Talk:The Well-Tempered Clavier
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|WikiProject Classical music / Compositions|
- 1 Title
- 2 Temperament
- 3 Glenn Gould
- 4 Recordings
- 5 German translation
- 6 Removed weird sentence at the end
- 7 Individual fugues
- 8 Tuning section - inappropriate to comment on ongoing controversy
- 9 Cleanup
- 10 Noise in the Recording
- 11 Goodall quote - 'published' ?
- 12 Fixed count
- 13 Harpsichord or piano?
- 14 Nitpicking on the keys?
- 15 Content
- 16 Composition dates of WTC II
- 17 Musical Style and content
- 18 Bad recording
- 19 All 24 Major and Minor Keys
- 20 An unbalanced entry?
- 21 New Section?
- 22 Title page tuning interpretations
- 23 External links modified
The translation of the German title is clearly 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' not 'Well-Tempered Clavier', which sounds odd to me. As it is a proper name (at least, the accepted translation is usually 'The Well-Tempered Clavier') of a musical piece, I think we should change the title of the whole article to 'The Well-Tempered Clavier'. I changed it in the first paragraph but I won't move it because people tend to get upset when people move pages, so I'll wait for some discussion. If there is none, I may eventually move it for the reasons already stated. Clavecin 19:26, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
It is called:
Well-Tempered Clavier, and not The Well-Tempered Clavier
As well in german, without "The" : Wohltemperierte Klavier
20. august, 2007
- In response to the anon above, my copy of the score (Edwin Ashdown, pub., Orlando Morgan, ed.) has "Wohltemperirtes Clavier" on the front, but the introductory page is headed "Das Wohltemperirtes Clavier", and the editor writes: "The title 'Das Wohltemperirtes Clavier' was given by Bach to the first Book only". Grove V's list of Bach's keyboard works has "Wohltemperirtes Clavier, Das". So it seems clear that Bach did use the definite article. And it would have been odd of him not to. The title wasn't a standard name such as Sonata, Toccata, Suite, Partita etc. Rather, it was intended to be descriptive, in the same vein as "The Trout" or "The Ring of the Nibelung". I'd like to see the page moved. -- JackofOz (talk) 09:25, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
- I'd like to support the move. Not only the original title has a definite article, but also The New Grove dictionary actually has an article titled "Well-Tempered clavier" which discusses the term: "A term used in particular by Bach (‘Das wohltemperirte Clavier’) to signify a tuning system suitable for all 24 keys..", and I suggest we should follow their example. --Jashiin (talk) 09:44, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
Why do you use the modern German spelling in the text and then in the footnote as well? This doesn't make any sense imho. I'm going to change it in the main text, I hope there are no objections. (DA 24.09.2009, 10:56)
This page sounds authorative:
on the issue of meantone temperament, well temperament, and equal temperament. Bill 14:09, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)
- 404s these days. Sorry! 188.8.131.52 17:34, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
- archive.org still has it - see http://web.archive.org/web/20040405232702/http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/miker/tuning/tuning.html. Nick8325 17:35, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
- Interesting. With modern tuning, the different keys only sound different in pitch; the intervals are all identical. Kortoso (talk) 16:27, 13 June 2016 (UTC)
- One of the best-known and highly regarded is that performed on the piano by Glenn Gould as his eye-opening debut recording.
Gould's recording is fairly highly regarded, but not to such a degree that it deserves special mention, I think. It would be worth mentioning if it were indeed his debut, but it isn't: his first recording, as our article on him says, is of the Goldberg Variations.
Yeah, sorry about that - I was thinking of the Goldberg's but got them confused in my mind with the Well-Tempered. Gald you caught it.
Noel 23:21, 13 Aug 2003 (UTC)
I changed the title of the section "Cultural significance and influence" to "Recordings," because it did not discuss its cultural significance or influence at all (and it is a HUGE topic that deserves a book) but rather just listed a few recordings.
