A Method for The Well-Tempered Clavier
by A M B 1744
--- This is a fiction. ---
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An Appreciation of Anna Magdalena Bach to the First Prelude
of the Well Tempered Clavier

Thank you for visiting my page and giving me a chance to tell you my appreciation to the Well Tempered Clavier, especially the First Prelude of it.
Nice to meet you.
I am Anna Magdalena Bach of the year 1744.

my imaginary portrait
at the age of 20 years old

Caricaturist Ms. Maiko Kawakami
made this portrait of my present age
in 2012.
By the way additional green handwriting letters
are later printed by Carl Philipp Emanuel.

This Music Notebook is my treasure. My dear great husband, exCapellmeister and now Cantor Johann Sebastian Bach, presented it to me in the year 1725, about three years after our marriage which was celebrated on 3 December 1721. Its cover is made of light yellowish green parchment and with golden letterings, "AMB" and "1725". My husband wrote two Partitas in the first pages of my Music Notebook in his own writing beforehand as a precious gift to me. And the first Partita of them is A moll in other words A minor or AM. The chord of the first measure is naturally also AM namely my initials. B means Bflat in our country and appears in the middle of this Partita three times. I love AM and B.

My Music Notebook is beautiful. It has the size of 25.0cm by 19.5cm, long from side to side. It is not an ordinary scorebook as to its size. There are 75 sheets of score paper. Both sides of each sheet can have only eight staves. In other words, we can use only four great staves on each page using our rastrale or doppelrastrale which are five line writers.
So I can't write many notes in one page. In case of the First Prelude of the Well Tempered Clavier, I had to omit several measures, from 16th measure to 20th, in order to place this prelude just on two facing pages. When I copied this prelude into my Music Notebook in 1733, actually I could play it from memory. Johann's students and our older sons could use one of the entirely copied books of the Well Tempered Clavier to practise it.

Then, why did I include this prelude in my Music Notebook?

This prelude was made of beautiful arpeggios of chords as you know. And I found out that some of chords are very peculiar. I have been interested in those chords of this prelude of the Well Tempered Clavier. They are mysterious, impressive and somehow uneasy. I had not heard them as a beautiful harmony before knowing this prelude. My dear great husband Johann Sebastian taught me that this type of chord is a stack of three minor thirds or (Re mi Fa)s : 1st, min 3rd, flat 5th, double flat 7th. Music theorists of after-ages might name them as "Diminished 7th".
In this Prelude there are four measures which include this type of chord. They are 12th, 14th, 22th and 28th. In case of the 28th measure the chord is the same as of the 22th with the base note of G. 12th, 14th and 22th are exclusively different each other.
The Fifth Circle

12th ; GBC#Eor(C#-E-G-B)
14th ; FG#HDor(D-F-G#-H)
22th ; F#CD#Aor(C-D#-F#-A)
"B" is "Bb" and "H" is "B".

This chord is constructed out of a very special harmonic interval, the Tritone, so it may be seen to consist of two Tritones superimposed. The Tritone is either of an augmented 4th or, enharmonically, of a diminished 5th, and is considered one of the dissonant intervals. If I hear,for example, C and F# at the same time, I fear its sound. When the Tritone is used in a drama music, the situation is just for the chance of appearance of haunted monsters. But in case of the chord with four note combination I would not feel any fear but devotedness. Even though there is uneasiness, I would have cross myself when I was playing these parts of the prelude. I can't do crossing myself and playing the keyboard at the same time.

The Chromatic Circle

Carl Philipp Emanuel told me, "I think these chords are the most fruitful and powerful ones among other chords to get pleasant and surprising music transitions when you are trying to change the present music to the remotest key. It can produce numerous harmonious diversities like a springboard to other positions. But I don't use them so frequently." He always think about "the True Art of Clavier Playing" and takes special notice of this type of chord. But he confessed, "No one but our great father can combine closely all three patterns of this chord into one clavier work naturally."

