Bach Inverted is a composition etude in which the Well Tempered Preludes and Fugues of J.S.Bach – the Forty-Eight – have been re-imagined in their opposite mode.
Bach’s concept was to write a prelude and fugue in every major and minor key – Volume 1 – then repeat it with Volume 2.
Twelve major keys – twelve minor keys – a prelude and fugue for each makes twenty-four keys. Multiply by two gives 48.
Then, as there is a prelude AND a fugue for each, this makes ninety-six (96) separate musical works.
Bach Inverted takes each of the 96 works and re-arranges them in their opposite mode. That which was major is now minor, and vice versa. Strict rules were enforced, notably that all note names be respected while permitting alterations (more # or more b). No notes were omitted nor added.
WHY DO IT??
It was a personal goal to come to terms with Bach’s rich harmony and technically bewildering counterpoint. The conversion of major to minor, and minor to major brought up many interesting challenges. The works ought to be viewed in the same way we view variation technique.
The results are generally satisfying, although there are a couple that don’t really succeed. Major to Minor generally works better than Minor to Major. This is largely due to the expanded benefits of the minor scale offering 9 notes as opposed to Major’s 7, while Minor to Major obviously loses those possibilities.
The Preludes are generally easier, while the fugues, being highly structured and tending towards an advanced exploitation of modulating diatonicism, are sometimes complex and difficult.
The resultant harmonic language could often be disguised as authentically Baroque whereas occasionally there are 20th/21st Century resonances. Some of the solutions could be considered contentious, thus inviting alternative versions from anyone so moved.
The ninety-six part cycle was completed in 2016.
The complete scores (keyboard style) can be found on the Australian Music Centre’s website here.
Click on the link below to see the first page of Fugue Nº1, now in C minor.