Bach's schematic, as it appears on the page, © Bradley Lehman, 2005-13, all rights reserved.
All musical/historical analysis here on the web site is the personal opinion of the author,
as a researcher of historical temperaments and a performer of Bach's music.

LaripS 1002 - A Joy Forever: Opus 41 at Goshen College

This is a 3-CD set, released January 4th 2006. It is a companion to LaripS 1003. Pre-release selections have been heard on BBC Radio 3, Sunday 8/28/05.

Cover art for LaripS 1002
Cover art for LaripS 1002
Graphic design: Gwen Stamm
Photo: Brian Wiebe

Order this recording through the Goshen College Music Center
(phone: (574)535-7361)
or through Bradley Lehman,

3-CD set: over 3 hours of music, plus a deluxe booklet.
$30.00 plus postage.

Samples of all tracks, and some free downloads! [Disc 1] [Disc 2] [Disc 3]

New! Free harpsichord and organ samples on iLike and Facebook; streamed programs are also available here.

The recording was made at the Taylor & Boody Opus 41 organ at the Rieth Recital Hall of the Goshen College Music Center.

This set of three themed recitals includes the complete Ariadne musica (1702/15) by JKF Fischer, a set of 20 preludes and fugues plus five ricercars, a book that directly inspired Bach's composition of the Well-Tempered Clavier. The goal here is to hear these pieces in a way that young Bach may have played through them for his own study. To my knowledge this recording is a world premiere (at least in completeness); the earlier recording (by Joseph Payne) omitted the ricercars and split the performance across three different organs. [N.B. 9/06/06: Apparently there was also a 2002 recording by Serge Schoonbroodt, not available in the USA. 2/24/07: I have now obtained and listened to a copy of this Schoonbrodt set of Fischer's complete organ music. It uses a 1714 organ in Niederehe, restored 1998. This organ is in meantone(!), which leads to rough enharmonic moments in more than a dozen of these preludes and fugues in Ariadne musica.]


DISC 1 - chorale preludes (24 tracks, 70'52")
Bach - Gelobet seist du, BWV 722 [C]
Bach - Christe aller welt Trost, BWV 673 [C/a]
Bach - Wer nur den lieben Gott, BWV 691a [a]
Bach - Wir glauben all, BWV 681 [e]

Walther - Allein Gott, LV 69 [G]
Walther - Von Gott will ich nicht lassen, LV 54 [g]
Walther - Christus der ist mein Leben, LV 74 [Eb]

Brahms - Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, Op 122 #8 [F]
Brahms - Herzlich tut mich verlangen, Op 122 #9 [a]
Brahms - Schmücke dich, Op 122 #5 [E]

Böhm - Ach wie nichtig (chorale partita with 8 variations) [a]

Bach - Aus tiefer Not, BWV 687 [f#]

Zachow - Aus tiefer Not, LV 27 [e]
Zachow - In dulci jubilo, LV 34 [G]
Zachow - O Lamm Gottes, LV 40 [F]

Bach - Jesus Christus unser Heiland, BWV 689 [f]

Sorge - Vater unser im Himmelreich [d]
Zachow - Komm heiliger Geist, LV 20 [G]
Zachow - Erbarm dich mein, LV 18 [e]

Brahms - O Gott du frommer Gott, Op 122 #7 [a]
Brahms - Herzliebster Jesu, Op 122 #2 [g]
Brahms - O Welt ich muss dich lassen, Op 122 #3 [F]

Bach - O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß, BWV 622 [Eb]

Bach - Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist, BWV 671 [g Phrygian]

DISC 2 - tuning workout chez Bach (30 tracks, 58'25")
Bach - Kleine harmonisches Labyrinth, BWV 591 [C]

Fischer - Ariadne musica (20 preludes/fugues and five ricercars) 
[C, c#, d, D, Eb, e Phrygian, e Dorian, E, f, F, f#, g, G, Ab, a, A, Bb, b, B, c]
[Ricercars: C, C, a, d, F]  
{This d minor ricercar = "Christ ist erstanden" BWV 746 attributed to Bach; see below}

Bach - Four Duetti, BWV 802-805 [e, F, G, a]

DISC 3 - free music (non-chorale based) (19 tracks, 56'07")
Bach - Pastorella, BWV 590 (Präludium, Allemande, Aria, Gigue) [F, C, c, F]

