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Bach: Through Adam’s Fall

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: was that ‘hiss’ just a leaky organ pipe?

Although chorales are a cornerstone of Lutheran music, they rarely indulge in any text-specific expression. Bach’s chorale preludes, on the other hand, frequently paint miniature musical “pictures” of the chorale’s topic. In “Through Adam’s Fall All Have Sinned,” some have speculated that jaggedly dissonant downward leaps express the idea of the ‘fall’, while some ‘slithery’ chromaticism in the inner voices just might be the diabolical serpent itself. Composed while Bach was court organist at Weimar in the 1710s, the “Little Organ Book” is a set of forty-five brief settings of chorale melodies. Bach supposedly intended the collection to serve both practical and educational purposes, providing prelude and meditation music for a church service, as well as to systematically explore organ technique.

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