It’s me, not Bach (or Ms. Hewitt).
I feel like this profligate genius, this “stolid” family man and church organist, Herr Bach, is having his way methodically and sublimely with musical mysteries that are over my head. It’s not narrative music like “Night on Bald Mountain” or “Peter and the Wolf.” It’s cerebral, even somewhat technical music, I surmise, and I would give a lot to get guidance from a musician (or musicologist?) who would help me not just listen to these exercises — is that what they are? — but also understand what they’re doing. This hankering for greater insight reminds me a little of the pleasure I get from conjugating model verbs, both regular and irregular. It’s the savoring of ordered complexity, of the serried rigor of eighth-notes and inflections. It’s diving past the petty shore ripple and into the big waves where the serious surfers play. Except I’m not that strong a musical swimmer, or maybe the metaphor requires me to say I don’t have a surfboard.
It strikes me that with painting I don’t need someone to tell me what I’m seeing, even if it’s otherworldly, but with music I’m over my head, at least in Baroque waters, though I must say I have a much better time with Bach’s cello compositions. I’ve heard them adapted to guitar, also, and either way they sound more modern and less… mechanical (an ugly word) to me.
I fantasize fishing out my Ramírez from its velvet coffin and laboriously fingering by ear — I’m not fluent in notation but I have a wicked ear — some of the melodic lines that Bach puts out in this torrent of keyboard music. Maybe translating patches of it to the fretboard will help me get smarter at listening to it.
[Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]