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Demystifying Bach's Chaconne in D minor

Demystifying Bach's Chaconne in D minor

The Chaconne in D minor from the Violin Sonata no.2 for solo violin has reached almost mythical proportions in the last century. This is partly to do with a resurgence of interest in the music for solo instruments by J. S. and partly by the transposition of the piece for guitar in the middle of the last century by Andres Segovia.

Amazingly though, the actual composition has been studied hardly at all. A few 'academic' papers have appeared in recent years, such as the one by Eva Beneke, but none have done anything more really than just scratch the surface. I hope to remedy that here.

This brief discussion is actually a synopsis of Appendix VII in my book, The Modal Method of Music, which I am releasing in both ebook and paperback formats shortly.

So here goes. Bach uses 15 scales in the Chaconne, some of which will be familiar to you, and some which will be completely unheard of, despite the fact that composers used them all the time.

The list is as follows: Major, Melodic minor, Neapolitan minor, Harmonic minor, Locrian natural 7, Neapolitan Major, Harmonic Major, Harmonic minor b5, Persian, Harmonic Major b5, Hungarian minor, Melodic b5, Ionian b5, Persian natural 6 and Harmonic Major #4.

Each scale has a particular way of modulating and the degree of the scale that is used is very precise. To be continued...

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