About Bach’s “Sequenz”
One of the charms of Baroque music is “Sequenz”. Although it is not limited to Baroque music, it was especially used in the Baroque period (especially in the late Baroque). It is usually mainly a series of seventh degree chords that are repeated several times in a so-called “the combination of cadence” and then the same note pattern is repeated in one or more voices on the harmony. Sequenz is a technique that appeals to the human “senses”. Here are a few examples of Sequenz.
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto 1st movement (Figure1)
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in A minor 1st movement (Figure2)
The repetition of the patterns by “the combination of cadence” of the music evoke a kind of “release” and “anticipation” for the next movement. However, the human senses are a strange thing, and if a pleasant sound pattern is repeated too many times, it begins to be unpleasant. For example, in Vivaldi’s music, there is a piece in which he repeats Sequenz three, four, or even five times without limit. In this case, we are rather “disgusted”. It is not only that our fascination with the piece is immediately “halved”. It even becomes a reason to judge the composer as “second-rate”.
In my experience, the most pleasant number of Sequenz is 2.5. When a note pattern appears twice in a row, one feels an inexplicable “pleasure”. And then you get the feeling that you want it to appear one more time. Then, as expected, it appears a third time. However, in the latter half of the third time, it is betrayed. And this “betrayal” creates a further “pleasant feeling”. Bach is the one who saw through this and put it into practice brilliantly. In Bach, there are no more than three Sequenz. In some cases, two. In Bach’s music, there are no more than three Sequenz.
Bach: Concerto for two violins in D minor 1st movement (Figure3)
Bach: Fugue in G minor (Figure4)
Bach: Matthew Passion Aria from “Gebt Mir Meinen Jesum Wieder” (Figure5)
In the third example, you can see from the score that the accompaniment part is already in a different movement from the second half of the third bar. There is no one who does not feel moved when listening to these Bach Sequenz. This is one of the reasons why Bach is one of the greatest composers on earth. #baroque #sequenz #bach #片山俊幸