A little bit of Bach

Dipping into popMatics has re-awakened my interest into piano playing. That, and starting to read the Mathieu book Harmonic Experience.

This has led me back to Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C major, which I think is within my playing capability and one I love listening to.

As I’m learning the notes and fingering, I’m attempting to think of the chord progressions in terms of IFR.

This may be well beyond my current understanding, having just started out in my harmony journey, but it could be a work in progress, and give me an opportunity to open my ears to this world.

Has anyone else attempted such a thing? I know several IFRers analyse jazz standards, but what about classical stuff?

@mem Not quite the same but a piano tutor book (‘Simply Piano’ by Robyn Payne) that I spotted on the shelf at a charity shop has a RH melody, LH chords arrangement of the first half of Minuet in G Major BWV Anh. 114.

The LH of the arrangement only used the 1, 4 & 5, playing one chord per bar.
When I checked the RH melody against a proper grand staff MS, I found that it was as per original (without any ornamentation, of course).

Using the MS, I found that I could continue the idea through the second half simply by playing the 1 in the LH! Not an exciting arrangement, but it worked. :smiley:

Trying to choose chords more specifically geared to the melody (by looking at the notes used & seeing what they suggested) was not simple & seemed to require more than just 1, 4 & 5 (maybe that’s why ‘Simply Piano’ stopped where it did?). Looking back at my notes I also used 6, 3 & 2.

That was several years ago. It might be interesting if I revisited the piece to see what my now at least slightly more educated (both ear & experience) self makes of it?

Sounds like this might not quite be the same for the piece I’m looking at. The Bach Prelude is a very simple arrangement, There is one chord per bar, and the chord is arpeggiated in the same way in every bar, with 2 bass notes and 3 higher notes, apart from the closing 2 bars, and the whole piece is 35 bars in total.

There is beautiful progression throughout, building with a few tense moments, to a satisfying and gentle ending. In fact, you can play it as a sequence of blocked chords, from start to finish. It’s in C major, so I think will be pretty straight forward to work out the chords (famous last words perhaps!).

@mem I’m quiet certain it’s different. That’s why I specified the piece as fully as I could.

With Bach, there are so many tunes it’s handy to give the BWV number as well as the name, if possible.

e.g. here is Prelude I in C major, BWV 846 from ‘The Well Tempered Clavier [First Book]
Does that look familiar?

Sorry, yes that’s the piece.

No apology needed @mem. I hope you find your chords. :smiley:

So, pretty straight forward at the start. 4 bars of an introduction, 1 chord (notes 1 and 3 in the bass, and major triad up top), 2- chord (with 1 and 2 in the bass), 5D chord (7 and 2 in bass) and coming to rest in another 1 chord, same as at the start.

A nice, typical 2-5-1 cadence, which sounds really nice on piano, but I’m also trying to figure it out on guitar. Good practice to learn some useful shapes, and once I get the way the sequence sounds in my head, I think it helps to make the shapes stick. Might try it on flute as well.

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Next 7 bar section, again not too tricky. First 3 follow the same bass notes as the first three bars with different upper notes.

Bar 5 changes from 1 chord to 6- chord, with a nice spread out octave with a fifth in the middle.

Bar 6 changes the 2- to a 2D with a #4 in there.

Bar 7 changes the 5D to just a 5 chord (not sure if this is the correct IFR terminology if there is no note 4 in a 5 chord).

Cadence is completed with a 1 chord with all 4 notes from chord.

Next 3 bars form what I think is a nice cadence to a 5 chord. I’ve not explored Mixed Harmony in any depth, but a 6- chord going to a 2D chord then a 5 chord, I think is a 2-5-1 to a different target, ie the 5 chord.

The next section sounds like it’s going to get interesting, but that’s for another day. I’m finding it interesting trying to come up with fingering shapes on the guitar. Spotting where the shapes are identical, only moved to different notes.

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I’ve been working on committing this small piece to memory, playing piano. I love the sounds the progression makes, and I’ll get back to the IFR numbers analysis. I think it will be interesting to have the sounds of the harmony movement in my head then relate that to the IFR numbers and chords.

THat sounds like a good plan @mem. Thanks for the update.