Fugue in G Major, "Jig," BWV 577
by Johann Sebastian Bach [playing time 3:13]  [Download the MP3]

J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
The greatest of them all
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"Who's your favorite composer?" is as tired a question as "Whomever I'm listening to at the moment" is an answer. If pressed, however, and with apologies to Ludwig, Wolfgang, Pyotr, and all the other greats, I would give the nod to Bach. His supreme blending of beauty, logic, and inventiveness has never been surpassed, and much of my avocational music-making is devoted to listening, learning, and making synthesized realizations of his music.

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A number of commentators consider this work not to be by Bach, and if it is, it's probably quite a youthful effort. My non-scholarly opinion is that if this is indeed by Bach, it is unusually easy to play. The first time I ever sat down with it, I could almost sight-read it, albeit well under tempo. That's not something one can ordinarily do with Bach (or at least, I certainly can't). The figurations are very simple and predictable, and in some intangible way, it just doesn't "feel" quite like Bach in the fingers.

Authorship questions aside, this is a delightful piece. It has been widely recorded, so I've scored it here in a somewhat experimental manner. I have used a very prominent delay, timed to the beat, to add a shimmery echo that I think creates a nice effect. I've also panned the voices widely and used diverse patches to separate the lines. Listening to the final product, I'm not sure it worked better than a standard performance, but it's at least a different way to hear a familiar work.

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