Apr. 3, 2019

(con't from Part XL)
Looking at it through the lens of the organ, anyone focused on composing organ music these days is writing for a medium whose core repertoire spans hundreds of years and is automatically entering into a dialogue with the past and having enduring works for models.
It's therefore natural for us to give some thought to what it might take for our own writing to become something that speaks to a broad variety of musicians and music lovers over a span of cultures, places, and even epochs -- something that might have a life beyond its original premiere and even possibly labored over, loved, interrogated, or admired by future generations.
The overwhelming majority of music being created today is made with an entirely different goal in mind, viz., to create a hit, catching fire with the broadest possible listening public at the moment, with no concern or regard for any kind of historical endurance.
The desire to write a piece that would enter the organ repertoire is particularly apposite, and contemporary works simply do not figure prominently in the organ repertoire; we see this, notwithstanding noteworthy contributions by such eminent composers of the last 50 years as diverse as Philip Glass, David Lang, Milton Babbit, Gyorgi Ligeti, and many others, and the tireless efforts of people like Carson Cooman who proselytize for contemporary organ music.
Nevertheless, if our own writing expresses a certain stylishness, substantive ideas, integrity with a seriousness of purpose, craft, and an inner propulsion that carries the listener forward from start to finish, including perhaps a little of the unexpected, it will be on the right side of history.
If within it we can find elements of intricacy, subtlety, and sophistication that balance simplicity, contrasting ideas which generate interest, and a form molded with the intention of creating a satisfying sense of a musical journey, then again, it will be on the right side of history.
History teaches that these are necessary conditions for a contemporary work to enter the standard organ repertoire.
It isn't for any composer to say whether their own music, or even their own performing, is "good" or not; that is for others to decide.
What can be said, is that if their work has most, if not all, of the above characteristics, then it's crafted on the same principles which have withstood the test of time for hundreds of years.
Bearing these things in mind, in order for succeeding generations of audiences to find a language of warmth and meaning in our music, in order for it to be embraced by posterity, each of us needs to take a fresh look at our scores from the listener's point of view and ask ourselves these same 6 questions:
1. Is its thematic material memorable and capable of elaboration? The listener seeks, whether consciously or subconsciously, to remember the thematic material and hear it developed in ways that bring out the most it has to offer.
2. Does it have a clear beat? The listener's mind seeks a clear beat -- something which, while it may be flexible and varied, has an inner propulsion and provides the music with a sense of drive.
3. Is it in a key (or mode)? The listener's mind seeks a tonal center, a primal place or region of musical space to which all the other tones bear some kind of fixed relationship, and it needs to be recognizable.
4. Is there cohesion in the harmonies? The listener's mind seeks connectedness, order, logic, and beauty in the way tones sound in combination and merge from one into the other.
5. Does it have form? The listener's mind seek to find a shape in the music, an architecture that provides a sense of a definite, unified, overall design or structure.
6. Above all, does it move? Let's face it: In exchange for trading his/her own time (and perhaps ticket money as well) to sit and listen to it, the listener expects a little something back, viz., music that's compelling, i.e., something which not only makes sense and reaches the heart but captivates and rivets the attention, stirs the emotions in places, and perhaps even thrills. Sometimes a large, important instrument in a reverberant space is also required, without which the music may lose a good deal of its intended effect.
There is no reason to expect that the listener's mind was any different in the past than it is in the present, as just described, or that it will be any different in the future.
This means that, FROM THE LISTENER'S STANDPOINT, any contemporary work for the organ having a vague theme and no clearly defined form or beat, a work that's riddled with rapidly shifting time signatures and tempos that are all over the rhythmic/melodic map, a work so saturated with chromaticism that there is no clearly defined key or mode, a work which sounds incoherent throughout and seems not to hold together -- no matter how inspired the composer may be, no matter how explainable the logic used in its construction may be, no matter how acceptable or admirable it may be to academia, no matter how well it may be welcomed into the concert repertoire of the latest generation of avant-garde performers, no matter if it was written with or can be played back online using industry-leading software or something less -- it simply will not be embraced by the general music-loving public in the same way.
NOTE: it's a safe bet that the greatest man of all (J.S. Bach) would not embrace it, either; according to his pupil Kirnberger, while he [Bach] always said that "everything must be possible" and "would never hear of anything being not feasible," this kind of new music was unknown to him -- and if this enormous man could be brought back today, he would find it incomprehensible; his sheer mastery of the techniques of composition have never been equalled (Beethoven might be considered his closest second), thus, it's also a safe bet to say that, with respect to musical matters, there are few even today who would dare to take issue him.
