[Dixielandjazz] Bach, The First Jazzman?
ricgiorgi at sympatico.ca
Tue Jan 25 06:25:01 PST 2005
From: Ric Giorgi [mailto:ricgiorgi at sympatico.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 9:23 AM
To: 'Steve barbone'
Subject: RE: [Dixielandjazz] Bach, The First Jazzman?
Thanks for posting this Steve.
I think there are two basic problems with this argument [Bach, The 1st
Jazzman and that "because Bach improvised so much, most of his pieces were
not contained on paper. Some people consider that most of Bach's works that
are on paper are not worth saving anyway, since music written for one
occasion (in Bach's case, church...)]
As a young man he walked 40 miles to be able to hear a very famous organist
(Buxtehude) play because he was known both as a great composer and a great
improviser. Improvisation was an absolutely necessary skill for any old
world musician well before Bach's time. It was probably the great profusion
of bad improvisation that forced composers to insist that musicians play
what they wrote and as performing technique became more demanding it was
probably easier for musicians to do just that and not improvise.
The net result was that improvisation was lost to western music for then
next 150 years until OKOM came along.
Bach never had some of his greatest work performed, namely, "The Brandenburg
Concertos" and probably others but he did write them and what has survived
very much the way he would have wanted them performed with some leeway for
improvisation based on his knowledge of the probable players involved (the
BC's were an "on spec" audition he created to try to get a gig with the
Margrave of Brandenburg). Most people agree that the 2nd movement of No. 3
was devised to be entirely improvised by JSB or the likely keyboardist at
the Brandenburg court. But like any composer of almost any time, he could
only get writing gigs if musicians played his music the way he intended it
(or better) and he couldn't be at every performance so it had to be notated
with his intentions intact.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com [mailto:dixielandjazz-
> bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of Steve barbone
> Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2005 9:59 PM
> To: DJML
> Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Bach, The First Jazzman?
> Bill Haesler commented that one could tap one's feet to J.S. Bach. I've
> googling since the weather here cancelled tonight's and tomorrow's gigs
> found this interesting snippet on Bach from a graduate music student
> University of California, circa mid 1990s
> --- begin snip
> "Bach, and many other composers of his time, were experts at
> composing musical pieces at will, instantly, on the spot - similar to jazz
> players today. It was not considered rude to add whatever the player
> into the written context of the composer himself. Thus, early music was
> free and flexible to play. Unfortunately, because Bach improvised so much,
> most of his pieces were not contained on paper. Some people consider that
> most of Bach's works that are on paper are not worth saving anyway, since
> music written for one occasion (in Bach's case, church) should be
> anyhow. But all people have a certain level of curiosity, to hear what
> had to say with the language of music. More than a thousand of Bach's
> have been saved, but it is mind-boggling to think of how many more - and
> much greater - his other thousand or so compositions could be."
> --- end snip
> Steve Barbone
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