In this article, I explore the dual nature of Bach's music and its ability to convey both emotional depth and technical sophistication. I argue that Bach's music has a spiritual dimension that allows listeners to connect with a deeper source of meaning and that this is what gives it its timeless quality. I also examine the relationship between the prelude and fugue and how the prelude presents an emotional question while the fugue provides a transcendent, divine response. Additionally, I consider the role of the performer in interpreting Bach's music and how this can impact the listener's experience. Overall, I present Bach's music as a meaningful and powerful form of artistic expression that has the capacity to connect us with something larger and more profound, an idea that is also reflected in Goethe's admiration for Bach's music. Like Goethe, I see music as more than just entertainment or art, but rather as a means of accessing something deeper and universal.
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Som i tilfellet med evangeliet etter Kristus, så er også Bachs musikk to ting samtidig: 1) Den er en ufattelig vakker hyllest til hans elskede Tyskland, Leipzig, menneskene der og livet. Musikken hans er dyptgripende emosjonell og fyller alle andre lag av mennekelig eksistens, og "filmregissøren" som foreviger/forteller denne historien (filmer filmen) er en bibelsk profet. Hva mener vi med det? Jo, her stilles det bibelske spørsmål, og det leves bibelske liv: Naboens fødsel, lek, voldtekter, plutselige dødsfall, osv. 2) Det som gjør musikken hans så tidløs, er at man kan "vrenge" den, på et merkelig vis speilvende den, slik at musikken plutselig fremstår som et "glassperlespill" hvor komponisten forteller historien om universet med matematisk presisjon. Dette laget/dimensjonen kan lyttes til parallellt med at man hører fortellingen om livet på jorden. På samme måte som hovedbudskapet i Kristus' liv både er historien om mannen/mennesket Jesus, og historen fortalt i "bibelske proporsjoner" som kampen Guds sønn må kjempe med mennesketeheten for å manifestere seg. Bach har da også blit kalt for den femte evangelist (med vitenskapelig presisjon); man skaper store bivirkninger når man spalter ett atom; hvilket er nettopp hva Bachs "partikkelfysikk" beretter. Og som i alle andre fortellinger, så tar lytteren inn et budskap ingen har hatt i sinn, for det gjenskapes hver gang noen kobler seg på denne strømmen/frekvensen. Og derfor vil jeg først og fremst kalle meg troende i Bachs (klang)katedral. Bach eksemplifiserer også den ultimate pedagogikk (spirituelle mester) fordi han søker å koble lytteren på sin egen kilde. Det er grunnen til at musikken får et slikt harmonisk og matematisk konsekvent uttrykk. For å sende de klareste gnistene, må linsen/formen være skjerpet. Akkurat som luften i en obo må gjennom et veldig trangt rør for å klinge med et enormt stort rom (obo har antakelig den mest ekspanderte romklangen av alle instrumenter), så må idéuttrykk også sendes gjennom en form. Matematikken er en slik "linse", men kan ikke romme den emosjonelle og spirituelle historien vår, i motsetning til musikk. Musikkens abstraksjonsnivå øker altså desto mer kompleks, trang og "matematisk" rammen er. Derfor er fugen det uttrykket Bach blåser sitt uttrykk klarest gjennom.
As in the case of the gospel according to Christ, Bach's music is also two things at the same time: 1) It is an incredibly beautiful homage to his beloved Germany, Leipzig, the people there, and life. His music is deeply emotional and fills all other layers of human existence, and the "film director" who captures/tells this story (films the film) is a biblical prophet. What do we mean by that? Well, here, the biblical question is posed, and biblical lives are lived: the birth of the neighbor, play, rapes, sudden deaths, etc. 2) What makes his music timeless is that you can "wrench" it, in a strange way mirroring it, so that the music suddenly appears as a "glass bead game" where the composer tells the story of the universe with mathematical precision. This layer/dimension can be listened to in parallel with listening to the story of life on earth. In the same way that the main message of Christ's life is both the story of the man/human Jesus and the story of the "biblical proportions" that the son of God must fight with humanity to manifest itself. Bach has also been called the fifth evangelist (with scientific precision); you create great side effects when you split an atom; which is exactly what Bach's "particle physics" reports. And like in all other stories, the listener takes in a message that no one has had in mind, because it is recreated every time someone connects to this stream/frequency. And that's why I would first and foremost call myself a believer in Bach's (sound) cathedral. Bach also exemplifies the ultimate pedagogy (spiritual master) because he seeks to connect the listener to his own source. That is the reason why the music has such a harmonious and mathematically consistent expression. To send the clearest sparks, the lens/form must be sharpened. Just as the air in an oboe must pass through a very narrow tube to sound with an enormous large room (the oboe probably has the most expanded sound space of all instruments), ideas must also be sent through a form. Mathematics is such a "lens", but it cannot hold our emotional and spiritual story, unlike music. Music's level of abstraction therefore increases the more complex, narrow, and "mathematical" the frame is. That is why the fugue is the expression through which Bach blows his expression the clearest.
