Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Haiku Wednesday: BWV 931

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The Coma Galaxy Cluster, also known as Abell 1656, is more than 300 million light-years away and is named for its parent constellation, Coma Berenices. It appears to participate in the dark flow. Credit: Jim Misti (Misti Mountain Observatory) via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Background photo (modified): The Coma Galaxy Cluster, also known as Abell 1656. Credit: Jim Misti (Misti Mountain Observatory) via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Less than a haiku,

And more than a universe:

Bach’s 931.

Bach’s BWV 931 is one of the little preludes from the Little Clavier Book for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.

BWV931

I was working on this a while back.  It is only two lines of music, less than a haiku.  It is far from the most complex of Bach’s work, in fact some even question whether it is his work.  There aren’t many recordings of it.  It is not as easy as it might seem.  In fact, playing it well is surprisingly hard.  But why?

I think it’s because there is so much packed into those two lines, those two seemingly throwaway lines, that when you start unfolding that little universe, you can never fit it back in the box again.  It could be a sleepy afternoon in a Renaissance garden, or the after of a before-and-after moment as you gaze into the distance.  It is timeless.  The fingers may change, but the song remains.  And there are intricacies of expression that, played poorly, are grating, played well, are sublime.

Here’s BWV 931.  After you listen to it, my challenge to you is to now find a random prelude or Song Without Words, by Chopin, Mendelssohn, Bach, Grieg, anyone (though perhaps not a Schoenberg prelude unless you’re conversant), truly focus on it, and hear what it might have to say to you, see where it takes you.

Sometimes the smallest, briefest voice speaks the loudest.

_______

Image attributions:

[Photo modified] The Coma Galaxy Cluster, also known as Abell 1656, is more than 300 million light-years away and is named for its parent constellation, Coma Berenices. It appears to participate in the dark flow. Credit: Jim Misti (Misti Mountain Observatory).  Via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap060321.html

BWV 931 via imslp.org.  http://imslp.org/wiki/9_Kleine_Pr%C3%A4ludien,_BWV_924-932_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian)

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5 thoughts on “Haiku Wednesday: BWV 931

  1. GORGEOUS little piece. Thank you for reminding us of it on this beautiful day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not exactly short, and not at all a song. Charles Ives, “The Unanswered Question.” I did not know that anything so short existed (this Bach Prelude).

    Like

  3. Great background image! For those who haven’t looked closely at the image, pretty much every point of light on the image (about a thousand) is not a star but a galaxy composed of hundreds of millions of stars (like our Milky Way). A interesting trivia bit is that the Coma Cluster is probably the first place where Dark Matter was seen, way back in the 1930’s.

    Liked by 1 person

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