Each note of this chord consists of four notes and is an equal distance apart or in all minor third intervals. By dividing one octave equally into quarters, we can get four notes for this chord. To add additional minor 3rd results in doublings of the previous notes in the chord. So building successive this kind of chord on all of its four notes produces identical copies of the original chord. In the Sacred Temperament there are only three types for this chord. Each of the three fully diminished 7th chords have four possible roots. The notes of these three chords are exactly twelve notes of an octave. Of course I did not omit measures including those chords.

C C# D D# E F F# G G# A B H
There will be much to be studied.
Each of them looks like the Holy Cross.
Wilhelm Friedemann, the oldest son of my family, was given his own original music notebook by his father in which there was also the almost same prelude as the finished version of the Well Tempered Clavier. But this prelude on his music notebook was made of only 24 measures and used only one of these special chords. My great husband had added later three more and used all three types of them.

My son, Johann Christian is now 9 years old. He started playing the clavier much earlier. Carl Philipp Emanuel, his half brother, is giving him musical training. But copied score books of the Well Tempered Clavier and other works are in great demand among our students. So Johann Christian sometimes uses my music notebook to play this prelude. Of course he does not omit to play those measures which were not handprinted. His performance is quite well. He shows great promise for the future.

By the way, you think it strange that I did not talk anything about "My Notebook presented by my honorable husband in 1722", don't you? The case related to that Notebook of 1722 in which Johann Sebastian wrote Clavier Suites from No.1 to No.5, lately named the French Suites, made it possible for me to have here my treasure,this Notebook presented in 1725. To tell the truth, I inscribed the new title on the scorebook originally for composition memorandum of my husband in a flurry but as carefully as possible early in 1723, although I was not accustomed to do such a thing. Additionally I put some pretty illustrations of musical notes in order to make the book look just like a present. The year 1722 had been already writen by my husband. It is me, Anna Magdarena Bach, who wrote the Minuet in the last page of that Notebook. Johann Sebastian told me to add a tune which everyone would think that I had wrote it by myself after writing the title. If the appearance of the score I wrote looks very poper, some would think that my husband would had written it. However well I imitated my husband's pen work, it is obvious that I wrote it. But I made some intentional errors in case. Now when you look at these errors, you might think like, "Probably Anna Magdarena does not like scorewriting so much that she made such silly mistakes you can not look over." Well I have to accept it. There were some looks-difficult comments previously written by my husband on the lower right corner on the title page. I could not erase them, so I left them just as they were.
The Clavier Notebook for Anna Magdarena Bach
the year 1722
B above is a combination of J, S and B.
In the lower right corner,
there are names of three books written
by J. S. Bach with his own hand.
Ante Calvinismus
Curricula of Theology
Anti Melancholism

by Dr. Pfeiffer, theologian

The time was just when our family were just leaving for Leipzig from Cöthen. We had started our newly wed life in Cöthen. And it had been going very well and calmly with my wonderful husband and our good children. But various situations made my husband decide to leave the Court of Cöthen for Leipzig to discharge his new duties there. On leaving for Leipzig, he was anxious whether the Court of Cöthen was going to allow him to bring out scores of his works which he composed during staying in Cöthen, or not. You know, the greatest asset of our family at that time consisted only of the music proficiency of Johann Sebastian himself, our family and, well, music scores. The Court will not usually allow the composer to bring out with him his works which he has made for the Court or the Church as his duty because these works and thier music scores belong to the Court. They would say, "Exceptionally copies only for Johann Sebastian himself, scores of the works dedicated to certain players like works for solo violin, those which have nothing to do with the Court nor the Church, and scores of the works only for your domestic affairs can be your belongings." Even this kind of treatment could be said to be fairly generous. Other lords would have been severer.