Image taken from this calculus lecture: https://screencast.uninett.no/relay/ansatt/ranestaduio.no/2019/19.08/5465200/19.08.2019_-_20190819_160436_39.html
Jeg mener Bachs verker er inndelt som et oppslagsverk i ulike følelser. I preludiene og fugene (orgel og klaver + toccata og fuge), så er verkene todelt, men de henger lilkevel sammen som tvillinger. Fugen er den essensielle kvaliteten som forløser og transcenderer følsene som presenteres i preludiene. Så, f.eks. i BWV 565, så er Toccattaen desperat. Dette er musikk Bach skrev da han var 21 år gammel. Førstedelen er et skrik, nesten et slags Munch-skrik, en håpløshet, en umulig kamp, et kaos, og en skisse av noe uutholdelig han står i. Ikke så rart kanskje? En 21 år gammel Bach må vel ha følt seg en smule ensom og misforstått? Fugen som svarer på dette følelsesutvruddet er sann vilje, en kraft som utholder alt, og som ikke kommer fra denne verden. Det er den "guddommelige" versjonen av vilje. Likevel, også preludiene (toccattaene) har det samme dobbelteksponerte bildet (følelser og matematikk).
I believe Bach's works are divided as a reference work in different emotions. In the preludes and fugues (organ and piano + toccata and fugue), the works are two-part, but they are still connected as twins. The fugue is the essential quality that liberates and transcends the emotions presented in the preludes. So, for example, in BWV 565, the Toccata is desperate. This is music Bach wrote when he was 21 years old. The first part is a scream, almost a Munch scream, hopelessness, an impossible battle, chaos, and a sketch of something unbearable he stands in. Not so surprising maybe? A 21-year-old Bach must have felt a little lonely and misunderstood? The fugue that answers this emotional outburst is true will, a power that endures everything, and which does not come from this world. It is the "divine" version of will. However, the preludes (toccatae) also have the same double-exposed image (emotions and mathematics).
Se/hør f.eks. i de tre videoene under hvordan to versjoner av hvordan den legendariske Glenn Gould (skille i tid) besvarer det samme spørsmålet på to ulike måter (og implikasjonene dette har for utøverens forståelse av Guds rike/essens):
See / hear, for example, in the three videos below how two versions of how the legendary Glenn Gould (difference in time) answer the same question in two different ways (and the implications this has for the performer's understanding of God's kingdom / essence):
"Svar" (altså fugen) 1:
"Answer" (i.e., the Fugue) 1:
Interview with András Schiff on Bach
Jonathan Kelly: People often identify you very closely with Bach as a composer and I think some people have said even that he is for you the centre of your musical world, and you like to recognize Bach in other composers. Why is that, can you explain that a bit?
András Schiff: Yes, that is correct, Bach is certainly my favourite composer, always been so, it will stay like that as long as I am alive, and I do not know about the next lives. Bach is a father figure of Western music. It is quite clear to me that there had been great music before Bach, but somehow he represents the highpoint of this culture, and after Bach’s death, I find that all the composers that I identify with, whose music I deeply love, they all have something to do with Bach. They all recognized the father figure in him. Especially when it comes to writing fugues, writing counterpoint, polyphony. We see it in the works of Mozart, who came on to this earth like somebody sent from heaven. But at the age of 25 also he discovers in the library of baron van Swieten in Vienna the works of Bach, and from then on his music is on a different level.
Kelly: Almost like Bach became his professor.
