Sequences and Phrase contouring in J. S. Bach’s French Suite No. 5, BWV 816

An adult student and I explored sequences in the Allemande opener of Bach’s French Suite in G as we parceled out the treble and bass lines. (Still another voice that danced from the alto to tenor range, was separately identified and practiced)

Bach French Suite p. 1

To craft beautiful phrases in the opening movement that limpidly flows in legato, the player has to understand how one set of measures relates to another, or how snatches of a particular idea, can be utilized in a “sequential” manner. Smaller parcels of a bigger idea can literally pile up as occurs in Part B, the more developed section of the Allemande.

As a refresher:

“In music, a sequence is the immediate restatement of a motif or longer melodic (or harmonic) passage at a higher or lower pitch in the same voice…At least two instances of a sequential pattern—including the original statement—are required to identify a sequence, and the pattern should be based on several melody notes or at least two successive harmonies (chords).” (WIKI)

I think the key word that underscores SEQUENCES is RELATIONSHIP. The player must be aware of the before and after in the course of music-making, fleshing out how one phrase relates to another that has a remarkable similarity or tie-in, and then he should devise ways of making musically sensitive connections. (Dynamic shifts are often utilized in the sequential universe)

J.S. Bach permeates his Allemande with Sequences. Threaded throughout the movement, their sensitive rendering is a big ingredient of expressive music-making and interpretation.

A lesson-in-progress focused on these very sequences and how to respond to them in a musical way.

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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