the Goldberg Variations

January 18, 1997; August 14, 1999; August 10, 2000
Last revision; January 28, 2001
Iori FUJITA, Japan

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New! 1-page of the goldberg variations New!


At first, it should be asked if music can be the object of "intellect" or not. But, talking about all kinds of music, for example classic, popular, jazz, karaoke, there will not be any answer. Here, the object of "music of intellect" is a particular piece of music, that is to say Bach's "the Goldberg Variations", and I am not going to browse any other works.
Why do the Goldberg Variations have a reality as "music of intellect", and are they to be the object of the intellectual manipulation. I am going to think about it, with you. By the way, I do not follow the pass on which many critics are doing their analysis or commentary.
To tell the truth, it is impossible for me to do that, because I am not a specialist in the field of music. Instead, I would like to make it possible for us to do some philosophical thinking about music by using SMF (standard MIDI file) data format.
The reason why I am going to think about the Goldberg Variations as " Music of Intellect" was inspired by the performance of Glenn Gould. Gould's debut record was, as you know, his first Goldberg Variations in 1955. It was really like a challenge toward the intellectual field of music. And actually I didn't like it. Because I could not see through the meaning of his work.
After a while, I forgot the Goldberg Variations by Gould completely. But his Well-Tempered Clavier vol.2 No.14 impressed me deeply, and his Mozart Piano Sonatas playing invited me to a new world of musical pleasure. So, I became one of Gould enthusiasts.
In 1981, Gould made the second recording for the Goldberg Variations, and next year he suddenly passed away. He was 50 years old. As many other fans in the world I was shocked by his unexpected death. This peculiar coincidence between his death and his second Goldberg in 1981 put a spell on me.
Recording in 1955 and another in 1981 were not the same. In 1955, he used an analog monophonic system. In 1981, the digital stereo recording system and CD distribution could be possible. Performance in 1981 was like " Intellect has been unified with the Spirit of the Universe". On the other hand, performance in 1955 was different and like a pointed challenge of Intellect.
The first CD that I bought was Gould's Goldberg Variations, and I gave it to my friend. I bought several CDs of Gould's Goldberg Variations. So many times I listened to this Goldberg. 100 times, 200 times. But listening only or listening and reading score cannot lead me to the realm of "Music of INTELLECT" without any help. Then a new device came into my home. That is computer, MIDI or digital piano. These tools encouraged me to start my exploration. So, let's begin the quest together for "Music of INTELLECT".


Part 1
  1. Music for Sleep

  2. Music of Intellect
      (1) from sleep to intellect
      (2) Glenn Gould for the object of the intellect
      (3) method of intellect
      (4) Where is the existence as music?
      (5) free from pianists
      (6) free from instruments
      (7) What is SMF?
      (8) reference ( my system )

  3. The Analysis of Music
    1. The Analysis of Score
      1. The score
      2. Instruments and tuning
      3. The expression on the score ( listen through MIDI )
      4. key
      5. Range of notes
      6. Composition
        repeat/number of bars/beats/CANON

    2. The Analysis of Performances
      1. Who played ?
      2. When did they do recording ?
      3. Piano or Cembalo ?
      4. Gould's tempo in 1955
      5. treatment of repeat or frain
      6. Tempo Allocation

  4. The Way to the 'Music of Intellect'
    1. combination of refrain
    2. setting of tempo
    3. setting of dynamics
    4. variations of ornaments
    5. length of notes
    6. pedaling
    7. pose between variations
    8. transpose
    9. tune
    10. analysis of canons
    11. listen to it many times

  5. Again, the Goldberg Variations for Sleep
    1. good night sleep
    2. Johann Nikolaus Forkel's biography of Bach
    3. Johann Gottlieb Theophilus Goldberg
    4. Reichsgraf von Hermann Carl Keyserlink
    5. Insomnia
    6. G-Major
    7. variations
    8. Have a fruitful sleep !
Part 2
Bach's expectations and Gould's recollections
list of CD
list of reference
data of Gould's stage performance of the Goldberg Variations

to Part 1