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Bach and Tuning

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Johnny Reinhard

Bach and Tuning is strictly concerned with the identification of a historically accurate tuning paradigm that applies to the great majority of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music. Once Bach has his personal tuning aesthetic acknowledged, a new dimension of meaning is invoked in performance through the intended interplay of diverse musical intervals. This new narrative lays bare Bach’s mental calculations regarding his idealized intonation. Bach, the true chromatic composer of the Baroque, was the scion of a great music family. Likewise, Andreas Werckmeister was the bright star in a neighboring musical family, only a generation earlier. Bach and Tuning connects the valuable tuning contribution made by Werckmeister to Bach’s musical masterpieces.

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Chapter 5: Bach Cities

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Germans in central Germany are not just in “the heart of Germany”; they might also be described as the blend of Germany’s northerners and southerners. The Saxon tribe crisscrossed northern Europe to make their final capital in Dresden. Early Thuringians were once the southern most reach of Germans in northern continental Europe. The Thuringian tribe moved south from the base of the peninsula of Jutland, which now abuts Denmark. Thuringians were among the first Germanic tribes to come under the political sphere of the Romans. Dieterich Buxtehude, in Danish speaking Lübeck, may well have represented the embodiment of Germanic ur-culture to J.S. Bach. Thuringians first converted to Christianity in the 8th century, but later developed their own Christian religious denominations, most notably Lutheranism, which spread far beyond the greater population.

Beyond the Thuringian forest, on the southern border, first settled the Celts, and later the Slavs; eventually the Bavarians joined them. The Harz mountains serve as the natural border to the north.

In a dramatic depiction of Thuringians, as compared with their northern and eastern neighbors, the Saxons, Bach biographer Karl Geiringer generalized, “there is a considerable divergence between the imaginative, full-blooded Thuringians, and the more energetic and intellectual inhabitants of Saxony” (Geiringer, The Bach Family, p. 20). Bach, Kirnberger, Walther, and Werckmeister were all Thuringians.

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