The truth is, new music may show considerable imagination and ability even when none of these same 6 questions can be answered in the affirmative; it may even evoke some powerful images and emotions among devotees of traditional methods of composing and succeed very well in gaining traction among the intelligentsia, viz., those academicians who form the artistic vanguard or elite forefront of today's organ playing world -- but, as far as its effect upon a general audience can be concerned, the fact of the matter is, it can be a slippery slope.

Mar. 31, 2019

In the course of our sight reading practice -- particularly when we're working from some of the older, out-of-print editions published before the computer age -- that we may encounter something in the score, once in a very great while, that really makes us stop for a second and wonder about it:
Something about it either doesn't look right on the page, sound right to the ear, or both; such an occurrence is extremely rare, but it does occur with some frequency.
It give us pause; we stare at this spot for a moment, maybe play it back a couple of times more, and it still sets off an alarm bell that something can't be right.
These errata in the score can be of 2 types: 1) those which are evident only to the eyes, and 2) those which are evident to both the eyes and ears.
These situations evidently come about due to errors unintentionally made during editing of the composer's manuscript or, perhaps less commonly, during the process of transcribing the editor's copy to finished edition.
The first type of errata may take various forms, such as a missing tie, enharmonic notation or a redundant accidental introduced when it doesn't have to be, or 2 identical tied notes introduced when one untied note of double value would have sufficed.
We can count ourselves fortunate if an authority on the subject of the composer can guide us in knowing where to make the right corrections; sometimes however, we find ourselves on our own.
Any obviously missing tie between 2 identical notes in long values can be written into the score using a ball point pen and a steady hand; redundant accidentals (i.e. those which remind us of the key signature), if they're getting in the way of our own sight reading, may be blotted out; indistinct enharmonic notation (such as an Ab followed by a G# in the same octave, for example) might be given a tie; actions such as these may make the page less cluttered, thus easier to sight read.
Here there is no real or appreciable difference in the sound of the music as it reaches the ear, just a difference in how it is notated on the page.
The second type of errata is analogous to the misprint, or "typo," and is best illustrated by the missing accidental (i.e. sharp, flat, or natural sign); here the difference in how the music sounds is definitely noticeable -- the ear detects a so-called "sour note."
We're imperfect human beings subject at times to human error, whether made by ourselves or by others, and, given this premise, oversights like this are inevitable and bound to occur, though some can be far more glaring than others (photo).
Thankfully, when such things involve the new organist, they can be quickly and easily dealt with.
Whenever we find an inadvertent omission or error like this in a passage of music we're trying to sight read, we have a choice to either slavishly follow the score, as printed, or to make a correction in it so that any unintended dissonance is eliminated.
The proper course of action here seems obvious, as everything has to work out best for the ear.
The solution begins by looking at the key of the passage noticing carefully what all neighboring notes are doing harmonically at the same moment and examining their musical context; this tells us where exactly the problem lies.
We need not be reticent at all about making such changes:
It's simply a matter of admitting that between the time a composer submits a score for publication and the time it enters the market every jot and tittle as the composer intended it doesn't always make it through the editing process.
Whenever an obvious change to a published edition of a score is judged necessary, this is NOT "tampering" -- we are not by any means interfering to weaken or change the music for the worse -- on the contrary, it's a matter of getting things clear for the listener, being true to the composer's intentions, and offering to the world an unblemished performance of their work.
It's a matter of serving the music.

Mar. 9, 2019

(con't from Part I)
History has shown that the Hammond B-3 (photo) console organ was the most popular and most widely used among the older Hammond models.
In this photo the bottom octave preset keys are visible in reversed colors on both the Swell (upper) and Great (lower) manuals; these have a locking spring action when depressed to indicate that they are engaged; they may be released, or cancelled, at any time by depressing the (black) low C preset key.
Closer examination reveals that both the A# and B preset keys on the Swell manual have been depressed two-at-a-time, allowing both banks of Swell harmonic drawbars visible above the top manual to sound together.

Mar. 7, 2019

Certain windless electric or electro-mechanical organs employing Hammond ToneWheel technology present a special situation for organists; these instruments are not provided with conventional drawknobs or stop tablets for organ voices, and the older Hammonds have a starting procedure that's different from simply turning on a switch or pushing a button.
A significant body of contemporary organ music has been published "registered for Hammond Organ" which is specific to this, and only this, brand of instrument -- and there could come a time where a suggested Hammond registration might need to be translated for performance on a conventional pipe organ.
