Sunday, April 08, 2007

Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor

' For each stop—each timbre, or type of sound, that the organ could make (viz. blockflöte, trumpet, piccolo)—there was a separate row of pipes, arranged in a line from long to short. Long pipes made low notes, short high. The tops of the pipes defined a graph: not a straight line but an upward-tending curve. The organist/math teacher sat down with a few loose pipes, a pencil, and paper, and helped Lawrence figure out why. When Lawrence understood, it was as if the math teacher had suddenly played the good part of Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor on a pipe organ the size of the Spiral Nebula in Andromeda—the part where Uncle Johann dissects the architecture of the Universe in one merciless descending ever-mutating chord, as if his foot is thrusting through skidding layers of garbage until it finally strikes bedrock. In particular, the final steps of the organist’s explanation were like a falcon’s dive through layer after layer of pretense and illusion, thrilling or sickening or confusing depending on what you were. The heavens were riven open. Lawrence glimpsed choirs of angels ranking off into geometrical infinity.'

From Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

If I've ever heard 'Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor' I have no recollection of it - except now I have, courtesy of the very interesting site 'Johann Sebastian Bach'.

And yes, it is good.
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