I removed the sentence listing a few artists who have made notable recordings, as the list seemed a grab-bag: some of the artists mentioned are indeed notable and their recordings are generally regarded as such, but some of those listed were not well-known, and many other recordings that were not listed are widely considered notable (e.g., the recording by Masaaki Suzuki). Instead of getting into fruitless and largely subjective debates about which recordings are better or worse or more highly regarded, I believe it would be better for Wikipedia to give just facts - who made the first complete recording, the first harpsichord recording, the first clavichord recording, the first multiple-instrument recording, etc. etc, and who has recorded it multiple times, and also the total number to date. I put in that information. Brozhnik (talk) 03:36, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
The Well-Tempered Clavier (Das wohltemperierte Klavier in German -- "Klavier" means "keyboard", as "clavier" does in English)
This is slightly wrong. "Klavier" in German means "piano". It may have had the more general meaning of "keyboard" in the past, but I am not so sure about that. There are two words in German to mean "keyboard", namely "Tastatur" ("Taste" means "key"), and "Klaviatur", which obviously is very similar to "Klavier", yet not the same thing. not exactly because that was in original german.
I wanted to post this here before editing (I've never done that before).
- In Bach's day "Klavier" simply signified a keyboard instrument (it wouldn't have meant "piano", since the piano wasn't yet in wide use). --Camembert
From what I have read, a domestic keyboard instrument - ie not a church organ. Edited to reflect this. I also restored Bach's spelling. (I believe that it commonly had a 'C' due to the derivation from Latin 'clavis'.) I don't think the word 'clavier' actually means anything in English, it is only used when talking about Bach. --Tdent 17:24, 17 September 2005 (UTC)
- For this reason, I actually think that this article should be called "Well-Tempered Keyboard", which is what it means, not "Well-Tempered Clavier". In other contexts I always refer to it as "Well-Tempered Keyboard." "Well-Tempered Clavier" is really a kind of weird construction, with the adjective translated but the noun left in German. In Ralph Kirkpatrick's book he says quite specifically, "There is no evidence whatever to permit interpreting Bach's use of the word as indicating anything other than the general term keyboard, in other words any keyboard instrument". Jeremy J. Shapiro 01:32, 18 September 2005 (UTC)
- I would agree with this - "Keyboard" is a much better translation. Tompw 14:58, 8 November 2005 (UTC)
The trouble is that anyone searching would not be looking for 'Well Tempered Keyboard'. 'Well Tempered Clavier' might be inaccurate (though this is a matter of opinion) but it is the name by which this work is known in English speaking countries. Presumably, we are agreed that the other common English name 'The Well Tempered Piano' is an anachronism. 184.108.40.206 (talk) 13:57, 10 December 2007 (UTC)
"Clavier" definitely includes organ: Bach's "Clavier-Ubung" book 3, 1739!
- Yes. Kirkpatrick's book on the WTK says this as well, and that the WTK could as well be played on the organ. Jeremy J. Shapiro 22:42, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
- Definately - I have done so. Tompw 14:58, 8 November 2005 (UTC)
I moved the discussion about the meaning of Clavier to a footnote and also corrected the spelling of woh(l)temperiert to wohltemperirt, which is what appears on the facsimile of the front page. On keyboard vs. clavier, this seems to have been corrected, clearly clavier is the more common term, and is defined by Merriam-Webster as "an early keyboard instrument". ~ trialsanderrors 08:22, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
Removed weird sentence at the end
I've removed an awkward and alarming sentence at the very end of the article below the external links which said that there were "24 pieces in each book, 12 each major key preludes and minor key fugues". You could think of it that there were 24 pieces in each book: 24 "prelude and fugue"s, but I think that's just confusing, and that's not what the sentence seemed to convey anyway.
I wonder if each individual fugue is worthy of its own article? I really really like the F major fugue and I want to know more about it. Jaberwocky6669 June 28, 2005 04:58 (UTC)
- Absolutely. Each individual piece is certainly worthy of its own article. For example, many fugues were inspired by subjects borrowed from other composers (such as E major, book 2, from JCF Fischer), which invites comparison to the differences in treatment. None of the external links provided seem to touch upon this. --bleh fu talk fu June 28, 2005 14:31 (UTC)
Tuning section - inappropriate to comment on ongoing controversy
Recent anonymous changes go (IMO) too far in the direction of drawing attention to, or repeating the content of, Lehman's website. This is not the job of an encyclopedia. It is also (IMO) not appropriate for Wiki to provide a running commentary on the state of an ongoing academic debate, or to provide a forum for anonymous contributions to that debate (e.g. "those whose epistemology requires a more positivistic treatment of the source material"). If someone wants to know what is on Lehman's website, no doubt including the latest news on recordings and scholarly opinions, they would be best served by following the external link to it.
--Tdent 16:35, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
- This makes sense to me and I took out the paragraph giving commentary and expansion of Lehman's idea. Jeremy J. Shapiro 17:02, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
- Thanks. I made a few changes to the same section with the intention of covering more aspects of the question (eg transposition of some pieces, pitch standard) without greatly lenghtening it. --Tdent 18:28, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
- Seems to me like you've done excellent work -- plus this was fascinating to me personally. Jeremy J. Shapiro 18:35, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
The section on tuning is in desperate need of formatting from someone who knows the topic. The wikisyntax leaves something to be desired, and the writing needs to be converted into more coherent, paragraph-based explanation. —thames 17:17, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
- Since I wrote it I would like to know what is wrong with its current format and 'wikisyntax', and how making it 'paragraph-based' would improve it relative to the present form. Is there a guide to good/mediocre/bad syntax? Whoops - sig missing - here: --Tdent 17:09, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
in addition...I'm a professional tuner, 30+ yrs..i'm also a musician..for much longer. i believe if, as many state, the little loops at top of title page signify a tuning procedure..notice there are 5 loops w/ two little loops. those 5 are your sharps/accidentals. So...start your well-tempered tuning in/on F, then go to its 5th, C, then G, then D, give them each one beat per sec lower than pure 5th. That is, sounding the F and C together, tune the C one beat lower than a pure 5th. Go on to the C/G interval and do the same, lower the G one beat below the pure 5th. Like wise, on G/D...then D/A, A/E, E/B, tune them pure, no beats, then B/F#, F#/C#, C#/G#, G#/D#, D#/A#, give them each 2 beats per sec, lower than pure... And there you have it..No charge for my work/input. This time. Disclaimer: i'm just reading from the paper/title page, i've no idea if this would work or how it might sound. good luck!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.127.116.11 (talk) 23:17, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
Noise in the Recording
The audio file for the a minor Prelude and Fugue has lots of weird noises in it. Is it just me? weixifan 12:18, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
Goodall quote - 'published' ?
The Howard Goodall quotation referring to the 'publication' in 1722 is simply incorrect, if not wilfully ignorant, and contradicts the rest of the article which says the first publication was in 1801. This point is quite important since it shows that Bach's keyboard music was mostly not published but rather circulated in manuscript among his pupils and general musical circle. --Tdent 11:50, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Under "Composition History," changed mention of "24 pairs" to "12 pairs" of preludes & fugues in each book; apparently this was a typo or faulty math. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 04:59, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Oops -- it was my math that was wrong, sorry! 12 keys (c..b) x 2 (major/minor) = 24 pieces, each one containing a prelude and fugue. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 05:05, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Harpsichord or piano?
Did Bach conceive the work for harpsichor or piano? Is there any evidence about Bach playing his work on one or both of the instruments during his own time?
- Harpsichord, or 'any' keyboard, which would have also included stuff like the spinet and clavichord, and I believe even potentially an organ would have been perfectly normal (though I may be misremembering). Bach didn't even really get know the piano until very late in his life, and from all I remember, he never specifically wrote for it. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 02:36, 29 February 2008 (UTC)
- That's all lovely, why don't you put this info *in the article*?!? Given that it's the precise info I came to the article to find out! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk) 04:44, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Nitpicking on the keys?
