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This is a great quote! It am curious about how others approach Bach melodically. This is just one layer of many aspects we must consider, but I have found it to be very interesting because when articulated and shaped well (melodic shaping) it brings to light other layers aurally to this music. I have a method I use (I was taught it so I can't claim any credit for developing it), I am interested what others might do. It seems some do nothing at all. I suppose this could be a valid approach too. Not very expressive, but valid.
Yes, the quote really is great. Certainly paints a picture, among other things, about how important rhythm is in this music
There is another quote that I'll share that tells how powerful Bach's music is. I first read it in May 2010, three months after I started playing in the Surgical ICU at Beth Israel hospital. I'd played for a post-brain surgery patient that day and when I got home I immediately did a search on Bach + Brain. This quote was the first thing that came up: "Of all the music we tested in medical school with patients, colleagues and others, Bach's music consistently made the brain work in a balanced way better than any other genre." - Dr. Arthur Harvey, neuromusicologist.
That was six years ago. I just tried Googling those two words and Arthur's quote is far enough away that I stopped looking after a few pages.
Anyway, I'll leave it at that because it appears in two chapters in my book, and..."spoilers"!
"I am curious about how others approach Bach melodically."
My first quick response is that I approach Bach the same I do as any other music, melodically and otherwise. Figure out what's going on (to the best of my ability) and play it.
Meaning: everything is there in any piece you play. What you know from studying and experience informs all your choices so you can bring out what's there to the best effect. Some people will agree with you, some won't. If you are playing professionally there is a percentage you have reached that agree with you, i.e. like it, or you wouldn't be working. If you play for your own enjoyment, the only audience that matters is you. (In a way that is still the same for I think most professional musicians.)
With "classical" music (I don't mean the Classical period) there are certain ideas about how things should be that you must adhere to but within that there is still plenty of room. So, back to Bach: if it's a fugue one aspect is that it's pretty straight ahead. In a piece like the Ciaccona there is much more room for what could be called Romantic playing.
Okay, Doug, let's hear about your method!