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A PERSONAL, TEARFUL, AND GRATEFUL THANK YOU TO A HUMBLE AND GREAT MAN

It perhaps may seem unusual to follow up the previous eight days' of blogging about banking crises, geopolitics, papal elections, and warp drives with a tearful thank you to a great, and humble, and happy man, but bear with me, as I think you will discover the relevance.

There were, in my opinion, two men who more than any other, created all the foundations of our modern western musical culture, whose genius and greatness lay in creating such stable foundations that their legacy remains each time we take time out to ponder the beauty in the Beatles, or in Art Tatum, or Duke Ellington, or REO Speedwagon, or Shania Twain, or the transporting elegance of Mozart's C Minor piano concerto, of the the slow movements of Mahler, or the music of the spheres in Haendel or Scarlatti.

Those two men were the two great Bachs, Johann Sebastian Bach, and his second eldest son, Carl Philip Emanuel. It was for these two geniuses to lay those foundations. The one summed it all up; the other, took that summary, and broke new ground with it, virtually trying every trick in the book of all those who came after him. It was Mozart who said of CPE Bach that "He is the father, we are the children. Whatever we do right, we owe to him. He who does not own to this, is a scoundrel." Haydn repaired to CPE, Beethoven assiduously studied his keyboard music, both solo and concerto.

But there would have been, both genetically and culturally, no CPE without Johann Sebastian. The son revered the father, the father saw the genius in the son. It was an odd relationship as father and son relationships go, the more so since both were famous in their own day in their own right.

Take away Johann Sebastian, and you remove Carl Philip Emanuel, Franz Josef Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Mendelssohn... John, Paul, Ringo and George... on and on we could go.

Today is Johann Sebastian's birthday; he born this day in 1685 in Eisenach, in the same year as another German musical genius, Georg Friedrich Haendel. The two men tried, but never could, meet. It was for Johann Sebastian, however, to take the new system of musical tuning - the first true unification in physics mind you - and demonstrate with contrapuntal complexity and elegance how the human spirit could soar to the cosmos, and hear in its dance, the harmonious dance of many voices, the voice of the Creator, to whom he humbly dedicated every piece with the abbreviation "SDG", soli Deo Gloria.

Those words say it all; he was not the self-important "artiste" of the Romantic or, worse, the talentless "rapping" boob of the modern era, aiming at relentless self-expression via an irreverence for what preceded him.  No element of the trinity of music - rhythm, diatonicism, chromaticism - was neglected; all were held in balance with each other, none prevailed, none wished to prevail. Soli Deo Gloria, he heard the Voice, and echoed it, faithfully.

So Herr Bach, a very grateful thank you, for the endless hours of intellectual and spiritual rapture your music has given me since boyhood, for the endless insight it provided in hearing, like Kepler, the Voice in endless permutations of permutations, in analogies of analogies, accomplished with effortless and transcendent ease, for hearing the fury of the divine in  The Wedge or its joyous frenzy in the Great D Major fugue, its gentle cosmic Sicilienne in the slow movement of your concerto for three harpsichords in D Minor, for the mystical union of heaven and earth in the Kyrie or Et Incarnatus of the B Minor Mass, and on and on I could go, and still, my words would be inadequate to what you have given to me, and to so many others around the world, in all cultures from orchestral suites played on Japanese koto orchestras to new instruments of synthesizer and computer, the music remains, like your genius, catholic, for all men and conditions of men in all times and all places.

 

 

21 thoughts on “A PERSONAL, TEARFUL, AND GRATEFUL THANK YOU TO A HUMBLE AND GREAT MAN”

  1. thanks soo much doc.thats beautiful .like minded indeed.i stumbled upon you because i recognized the name joe farrell .i am a fan of chick corea .joe farrell was the sax player in( return to forever) stunning band..i hadn’t heard anything about joe for years so i came across your name.here i am ..in awe of your intellect and insight in a different setting.you also are musical ..as am i..it is my religion…thanks!!!

