Jan 28, 2016

Error of the 20th century

2nd Suite  in D minor  BWV 1008

Gique, Bar 28, last note: most editions of 20th century (such as Wenzinger, Fournier, Tortelier, Henle, etc.) take b-natural according to Anna Magdalena Bach (AMB). But it is probably an error.

Kellner and Souces C and D take e as below. The notes d-e-f draw natural ascendant line.

   Source C:

   Source D:

There is a parallel period from bar 61 but it isn't the same. In the bar 65 (far right), the diminished 7th (c-sharp - b-flat) is divided into two 16th notes, so it is natural to draw descendant line (g - e - c-sharp).

Most editions of the 19th century such as Paris first edition (1824), Dotzauer (1826), Bach Gesellschaft Ausgabe (BGA/1879), Klengel (1900), etc. had taken e. But after publishing Alexanian edition (1929) that includes the facsimile of AMB's manuscript, most editions followed it.  


History sometimes regresses.

By the way, some cellists play as follows:

They are right because they aren't content with AMB, but of course it is an incorrect solution. Composer often avoids to repeat the same thing.

Jan 18, 2016

Scordatura, too complicated

5th Suite  in C minor  BWV 1011



5th Suite is played with cello whose 1st string is tuned in G; whole tone lower to normal tuning (A). Such tuning is called Scordatura in Italian.

Its advantage is to be able to play the chords of C minor easily. But to write the note is complicated.

Only the notes for 1st string are written whole tone higher. So c (real note) is written as d. But the notes for other strings are written normally. So sometimes it is not clear that the notes of higher a or b are for 1st string (G) or 2nd string (D).

So we had mistaken this note (1st note of bar 170) .

   From the copy of Anna Magdalena Bach:

For a long time, we had considered this note is g (real note) for open 1st string. But it is a mistake. It is a-natural (real note) for 2nd string. Because from next bar, we hear lower pedal point of dominant (G), it is strange to hear the same note before. It must be secondary dominant (dominant of dominant / Doppeldominante) chord like previous bar (bar 169).

Yes, indeed, in the arrangement for lute, Bach uses dominant of dominant chord during 2 bars.

   From bar 167:

   Transposed into C minor (from bar 166):

Bach added the bass notes that don't exist in the Cello Suite, therefore, he had changed the 1st note of bar 170, but the chord is no doubt dominant of dominant.

And if this note is g, it is the same as bar 167 (3 bars before), why did Bach write these notes differently? There is no reason to use different string in the bar 167 and bar 170. It is natural to use 2nd string for the 1st notes from bar 166 to bar 170.

This note is no doubt a-natural (real note) for 2nd string. Of course if you play the 5th Suite with normal tuned cello, you can play this note with open A-string.