Bach - Prelude and Fugue, BWV 852 (from WTC 1) [Eb]

Erbach - Canzona 18 [G]
Froberger - Toccata [g]
Mozart - Ave verum corpus [D]
Hönig - Larghetto [Ab]

Erbach - Canzona 13 [F]
Bach - Duetto, BWV 804 (alternate take: tierce in bass(!), quint in treble) [G]
Erbach - Canzona 16 [G]

Sorge - Prelude [b]
Pachelbel - Ricercar [f#]
Geissler - Larghetto [A]

Bach - Duetto, BWV 805 (alternate take: Scharff vs Mixtur) [a]

Mendelssohn - Faith [C]

Elgar (arr. Lehman) - Nimrod [Eb]

Bradley Lehman, organ

Recorded: March 11-13, 2005
Producer: Bradley Lehman
Engineers: Matthias Stegmann, Todd Hershberger
Editing: Matthias Stegmann, Bradley Lehman

Dec 31 2004, testing the new organ at Goshen College
Single disc sampler for press kits (25 tracks, 79'43")
01 Bach - Gelobet seist du 722 [C]
02 Bach - Wir glauben all 681 [e]
03 Böhm - Ach wie nichtig (chorale partita with 8 variations) [a]
04 Bach - Jesus Christus unser Heiland 689 [f]
05 Sorge - Vater unser im Himmelreich [d]
06 Zachow - Erbarm dich mein 18 [e]
07 Brahms - Herzlich tut mich verlangen [a]
08 Brahms - Herzliebster Jesu [g]
09 Brahms - O Welt ich muss dich lassen [F]
10 Bach - O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß 622 [Eb]
11 Bach - Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist 671 [g Phrygian]
12 Fischer - Ariadne musica: prelude/fugue [E]
13 Fischer - Ariadne musica: prelude/fugue [f]
14 Fischer - Ariadne musica: prelude/fugue [B]
15 Bach - Duetto 802 [e]
16 Bach - Duetto 803 [F]
17 Bach - Duetto 804 [G]
18 Bach - Duetto 805 [a]
19 Bach - Pastorella 590 (Präludium) [F]
20 Bach - Pastorella 590 (Allemande) [C]
21 Bach - Pastorella 590 (Aria) [c]
22 Bach - Pastorella 590 (Gigue) [F]
23 Mozart - Ave verum corpus [D]
24 Sorge - Prelude [b]
25 Elgar (arr. Lehman) - Nimrod [Eb]

A Joy Forever: Opus 41 at Goshen College

This organ is the first since the 18th century to be built with what I believe to be Johann Sebastian Bach's tuning method, as notated by him in 1722 on the title page of the Well-Tempered Clavier. The article about this temperament is published in the February and May 2005 issues of Early Music (Oxford University Press), and further details are at <>. Bach's diagram is reproduced on the front cover of the present CD set, and in the companion album (LaripS 1003, "Playing from Bach's Fancy").

The layout is:

F-C-G-D-A-E 1/6 comma narrow 5ths;
E-B-F#-C# pure 5ths;
C#-G#-D#-A# 1/12 comma narrow 5ths;
A#-F a residual diminished 6th, 1/12 comma wide.

In this tuning, every major scale and minor scale sounds different from every other, due to the subtle differences of size among the tones and semitones. This allows music to project a different mood or character in each melodic and harmonic context, with a pleasing range of expressive variety as it goes along. It builds drama into musical modulations.

The result sounds almost like equal temperament in its smoothness, and it similarly allows all keys to be used without problem, but it has much more personality and color. In scales and triads it sounds plain and gentle around C major (most like regular 1/6 comma temperament), mellower and warmer in the flat keys such as A-flat major (most like equal temperament), and especially bright and exciting in the sharp keys around E major (like Pythagorean tuning, with pure 5ths). Everything is smoothly blended from these three competing systems, emerging with an emphasis on melodic suavity.

The following chart shows the relative size of each major 3rd, as they result from a series of the intervening four 5ths. The intervals having higher numbers sound spicier, more restless, with a more vigorous vibrato. In this measurement, a value of 11 would indicate a major 3rd that is one syntonic comma too sharp (a "Pythagorean major third," having been generated by four pure 5ths). A pure major 3rd would be represented here as 0. Equal temperament, as opposed to the variety shown here, has a constant size of 7 in all twelve of the major 3rds.


























