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  • rbedwell3

What is J. S. Bach's most complex piece of music in terms of modulations?

This was a question I was asked recently by a student. The answer is not what you might think it would be. Something from WTC I or II, or Art of fugue? Nope. It is Sinfonia no. 9 in F minor, BWV 795.

Sinfonia No. 9 uses 7 scales, a fairly average number for Bach. They appear in this order: Major, Harmonic minor, Melodic, Harmonic Major, Hungarian minor, Harmonic Major #4 and Neapolitan minor.

But, this is the amazing part. In the 35 bars of music, there are 156 modulations. That works out at an average of 4.4 per bar. There are plenty of bars that have 7 modulations, that is almost two per beat. Are you starting to get how complex this is now?

I think this Sinfonia, no. 9 in F minor, is actually an example or exercise for the students of Bach to study and replicate. Have a listen to it and see what you think.

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