Hjemme i sitt Weimar kunne gamle Goethe oppleve musikk av Bach: preludier og fuger fra Wohltemperiertes Klavier, koraler og orgelverker. Organisten i det nærliggende Berka levendegjorde musikken for ham. Begeistret forteller Goethe i et brev til Zelter om hvordan han – lyttende til organistens spill i fullkommen sinnsro og uten enhver ytre distraksjon – først fikk et begrep om den store mester:
Det forekom meg som om den evige harmoni samtalte med seg selv, slik det omtrent må ha foregått i Guds bryst like før verden ble skapt. Slik beveget det seg også i mitt indre, og det var meg som om jeg verken ører, og enda mindre øyne eller noen av de øvrige sanser eide eller behøvede.
Et slikt utsagn vil nok av mange bli avfeid som et utslag av kunstnersvermeri. Men noen utpreget svermer var Goethe vel egentlig ikke. (Sundberg, Ove., "Kommunikasjon med virkelighetsdypet", Musikk og mysterium, red. Gulbrandsen og Varkøy – Cappelen Akademisk forlag, Oslo 2004, side 64.)
At home in Weimar, the old Goethe could experience the music of Bach: preludes and fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier, chorales and organ works. The organist in nearby Berka brought the music to life for him. Goethe enthused in a letter to Zelter about how, listening to the organist's performance in perfect peace of mind and without any external distractions, he first gained an understanding of the great master:
It seemed to me as if the eternal harmony was talking to itself, as it must have happened in God's breast just before the world was created. In the same way it moved in my innermost being, and it was as if I neither ears, and even less eyes or any of the other senses possessed or needed.
Such a statement will probably be dismissed by many as an expression of artistic enthusiasm. But Goethe was not really an enthusiast. (Sundberg, Ove., "Communication with the depth of reality", Music and Mystery, ed. Gulbrandsen and Varkøy - Cappelen Akademisk forlag, Oslo 2004, p. 64.)
It's clear from this statement that Goethe had a deep appreciation for the music of Bach and found it to be a deeply moving and spiritual experience. It seems that, for Goethe, listening to Bach's music allowed him to connect with something deeper and more universal, something that transcended his individual senses and seemed to speak to the eternal harmony of the universe. This suggests that Goethe saw music as more than just a form of entertainment or artistic expression, but rather as a means of connecting with something larger and more profound.
What is the main argument of the article?
A) Bach's music is emotionally and technically sophisticated.
B) Bach's music has a spiritual dimension that allows listeners to connect with a deeper source of meaning.
C) Bach's music is a form of artistic expression that has the capacity to connect us with something larger and more profound.
D) All of the above.
According to the text, what does the prelude in Bach's music represent?
A) An emotional question.
B) A technical challenge.
C) A divine response.
D) A mathematical equation.
How does the performer's interpretation of Bach's music impact the listener's experience?
A) It does not have any impact.
B) It can make the music more emotional or technical.
C) It can alter the spiritual dimension of the music.
D) It can change the message of the music.
What does the text compare Bach's music to?
A) The gospel of Christ.
B) A glass bead game.
A) The atom.
D) An oboe.
In what ways is Bach's music described as being timeless?
A) It has emotional depth.
B) It has technical sophistication.
C) It has a spiritual dimension.
D) All of the above.
Who is described as the "fifth evangelist" in the text?
A) Jesus Christ.
B) J.S. Bach.
D) None of the above.
What does the text suggest is the reason for the mathematical and harmonious expression in Bach's music?
A) Bach's mastery as a teacher.
B) The use of mathematics as a "lens".
C) The need to send clear sparks.
D) The desire to connect listeners with their own source.
How is Bach's music described as being able to convey emotion and technical sophistication simultaneously? A) By using a wide range of musical instruments.
B) By using mathematical precision.
C) By using a combination of melody and rhythm.
D) By using the performer's interpretation.
What does the text suggest is the reason for the divide between theory and practice in music?
A) The reliance on interpretation and subjectivity.
B) The lack of consensus on the validity of certain musical styles.
C) The inability to access something deeper and universal through music.
D) The lack of predictive power in music.
What does the text suggest is the main reason for building up the empirical literature on Bach's music?
A) To prove Bach's music is timeless.
B) To prove Bach's music has a spiritual dimension.
C) To prove Bach's music is more than just entertainment or art.
D) All of the above.
- D) All of the above.
- A) An emotional question.
- D) It can change the message of the music.
- B) A glass bead game.
- D) All of the above.
- B) J.S. Bach.
- D) The desire to connect listeners with their own source.
- C) By using a combination of melody and rhythm.
- B) The lack of consensus on the validity of certain musical styles.
- C) To prove Bach's music is more than just entertainment or art.