In functional harmony, the Bach tuning sets up especially interesting contrasts within minor-key music. In the minor keys from one flat to three sharps, the dominant triad (V) is much stronger/brighter than the tonic, creating forward motion for relaxed resolution. In the minor keys with two or more flats, that relationship is reversed, with a dominant that is calmer than the tonic: making a gentle effect overall, yet leading into intense or troubling conclusions.

In major-key music, the triads on degrees I, IV, and V have characters similar to one another. The sizes of major 3rds change by only 1, 2, or 3 units from each key to its neighbors, moving by the circle of 5ths (through typical subdominant/tonic/dominant progressions). Any change of Affekt is therefore gradual and subtle, as if we never really leave the home key altogether but it feels a little more or less tense as we go along.

To summarize those two important observations: major-key passages tend to give a luxurious and unproblematic flow, a basically even-keeled personality. Minor-key passages tend to draw more attention to themselves with powerfully dramatic strokes, more vivid and obvious gestures.

In any music that modulates more quickly by bypassing such a normal circle-of-5ths cycle--as, for example, in Bach's Gelobet seist du, BWV 722--the contrasts are momentarily startling. Whether it is major or minor, the normal progress of tonal music is pulled out from under us when some of the usual steps are omitted from the progression. (Monteverdi, Froberger, CPE Bach, and Schubert were additional masters of this type of dramatic elision.) Elisions are immediately audible, because the major 3rds of this temperament change size suddenly from one harmony to the next. That is, the music's dramatic harmonic gestures make direct and palpable effects. Notes intrude from foreign scales, and grab attention by being slightly irregular. Notes that make an "accidental" (sharp, flat, or natural) against the key signature present themselves as colorful highlights, with intense vibrato. Melodic leaps to harmonically-surprising notes are just the slightest bit higher or lower than we expect: enough to command subconscious attention without being obtrusive.

These theoretical points are extraordinary, on paper, and yet the resulting sound seems like an ordinary and natural thing in practice! This particular temperament highlights what the music is already doing, catalyzing the tonal musical features to come across with stronger directness and focus. The temperament does not draw attention to itself, but rather draws attention to the music. It does for tonal music what monosodium glutamate purportedly does for the flavors of food.

This system turns out to be an excellent tuning solution to play all music, both before and after Bach's. It is moderate enough for complete enharmonic freedom, but also unequal enough to sound directional and exciting in the tensions and resolutions of tonal music. I have chosen the music of this CD set to demonstrate the expressive resources and contrasts available within this system...and of course for the sheer beauty of the resulting sounds on this new organ!

To my knowledge, this is the first complete recording of Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer's book Ariadne musica, 1702/15. (There is a recording by Joseph Payne of all the preludes and fugues, but it omits the ricercars.) This book is notorious within music history as an influence on young J. S. Bach, encouraging him to write his own sets of preludes and fugues in all the keys. Bach even borrowed one of the fugue themes from here for a fugue of his own. But, Fischer's book itself is rarely played and heard! In a carefully balanced unequal tuning, as we have here, these preludes and fugues are revealed to be tiny gems of variegated colors: sparkling, witty, and exploring a range of mood and character. The five ricercars are more extended contrapuntal workouts of chorale phrases. Our hypothesis for exploration in this recording is: how might young Bach have played these Fischer pieces himself, on an organ or pedal-harpsichord tuned to his own preferred system, and how might this process have influenced his own creativity as composer and performer? [A note not in the printed booklet: Fischer's D minor ricercar here, "Crist ist erstanden" (track 25 on disc 2), was formerly attributed to Bach and is printed in the Bach-Gesellschaft. Its BWV number is 746: in the BWV's appendix of "Bach" compositions now identified more firmly to other composers.]

The discmates of Ariadne musica here are some of Bach's own explorations of wild modulatory territory. The Kleine harmonisches Labyrinth, BWV 591 has been admitted to the Neue Bach-Ausgabe (NBA) as recently as 2003, although some scholars still have trepidation about its authenticity. Whoever wrote it, it is a brilliant little adventure with three sections: Introitus, Centrum, Exitus. It begins and ends in C major, while exploring stark harmonic shifts in between, like a maze through the keys. The middle section's fughetta concludes with a triumphant "B-A-C-H" in the soprano. At the beginning of the Exitus section there is a marvelous juxtaposition of C major (the calmest key) with E major (the brightest available in the temperament): as if we see the exit of the maze just ahead, but suddenly must make a few more unexpected turns on the way out.

