unsaid on the assumption that the hearer or reader can fill in the blanks for him or herself. We have been using cooking analogies a lot . I claim no particular expertise - in fact I would normally caution anyone against eating anything cooked by me - but I have not encountered any recipe book which starts by saying, make sure all your pots and pans are properly clean, or when it says "add water"  goes on to specify that the water should be wholesome, fit for drinking and not contaminated with sewage. Communication would be impossibly tedious if much in life could not "be taken as read" .

 

(2) Emerson said "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds..."and most of us are more than happy to act on that assumption. Indeed, we tend to look askance at those who insist on always doing things in the same fashion and suspect them of having obsessive-compulsive disorder. PCND has earlier on this very thread admitted to adopting a different approach to performing the same piece of music on different occassions, and that (as I understood it) using the same instrument. How much more would this be likely to be so if he had been performing on different instruments. I seem to recollect previous discussion on this board about how the same organ could sound quite different in different hands, with certain pieces not working. At least one explanation advanced to account for this was visitors registering a piece according to what looked to be right on paper rather than using their ears to determine what sounded right in  a particular venue.  If we are prepared to be flexible and accommodating to changed circumstances, on what basis do we assume that Bach and his generation were not likewise so prepared ?

 

And so I finish with a question. To what extent is there any evidence to support the view that in Bach's time a single ,uniform approach to performing a particular piece once composed was the norm in the area where he flourished ? In the absence of any persuasive evidence tending to establish that conclusion, I am inclined to adopt the assumption that he was just as likely to be inconsistent in his approach as we are today, and that it is perfectly possible that he sometimes played a piece one way and sometimes another, depending on such fortuitous occurences as whether there was anyone to hand to add or subtract stops or whether another keyboard was capable of producing an effect he liked.

 

Apologies for the length of this.

 

Brian Childs

 

==========================

 

 

Lengthy Brian, but very wise.

 

I would also add, that when faced with an organ which really only had ONE decent chorus,I probably wouldn't want to stray away from it during a Bach P & F.

 

Point made?

 

MM

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==========================

Lengthy Brian, but very wise.

 

I would also add, that when faced with an organ which really only had ONE decent chorus,I probably wouldn't want to stray away from it during a Bach P & F.

 

Point made?

 

MM

 

 

Absolutely. Now as to pineapples and celery

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Eminently sensible, Brian - I whole-heartedly agree.

 

Just as long as you do not 'find' (possibly wrapped around some fresh meat) a miraculously-preserved treatise, purporting to be by the very hand of Johann Sebastian Bach, in which he extols the virtues of tonal percussion stops....

 

Funny you should mention that because it just so happens that a friend of mine doing research on Mozart 's influence on Beethoven.....

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The relevance of all this to this discussion is

         (1) for the subject under discussion on this thread the civil standard would be more appropriate, but more importantly

Sorry, Brian, but I don't really agree. There's a difference between musicology and a court of law. In the latter you start with a result - a case to be proven or dismissed - and assess how well the evidence stacks up for or against it. Musicology, on the other hand, starts with the evidence and sees where it leads. Admittedly it can all too easily end up like a court when PhDs find their pet theories under attack and set about defending them, but ideally it shouldn't be like that. Unlike a court it doesn't have to reach a decision on anything.
          (2) your carefully crafted argument is based on the assumption that it is for those who desire to introduce manual changes into the preludes and fugues  to prove that this is permissible but on what basis is the burden of proof placed on them rather than on those who argue that in the absence of any indications such changes should not be made ?[b]
Because you cannot prove anything from an absence of evidence (and the dog not barking in the night is not an absence of evidence). In any case, you misunderstand where I am coming from. I did not craft my argument around an assumption that anyone has to prove anything. I simply discussed the evidence as I see it and the direction in which it seems to me to lead. With respect to the stop changes in the D minor concerto, if people wish to use this as evidence for manual changes in preludes and fugues, the onus is on them to demonstrate that the evidence in a concerto is applicable to a different musical form.
And so I finish with a question. To what extent is there any evidence to support the view that in Bach's time a single ,uniform approach to performing a particular piece once composed was the norm in the area where he flourished ?
Well I for one have never argued this. I'm a great believer in trying to think outside the box. Very occasionally I will play the P&F in G major BWV541 reflectively on a single 8ft flute, in much the same way that I would play some of the "48". Try it: it can be made to work and gives you a whole new slant on the piece.

 

No. As I have said several times recently, I am very far from dictating how one should play anything. If people want to change manuals in Bach, or even use the swell box, that's their choice and if they can produce a good musical performance, I hope I am flexible enough to appreciate it as such. But I do think we all need to be more honest about admitting that the result may not actually have much to do with Bach. But then, it's possible that no one's "Bach" has all that much to do with Bach and it's merely a matter of how distant it is.

 

Isn't the problem really that we like to imagine we are playing Bach so that we seek to legitimise what we do by making him in our own image?

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Very occasionally I will play the P&F in G major BWV541 reflectively on a single 8ft flute, in much the same way that I would play some of the "48". Try it: it can be made to work and gives you a whole new slant on the piece.

 

 

No - I disagree. I can see no point whatsoever in playing it in such a manner. Neither do I believe that JSB would have ever expected anyone to perform it thus.

 

The writing is imbued with vitality and restless forward motion. To play it quietly is to rob the piece of much of its aural impact, in short, to emasculate the work. In my view, this will merely leave the listener with a caricature.

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No - I disagree. I can see no point whatsoever in playing it in such a manner.
Oh dear. You disappoint me: that sounds like a closed mind. I go along with you to the extent that I don't suppose either that Bach intended it to be performed thus (but of course I don't know that). But I do find it broadens my musical appreciation to look for varying interpretations. I wouldn't play the quiet version in public though.
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