Regarding the text "Each book contains twenty-four pairs of preludes and fugues. The first pair is in C major, the second in C minor, the third in C-sharp major, the fourth in C-sharp minor, and so on. The rising chromatic pattern continues until every key has been represented, finishing with a B-minor fugue."
Am I missing something, or is there virtually no discussion of the actual content of the WTC? Lots of discussion of the significance of the tunining, but there is not even a list (in this article) of the pieces, let alone any discussion of them, let alone excerpts from the score, analysis, commentary, etc. Compare this to Preludes (Chopin). Is there a reason for this other than "no one has gotten around to it yet?" I'm curious...Stevage 14:15, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
- This is because the main interest in the work is theoretical, rather than musical: the main scholarly interest in them is due to its uniqueness within the tuning spectrum of the time. Personally, I don't find Bach's fugues to be all that musically satisfying (compared to the earlier Italian tocatta and canzona), but that is my personal opinion.
- Then again, everyone assumes (infering from the name) that Bach devised all of the pieces in the books to be playable together with a single, magical tuning system; when that might noe be the case, and Bach may have either titled it to spark curiosity (and sales) or as a reference to the internal structure of the individual prelude/fugue pairs; with retuning generally being necessary (or recommended) between keys as was normally understood. Jmclark (talk) 18:50, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
- Ha ha, the main interest is "theoretical rather than musical"???? JmClark, you are entitled to your personal opinion, but it is definitely a very idiosyncratic opinion! Composers and musicians over the years have found the music intensely interesting... for their whole lives - Chopin and Schumann playing it almost daily is merely two examples. The article itself as of this writing points out that the WTC is "generally regarded as being among the most influential works in the history of Western classical music." Living keyboard players around the world play these pieces with enthusiasm and joy throughout their lives. Dead non-keyboard musicians such as Pablo Casals did too. Most classical music lovers have at least one recording in their collections. Some of us have ten or twenty. Arcane issues about tuning, about swirls on the cover page, or some other supposed "theoretical" concerns are... well, theoretical concerns.David Couch (talk) 07:45, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
- I think this is partly because fugues are more difficult to describe, particularly Bach's fugues, which can be very complex indeed. I made a little draft describing the first 10 prelude and fugue pairs from WTC I; anyone interested can see it here. If this is the sort of thing people would like to see in this article, I'd be happy to work on it further... only it would be really nice to find some collaborators. The process of writing these descriptions is relatively simple: just use Bruhn's book here, it includes splendid charts of each fugue, easy to convert into prose. There's also a nice table here, just for basic fact-checking, only I wouldn't recommend using descriptions from the videos linked there (they're really prone to going over the top when it comes to symbolism). --Jashiin (talk) 14:06, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Composition dates of WTC II
In the first paragraph it states "Bach later compiled a second book of the same kind, dated 1742" but in the next paragraph it says "the second book followed it 22 years later in 1744". Which is correct? If both are, the 2-year difference should be explained.
Musical Style and content
Why has someone removed the following parenthetical from the reference to the Prelude No.1 as used by Gounod? Either leave it in, or remove the reference to the use in the Ave Maria entirely. Facts are facts. added: (as modified by the addition of one measure (m.23) found only in the Schwenke manuscript and the Simrock printed edition based upon it, but not in other manuscripts or the scholarly Bischoff and G. Henle Verlag Urtext printed editions[footnote]) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Emdelrio (talk • contribs) 18:56, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
- Because it's not really necessary info for THIS page. On the Ave Maria (Bach/Gounod) page, it'd be perfectly fine. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 20:03, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
- Yeah, it's not the best, especially from the point of view of recording quality. However, it's the only one we have at the moment. If you find a better free content recording of both the prelude and fugue on harpsichord, feel free to upload them. Graham87 09:49, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
All 24 Major and Minor Keys
I always tell my music theory pupils that there are 30 major and minor keys. This is because there are 15 possible key signatures, each representing a major key or its relative minor key. Key signatures from 1 to 7 flats give 7 major keys. Key signatures from 1 to 7 sharps give another 7 major keys. C major, of course, has no sharps or flats, giving the 15th major key. (7 + 7 + 1 = 15.)
