3 Maart 2018 – Bergkerk| Daal en Bergselaan 50A, 2565 AE Den Haag
14:00 Workshop Improvising with Bach
15:30 Matthew Passion after Hours
Open of the Matthew Passion
Which note is repeated constantly in the bass? Try to find it and play or
sing it. As a singer it is useful to use the text “Kommt ihr Tochter”. But
you can also use other texts to see how it changes the character.
With our video from a previous session you can learn how to improvise with
Go back to the video of the Matthew Passion. Can you improvise a rhythm on
the bass of this piece? How does that feel? How can you change it?
O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden
We now show how to improvise in several voices.
If you find this difficult, don’t worry, it is not necessary to be able to
do this in order to come to our session, but interesting to explore. 🙂
You could consider the chorale “O Haupt” as the backbone of the whole
passion. Chorales were often originally folk songs that could be used in
many ways.Organists improvised variations on them, but we also know how
singers could improvise different parts over such a melody. Almost all
melodies work with the following method.
Here is the original melody:
Do you want to add a second voice? The easiest way is to play the same
melody in thirds or sixths above the original melody. A third is two notes
higher. So if you begin on an E, the G is a third. A sixth is 5 notes
In this case we first choose for thirds. If you try it out with someone,
or with the recording of Iason, you will notice it is nicer to start with
B (fifth). Also you hear that we altered one note in the middle and the
last note. You can do that now and then. Try it.
If you then add sixths with it you three part versions, without thinking
about it too much. The first and last note are changed to octaves (the
same note) so that it sounds more like a beginning and end.
Try to sing along in thirds if you hear something on the radio. In music
with more than one voice it does not always work, but it often does.
It is interesting that the beginning of the chorale “O Haupt voll Blut und
Wunden” is also the beginning of the bass line of the famous “Erbarme
This is similar to the Passacaglia. Learn about the Passacaglia
here! Passacaglia: hier kun je daar vast over leren!