Saturday, 10 October 2015

Aria: Can Music Save My Mortal Soul?

When I am not behaving like a character from a Tom Wait's song, I'll run towards the past in vague hope of finding succour for my battered heart. The alternative is shaping my life as a bitter anecdote, which is funny for about as long as it takes to listen to the Aria  from the Goldberg Variations.

Funnily enough, my anecdotes usually go through thirty versions until returning to their original form (only now imbued with the soul-crushing misery of a mind that has been trying to use words to disguise a clear repeated motif of melancholic despair). And that is just like the Goldbergs. I am the J.S. Bach of romantic failure.

I associate Bach with the baroque - a twiddly, over-ornate and under-emotional era of music, in my dumb prĂ©cis of the eighteenth century  - but The Goldberg Variations are more sly and tentative. The theme - an aria,  but without singing, just a solo keyboard - echoes the melancholy of the great miserabilists (Dowland, Children of God era SWANS), with the distinctive trills hesitant, and the melody picked up over a steady bass. 

In former Olympic weight-lifter Kimiko Douglass-Ishizaka's interpretation (the one that is free on-line), it is as if the melody is being pushed reluctantly onwards by the almost aggressive bass.

Apparently, it is all about the bass: it's based on the sarabande, a dance that was banned in Spain and was popularised by dancing ladies with castanets. Check out this filth...

1 comment :

  1. Glad you're enjoying the Goldberg Variations (or at least they're making you pleasantly miserable...) here's the link for your readership who may be interested in downloading them.