Bach isn’t solely music for the brain. For example, his Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue is a bit of exuberance, clearly meant for performance rather than intellectual analysis. It’s a bloated, emotional, sprawling mess of virtuosity. I love it to bits. And, it is a bit of a Conversation for Liszt (which we will get to in some months’ time). I’ve selected the great Andras Schiff playing it—complete with video so you can watch his peerless technique and musicality.
J.S. Bach, Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor:
Now, let’s take a look at Bach for the brain. Informally known as the Crab Canon, this is a short two-part fugue. Nothing unusual here: This is pretty standard fare for the late Baroque period. But Bach’s little ditty, thrown off the cuff in an afternoon no less, is something pretty awesome—a single line of music, intended to be played, simultaneously, backwards and forwards. He wrote several more of these “mirror fugues”, seemingly just for fun, but this one is the most famous. The following video shows each instrument playing individually and then together, with Mobius following the score.
J.S. Bach, The Musical Offering, Canon No. 1: