Bach - Partita: Sarabande and Gigue

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  • SARABANDE: Almost entirely two-part writing
  • the right hand has the melody with semiquavers, while the left hand has a supporting part with mainly quavers - mel-dom-hom
  • GIGUE: Mainly three-part writing, with some fugal (contrapuntal) texture)
  • The opening six bars are monophonic, with just the fugue subject (as usually happens in fugal writing)
  • As the first section continues, there are reductions in the number parts, occasionak chords against one rapidly-moving part, a moment or two of four-part writing
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  • SARABANDE: The Sarabande is in rounded binary form
  • There are two main sections, and each to be repeated
  • GIGUE: The gigue is in ordinary binary form (not rounded)
  • there are fugal elements, but the piece is not a regular fugue
  • There are rhyming endings - although the final bar of B is a descending broken chord (which makes for finality) not an ascending one s at the end of A (which leaves the music more open)
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  • The music uses major - minor tonality with modulations to closely related keys
  • Each movement begins in the tonic D major and modulates to the dominant in the course of the A section
  • There is a return to the tonic towards the end of the B section
  • The return is through related keys. B minor (the relative minor) and E minor (the relative minor of the subdominant) are visited in both the Sarabande and the Gigue
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  • Bach uses functional harmony; relies on perfect cadences and other 'standard' chord progessions to establish and maintain major - minor tonality
  • the harmony is largely diatonic, and based on triads in root position and first inversion
  • diminished 7ths are used with suspension over a tonic pedal in A immediately before the final chord of the first half of the Sarabande and two examples near the end of the second section of the Gigue (both involving a G sharp and an F natural
  • Appoggiaturas (leading note to the tonic) add tension in the closing bars of each sections of the Gigue (for the first time at bar 41)
  • there is faster harmonic rhythm leading up to an important cadence (eg the penultimate bar of the first section of the Sarabande
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  • There is conjunct movement, including some scalic runs in faster moving passages (such as the Sarabande RH from top A to B near the end of the A section, a gesture that helps to clinch the modulation to A major
  • Disjunct movement (involving leaps) is common as well, and often involves use of broken chords (eg the beginning of the Gigue where a broken chord of D is followed by a broken chord of D7)
  • There is frequent use of sequence, e.g in the second phrase of the Gigue (bars 3-4) and bar 32 of the Sarabande
  • The systematic sequential use (and repetition) of short motifs (as in much of the Sarabande RH) FORTSPINNUNG 
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Rhythm and Metre

  • The Sarabande is in simple triple time, with slow beat
  • The characteristics emphasis on the second beat of the bar in a Sarabande is clearly noticeable only in both bars of the opening phrase (and the transposition and repetition of this phrase in the B section)
  • There are frequent passages of steady, continous quavers in the left hand, e.g bars 3-4. The right hand usually has shorter notes, with many semiquavers and demisemiquavers
  • There is some use of syncopation, notably with quavers beginning off the beat (sometimes notated as two tied semiquavers as in bar 5)
  • The gigue is in compound triple time, with three sets of three semiquavers per bar
  • There is almost continous semiquaver movement in the Gigue. This is commonly in one part at a time, with longer note values elsewhere, but occassionally two parts have semiquavers simultaneously in the B section, notably near the end, where the increased rhythmic activity provides additional impetus as the piece approaches its conclusion
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