There could very well come a time, particularly in America, when the new organist could be asked to sub or play for an event at a venue where the only instrument in working order there is an older Hammond.
This can be an utter mystery for the new organist if they've never been exposed to this type of instrument before; the same can be said for otherwise highly trained organists who happen to be, through no fault of their own, unacquainted with how this type of instrument works.
Not knowing a thing about it can be humiliating.
It would be naive for today's organists to convince themselves that such a state of affairs could never happen to them anywhere on this side of the Great Beyond.
Never is a long time.
As with so many other things encountered in this life, at first what may seem difficult about some thread in the fabric of learning, once learned, never changes -- and we find this true with all of the older Hammonds; around 2 million of them were built and, while they certainly don't work like a pipe organ or any other electronic substitute, they all work the same way.
Some of the later ToneWheel organs have just a simple "On" switch, but for those which have both "start" and "run" switches the starting procedure would be as follows:
1) Hold the "start" switch on for about 12 seconds (if you're in a quiet room, you should be able to hear the ToneGenerator spinning up);
2) While continuing to hold the "start" switch on, turn the "run" switch on;
3) Continue holding the "start" switch on for 4 more seconds (the "run" switch should stay on by itself).
4) Let go of the "start" switch (it should spring to the "off" position); with the start motor off, things should get much quieter; the ToneGenerator should now be running, but you'll have to wait a little while longer for the vacuum tubes to warm up before you'll get any sound out of the instrument.
"Console" Hammonds have 2 manuals named Swell (upper) and Great (lower); both are 5 octaves long (61 notes) with an additional bottom octave of 12 chromatic keys reversed in color (i.e. naturals are black, sharps are white); these color-reversed keys are used for selecting the default presets for the Swell and Great manuals, respectively.
The manual keys are "flat front" profile, commonly known as "waterfall" keys, and the de facto standard pedalboard is of 25 notes with a compass of 2 octaves (low C to middle C); the so-called "Concert" Hammonds, for all practical purposes, are identical save for a pedalboard of 32 notes (low C to middle G) constructed to AGO standards; a whole generation of professional organists practiced at home on these concert models.
All Hammonds are specially equipped with a distinctive row of metal sliders above the top manual which control individual harmonics of the harmonic series; these sliders are called harmonic drawbars and are grouped in banks and marked with the numbers 1-8 controlling 8 different positions which permit volume adjustment of the particular harmonic each one controls; when the drawbar is pushed back until no number can be seen, the sound of the drawbar is not heard; when it is pulled out to its fullest position (which reads "8" on the slider), the sound level is maximum; the numbers thus indicate the volume of sound to be produced and serve as a guide to remember drawbar settings.
The Swell and Great are both furnished with 2 banks of 9 drawbars each; the Pedal is arrayed with 2 drawbars only; all these are arranged in a row above the top manual, and tones generally become higher in frequency from left to right in each drawbar bank; when all drawbars in a bank are pulled and middle C is depressed, the ear hears every note marked in green (photo); the footage marked on the handle end of each drawbar originated with the length of pipes on a pipe organ.
When we pull the fundamental (8') drawbar, the 3rd harmonic (2-2/3') plus the the 5th harmonic (1-3/5'), completely out, we find the sound resembles a clarinet; then, if we push the 8' drawbar halfway, we notice the sound becoming more high pitched and a bit "harder"; if we were then to pull the 8' drawbar back out fully and push the 2-2/3' and 1-3/5' in halfway, the sound becomes mellower.
The bottom octave of keys on both manuals are loaded with a default library of presets (pre-defined drawbar settings) allowing the organist to play the instrument immediately; default settings may be selected individually or mixed by pressing 2 preset keys at a time; the low C preset key produces no sound but releases the preset key previously selected and is called "Cancel" -- easy enough to remember because it's the "C" key.
Drawbar registrations are recorded to the A# and B preset keys on the far left side of each manual; the preset keys for the Swell and Great are independent of each other; these may also be used singly or two-at-a-time by pressing the A# and B preset keys simultaneously.
There are 5 banks of these drawbars arranged in the drawbar row from left to right in this order: Swell A# drawbars, Swell B drawbars, Pedal drawbars (center), Great A# drawbars, and Great B drawbars; these are used to adjust the harmonics of each manual and the Pedal.
The preset keys (A# and B) are special presets called "Adjust Presets" directly connected with A# drawbars and B drawbars, respectively; selecting these keys becomes helpful when the organist wants to create a new registration or manually operate the drawbars while playing.
