Ricercar a 6 (Oboe da caccia)

THURSDAY, September 10, 2020 – 11:59 AM

Ricercar a 6

A ricercar is an elaborate instrumental composition in fugal or canonic style, typically of the 16th to 18th centuries.

…a 6

It just means a six-voice fugue, and for such music Bach was the king and remains the king. No one did it better, and no one else has even reached his level. He is to contrapuntal music what Shakepeare is to plays. The whole world remains in awe of what he created.

Oboe da caccia…

What is it? Is it a toilet bowl plunger? Some weird instrument from an alien planet?

Caccia means “hunting”…

I don’t know how you go hunting with an oversized oboe that looks a toilet plunger, but that weird image will lock this name in my mind forever!

A friend of mine (Louie) and I were watching a cool video and ran into this instrument, and he said: “What is that?”

I had no idea, but I saw the double reed and figured it was in the oboe family. So we started searching and Louie found it first. I started listening, and the closest thing, I think, is the cor anglais, the English horn, but this is a lot harder to play. All these older instruments are very difficult to play. I checked out more videos, and mostly it seemed to be a matter of curiosity, interesting but rather ugly. I figure I just had to find an expert to make it come alive, and then I found the incredible music in this post.

Old instruments…

First of all, the whole group makes these old instruments sound fantastic, but the lady playing this forerunner to the English horn is a wizard. So I immediately had to share this. It’s a real gem!

The Musical Offering

This ricercar is the most famous part of hie “Musical Offering”. It ends with a Picardy 3rd. That simply means that although the piece is in B minor, he ends on a B major chord, thus raising the 3rd (D) to D#.


5 thoughts on “Ricercar a 6 (Oboe da caccia)

  1. The Musical Offering is worth a deep dive. While his Kunst der Fugue may be his last, final work, the Musical Offering was really a challenge issued by a monarch.

    The Offering is full of musical treasure.

    Wonderful to hear the oboe de caccia clearly. In the video Gary and I watched it was part of a much larger ensemble, outdoors, and its sound was obscured by the rest of the orchestra.

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