  2. Thank you for that very fine, touching tribute to JS Bach. What a legacy! I had a vinyl set of the Brandenburg Concertos which I played until almost worn out and remember being introduced to Glenn Gould’s recordings of the Goldberg. But I wasn’t much aware of CPE Bach until I heard you speak so often of him. I’ve been through all your related posts and have so enjoyed hearing your own compositions. Finally, the mystery of the opening music in the Dialogues has been solved. Of course you know that the Bach legacy lives on … PDQ came through town not too long ago … it was an hysterical evening 😉 I doubt JS would approve, but the audience enjoyed him immensely.

    1. Yes, without JSB the other later composers including Mozart and Beethoven would not have reached their own heights in their later years, when they began to study and to respect JBach’s counterpoint and harmonic progressions, and thence wove these more consciously into their latter works.

      ie Mozart’s final symphonies, where fugal motives are gloriously interwoven, and in Beethoven’s latter sonatas, which while a little loose for my personal taste at times, DO incorporate fugal and contrapuntal themes as well, which ultimately brings more unity to them.

      Both composers, as well, incorporate more of Bach’s complex harmonic progressions in their later yrs as well.

  3. if I just may add 1 or 2 thoughts more to this “nearest and dearest” topic on my part before I finally shut my trap (non-musicians might want to skip this because I’m about to “rant”):

    “western” music is now completely devoid of quarter-tones (if any non-musician knows to what I’m referring, but I’ll get to that in a sec) and I’m not sure that’s a good thing- who knows how many good vibrational frequencies we are missing?- despite Bach’s good intentions of creating “order” in western music (and that he most definitely did!- assuming “Bach” was the man we’ve been told he was- see my previous posting on this subject), he managed to eradicate the last semblance of quarter tones in order to “fit” the rigid emerging western “norm”- does anybody not yet realise how “rigid” our music sounds to those who play/sing in quarter tones?-

    for non-musicians (if you’re still with me): quarter tones are those, as we in the west hear them, are the “smeared” sounds that we hear between half-tones sung/played in Semitic (for lack of a better term) music most exemplified by the music performed by Islamic artists although some Jewish cantors in synagoges still revert to it a bit although this tradition seems to be rapidly decreasing-

    and speaking of “losing a good thing”: am not sure to which sound frequency the Baroque artists before/after Bach tuned (might’ve been a free-for-all depending on location) but we can be sure it was a lot lower than it now is;

    am not sure exactly when tuning to A434 actually became standard as opposed to today’s A440, but it already had to have been in place at the time when, for example, Verdi wrote his first operas- this would explain how many singers since the implementation of A440 simply cannot vocally negotiate the final phrases of “Cabalettas” as Verdi wrote them and have to “cheat” (leaving out measures) big-time when singing them nowadays-

    I’ve read (don’t know if sources are valid) that A434 is the sound frequency of universal peace, love and harmony- only thing I know for sure is: after listening to recorded music tuned at A434 in comparison to the same pieces tuned to A440 the A434 sent a becon of light into my solar plexus and the 440 frequency left me cold in comparison-

    as for the implementation of A440: I read (don’t know if sources are valid) that tuning to A440 was actually a Nazi implementation-

    not to mention the very famous, powerful Austrian meglomaniac conductor Herbert von Karajan was trying to ratchet the tuning even higher! (he first achieved fame during the Nazi era just as a side-note)-

    sorry for my long-windedness- regards to all-

    Larry

    1. A friend sent this to me in reply to LSM’s comment and asked me to post it:

      The fundamental pitch of the Earth is determined by
      the speed this planet spins on its axis. Naturally, every
      planetary body spins at its own velocity, and that of the
      Earth can be looked up on the web. If you know the exact
      speed the planet is moving, by doubling that value enough
      times you can reach a hertz value in the auditory spectrum
      that you can actually hear. This involves the ‘siren’ effect
      as explained by Hermann Helmholtz.

      For example: A siren spinning with 440 cycles per second
      creates a particular audible pitch. If you double it to 880 cps
      you have the same audible “pitch” an octave higher. Cut it in
      half to 220 cycles and you get the same audible pitch an
      octave lower. You can both lower and raise the fundamental
      cps value as many times as you want, but will eventually
      reach values either too low or too high to hear, i.e. out of
      the audible sound spectrum.

