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Bach 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' Advanced: Introduction

 

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Bach 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' Advanced

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In this tutorial we will learn an advanced, complete arrangement of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring".

One of the main characteristics of Bach's music (and of much Baroque music) is the importance of counterpoint. Counterpoint is the technique of combining two or more melodic lines in such a way that they establish a harmonic relationship while retaining their linear individuality.

Most western music has counterpoint of some kind happening. Bach has created a full, long, complex, interesting melody line in the treble range (using the higher sounding strings). And at the same time, he also has another complete melody going on below in the bass range (using the lower sounding strings)!

Traditionally the melody is known as the "cantus firmus". The second voice (in this case the bass voice) that supports the melody is the "counterpoint" because it "counters" the melody "point for point". It's primary role is supporting the melody and providing the other notes that flesh out the harmonic structure (make explicit the chords that are only implied by the melody).

In order to get this piece right we have to slow down and take our time! Carefully plan out each position at a time. While it can be helpful to play through each melody on it's own several times so you can get familiar with it's sound, it's difficult to learn to play that way. So, the best way to learn a piece like this is just to focus on one mechanical motion and position after the other. Then, gradually put them together, focusing on making them sound musical after we learn all the motions!

This transcription is in G major, in 3/4 time, using a lot of eighth note triplets and we'll aim for 60 BPM.