For example, by depressing the black natural B key in the bottom octave of the Swell, the B bank of harmonic drawbars for the upper manual become operative; the B Swell drawbars may now be pulled to any length while playing on the Swell manual; the drawbars create the fundamental tones of this organ which will vary corresponding to how far the drawbars are pulled.
The 2 banks of drawbars on the left-hand side are for the Swell manual and the 2 banks on the right-hand side for the Great manual; to actuate them, the A# or B preset keys for that manual are depressed; when the other (C#-A) preset keys are selected, other drawbar registrations are recalled inside the organ and the tone that plays will not match the drawbars physical settings.
In each drawbar bank, the WHITE drawbar (8') on the left end corresponds to the fundamental sound; each succeeding drawbar to the right controls the next octave harmonic.
The sounds of the BLACK drawbars play important roles in building rich tones; their pitches are 5th and 3rd to the fundamental (the 7th harmonic, or 6th overtone, represented in the organ by the Flat Twenty-First or Septieme 1-1/7', is seldom found in pipe organs and is absent here as well, chiefly because it makes a tonal dissonance with the unison pitch).
The BROWN drawbars provide a further richness to the tone; the left one (16') is one octave lower than the fundamental, and the right one (5-1/3') is the 3rd harmonic of the 16' fundamental; normally the manual tones are built upon the 8' fundamental, but if more depth of tone is desired or when the playing range of the manual is to be expanded by one octave, the tones can be built on the 16' fundamental.
The pedalboard plays the bass line and uses 2 BROWN drawbars (16' and 8') located in the center of the drawbar row; the first (left) pedal drawbar produces the fundamental 16', and the other one produces at tone an octave higher at 8' pitch.
The drawbar registration is matched by digits, and it is relatively easy to remember the typical combinations of the 9 drawbars by their forms; these are grouped into 4 commonly used patterns suitable for classical music which resemble sounds from the flute, diapason, reed, and string family; these are not analogous to orchestral voices -- the names here simply refer to the types of pipes found in a pipe organ and are not meant to sound as actual violins, trumpets, oboes, etc.)
1. FLUTE family ("2-step" pattern) -- 00 8500 000
2. DIAPASON family ("check mark" pattern) -- 00 8776 543
3. REED family ("triangle" pattern) -- 00 4676 543
4. STRING family ("bow" pattern) -- 00 4555 554
This understanding of the Hammond registrations we find in a score -- the overall shape of the drawbar patterns (i.e. 2-step, check mark, triangle, bow) and the numbered volume of each harmonic -- allows us to read the family of tone color the composer or arranger had in mind (viz., flute, diapason, reed, string, respectively), and something of its tint can be ascertained; this information may then be used to draw the appropriate stops on a conventional pipe organ to get something of the same effect.
These and similar drawbar settings were created at the dawn of the Hammond organ (1935) when it was intended to sound like a pipe or church organ, but, later on, as the Hammond organ spread to radio and television studios, homes, the recording industry, and throughout Jazz, Pop, Rock, and (especially) Gospel music, some timeless registrations became common, such as:
1. JAZZ -- 88 8000 00
2. BLUESEY -- 88 8000 008
3. GROOVY AND FUNKY -- 80 8000 888
4. MAX POWER -- 86 8878 778
Musical scores "registered for Hammond Organ" will have suggested default preset or drawbar suggestions appearing on the first page, generally below and to the left of the title.
Swell registrations are always notated on the page with a circle; if a default preset is suggested, the preset key (e.g. D#) is shown inside a circle; if it's a drawbar setting, the respective drawbar key (A# or B, or perhaps both may be indicated) is shown inside a circle followed by the drawbar settings (such as 00 7576 131).
Great registrations are always notated on the page with a square; if a default preset is suggested, the preset key (e.g. F) is shown inside a square; if it's a drawbar setting, the respective drawbar key (A# or B, or perhaps both are indicated) is shown inside a square followed by the drawbar settings (such as 00 7405 000).
In some editions showing Hammond registrations, the numbers 1-11 are also sometimes found inside a square or circle; these numbers substitute for key names; in other words, the numbers 1-9 indicate default settings for C# upward through A; the number 10 refers to the first bank of drawbars on A#, and the number 11 refers to the second bank of drawbars on B.
A square enclosing a 7, for example, is simply another way of indicating a square enclosing a G; both refer to the default registration setting stored on the note G of the Great manual; similarly, a circle enclosing the number 10 refers to the 1st bank of drawbars controlled by the A# key of the Swell manual.
