#1
For the past week or so I have been honing my score reading/ analysis abilities for the classical guitar and I have been playing this Bach piece entitled "Preludio BWV 997." The version I have was meant for guitar.

My question is this: The piece starts out in the key of Amin. I know this because 1) A is the first note 2) the key signature has no sharps or flats and 3) the leading tone (G) is sharped throughout this movement with an accidental. About 3 lines into the piece, he also sharps all the F's (which is the 6th of the key of Amin). Does this mean that he modulates to the key of A melodic minor? Am I missing an important modal movement somewhere that could better explain this?

The problem i'm having is that i've always learned a melodic minor to only sharp the 6th and 7th tones while ascending. This piece holds no regard for ascending or descending- he just flat out sharped the 6th and the 7th and stayed in the key for about 4 measures before modulating to E major.
#2
Check the direction that the notes are moving in, because ascending/descending still holds even in music. Not just the bars that are sharpened either.
If it doesn't ascend, I haven't a clue.
#3
Well what i'm noticing is that when he sharps the 6th (melodic minor is what i'll assume), he plays a couple phrases and then sharps the D, which means he used the A melodic minor to modulate to the key of Emin by sharping the D (the leading tone) and since Emin is in the same key as Gmaj, the F obviously is sharped as well. In the phrase to follow, he sharps the F C G and D which would mean a modulation to Emaj right? He uses B as that pivot note so I'm guessing if not Emaj then Bmixolydian?


If there's another name for that melodic minor, or it is not really a key, then I'm way off in the rest of the analysis.
#4
I'm not terribly familiar with the piece, so I can only comment on the details you posted.

The melodic minor scale was created because the augmented second interval between the sixth and seventh degrees of the harmonic minor scale was considered unmusical. The solution was, when creating a melody, to either raise the sixth degree as well, or flat the seventh depending on the direction. Because the leading tone moves very smoothly into the tonic, the sixth and seventh were raised when ascending but flatted when descending because the b6 flows very well into the dominant. This was nothing more than a musical convention of the time, and it is not at all necessary to play the scale different when ascending and descending (in fact, this is rarely done). Bach is going to do what Bach wants to do.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#6
Yes, that's the piece I have... got it from the same place too- except mine doesn't have the "Suit in C minor (Transposed to Amin)" at the top, it just says "Preludio."

I'm trying to understand Bach's intent when modulating. I notice he plays the theme through until the second stave from the bottom where he repeats the theme almost note for note in the minor key a fourth below (Emin). But in between he creates some interesting tensions with the Emaj (parallel major) and other close keys etc...

I love the melodic minor scale. You can extrapolate a very awkward set of chords from it and it can bear it's own modes. I do alot of film scoring for darker scenes in the key of F# Superlocrian which is the locrian mode of the melodic minor scale. I would also associate a key with a grouping of notes that can be played harmonically or melodically- in this case A B C D E F# G#. I do believe that's why I love this particular piece so much. I just want to be able to understand it a bit more.

I havn't done much with parallel major / minor. Alls I've really done with them is use the pivoting third to go between the two to create quick tensions. I like how Bach used the F# and the G# and then quickly added a D# to modulate to the key of Emaj. He scrictly played with common notes contained in both keys and like you said titopuente, used that chromaticism to his advantage. I love it!
#7
Quote by Archeo Avis

The melodic minor scale was created because the augmented second interval between the sixth and seventh degrees of the harmonic minor scale was considered unmusical. The solution was, when creating a melody, to either raise the sixth degree as well, or flat the seventh depending on the direction. Because the leading tone moves very smoothly into the tonic, the sixth and seventh were raised when ascending but flatted when descending because the b6 flows very well into the dominant. This was nothing more than a musical convention of the time, and it is not at all necessary to play the scale different when ascending and descending (in fact, this is rarely done). Bach is going to do what Bach wants to do.


A melodic minor scale in descending form is actually the same as the natural minor in descending form, with the sixth and seventh scale degrees made natural, and in my time studying music theory, i've rarely seen melodic minor used, and when I have seen it, the descending pattern has never had raised sixths or sevenths. And yes Bach will do whatever he wants, they're his rules , he can break as many as he'd like. Other than modulating to create tension between notes and chords, the only other explanations i could possibly use are A) that it just sounds good and Bach liked what he heard and B) he could've wanted to create a major iv chord for a plagal cadence (didn't know if there was one). Hope this helps
IMMORTAL DEATH

Before The Sun...
...After The Moon
#8
A melodic minor scale in descending form is actually the same as the natural minor in descending form


That's what I said.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#9
Quote by Archeo Avis
it is not at all necessary to play the scale different when ascending and descending (in fact, this is rarely done).


sorry, i was focusing on this part.
IMMORTAL DEATH

Before The Sun...
...After The Moon
#10
Quote by guitarcaw
the only other explanations i could possibly use are A) that it just sounds good and Bach liked what he heard and B) he could've wanted to create a major iv chord for a plagal cadence (didn't know if there was one).



A. The only rule in music that actually matters is if it sounds good, do it.
#11
Generally, you can find the various keys that the piece is in by looking for perfect cadences. So analyse any odd progressions and see if they make a iib or Ic - V - I in any key (iib and Ic being the preparing chords for a suspension over the V chord - ii first inversion and I second inversion respectively.)

I don't know that piece specifically, but from what I know of Bach, that's the way to go. Basically, analyse every note ¬_¬.
#12
Quote by hamlin1333
A. The only rule in music that actually matters is if it sounds good, do it.


Right...that's completely irrelevant. We're not talking about whether or not it sounds good, we're discussing the structure of his music.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#13
When applied to actual music, the melodic scale has less to do with ascending or descending, than with what sounds good. Melodic scales are often used to instigate modulation, as you can see by this piece. I could go more into that, if you don't understand why that is, feel free to ask/PM me.
And another thing, you don't say that you modulate between harmonic and melodic scales of the same key; modulation is only used to describe movement between two different keys.
#14
I agree with Archeo Avis. I'm not studying this piece to learn "what sounds good." Everyone in the music field knows what sounds good. I'm studying this piece to learn the method behind Bach's mayhem. There is a certain amount of mathematics involved in music that can be applied for quicker and more accurate results. Right now I am working on an orchestrated score for a computer animated cartoon and the relativity of these notes in in conjunction with one another (modulations, melodies, and harmonies alike) struck me as a good starting point for one of the character's themes.

It's irrelevant whether or not Bach thought this piece sounded good. If he didn't then he wouldn't have written it. I refuse to write stuff of as a conclusion drawn from analysis. What IS relevant is that there is a reason these notes sound like this and it's all very mathematical. I know how the melodic minor scale works and he does seem to do his own variations on the sharped and natural scale tones and they do not seem to correlate whatsoever with the ascending or desceding of the scales. He does some neat stuff in this piece and not a single bit of it sounds like he just sat on his piano and said "wow, that sounds cool." I think blue_strat is also right, every note needs to be anaylzed to find out. Hard to decipher any type of cadende in this piece though with only melodies consisting of 2 note intervals. I guess at that point the 5th, 7th, 9th or whatever would be implied so it would be easier to decipher.