Less than a haiku,
And more than a universe:
Bach’s BWV 931 is one of the little preludes from the Little Clavier Book for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.
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.
[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)