Currently working on a new piece for Clarinet and Bassoon duet entitled …ist gang verderbt (is completely corrupted) for friends Zachary Good and Benjamin Roidl-Ward. The score and recording will be posted once they are finished, see below for program notes and more specifics that may be of interest, enjoy!
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, J.S. Bach
Passus “having suffered” is a word describing the musical affect that J.S. Bach undertakes in his chorale prelude for organ solo “Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt” (through Adam’s fall is all corrupt), which was a popular hymn (written by Lazarus Spengler) set by Bach and many of his contemporaries to music for congregational singing. Though the text describes salvation, Bach’s work is highly chromatic with meandering and serpentine figures above a bass line that descends by the dissonant interval of a 7th over and over again. In this duet for clarinet and bassoon, Bach’s sound-world is alluded to and makes up most of the palette throughout a set of 12 chorale variations. These variations elide into my own harmonization of this famous chorale by way of a tremulant, a device on a pipe organ that varies the wind supply to the pipes creating a trembling and variable sound. In essence, my re-imagining of this chorale retains much of the affect of the original, yet I’m not aiming for an overtly despondent tone. The Fibonacci sequence of numbers: (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21) dictate many of the proportions of this duet as well as interrupting some of the larger scale events taking place. Just as the spirals inside of a seashell correspond to the proportions of Fibonacci numbers, I have in this duet created a natural shell that has broken, fractured and collapsed on itself. Perhaps one could imagine a beach covered in such rubble and wreckage following Spengler’s last stanza. “For my feet your holy word is a blazing lantern, a light that shows me the way forward; as this morning star rises…”