Deciphering the performance hints hidden in J. S. Bach’s quaver beams

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Abstract

Bach often beamed his quavers beyond the beat-unit indicated by the time-signature, as if to indicate the way he perceived, phrased or articulated a musical line. In my previous study in 2011 I demonstrated the significance for both performers and editors of critical editions of quaver beaming against a broader background of Bach’s notational practice. In this article, I go one step further and demonstrate that Bach’s quaver beams reflect how Bach responded to his pieces in composition and performance, which sheds light on how he engaged with and perceived his music from motivic to structural levels. This enquiry has never before been pursued thoroughly and it promises to uncover the ideas that guided his notational practice as well as his spontaneous responses to the challenges he faced while writing out his music on paper
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-104
Number of pages16
JournalEarly Music
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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