      The revolution speed of Earth is the same. Its too slow to
      hear with human ears. But by treating the Earth as a giant
      siren, and doubling its cps value enough times, you can
      eventually raise it into the audible zone. Viola! you will have
      determined the sound of the planet as “X” cycles per second.
      Rather than reveal this number, perhaps another reader will
      do the math and post the results…. It’s more interesting
      and memorable that way. HINT: Make sure you know the
      correct number of times the Earth spins per second before
      you start doubling. 1 spin = roughly 24 hours, but more
      accuracy than that is required. Convert hours to seconds
      and away you go with your doubling process.

      1. Hi Lloyd Pye- are you any relation to the anthropologist/author of “EverythingYou Know is Wrong”- most probably not- but that’s not the reason for my posting to your response-

        I don’t care how much “scientific detail”, even about music is rammed down our throats, is presented- the fact is we are living in a world of deception and so-called “classical” music is major part of it-

        I don’t doubt for one second that your research has validity- but let’s break this down for the common man, OK?-

        J.S. Bach (or whoever/whatever he was or who/what was behind the /financing him of doesn’t matter) managed to erase the last semblance of quarter tones in western music so we we are in a contrived world of listening/awareness of only half tones-

        I could go on about this subject forever but don’t want to bore anyone- but I stick to my guns: the control system of this planet has derived us all of positive frequencies available. hence tuning to A440 instead of A434 (see my previous posting)-

        enough for now- greetings-

        Larry

        1. You could listen to forms of non Western classical music, which are full of other “scales” and half and quarter tones etc…I do, even though I am also a Bach fan.

        2. LSM,

          Interesting little debate between you two over Sound. I like it and I’m getting a little more understanding of some of what David Icke ‘crows’ about. Him and his drawing of gigantic bat’s wings covering the planet! Oh my God -can resonic – sound do that to us? If so it’s really all over for who can fight that!

          Yes, the Game is indeed rigged not in our favor. (not if my right(get- it)brain has anything to say over the matter.

          Keep up the hearty dialogue you good FOLKS!

          I have to go and buy some poster ‘art’ for my bare, bare white walls. Hope I am lucky and see something that calls my name out. I don’t have a Mrs. anymore to do that for me. (Oh me or my —the “Singularity’ again. Well, I asked for it and got it!)

          I’m OK though for I chose it. Boston’s a great city with plenty of places to get lost in and plenty of Eye-candy where some women still dress like women, ha, ha! (cant always tell whose who these days. I use to tease other kids and tell them ‘Your mother wears combat boots!” Now, it’s considered a compliment, ha, ha!)

          Have a good evening.

  4. All you have to do is listen to the sound tracks of the serials of the 1930s to 40s or the silent movies to know what good music is. And even today one can be surprised by the music sound tracks and how wonderful they are.

  5. Music is certainly the one free and infinite energy source we can tap into. We never seem to run out of new and great music. You make me want to listen to the Bachs and only the Bachs until I can experience that “intellectual and spiritual rapture.” Unfortunately, my mind is a toxic waste dump of a lifetime of pop culture and old impressions are hard to purge.

    I remember when NASA launched the Voyager capsule back in the seventies and out of the 27 pieces of music stashed on board for the aliens to hear and get a feel for us humans back on Earth, three of those pieces were from JS Bach. If NASA were to launch another such capsule to give far flung aliens a taste of 21 Century humans, the enclosed musical clip below would be my choice. New music to reflect our current plight but also how music can allow us to rise above it as well (and find life’s humor). Not universally liked perhaps, but all encompassing. I wonder what the Bachs would think of it? Would they marvel at the ingenuity and the strange music’s not so subtle ability to stimulate the cerebral cortex? Or would they throw up then fall on their knees and beg God for mankind’s salvation?

    Like Duke Ellington said: there are only two kinds of music– good music and bad music. I probably should have posted one of those great Art Tatum clips but this one sure did make me laugh and it does reflect a new trend in music. Turning lemons into lemonade:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP_Kr6i7itM

  6. Dr. Farrell
    Thanks you so much for sharing this piece of music history . Not really having listened to Back compositions I will now go back and listen with a richer ear of understanding . There is so much to appreciate and such limited time to accomplish the task.

