Believed to have been dictated by J.S. Bach to one of his students at the Leipzig Thomas-Schule, the Precepts and Principles for Playing the Thorough Bass or Accompanying in Four Parts is the most important teaching document of Bach's to have survived, providing insights into his teaching of harmony and fugue, and perhaps on his compositional process as well. Heinrich Schenker made use of Precepts (which he called Bach's Generalbassibuchlein) in the formulation of his analytical system.
Here is a translation, commentary, transcription of the music examples into modern notation, and complete facsimile of this treatise. The 48-leaved manuscript, in which the hand of Bach's pupil Carl August Thieme (1721-95) has been identified, consists of thorough basses, studies in fugue writing, as well as figured basses and cadence patterns suitable for keyboard practice.
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Pamela L. Poulin, Professor; Member of Music Theory Faculty, Peabody Conservatory of Music.Review:
`This edition offers the complete facsimile as well as an indispensable translation and commentary by Pamela Poulin'
Classical Music June\July 1995
`it is a document of considerable interest and the editor gives us all the information we need to read it in an informed way...the novice continuo player will find a good selection of progressive exercises, with helpful comments on how Bach might have intended to be approached.'
The Musical Times
`The introduction and annotations throughout the text are thorough in the extreme.'
John Butt, Music and Letters, Vol. 77, No. 2, May '96
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