A Critical Essay for The Well-Tempered Clavier
by Johann Adolph Scheibe in 1744
--- This is a fiction. ---
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About Fugue No.24 B Minor

I labeled the great Cantor J. S. Bach A Pedant who spoiled the natural beauty of his creation with "an excess of art". My name, which is notorious among enthusiasts of Bach's music, is Johann Adolph Scheibe.
For me, good music must possess a cantabile melody unobscured by excessive ornaments, angular intervals and above all, the other voices in the composition.
I was too puzzled to undestand the fugue, "Fugue No.24 B Minor" of the Well-Tempered Clavier, which has too many off-scale notes. Are they all appoggiaturas or transitional notes? I don't understand. Even somehow complicated Fugue No.1 C Major has resonable and small number of off-scale notes taking into consideration of the condition that it is on the major scale.
For example, one minor fugue for chembalo, which was compsed by the great Cantor Georg Philipp Telemann, has 539 notes in which there are only 40 off-scale notes. In other words only 7.4% of notes are off-scale. In case of Bach's this fugue has 21.9% of off-scale notes.
"Fugue No.24 B Minor" of the Well-Tempered Clavier so-called Book 2 has 14.4% of off-scale notes.
Johann Christoph Altnikol, the Great Bach's ex-pupil and now 24 yeras old assistant, has been helping Mrs Anna Magdalena Bach to compiling the new set of twenty four Preludes and Fugues and he put a title-name to this secondary set "The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2" by the year 1744, I mean, this year. I don't know whether Johann Sebastian would authorize this new Well-Tempered Clavier. So, I call it "so-called Book 2". Although Book 1 was not printed nor published, we know that the title page of Book 1 was beautifully drawn by our Cantor by himself. But obviously he didn't make the title page of Book 2.
Mr. Altnikol showed it to me and I found that all of Preludes and Fugues of the Book 2 are of course utterly different from those of the Book 1. Among them, Prelude No.14 F sharp Minor is particularly impressive to me because it has a beautiful cantabile melody. Also you will see that the first Prelude and the last Fugue are moderate and, I should say, not too intricate. Additionally for Prelude No.1 C Major of Book 1, I questioned about the fact that it consists only of chords without any melody and that its chord progression is beyond our comprehension. So I felt relieved after listening to new versions of them. Young Altnikol might have the same feeling. He wanted to protect his great teacher from slanders saying, "Cantor are teaching young people a heretic musicology like music without melody or music without harmony." But anyway the serious problem remains. The problem is that the first Prelude and the last Fugue of Book 1 are still incredibly beautiful and profound.
The Title Page of Book 2

The Well-Tempered Clavier,
Second Part,
consisting of
Preludes and Fugues
all the Tones and Semitones,
written by
Johann Sebastian Bach,
Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Court Composer,
Capellmeister and Directore Chori Musici
in Leipzig.
dated in 1744

I wrote in the year 1737 in my paper "Der Critischer Musikus", "This gerat man would be the object of admiration for entire nations if only he had more charm, and if he did not deprive his compositions of naturalness through bombastic and confusing character, and obscure their beauty through an excess of art." At that time I was only 29 years old. I was young and audacious. I flattered myself that I was the first professional critic of music in the nations in history. Of course I acknowledged Bach's extraordinary skill as a performer on the organ and the harpsichord and as a productive composer. Moreover I know that, when my father Johann Scheibe made an organ in 1716 at the university church which is called the Paulinerkirche, Johann Sebastian Bach was at Leipzig examining that organ in December 1717. Even at that time Johann Sebastian Bach was famous and admired.

I was born in 1708 and raised in Leipzig, and studied law and philosophy, as well as the piano, the organ and composing. From 1736 until 1739, I lived in Hamburg, where I became to be known as an author and composer. Stylistically I was in the ideals of the Baroque, but I strived for a purer and simpler expression. The new music for me and for our time needed a more alluring and sensitive melody.
Now, music is designed on a grand scale. Like the architecture and painting of our time, music has its structure. We experienced a gradual eclipse of the old church modes which were unstable and had obscure forms over the century. Among them, the modes known as the Greek Ionian and Aeolian became the major and minor scales. Our age brought an increased interest in instrumental music. Keyboard instruments including the clavichord, harpsichord, and organ are now in general use. Then the chord system has been established.

The French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau was known for his contribution to music theory. His system of harmony published in 1722 is based on the natural overtone series. Three or more different notes sounded at the same time produce chords which construct harmony. The root note originates a chord. There are the three most important chords which are the tonic, the dominant seventh and the subdominant.

A composer can create variety and tension in his music by using off-diatonic-scale-notes. Having a central point of reference the tonic makes it possible for the composer to create variety and tension in his music by moving to notes not closely related to the tonic. The notes of the diatonic scale most closely related to the tonic and therefore "rest" tones are the 3rd and 5th; the "active" tones, which create movement, are the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th.
For further variety, composers occasionally use notes and chords from keys or scales other than the predominant one; this is called chromaticism. For a time they might also completely change the tonality, or key, of the music; this is called modulation. Then they return to the original key.

For all the things above, the geat Cantor J. S. Bach is like an all-seeing god.

Johann Sebastian
parodying my family name
might have shouted
which means
"Damn it!".

I am now 37 years old enough to deliberate what to say or what to do. Next year (in the year 1745) I will make a review of the Italian Concerto in which I will apologize courteously saying, "I did this great man an injustice".

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