Bach's four Duetti, BWV 802-5, were published in his Clavierübung III of 1739: among liturgical chorale settings for the Catechism, and flanked by a massive Prelude and Fugue in E-flat. These duets are epigrammatic sphinxes, more adventurous than Bach's earlier two-part inventions, and all manner of commentaries may be found proposing various purposes assigned to them. I suspect that they are primarily a set of tuning-test pieces, because they distill all the melodic and harmonic issues of keyboard temperament to the barest essentials, and the most brutally exposed textures. There is nowhere for an unworthy keyboard temperament to hide in these four compositions. If the organ is not set up adequately to handle this duet texture and Bach's ruthless choices of intervals, as can be tested in a 15-minute play-through, one might as well forego the rest of Clavierübung III as well: because the rest of its compositions make similarly stringent demands on a temperament. This is readily verifiable with a harpsichord, or by listening to recordings of this book played in other unequal temperaments: there are always rough spots, except in Bach's own temperament (with its carefully balanced contrasts) or in equal temperament (where it is moot, having no contrasts).

I recorded two of these Duetti a second time (included on disc #3), with odd registrations to invert the music. In that alternate take of BWV 804 (G major) I registered a tierce in the bass and a quint in the treble, letting all the pure 3rds and 5ths (respectively) bash it out...and it seems to work better in practice than one might expect on paper! In the alternate BWV 805 (A minor) I cast it as a battle between the highest stops of the organ, to hear how the bizarre parallel 10ths of this composition will fare. These compositions are written in "invertible counterpoint" anyway--the voices may exchange places from top to bottom--and that feature is explored in these secondary recordings, as experiments.

Other excerpts from Clavierübung III are included in disc #1: BWV 673, 681, 687, 689, and 671. This latter "Kyrie, Gott Heiliger Geist" for full organ is especially problematic in its last phrase, when played in other unequal temperaments: with horrible clashes caused by the notes Db, Gb, and Cb. But, as can be heard in this recording, such sour effects are not part of the composition; rather, there is an added chromatic intensity that is never harsh or disruptive. The other Bach chorales on this disc are various tidbits from earlier in his career, and the majestic setting of O Mensch, bewein' dein Sünde groß, BWV 622 is from Orgelbüchlein.

Around these large pillars I have interspersed shorter, simpler chorale preludes by Bach's contemporaries. Johann Gottfried Walther was a cousin of Bach's, and they worked together at Weimar early in the careers of both; Walther went on to compile the first German-language music dictionary. Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (or Zachau) was a teacher of young Handel. Georg Andreas Sorge was an expert tuning theorist and a colleague of Bach's in the Mizler society, near the end of Bach's life. He also wrote a set of 24 preludes in all keys. Sorge wrote this setting of "Vater unser im Himmelreich" in a book of his own chorale preludes, responding explicitly to Bach's Clavierübung III: he pointed out that as marvelous and monumental as Bach's music was, his own students needed something simpler to play! Georg Böhm was a revered master organist at Lüneburg, and Bach may have had some lessons with him. At least we know that Böhm was a friend or colleague, selling several of Bach's published compositions as an agent on commission. His own compositional style blended Italian and French manners into textures of brilliant creativity, as can be heard here in one of his larger variation sets.

Disc #1 is rounded out with six of the eleven chorale preludes by Johannes Brahms, from his posthumous Opus 122. What are they doing here in this program on a Baroque-styled instrument, in a tuning from more than 100 years before Brahms' birth? Brahms was an enthusiastic student of Baroque styles, both as a composer and as a musicologist. He infused his compositions with rigorous counterpoint and extravagantly chromatic harmonies, following a Baroque aesthetic. I have chosen these six excerpts from his book for simple reasons: I feel they are beautiful, intense, and they bind together this survey of German chorale settings. They make this organ sound marvelous, and vice versa.

