Bach Chaconne D Minor

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  • Topic: Musical notation, Variation, Key signature
  • Pages : 5 (1835 words )
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  • Published : May 22, 2006
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J.S. Bach is quite possibly the most respected composer of any time period. His compositions continue to be performed today because of their untimely beauty as well as the incredible technical ability one gains from playing such works. They not only challenge the performer technically but conceal a wealth of musical complexity which appeals to any musician regardless of their ability because it can be appreciated by individuals on various levels of musical understanding. The Partita no. 2 in d minor is only one of these masterpieces produced by J.S Bach.

The partita for solo violin consists of five movements; Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, and Chaconne. The Chaconne is the last of the five movements of the partita and is unusually long compared to the other movements. The Chaconne from the Partita no. 2 in d minor is an example of continuous variation form that is built off of the first four measure progression in the piece.

A Chaconne is a form which consists of Theme and Variations in which a short subject is repeated and varied throughout the piece. Bach held true to the form of the Chaconne when we wrote the last movement of the Violin Partita no. 2. At first glance this movement seems incredibly complicated and would intimidate any student whom was preparing to analyze or perform the work. However upon closer inspection it is apparent that the entire piece follows a distinct layout which creates a very substantial work in violin repertoire.

This Chaconne is a set of theme and variations in ¾ time. The theme is stated at the very beginning of the piece until the second beat of the fourth measure. These four measures lay a solid framework form which the rest of the movement will develop from. Throughout the work the variations continuously differ from the theme however always stay true to the theme's length . Throughout the piece the variations are all four measure long. This creates a unique quality to the piece because even though you are aware that the variations are lasting just four measures the piece seems to continue developing with clear direction despite all of the material being linked to the opening theme.

The variations which are repeated throughout the movement share similar harmonic make up which is easily recognized throughout the piece. With in the theme and variations there is clear movement from the tonic (D) to the dominant (A). The theme gives a perfect example of this movement. The pickup to the first measure consists of a i chord with a half note D in the bass. In the first measure this moves to a half note C#. In the second measure the bass voice moves to a B flat and then in the third measure to an A.

This exact movement in the bass voice is replicated until the fifth variation in measure seventeen. Here both voices ascend the octave to follow the melodic contour in the direction Back desired. In this variation the descending pattern changes. From this point the pattern becomes chromatic moving in the order of D, C#, C, B, B flat, A. This changes the direction that each of the following variations will take because the chromatic movement is imitated form this point on.

This movement can also be very clearly seen in the eighth variation in measure thirty three. Here the bass voice is most obvious because of it's separation from the soprano voice. Here the only notes present in the bass line is the chromatic figure. This variation is also very interesting because Bach illustrated a section that is reminiscent of counterpoint. The subject present in the soprano voice follows the same intervallic pattern which is interrupted by the subject occurring in the bass voice which is moving chromatically. This creates a very noticeable effect of conversation with in the voices. Other instances of this counterpoint like effect can be found throughout the movement, however it is most noticeable in this variation.

It is also common throughout this movement for Bach to switch up where...
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