Then where are this "the Suits for Clavier" categorized? The Suites for Clavier, lately named as the French Suites by someone are in this Music Scorebook. So Johann Sebastian tought that the book should be for his wife. I thought that it was the best way to get the permission from the Court. When we got the inspection of our belongings by the authority of the Court before our move, they checked them very carefully in case of music materials, especially music scores. Actually we could bring out only a limited number of music scores compared with the total volume of composition done in Cöthen by my husband. I am afraid that the Well Tempered Clavier could have beed confiscated by the Court. But the Well Tempered Clavier already had the title writen by my husband which indicated clearly the purpose of it like

"For the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learningand especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study composed and prepared by Johann Sebastian Bach at present Capellmeister to His Serene Highness the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen, and director of His Chamber Music. Anno 1722".

Incidentally, I may add the fact that Johann Sebastian intended to maintain his personal friendship with Prince Leopold of Cöthen, and that he tried to visit there one time or another. In fact, I clearly remember that he officially visited Cöthen in July 1724, November and December 1725 and January 1728 when there were certain events in the Court. While staying in Cöthen, he seemed to try to take back the music scores which he was obliged to leave behind in 1723.
As a result of these certain complications, my husband presented me a new and genuine Music Notebook for me when we became to feel at home in Leipzig. It was very beautifully bound. And I found lovely partitas newly composed and written by his own hand in the first pages of it. The first and old Music Notebook which was said to be mine had returned back to the Composition Memorandum of my husband soon after our arrival at Leipzig. The Suites for Clavier of the first Book made me feel related to me by a strange chance. So I copied No.1 and the first half of No.2 to my genuine Music Notebook while Johann Sebastian was polishing up the Suites. For all these things, I thank God for divine grace.

By the way, after Prince Leopold passed away young in 1728, Johann Sebastian visited Cöthen to attend the funeral ceremony and to perform Cantatas as tribute to the memory of the late Prince Leopold in March 1729. I accompanied my husband. He was busy there for conducting Cantatas and attending events, so with the permission of the Court, I dared to copy only some of scores which Sebastian had left behind in Cöthen. Among them there was the score of "The Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello" which was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and dedicated to Christian Ferdinand Abel, the renowned cellist and the principal viola da gamba player, of the 12 member Cöthen Court Orchestra. Mr. Abel confirmed me that autograph scores by Johann Sebastian were registered as the Court Property. But he carefully arranged me to do my job as a copyist there. My husband said, "Anna Magdalena, you can easily copy them without serious errors because the score for the Cello Suites is a single staff one." Still, time was limited and specified there in Cöthen, so I am afraid that some slurs and similar others might have lacked preciseness even though I did nothing but simple copying just as it was.

Anyway, I am sorry to say, Calvinists there seemed to have different minds toward music from ours, which made many of other music scores had been already scattered and lost. The name of Mr. Abel remainds me that he has a son called Carl Friedrich Abel who is now about 20 years old. And he is not only a promosing composer but also a good player of viola da gamba having inherited his father's talent. He has dropped by our house in Leipzig from time to time. My son, Johann Christian, is 10 years younger than he. And they were friends. I imagine that this friendship will contribute them greatly in future.

Johann Christian
9 years old

This is about all that I can tell you here. In these 20 or so years of our mariage, I have continued learning music under the warm direction of my great husband, in spite the fact that I am a woman. Some tease me saying that my handwriting has become somehow like Johann Sebastian's as for my score copying assistant works.
I love all the works of my husband, some of which are of course too difficult for me to comprehend. Among them I love the most this prelude and the aria of the so-called "variations" which was gifted to Count Keyserlingk, Goldberg's master. These works are my lifelong friends. When I play these works on the clavier in my spare time between houseworks or while there are visitors in our house, I am brimful of joy and feel like saying a little prayer of my thankfulness.

From now on, through this prelude,
I would like to share the delight of music
with all of you as ever.
Thank you very much.

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the secret of my imaginary portrait
Johann Christian Bach to Anna Magdalena Bach