The Widdershins

Lazy Weekend Music ~ Bach edition

Posted on: May 30, 2020

J.S. Bach with top of head and wig cropped

Good weekend Widdershins (music appreciation 101)

(You will notice dear Widdershins I’m not even mentioning any of the current events because…well, I’m not.)

In keeping with my and DYB’s somewhat running theme of the Widdershins version of The Lives of the Great Composers, I thought this weekend we could look at some music by Johann Sebastian; prolific composer of many forms of music, both secular and sacred.  He also appears to have been prolific in the marital bed, fathering twenty children!  Oy!

In his instrumental works, not sure about vocal stuff, Bach wrote many pieces in a style known as contrapuntal music, defined as:

having two or more independent but harmonically related melodic parts sounding together

It has also been referred to as counterpoint, from a Latin phrase literally meaning “note against note”.

Fun fact about Bach

He once got into an argument and fight with a bassoonist saying his playing sounded like a nanny goat.


As choir director in Arnsadt, the 20-year old Bach got into fisticuffs with a student named Johann Geyersbach.

The brawl originated thusly: walking softly and carrying a big stick, Geyersbach approached Bach as he crossed the marketplace with his cousin. Geyersbach accused Bach of having insulted his bassoon skill, 18th century lexicon for “Come at Me Bro.” Bach denied having insulted him. Geyersbach retorted, “Whoever insults my bassoon, insults me.”

He then called Bach a “dirty dog” and Bach drew his sword. The two began wrestling until other students tore them apart.

The nanny goat case was taken to court. The court found Bach guilty of having called Geyersbach “Zippelfagottist,” a nanny goat bassoonist. They told him that a man must learn to accept the less talented.

So on to the music.

* * *

* * *

* * *

And for those of us who have a long memory, a piece also known as the music for a conservative tv talk show called “Firing Line”.

* * * *

Class dismissed and take the discussion wherever you wish.  Infamous “open thread”.



36 Responses to "Lazy Weekend Music ~ Bach edition"

Interesting, and funny!, notes. “Martial bed”? I hope not! :LOL:

Oops, typo. I had about half of this written and was trying to do some “things” and lost a good part of the post. Tried to go to last saved version and it just got more and more screwed up. So had to end up rewriting what I had already done. I’ll fix that in just a minute.

Great post Fredster. I adore Bach. Here is one of the vocal pieces i’ve performed:

@2, I know. No big deal at all. I found it funny because I gather, at least in Bach’s case, that’s all it is. If it had any reality, it would be the opposite of funny.

This is an old joke piece called New Horizons in music appreciation taking a performance of Beethoven’s 5th symphony and “announcing” it as if it was a sporting event.

On a non-Bach topic, I’m seeing lots of parallels drawn to the riots in 1968.

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe it’s just seeing it through the lens of age rather than youth, but this feels completely different to me.

That unrest was about knowing another world is possible, about having hope for it, about wanting it now.

This feels like nothing in my life. It’s more like flashbacks, if you can call them that, to Sophie Scholl. (Young German student who died at Auschwitz(?) for distributing pamphlets.) It’s a fight against something huge, that holds all the power. People are throwing themselves against it because you have to, it’s the death of everything. But they’re not doing it from hopefulness.

Am I making any sense? Anybody else remember it that way?

@6: Not sure about 1968 but I’m seeing/hearing people say they are concerned that anarchists are the ones causing the rioting and looting that’s happening at night.

I saw some of the protests and/or marches earlier that were extremely peaceful; no burning of bldgs.

For mb, here’s a vocal piece by PDQ Bach.

If anyone is curious, here’s a brief bio of PDQ Bach.

@7 then there’s all the stuff on the loony boogaloo message boards saying they’re going to go in and “help” push the revolution along.

Two things are for sure: there are thousands of hugely upset people, and there are hundreds of tin soldiers who would love to use that to get into a fight.

Time to go back to Bach.

@10: hundreds of tin soldiers who would love to use that to get into a fight


Excellent post, Fredster. I don’t remember ever playing any Bach, but I certainly enjoy listening to his music.

Here’s an odd tidbit that I heard from a musician, the chromatic bass line that the rock group Spirit is suing Led Zeppelin for stealing from them is in one of Bach’s songs.

@3, that’s lovely!

@13: I didn’t have a great deal of experience playing Bach either annie except for band transcriptions of pieces. I think during my entire college period I had possibly four semesters playing in a string orchestra and alas, no Bach.

@6- i think you may be thinking of different 1968 riots than I recall. There were riots that were about social change, but the race riots after the death of King in April of 1968 are very reminiscent of the current situation and those are the most vivid to me. I was raised in Washington DC and lived in a predominantly black, relatively poor area just outside the district line in 1968. my dad worked in DC. There was tremendous anger, looting, and burning of buildings. It lasted about 4 days. The racial animosity was not good. I felt afraid.

True about the race riots, lililam. Those did have the same feel. And similar causes. Hasn’t been much progress in what feels like a million years, has there?

Nope- it really hasn’t. And in some respects, it is worse. I tried to find the old house I grew up in on the internet and the neighborhood looks even more segregated than it was then. That side of town, despite being in close proximetry to the Capitol, never appeared to gain economically.

I’d never heard that story about Bach, Fredster. Bach carried a sword?!

Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” is one of the top 5 greatest pieces of music ever composed. One of my favorite parts of it is the aria “Erbarme dich.” Here sung by the marvelous Magdalena Kožená with the Berlin Philharmonic (the Passion was staged by Peter Sellars) and her husband, Simon Rattle, conducting.

@18: Not sure if it was an actual sword or not. The other link says Bach pulled out a dagger. One of my instructors in music theory told the class that story and I never bothered to check the veracity of it until writing this post. LOL

Good grief! A note to shinners who are using Windows 10. There’s a May update that you might want to hold off on for now. It’s huge, takes a while to download and “fixes” some things you might like just as they are. I had no idea this update was so big or might have issues, but there you are.

Bernie and Trump hide in their bunkers. Biden steps out to meet people.

Shadow and GAgal, y’all okay? Haven’t seen you in awhile.

I was about 9 months old in 1968. I’ll take all of your words on how this feels.

I am heartbroken and afraid and furious today. Trying to compartmentalize and do work anyway. Being marginally successful…

@26- thanks for rubbing it in! I’m already feeling ancient.

@25- I was just wondering about Shadow as well.

@27 – lol Lililam, everyone is young on the Interwebz :-D.

@28 and nobody knows you’re a dog!

Some good news.

Apparently, dump got pissy about all the ribbing he’s been getting for hiding down in the WH bunker, so he decided to come out today and create a spectacle. He was surrounded by SS & Natl Guard of course, but he insisted on crossing the street to walk to some church (like he couldn’t have been driven). Anyway there were protestors there and the NG threw gas canisters and fired rubber bullets at the protestors to make them get out of the way. In this scene you see an Australian cameraman get punched by a cop, even though the reporter identified them as journalists.

This tweet explains the scene better:

@31 & 32: All for a photo op.

I am so not ready for this shit.

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