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Keywords

Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier

Abstract

Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier has been analyzed from almost every angle imaginable, yet it has not often been studied from the position of discovering what forces influenced Bach while he was writing it. For example, Bach was a keyboard teacher for most of his professional years, and this influenced many of the styles and genres in which he chose to write his preludes and fugues. This also influenced his desire to gather the preludes and fugues into a unified collection. Additionally, Bach was a devout Lutheran who never discarded his religion when he sat down at the keyboard to compose. No matter if the piece was sacred or secular, with text or without, Bach believed that all music should glorify God. His music in the Well-Tempered Clavier shows this devotion through musical symbols that signify aspects of the Christian life such as the cross. Lastly, the Doctrine of Affections influenced Bach’s thinking that certain keys should have a specific affect on the listener. While Bach did not always follow the prevailing Doctrine of Affections philosophies of the day, he did purposefully create specific contrasting moods for each key. This paper seeks to prove through historical documentary research that Bach’s composition of the Well-Tempered Clavier was influenced by his role as a teacher, by his religious background, and by the Doctrine of Affections.

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