When I see discussions of the WTC and they mention "all 24 major and minor keys", I ask myself which 24 of the possible 30 did JSB use? Research soon answers that question.
What I believe is wrong in this Wikipedia article, therefore, is the use of the word "all". It implies that there are only 24 major and minor keys. This is patently not true and confuses my pupils no end!
- Hmm, interesting. And yet, the same "all 24" terminology is used, both in Wikipedia and wherever you care to look, about Chopin's 24 Preludes, Hummel's Op. 67, Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues, Rachmaninoff's 24 Preludes, and similar works. It's easy to see how the number 24 is derived: there are 12 tones of the chromatic scale, for each of which there's a corresponding major and minor key. That's 24. But that leaves out enharmonics, and so there are more keys than double the number of tones. Why has the entire musical world been so sloppy for centuries? Maybe because there are so few works ever written in A sharp, or D sharp, or A flat minor. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 20:28, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
I've been doing some research into the more accessible sets of 24 pieces in all the keys, and I've made some interesting discoveries.
Of the 13 sets (I count the Bach 48 as one set for this purpose) whose precise sets of keys I've been able to identify:
- all of them include C major and minor, C-sharp minor, D major and minor, E-flat major, E major and minor, F major and minor, F-sharp minor, G major and minor, A-flat major, A major and minor, B-flat major, and B minor. That's 18.
- plus, they all choose either:
- C-sharp major or D-flat major (2 : 11)
- D-sharp minor or E-flat minor (0 : 13)
- F-sharp major or G-flat major (8 : 5)
- G-sharp minor or A-flat minor (11 : 2)
- A-sharp minor or B-flat minor (0 : 13)
- B major or C-flat major (13 : 0)
Those extra 6 choices make up the 24 keys.
Had they written pieces in both C-sharp major and D-flat major, etc etc, they would have needed to write 30 pieces, not 24. But C-sharp major is D-flat major to the ear, if not to the eye. A person with perfect pitch who was asked to listen to a piece he had never heard before, written in C-sharp major, would no doubt reply that it was set in D-flat major. Or, B major would always be chosen over the exotic C-flat major. And he would be correct, because there is no difference in the notes the musician plays, or the sounds the listener hears. There is only a technical difference in the symbols used on the printed page.
Hence, for all practical purposes, there are only 24 different keys. There are 30 different key signatures, but only 24 different keys. (but see PS 1)
Why E-flat minor (6 flats) should completely dominate D-sharp minor (6 sharps) is a bit of a mystery. B-flat minor (5 flats) vs. A-sharp minor (7 sharps) is a little easier to understand, as is B major (5 sharps) vs. C-flat major (7 flats).
Incidentally, I have not been able to track down a single piece of music ever written in A-sharp minor (have you?), but there are a few in C-flat major, A-flat minor and C-sharp major, all equally with 7 accidentals in their key signatures.
For reference, the 13 sets of pieces I researched are:
- Alkan, 25 Preludes, Op. 31 (starts and ends with C major)
- Alkan, 24 Preludes in all major and minor keys, Opp. 35 and 39
- Arensky, 24 Morceaux caracteristiques, Op. 36
- Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier
- Blumenfeld, 24 Preludes, Op. 17
- Chopin, 24 Preludes, Op. 28
- Heller, 24 Preludes, Op. 81
- Hummel, 24 Preludes, Op. 67
- Rachmaninoff, 24 Preludes, Opp. 3/2, 23 and 32
- Scriabin, 24 Preludes, Op. 11
- Shostakovich, 24 Preludes, Op. 34
- Shostakovich, 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87
- Winding, Preludes in all the keys, Op. 26.