  7. Hi Dr. Farrell,

    being a professional musician myself (opera singer; bass-baritone) this topic interests me greatly so thank you for addressing it- am not sure how much it will interest most readers but it certainly interests me-

    I’ve gladly sung many Bach works; Passions, X-mas Oratorio (my favorite!- it’s “Balsam” for the bass voice- very gratifying), about 15+ cantatas, even the B-minor Mass (NOT my favorite- I consider it, the bass solo part, to be the “wurst” of Bach)-

    all that aside, am not sure if you are aware of the research of Scottish musicologist Robert Newman (he has 2 interviews on RedIce entitled “The Manufacture of Mozart” and “The Music Industry” + another entitled “The Shakespeare Project”- if you have the time/interest you might want to check them out)-

    Newman began his research of Mozart as a fan of the guy only to discover to his own horror that almost everything attributed to Mozart was actually NOT written by Mozart (the concept of “W.A. Mozart, child genious” was a manufactured sales-gimmick to sell new productions and lure investors) but a blatant plagiarism of the works of other composers (long befrore copyright laws)-

    so it looks like the “Koechelwerksverzeichnis” was a scam- Newman has also alluded that many things attributed to Haydn and Beethoven were also not their own creations-

    I never bought the story that Beethoven conducted his 9th symphony DEAF! (huh?- you can conduct music blind but not deaf!- musicians always make at least slight mistakes- no such thing as a ‘perfect performance’- so how can you correct the mistakes if you can’t HEAR them?!)

    I’ll desist for now; Newman explains it in his own words on RedIce- I’ve had a sporadic albeit very animated Email correspondence with him (really nice guy and a very erudite man) and he has alluded to the fact that the corruption behind so-called “classical” music is more than just a bit overwhelming-

    many regards- please stay well- and a happy Easter weekend to all-

    Larry

    1. Oh me, Oh my — no rest for the world-weary conspirator, ha, ha!

      Hey Larry,

      Is it true for I think you ought to know (?) what a British Author named John Coleman says about the Bugs from Liverpool, ops — the Billionaire beatles! He said, Frankfurt School kind of guy, or named Theodore Adorno as the one who really wrote the Beatles early music/score?????? (maybe that’s why they offed Lemon-head! He was going to spill the beans? Hey, there’s a plot behind every Potato Patch, ha, ha!)

      I can believe that first airport scene with all the screaming me-me girl-teens could have been faked or staged just like that famous goof of those sic -huge MOBS tearing down the Statue of Hussain. Only this one WORKED!

      And oh how it must have worked! Propaganda performed like some Mistro from Hell! (I guess the WHO’s famous song “We Wont Be Fooled Again” is not exactly correct! We get fooled again and again!)

      I don’t know about the musical side cause I know zilch about musical composition. That’s why I ask? I just wonder why Farrell places the Beatles up in that reified atmosphere with those who have statues that piegons do their dodo duty on!

      What do you think LARRY?

      As for the Movie ‘ Armedaes — it was terrific and I felt sorry for poor young Mozart, even though it might have been all a fabrication!

      It’s Spring and there was this annoying bird singing it’s heart out 2.30 in the morning the other day! Like a baby’s set of lungs — Do they have power.

      There’s a Peurto Rican guy in the Marverick Subway station just across from where I live who sometimes, I first though was some kind of nut — sings/singing a single note, over and over again only longer and louder each time. Then I realized he was practicing his Operatic Talents because the acoustics of the place echos in a odd kind of way.

      Is that genius or what?

      1. “Is it true for I think you ought to know (?) what a British Author named John Coleman…”- is this the same John Coleman who wrote “The Commitee of 300”?- if so I’m aware of him and his book but have not read it

        1. Hello LSM,

          I don’t know what your particular interests are so I wont say much about the Committee of 300 except that it is an interesting historical ‘take’ on conspiracy or should I say philosophical/historical revisionism.