The bottom octave of keys of reversed color which control the default and drawbar registrations for each manual are sometimes found with very small round labels on their top surfaces numbered 1-11, beginning on bottom C#; if these labels are found, they should not be removed.
Suggested pedal drawbar settings will appear below the Great registrations, such as "Pedal 5 - 2" followed lastly by Vibrato and/or Chorus control directions.
Adjustments to this starting registration and/or manual changes are then indicated in various places in the score, always with the Swell circled and the Great squared.
This system makes it possible for each manual to make use of 9 different default registrations by using them one-at-time (preset keys C#-A), 36 different mixed default registrations by using them two-at-a-time (preset keys C#-A used in pairs), and as many as 18 additional registrations when one default registration (preset keys C#-A) is selected simultaneously with one bank of drawbars (A# or B).
In addition, the A# and B drawbar banks for each manual may be readied in advance and brought into play individually or in combination, thus providing 3 more adjustable registrations (i.e. A# alone, B alone, or A# plus B).
Once selected, any of these registrations may be further enhanced by means of separate vibrato, chorus, and percussive controls built into the console as standard.
All of these features, when taken together, provide the instrument with a surprising degree of control in nuancing the sound and making registration changes.
(con't in Part II)

Feb. 27, 2019

(con't from Part XXXIX)
By way of review, when we've decided to write an organ fugue, and we've settled upon standard 4 voice texture (SATB) -- and the individual voice entries in the exposition are to proceed in the same order (i.e. firstly soprano, then alto, tenor, and lastly bass) -- and there is to be at least one countersubject maintained throughout -- we find that same countersubject trailing every entry of the subject; this is shown in the vertical columns of this diagram (photo), with blue-colored squares representing the subject and cyan-colored squares representing the countersubject.
Upon the entry of the 3rd voice (tenor) there will be additional contrapuntal material (green) appearing in the original (soprano) voice.
If this same new contrapuntal material in the soprano is maintained in the alto during the 4th entry, and it can be continued in every subsequent entry, then it becomes a 2nd countersubject (with the original countersubject becoming the 1st); if any of these 3 moving lines may then serve as a bass for the other 2 and still make agreeable vertical harmony at every point, then the music is being written in triple counterpoint.
When the 4th voice (bass) enters, another contrapuntal line (green) will appear in the 1st voice (soprano); if this new line can be maintained throughout each subsequent entry of the subject, then it becomes a 3rd countersubject; if any of these 4 lines can then serve as a bass for the others and still make agreeable vertical harmony at every point, then the music is being written in quadruple counterpoint.
What this diagram does not show is that there are also other principles in force in fugue writing which have been distilled from the common practices of composers working over a very long period of time [See blog, Getting Started With Writing, Part XX].
Let us say that, after having become familiar with these general principles and how to apply them, we come across a fugue exposition written by someone else; we are now in a position to evaluate it according to what is good about it, what may be particularly good about it, and what about it, if anything, could stand improvement.
We know that every good fugue must begin with a good subject, and, let us say, the subject in question is indeed a good one and that it happens to be in a minor key (say c minor); the composer can be congratulated here, as not every theme makes a good subject for a fugue; we take special note of which scale degree the subject starts on and whether or not it leaps; we need to know this in order to arrive at a correct answer because the beginning and ending pitch of the subject is important in determining whether the answer will be real or tonal.
Next, we listen for the answer and, let us say, it is real and enters in the dominant (g minor) on the correct note as determined by the subject's starting note; we would then expect the countersubject heard with it to suggest a harmony in mostly consonant 3rds and 6ths and move complimentary to the melodic curve and rhythm of the subject -- that is to say, when a note of the subject is stationary, the countersubject should be moving -- and when the melodic curve of the subject goes up, the curve of the countersubject should go down and vice versa, preferably moving in contrary motion with the subject where possible (this is a general statement only, as there are numerous examples where the composer has incorporated all 3 types of melodic motion -- contrary, oblique, and similar -- into the outline of the countersubject with very satisfactory results).
Let us say however, that we notice a place where the countersubject is standing still when the subject is also standing still; and let us say we also find both of these lines coming to a stop just before the 3rd entry -- and that we also find a place where both the answer and countersubject share the same rhythm and articulation through several consecutive beats.
In such places the energy level drops, and, while composers are certainly free to write, shape, and package their music in any manner they see fit, it can be argued, for good and sufficient reasons using J.S. Bach as authority, that further improvements could be made in this passage to increase the motion and energy of the moving lines and raise interest.
