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Criteria for Heavy/Light Beats in Bach by Misha Amory

The following post is by Misha Amory.

1.  Which beat in the bar is it – hierarchy of downbeat as strongest, and the third beat is stronger than the second and fourth.

Example: Suite No. 5, Prelude:

prelude_5th

2.  Where is the beat in the contour of the melodic line?  At a gentle or an intense point?

Example: Suite No. 2, Prelude:

prelude_2

3.  What is the bassline doing?  Is it the dominant force in the relative importance of beats?

Example: Suite No. 4, Bourree II:

bourre_2_4

4.  Is there a dissonance or a resolution on the beat?

Example: Suite No. 3, Sarabande:

sarabande_3

5.  Harmonic Rhythm.  Is there a harmonic change on the beat?

Example: Suite No. 6, Allemande:

allemande_6

6.  Is there a new bass note on the beat?

Example: Suite No. 3, Courante:

courante_3

7.  Where does the beat fall in the larger phrase?  In the middle of an arch or rounding off the end?

Example: Suite No. 6, Gigue:

gigue_6

8.  Is there an unexpected harmonic change suggesting a new color?

Example: Suite No. 6, Allemande:

allemande6_2

9.  Is there a sudden register change?  (Role-playing or dialogue?):

Example: Suite No. 4, Bourree I:

bouree


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