          I was impressed by his book called the Tavistock Institute. If you want a though investigation of HOW the ‘Psychiatric state and early Psych-ops Networks came about then that is the book to turn too. I wish I read it years ago. It would have save me much unnecessary reading. Also his books have very good bibliographies that don’t take you off the path. (I very often find bibliographies can hold a few ‘pleasant surprises?”)

          I noticed one of his book covers are out of character with the rest of his books — Called “Apocalypse: the plagues that threatens all the world.” Mind you this guy doesn’t write nonsense. When Farrell mentions taking “ques’ from 19th Century Thought he isn’t joking. (much to be learned from out great grandfathers)

          Over all I am not gaga over his writings. He’s a die-hard believer or Constitutional(ist) who frets over the loss of the Middle Class. I suspect Farrell does too?

          Let me clue you, I don’t shed many tears over the dwindling MC even though I am no longer a communist. I’m not even a Anarcho-Primitivist anymore. I am just a jerk who wants to survive this CULTURAL WAR that Coleman writes about.

          I spend way too much time on the computer when I should be reading instead. I’ll eventually ration my computer use for it can get to be a ‘bad habit.” But what can I say —

          “Go out in the general public and talk conspiracy or alternate theory and see where that gets you?”—- (they might look at you like you got antennas sticking out of the back of your head!)

          Not very far!

          If anyone even has heard of it. I need to go to a few specialized conventions and SIZE OUT the crowd and directly Chat with them. The stimulus would do me good although Farrel once stated they get boring after a while.

          I would like to buy some of Coleman’s interesting titled Monographs but at 12 dollars a pop, I really cant afford it and I don’t think he’s the kind of author who goes for ‘freebies.’ I think he has financial struggles like most of us?

          One more thing you might find interesting about him— He was supposed to have worked in the Famous British M-16 Department. (who the hell has the time or effort or expense to authenticate all of what we hear on the Internet.”

          Only the Bastards ruining things have enough money and manpower to do so!)

          That’s enough out of me for I am not peddling his books — I only bought two of them. I’m waiting for Farrell “Financial Vipers” book to come out. It might be a little in the style Coleman writes? I’m just guessing at that!

          Hear I go again, Coleman stated in one of his U-Tube presentations that a certain family corporation owns 90% percent of the Insurance Business in the World! Or in other words the US Insurance Industry don’t own shit. I don’t know how far fetched this is but it makes me wonder about all this Black Nobility baloney!

          1. Here I go again on the soap box! i just don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about me?

            I disliked those so-called Progressive middle class small businessmen not because they owned the corner store and had fat bellies and wore suspenders.— I resent this petite-bouswar (see I forgot even how to spell it -a boy of Quebec ancestry who lived in a bi-lingual household who can even spell french words anymore. Where the hell are my roots!)

            These Constitutionalists joined the movement toward the end of the 18 hundreds when the Barons were putting the ‘screws’ to everyone. They objected because these Monopolists were doing a better ‘job’ at it and stealing their customers!

            Not out of any Phony Moral Outrage!

  8. Artists who inspire. Especially on Easter Day. If we cant get all dressed up and go to Church and afterwards have one giant conjouval meal around family members who are no more, we might as well remember or get sentimental about a few other things.

    You mention ‘rhythm,’ ‘diatonicism’ and ‘chromaticism.’ I wonder if that is anything like or related to these three things Marshall McLuham once pointed out —Orality, Grammatical and Dialectical? (I don’t know, probably came from the Scholastic days or ‘Foundation’ as you put it?)

    I wonder what its like to just look at a musical composition or a mathematical ‘formular’ and go into Estatic revelvry!

    Reading your article today makes me pine for a MAGISTER LUDI? Oh, if I could have had Hesse’s imaginary MENTOR I too could write.

    Go play some music today? (Dodrums, ah, mediocry, ha, ha!)

    That was a good movie even though they put poor Mozart into a sack and dumped him into a pauper’s crave! (I hope you got life insurance?)

    1. One more thing.

      You love of Music reminds me of Baudelaire’s poem about the jester sitting beneath the Statue of Beauty. (oh, if I could see you (that’s my own twist) I think he meant in that poem, “She is cold, cold cold!”

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