Canon alla Decima

In July 1994, a train of fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter, both a gorgeous and spectacular sight, and an unsettling reminder that such events have happened — and will happen again someday — here on Earth. The huge impacts left a ring of black marks in the clouds of Jupiter’s southern hemisphere. Image credit: Don Davis.

In this canon “at the tenth,” the leader and follower first appear at the interval of a tenth. You’ll hear this variant of the AOF subject in the leader:

But when the follower comes in, it is not an octave above the leader as in the Canon alla Ottava, but a tenth above, which puts it into an F major tonality above the D minor of the leader.

Halfway through, however, Bach pulls a lovely fast one; the canon is repeated, but now the leader and follower are separated by an octave. Listen for this change to begin with the re-entry of the canon at 2:08, with the follower at the octave at 2:21.) Thus Bach demonstrates a canon that works at two intervals, a ratcheting up of the technique of double counterpoint to a higher level of complexity.

Comments are closed.