Monday, February 29, 2016

Let's go for a walk

Praeambulum. Preamble. Perambulate.


Odd how these words are connected. Or seem to be.

The first is a title of a piece of music. It's a fairly common title from the 18th century in Germany. Some keyboard composers liked to use it. Bach was one. I'm releasing one of his keyboard partitas tomorrow on Pianonoise and thought you might like to hear the first movement.

Walking. Preluding. Strange that there would be a connection. But it is a strange world, after all. And language picks up an awful lot of idiosyncracies.

I wonder....nah. Was Erik Satie picking up on this when he joked (probably in his "Memoirs of an Amnesiac" and if you don't know where Satie is coming from that title ought to give you a sense of it)---when he wrote somewhere that before he wrote a piece he had to prepare himself by walking all around the piece first?

Now a preamble is an introductory statement -- like the one affixed to the the opening of the American constitution. It makes sense that that would make a praeambulum the first movement. But the walking part, I don't get.

So I looked it up. Took a while. Dictionaries are so specialized on the internet now that half of them won't get you any definitions, just the declensions. Once I denclensed my fist I found that:

Preamble (pre-amble!) has the Medieval Latin meaning of "walking in front", i.e. ahead of someone else. Which is even more interesting when you discover that the word "suite," which refers to the group of pieces to which this Praeambulum belongs, also means (or meant) "a staff of attendants or followers: a retinue."

So you get your people together and we'll go for a walk. Out front.

Bach: Praeambulum from Partita in G
the rest of the parade is available in the pianonoise listening archive , right here in the "Bach" section.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I don't bite...mostly.