My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sinuous, slithering sound - Bach's Prelude and Fugue in D sharp minor

Perhaps it's because I am a big fan of the Harry Potter series and because I recently saw the latest installment in the movie theater - I simply can't get the vision of sinuous, slithering snakes out of my mind when it comes to Bach's 8th Prelude and Fugue, in D sharp minor. It probably doesn't help that having to play in this key (6 sharps!) forces the pianist to maneuver in and out of the black keys with a feeling much similar to that of this most-beloved creature. It also doesn't help that the challenge of playing in this key tends to cause my mind to twist and turn and to pull tighter and tighter in upon itself as some snakes do in order to catch their next meal. Sounds a little dramatic, you say? Perhaps, but all I can say is that I can usually only take these pieces in small doses, especially the Prelude. And in case you haven't figured it out, I'm not a big fan of snakes.

But no worries. I may not like snakes and I may not have warm fuzzy feelings for this prelude and fugue set but Bach being Bach, I still find great beauty in this music. The Prelude is a wonderful example of the composer's ease at speaking in counterpoint, with its invention-like feel, 2 voices imitating one another and intertwining in a mathematical but intimate way. It's sort of like the photo of these two snakes. Yes they are snakes, but together, intertwined, they create a moment of great beauty. It speaks to me of the simple joys found in companionship.

Photo by SB_Johnson, from Wikipedia Commons

And the Fugue...this time not just two snakes but rather four, creating an even more intricate fusion of life. And to top it all off, Bach places two voices, the soprano and the tenor, in a mirror image of one another as the final statement of this wonderful fugue.

I can't help but think of the image that is used to represent the medical profession - two snakes wrapping themselves around a staff. What a wonderful, tidy way to put our snakes to rest.

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