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  • rbedwell3

Hidden complexity in Prelude BWV 999

The prelude in D minor is a favourite of guitar students as it is relatively easy to play for students, but in its 43 bars lies a hidden world.

The prelude contains music comprised of 8 scales: Major, Harmonic minor, Neapolitan minor, Locrian natural 7, Harmonic minor b5, Melodic, Harmonic Major and Hungarian minor.

The first page is pretty quiet, just a change from D Harmonic minor forward to A Harmonic minor, but from bar 20 Bach introduces an interesting set of modulations: Bar 20 - 26: A Neapolitan minor - A Locrian natural 7 - A Harmonic b5 - A Harmonic minor - A Melodic - E Harmonic Major - A Melodic - A Harmonic minor. Apart from the change to E Harmonic Major, all of the modulations are centred around the root of A.

He then repeats the change with a slight variation in bars 28 - 29: A Harmonic minor- A Melodic - E Harmonic Major - A Hungarian minor - A Harmonic minor.

The final sequence of modulations take the music back to the key of D minor before finally resolving to A Major via the A Harmonic Major scale: bars 34 - 43: A Harmonic minor - A Harmonic Major - D Melodic - D Harmonic minor - D Hungarian minor - A Harmonic Major.

Quite a lot going on in this little piece I'm sure you'll agree.


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