Musical Conversations

Welcome! 🙂 I hope the daily music posts here on the blog are giving you a boost, in these strange and unsettling times. If you’re new to the series and would like to check out earlier posts, you’ll find the first one here.

Today’s post is one more feature by Baroque composer J. S. Bach. (Tomorrow we’ll change it up a bit.) The two short pieces in today’s recordings are examples of Bach’s Sinfonias, or “Three-Part Inventions.”

Bach’s inventions use a similar idea as his fugues, but rendered a little more simply. Fugue, as we’ve seen in earlier posts here, is an intricate musical form that involves a lot of rules, but the basic idea is that you have a short musical phrase that gets traded back and forth between different “voices” (actual singers, different instruments, or different registers on the same instrument – for instance the piano). In fugue, there are various rules about which voice can have the main musical phrase at what point in the piece, and what the other voices should be doing while that’s happening.

Inventions also use the idea of trading a musical phrase back and forth, but there aren’t as many rules about “what happens when.” The Three-Part Inventions, also called Sinfonias, use the top, middle, and bottom registers of the piano as the voices. These voices carry on a musical conversation using the main melody of each piece.

Today’s two pieces have similar but subtly different characters. As you listen, if you’d like, see which one resonates more for you, and think about why one or the other “speaks” to you more. As always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts and responses to the music in the comments. Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a daily dose of music, and visit back soon!


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