Disc #3 opens with a multi-movement oddity among Bach's organ works, the Pastorella BWV 590. It is rather like a suite, but the movements are not all in the same key: an F major Präludium going to D minor and A minor; a C major Allemande; a C minor(!) Aria, and an F major Gigue. Furthermore, only the first movement requires the pedals. The last movement conventionally inverts its fugal subject in the second half (as with the gigues in Bach's "French Suites," for example). I enjoy the expressive contrasts of this Pastorella, from the placid effects of the first two movements to the deep flatward modulations of the Aria, and the way its intense melody so often plays 9ths above the harmony. There are not many other temperaments in which its A-flat major cadences have any consonant repose; perhaps a reason why this Pastorella is not played very often?

Bach's Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, BWV 852, are from the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier. The generic word "clavier" referred to any keyboard instrument, not excluding the organ, and this prelude (itself containing another fugue!) is served especially well by the organ's long-sustained tones. And "well-tempered," I believe, refers to this specific unequal tuning.

Christian Erbach was Count Fugger's organist in 1596, and enjoyed a well-respected career in Augsburg until his death in 1635. He wrote dozens of canzonas and other peppy compositions on simple themes, alternating between imitative counterpoint and virtuosic flourishes: never being far from improvisation. I have included a selection of these that I had enjoyed learning while a student at Goshen College, exploring the printed-music collections in the library. These pieces inspired me to develop a special interest in playing 17th century music.

Among his many adventures, Johann Jakob Froberger had been a court organist in Vienna from 1637. I chose to record this particular Froberger toccata from 1649 as it is especially wayward harmonically. Liturgically it was probably played with a somewhat quieter registration, in its designated function for communion: but it can also be a wild and exciting piece when played robustly. How were the keyboards tuned, to be able to visit the triads of both B major and A-flat major within a G-Dorian context as here? This composition uses 15 different notes in its course: Db, Ab, Eb, Bb, F, C, G, D, A, E, B, F#, C#, G#, and D#. If Froberger's basic tuning was anywhere near classic meantone (based on pure major 3rds), he either had some split keys on the instrument, or he and his listeners put up with occasionally raucous moments from the enharmonic misspellings.

At the other end of the 17th century, Johann Pachelbel's ricercar is a fine example exploring the rare key of F# minor, and requiring a temperament that handles the notes D#, A#, E#, and B# gracefully. Pachelbel was the teacher of J. S. Bach's brother and guardian, Johann Christoph Bach. Like Froberger, Pachelbel must have had some practical keyboard temperament that allowed forays into these odd areas...although we do not know what it was! And, regular meantone tuning--the temperament style most often put forth in historical speculations about 17th century organs--is remarkably rough on such notes.

Mozart's motet Ave verum corpus, K 618, is for voices, strings, and continuo. He composed it only a few months before his death in 1791. The arrangement here is simply a keyboard reduction score of all the parts, to explore how this graceful piece works as one might play it instrumentally for communion or an offertory. Likewise, I have selected the other short pieces here by Sorge (see also above, on disc #1), Hönig, Geissler, and Mendelssohn from practical church-organist anthologies, on account of their simple beauties when played on this organ.

For a grand culmination of this recording project, I have arranged the noble "Nimrod" of Elgar's "Enigma Variations" for orchestra, 1899. This was the opportunity to demonstrate the smooth variety across the Taylor & Boody Opus 41's range, bringing it up from a single principal stop to full registration, in a gradual crescendo.

- © Bradley Lehman, 2005

Bradley Lehman, organ

Bradley Lehman, born in Indiana and now living in Virginia, is a harpsichordist, organist, composer, researcher, and developer of business software. He has performed solo and ensemble concerts in the US, Canada, Costa Rica, England, and Germany, and as a regular church organist for ten years.

Lehman's publications include a dozen recordings, a hymnal concordance, hymns and arrangements, CD reviews for Christian Century, radio theme music, and a scoring system for the game of bridge. His 2005 article in Early Music (also featured here at describes this keyboard tuning method from JS Bach's evidence: giving the historical context and analyzing its musical and mathematical properties.

Lehman holds a doctorate in harpsichord performance from the University of Michigan. His other degrees, variously from Michigan and Goshen College, are in the fields of musicology, church music, mathematics, and interdisciplinary study of early keyboard instruments.

Order this recording through the Goshen College Music Center
(phone: (574)535-7361)
or through Bradley Lehman,

3-CD set: over 3 hours of music, plus a deluxe booklet.
$30.00 plus postage.


Bach's schematic, rotated for use