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Portrait of Tracy v. Bach's Cello Suite Number One in G

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by whiteshadow, Feb 15, 2004.


  1. whiteshadow

    whiteshadow

    Jul 3, 2001
    Ohio
    For a paper in music appreciation I have chosen to compare the two pieces mentioned in the title. The assignment is to compare one piece written before 1950, and one after, thus the two above pieces. If you have any information correlating the above pieces, or links, or anything whatsoever, a reply or pm would so be appreciated. I figured I should represent the bass (or at least the bass clef) with this assignment. Also, if anyone has Jaco's meaning/motivation for writing this, I would appreciate that too. Thanks a lot. And I also apologize if this is in the wrong section, I couldn't totally decide, please move if necessary. Thanks a lot...
     
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Portrait of tracy single songedly broke down the doors, it showed the world the tonal possibilities of the bass guitar, as a chordal, melodic, and solo instrument. It was the question asked round the world "that's a bass?!?!??"

    In jaco's words (more or less...as I remember them) when he first heard someone tuning in harmonics it "sounded like music to me" so he just explored it from there. Tracy was his girlfriend and first wife.

    hope that helps any.
     
  3. whiteshadow

    whiteshadow

    Jul 3, 2001
    Ohio
    I may sound quite stupid, which I'm willing to risk, but what is "tuning in harmonics"?
     
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    The Bach piece had a similar effect for cellists. Prior to the Suites being written, cello was thought to be an instrument for dullards, capable only of playing the bottom line (sound familiar?). Bach wrote the Suites for an accomplished cellist at his church.
     
  5. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Are you sure about that attribution Jon ? I seem to recall writing my thesis on the cello suites and only finding anecdotal evidence at best as to who the suites were actually written for.

    One of the important things about the Bach suites is the use of linear harmony and linear counterpoint. If you analyze the G major using Schenkarian analysis you will find that counterpoint exists in at least 3 parts.

    One way to come byt this discovery is to do the bow markings or look at Casal's edit of the suites.
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Playing the harmonics above 5th and 7th frets on adjacent strings and making sure they are the same - quick way of ensuring bass is roughly in tune with itself.

    I think Jaco's additional contribution was to show that you could find harmonics all over the bass and significantly, between the fret lines.

    I had heard players before Jaco using the harmonics over the frets - but these don't offer enough notes to make up real tunes/melodies - Jaco was the first person I heard who found all the natural harmonics and even more artificial harmonics and used them in tunes.

    So of course PoT, makes a feature of using the harmonics between the 2nd and 3rd frets, etc. etc. But as Sean Malone says in his book "Portrait of Jaco" - the real revelation, is how much one person can get out of one instrument, on their own.
     
  7. funkcicle

    funkcicle

    Jan 9, 2004
    Asheville, NC
    what a great idea! please post when it's written!

    as alluded above, Portrait of Tracy really served the same role for us as the Cello Suites did in their day. Something I've never seen touched on but would love to read about is the harmony behind Portrait of Tracy(I would love to read about it because maybe I'm too lazy to do it myself).

    Basically, we all know that a good bulk of modern modal harmony is based around or at least very heavily influenced by Bach's writing- his Cello Suites being a prime example of this. Has anyone tried analysing Portrait of Tracy? Trying to support any "conventional" analysis would be a huge stretch.. who knows what kind of "conventional" harmony we'll be talking about in 40 years.

    my point(sorry if I'm not articulate enough): modal harmony breaks down into 3rds and 5ths very naturally.. cellos, violins, violas tuned in 5ths probably had a HUGE influence on this.

    The bass is tuned in 4ths... combined with it's low pitch, this always left us with a background role. In the last hundred years or so the potential of the bass has started to be realized... Koussevitsky, Mingus, LaFaro, Jaco... thusly, the harmonic architecture of the bass just starting to have it's influence on "conventional" theory..

    back to how this is relevant: the harmony in portrait of tracy is very heavily based on 4ths. You could analyze it a million ways using the Bach/Haydn method and come up with a thousand and one analysies.. or you can try to figure out what Jaco was doing.. as many people will.. and stick that into your bag of tricks.

    (I hope somebody can come along, understand this, and paraphrase/reword it much better than I did!)


    man, what an awesome can of worms.
     