- PS 1: None of which should be taken to suggest that it would be OK to refer to Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, say, as a Concerto in D-sharp major. But it's interesting to note that the premiere of the Eroica Symphony was announced as a "Symphony in D-sharp major", not a "Symphony in E-flat major". -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 13:16, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
- To go even further with the "they are the same, just differently written on paper" factor, there are in fact plenty of cases where an piece with multiple instruments will have a certain key, yet an instrument may be written in its enharmonic equivilent. In a piece in B major a harp part would almost certainly be written in Cb major because of the way a harp works. In Dukas's La Peri, the bass clarinet part is written in Gb major rather than F# major, even though the concert key is E major (or possibly minor equivalents of all of those). ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 14:11, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
The number 24 is not in dispute, merely the use of the word "all". Instead of "all 24 major and minor keys" I thought of using the phrase "the 24 enharmonically unique major and minor keys", but then the cryptic term "enharmonically unique" would require an explanation. I also thought of "the 24 major and minor keys based on the 12 notes of the chromatic scale". This at least gets away from any implication of key signature.
The Wikipedia article on "chromatic scale" quotes an example of the melodic chromatic scale as C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G, Ab, A, Bb, B. (Forgive the use of "b" for flat.) These are exactly the major keys that JSB uses in the WTC. The article also says that there is no standard format for the melodic chromatic scale, so this may just be coincidence. Also, it does not explain the use of Bb minor rather than A# minor. If JSB had used A# minor, there would have been matching pairs of major and relative minor key signatures based on the melodic chromatic scale and only the enharmonic duplicates of Db major/Bb minor, Gb major/Eb minor and Cb major/Ab minor would have been omitted.
- I have taken my above research, added considerably to it, and transformed it into a new article: Music written in all 24 major and minor keys. It discusses the question of 24 vs 30 vs 42 keys at some length. -- ♬ Jack of Oz ♬ [your turn] 07:46, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
Johann Christian Heinrich Rinck wrote a set of 30 preludes in all major and minor keys in his Practical Organ School (), containing all the seven-accidental keys (even A♯ minor!). Double sharp (talk) 06:18, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
An unbalanced entry?
There seems to be WAY to much about academic conjectures on tuning and too little about why "The Well-Tempered Clavier is generally regarded as one of the most influential works in the history of Western classical music." So why is it considered the "old testament" of keyboard music? A Wikipedia reader might well be stumped. I'm not equipped to deal with this, but it's an important entry and I hope somebody can remedy what I see as a major deficiency. Opus131 (talk) 06:54, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
Maybe something should be said about the legacy and influence of these works on later composers (namely Beethoven). Here are a couple articles: http://www2.nau.edu/tas3/wtc/performance.html http://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_97-01/002-3bach_beethoven.html BassHistory (talk) 04:15, 28 December 2013 (UTC) Could something be said about the use of the Well Tempered Clavier in the history of keyboard instruction? Mozart certainly learned to play without knowledge of it, and today just about all classical, and many jazz pianists use it , often as a university requirement. What happened in between? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 20:39, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Title page tuning interpretations
Um . . . sure that this isn't a hoax?! Musicologists tend to set forth boring jokes without an end (see P. D. Q. Bach or de:Otto Jägermeier). In german wikipedia this has been thrown out (see de:Diskussion:Das Wohltemperierte Klavier#Stimmanweisung. --Rarus (talk) 23:55, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
- It's difficult to imagine that a whole section of this article, some of it well sourced, should be removed because a few editors on the German Wikipedia, some without leaving a signature, were a bit concerned about some text there in 2006. Note that the text in the German article was only concerned with Sparschuh and Lehman. That said, the section here in this article could do with more citations. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 09:05, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
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