It should be recalled that when the answer enters in the dominant key, this key, like every other key, possesses its own leading tone (7th scale degree) which is different from the home key's leading tone.
This means that, as long as the music remains in this dominant tonality during the 2nd entry, the ear will not sense any pull toward the home key.
Let us also say that, at the conclusion of the answer, no modulating link (interlude, codetta, bridge) reestablishing the home key appears in the score -- that is to say, there is no chromatic inflection (raised 3rd) in the dominant tonality which restores the leading tone (7th degree) of the home key.
When the home key is minor (c minor in this case), then without hearing that raised 3rd (G Major tonality) at the conclusion of the answer the music lacks that sense of magnetic pull back to c minor which the leading tone on the note B provides.
The harmony of this raised 3rd can be and is sometimes implied in the minor key by outlining the root, 5th, and 7th of the dominant 7th chord (in this case, G-D-F) in the melodic motion just prior to the 3rd entry.
Typically however, unless the composer is taking a deliberately bold path which purposely deviates from accepted norms, the return to the home key (c minor) after the 2nd entry should be made as unambiguous as possible.
This is done either by inserting a raised 3rd in the dominant tonality at the conclusion of the 2nd entry (which restores the home key's leading tone) or by creating 2-voice melodic motion which implies it.
Here again, using J.S. Bach as authority, this is perhaps something which the fugue writer working without it might wish to rethink (this would NOT be a concern when the home key is Major since the 3rd of the dominant chord in such a case already has the required major 3rd).
Let us also say that we find the melodic motion of all 3 voices coming to a stop right before the 4th entry; here, once again, the energy level drops which is something to be avoided.
Whenever a passage written in fugal style like this, usually an exposition, is inserted into a primarily non-fugal composition, this is defined as a fugato; some fugatos also incorporate a development in fugal style before concluding.
While certain composers may refer to a fugato they've written into a larger work as a "fugue," this latter designation is reserved for a longer piece which, while it may be found paired with another work or two (a prelude, toccata, chorale, introduction, fantasia, etc.), it can stand by itself as a completed composition.
Keeping these things in mind will permit the organ scholar to better identify elements of superior workmanship in any music written in fugal style as well as help determine what, if anything, could have been done in the final editing to create improvements.
As J.S. Bach learned very early in his life as a musician, studying the work of other composers at times becomes an exercise like this which can pay big dividends to the emerging composer.
He is rightly considered in fact the undisputed master of fugue-writing, and his 2 volumes of The Well-Tempered Clavier, each containing 24 preludes and fugues in all the major and minor keys, has become known as the "Old Testament" of piano music, the 32 Sonatas of Beethoven being the "New Testament."
"The 48," as these 2 volumes are known, are considered required study in all introductory college courses in fugue, and rightly so; they are being promoted generally as an exploration of the full possibilities of fugue.
It will be apparent to anyone however, upon deeper reflection, that this is not the case at all.
None of the 48, for example, have subjects which begin on scale degree 3; that this is indeed a viable possibility when writing a fugue has been proven repeatedly despite claims to the contrary; it simply demands that the tail of the subject point strongly to the dominant key, but it is entirely possible.
Even a cursory study of The Art of Fugue will amply prove this point as well; in this monumental work Bach displays his almost super-human invention in laying out the possibilities inherent in a simple, 10-second subject; the result is an hour and 10 minutes of beautifully intricate music.
Kirnberger, a reliable authority who studied in Leipzig with J.S. Bach, is on record for saying that his master Bach, in reference to music, taught that "anything must be possible" and "would never hear of anything being not feasible" -- thus the possibilities of fugue-writing is significantly beyond what was demonstrated in the 48, according to their own creator.
The Alfred Masterwork edition of "J.S. Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Volume I, edited by Willard A. Palmar," in plastic comb binding which sits flat on the rack, has much to recommend itself to the student of fugue; this work is newly edited and researched from the most important autograph and manuscript sources and contains detailed discussions of Bach's ornaments and of Baroque keyboard practices.
This book also includes carefully designed fingering with indications for hand division, footnotes with variant versions, helpful performance suggestions, ideas for varying repeats and decorating fermatas, and clear, spacious engraving with editorial suggestions in light gray print.
Volume II of the same work edited by Judith Schneider with fingering by Maria Sofianska, also in plastic comb binding, is the companion to the previous book; there is probably no finer study edition of the 48 to be had, than this matched pair.
(con't in Part XLI)