I've been playing a lot of Froberger and Frescobaldi lately. I love these guys because there's no plot line, no plot points, no fucking "arc", no character development, no resolution, no hero, no villain, no moral. The subject doesn't get exiled by an evil stepmother into the relative minor, marry the countersubject in V of V, and return in triumph to inherit the kingdom in the scherzo. It's all roadside scenery. I love roadside scenery. It's what life is really all about, I think.
The 'hexachord' fantasia being played above -- quite nicely, I think, though maybe a little too fast, in spots(*) -- is based on perhaps the most boring subject imaginable: the first six notes of the major scale, say C-A or G-E, on the white keys. The boringness of the subject is the point: there's no intrinsic interest whatsoever in the basic material; it's all in what you do with it.
The tyranny of story-line and 'arc' is a relatively recent invention in Litrachoor as in music; in both cases it dates from sometime in the 18th century. A little earlier in music than the written word; I blame Corelli and Vivaldi.
Interestingly, some modern literary genres have dispensed with the arc; I'm thinking mainly of those huge endless science-fiction cycles, like Orson Scott Card vel sim. They read like fourteenth-century Arthurian prose romances, or Don Quixote for that matter, a deeply loving parody of the genre.
It wouldn't be SMBIVA if this post didn't have a little political sting in its tail. Here it is:
I wonder if the belief in 'progress' isn't an byproduct of the literary/musical arc -- a back-reading of modern fiction and the Beethovenesque symphony into history.
(*) Which is to say, faster than _I_ can safely play it. It's being played on what is obviously an old -- 17th-century or earlier -- Italian organ; or possibly an extremely good modern facsimile. This raises the question of how important the pedals were. I can't play the stuff without resorting to the pedals; but doubtless Froberger had better chops. And maybe he played it slower. Or maybe he had a better pedal clavier than most Italian organs; southern Germany, okay, but still Germany. Home of the pedalboard.