Musical Parallels


I've been listening to the Bach Cello Suites a lot lately, with the intent of applying some of their spirit to the collection of Yes transcriptions I'm working on. For instance, my transcription of "Turn of the Century" was already more measured than the Yes performance on their 1977 album Going For The One, but inspired by the sarabandes of the Cello Suites I'm experimenting with slowing it even further.

Indeed, I'm starting to hear some deeper parallels here. All of the Cello Suites contain six movements, in the following order: a prelude, an allemande, a courante, a sarabande, a menuet or bourée or gavotte, and a gigue. My recording Fundamental Affirmation will also have six pieces, one from each of the albums in what Bill Martin calls the "main sequence" of Yes music (indeed it was Martin, in his book Music of Yes, who suggested the idea of Yes transcriptions for bass as a modern counterpart of the Cello Suites). And here is the order I'm planning:

  1. To Be Over
  2. South Side of the Sky
  3. Tales from Topographic Oceans
  4. Turn of the Century
  5. A Venture
  6. Close to the Edge

My rendering of "To Be Over" is the most free and improvisatory of the six, and thus fits with the typical nature of a musical prelude. "South Side of the Sky" is serious in tone and heavily arpeggiated, as an allemande usually is, although more driving in its tempo. It might be a stretch to liken "Tales from Topographic Oceans" to a courante -- although a courante was usually grave, majestic, and serious, which Tales certainly is. As mentioned, "Turn of the Century", in the fourth spot, is already feeling more and more like a sarabande. And "A Venture" is a bit like a gavotte, with the characteristic phrase beginning in the middle of a bar. I'm not quite sure about "Close to the Edge" as a gigue (!), but I'll be exploring these analogies further as I complete my transcription of "Close to the Edge" and prepare all of these pieces for recording.

Stay tuned!

Peter Saint-Andre > Journal