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Analysis of Bach Allemande

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Analysis of “Allemande” from J.S. Bach’s English Suite No. 3 in G minor.

I have analysed Bach’s allemande from the English suite no. 3 using the Schenkerian method, by reducing the score down to its basic foundations, in order to show how the work can be understood on the foreground, middle ground and background levels. In order to this, I have taken away unnecessary notes, such as the neighbour and passing notes, to leave the score as a basic four part chorale-like piece with two chords to a bar, following the harmonies.

I began the reduction by taking the G minor arpeggio in bar 1 and taking away the Bb, and top G in the bass to leave the bass part with a G and a D, a fifth apart. I took the top note in the first half of bar 1, in this case a high G in the treble part, and the Bb in the top stave. This gave me my basis to start the rest of the reduction. I then worked out the chords in each bar, in wrote them out in roman numeral form, according to what key the each chord was in. For example, with a chord consisting of the notes G, Bb, and D, I wrote chord I in Gm and so on. I found that the key modulated several times during the piece, but the main area which the piece modulated to was D major at the halfway point, in this case D major being chord V. I wrote the roman numeral chords so that I would be able to work out which notes were not part of each chord, and therefore which notes were not necessary to the chorale reduction of the piece. After figuring the chords, I then attempted to remove each note that did not belong to the chord that it was with. For example, in bar 1, the first half of the bar is centered around the chord of G minor, however, Bach has placed an F# in the second beat. This F# acts as a neighbour note between the two G’s, but is not part of the G minor chord and therefore must be eliminated from the score if a chorale-like chordal structure is to be put in place.

I then proceeded to work across the whole score, taking away notes which were either dissonant to the chord, neighbour notes, and passing notes, in order to leave the piece as a set a chords, of which there were generally two to a bar, in a chorale-like fashion. The reason for this method of analysis was to reduce the piece down to its basic foundations of harmony and structure, and to show how the harmonies of the piece are based mostly around chords I and V. This method therefore shows how the piece exists on three different levels, which is indeed what Schenker was trying to show in this method of analysis. Leaving the piece as it is, the score appears to be counterpoint, that is, the piece contains two or more lines, or voices, which are independent in harmony, contour, and rhythm. By reducing the score down to its basic chords however, one can clearly see the basic harmonies and modulations written in the piece, without the complexity of the moving lines and dissonances.

Reducing the score even further can show the work on its final level, that is its form. By working out the main tonal areas which the piece modulations to, we can clearly see the form which the piece takes, i.e. Sonata form, ternary form etc. By reducing the score as thoroughly as possible, I have determined that the piece is in rounded binary form.

The telltale sign for rounded binary

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