  8. whiteshadow

    whiteshadow

    Jul 3, 2001
    Ohio
    You guys totally rock. Thanks a lot. I have a few weeks left till I have to turn it in. Any further help would be awesome, so if you know something, do tell. Again, thanks a lot. later days
     
  9. ole Jason

    ole Jason Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Louisville, KY
    As someone mentioned the linear counterpoint is very important in the suites. The implied polyphony Bach used is similar to Jaco's use of harmonics. Both were ways of getting chordal harmony out of an instrument otherwise thought of as predominately monophonic. It also might be cool to draw a comparison between the stage at which cellists learn the suites and when bassists learn pot. Both are 'stepping stones' to a more advanced level of playing.
     
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Then you would know more than I. I actually just got that info off of liner notes of a CD of the suites.

    Listen to Don, not to me!
     
  11. whiteshadow

    whiteshadow

    Jul 3, 2001
    Ohio
    I found a good transcription of PoT, but since my knowledge of theory is pretty shoddy, I can't make out the key of the tune. I know it's quite possible that there isn't a definite key, but if someone knows anything about that, I'd appreciate your insight, thanks a lot.
     
  12. whiteshadow

    whiteshadow

    Jul 3, 2001
    Ohio
    Another question, sorry. What exactly is linear counterpoint? Man, I need to take a theory class, or something.
     
  13. Is there anywhere that has the sheet music online for Bach's cello suites? I tried finding it, but the only one I found was from the early 90's and the links no longer worked...I just want to get a gauge of what it's like before possibly buying Bach for Electric Bass or whatever the book's called.

    Thanks for any help,

    Mark.
     
  14. whiteshadow

    whiteshadow

    Jul 3, 2001
    Ohio
    I haven't been able to find it on the internet, but my friend is a trombone major, and he has a copy of it for the trombone, and let me borrow it. i had to scan it, and i could probably e-mail it to you if you want me to, let me know.
     
  15. ole Jason

    ole Jason Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Louisville, KY
    There are a couple of cello suite editions that are now public domain. Last time I looked on mutopiaproject.org they had a couple of them. The Werner Icking (sp?) archive also had all of them at one time but I'm not sure of the URL.
     
  16. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    In regards to PoT:

    I highly advice obtaining a chart. I have one, but no scanner. The tune jumps from 4/4 to 5/4 to 3/8 to 3/4 to 11/8 to 5/8 to 6/4, (not in that order).

    While the chart I have has no key signature, judging from the harmony listed it's safe to say that the tonal center shifts quite often.

    In my opinion, these are vastly different songs, from a musical standpoint. From a sociological standpoint, as some have stated, many similarities exist. If you're going to argue the melodic and harmonic parts of PoT, be prepared to have to delve deep. While it contains a good deal of repitition and simple movement in 4ths, the variations in time alone will take some real analysis.

    And just in case, I cannot recommend enough to learn both pieces.
     
  17. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    ,«¤º°°º¤»,¸¸,«¤º°°º¤»,¸ ¸,«¤º°°º¤»,¸
    º¤»,¸ ¸,«¤º°º¤»,¸¸,«¤º°¤»,¸,«¤º°

    that's, more-or-less, linear counterpoint :D


    You see counterpoint in classical music/theory a lot, in SATB* 4-part writing. imagine that bottom line is the bass part and the top line is the Soprano part(leaving out Alto and tenor in this example), see how they are moving in opposite directions? Well, that's called counterpoint, it makes things interesting. :)

    there is a lot more to it than that, but, the general idea is when two lines are moving against eachother.

    the two other types of movement are:
    Parallel, that would be two(or more) lines moving in the same direction)
    Oblique,(one line standing still and the other moving towards or away from it)

    Linear means line-based.

    *SATB refers to 4 part voice leading harmony,
    S=Soprano(highest,treble clef)
    A=Alto(medium high, treble clef)
    T=Tenor(medium low, Bass clef)
    B=Bass(lowest, bass clef)

    This stuff is also known as figured bass
     
  18. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    How'd you do that?
     
  19. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I snagged it from Defeldus' signature
     
  20. Thanks for the offer, but I managed to find a trombone edition not long ago online. I've got the link somewhere. Thanks anyway though!

    Thanks for saying about the SATB stuff, I always forget the order so at least now I'll remember :)

    Mark.