Here’s a music theory puzzle for today’s post. This one comes from J.S. Bach’s setting of Freuet euich, ihr Christen alle. The workbook assignment I gave my music theory students asked them to write a roman numeral analysis of the harmony (in F minor, not according to the key signature) and spot and label the non-chord-tones. What tripped me up was finding the parallel 5ths that Bach uses in this excerpt. It took me quite a while to find them. See you can can spot them. The answer after the break.
This was tricky, because Bach hides them aurally by using an anticipation non-chord tone. Visually it’s also disguised, since the soprano is holding out a G before the tenor moves to the C a perfect 5th below. When the tenor and soprano move to the perfect 5th interval of Bb and F Bach used parallel 5ths, usually avoided in Common Practice harmonic language. Bach used this particular method of disguising parallel 5ths with an anticipation non-chord-tone several times in his music, although he usually avoided them.
Did you spot it? Did I make any mistakes in my analysis?
Extra credit to any of my Music Theory students who read this! I’ll give you +5 points on this homework assignment if you post your comment on this page before I hand back your homework on Tuesday.