Duet No.2

Johann Sebastian Bach

Duet No.2 in F major


About this work

This piece is the second of four "duets" included in a self-published collection ("Clavierübung" is German for keyboard practice) of works for organ, although this composition is usually played on the piano or harpsichord. The title "duet" refers in this case to the two voices of the part-writing, as in Bach's well-known Two-Part Inventions, rather than to separate instruments.

The lively primary subject begins with three ascending punctuated notes of the tonic chord and then proceeds to skip happily along to the upper tonic. The second voice then enters in brief imitation ending with both voices in fast parallel intervals. A short passage of alternating descending and ascending patterns in both hands follows before the theme re-enters and the large phrase comes to a simple cadence.

The middle section begins afresh with another subject, a quite strange chromatic melody that first glides slowly, then rushes forward in bursts to cadence with a mordent figuration. The second voice comes in with the figure which quickly modulates through several remote keys and never comes to a final halt but instead rushes back into the first theme again by a swiftly descending scale run. The theme is now presented with constantly interweaving and on-rushing scales to soon arrive at a bright and definitive conclusion after an approximately two-and-a-half-minute duration.