Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 18

Thread: Bach's influence on Chopin

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Bach's influence on Chopin

    In addition to Mozart, Chopin's other favorite was Bach. Except for using all the keys in the Preludes, I cannot see any obvious Bach influence in Chopin's music. What am I missing?

  2. #2
    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Hialeah, FL
    Posts
    2,497
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I'm right there with you! However, as a musician, I know for certain that there are at least a couple of 'favorites' who I play nothing like. Obviously we're not talking composition here, but even between musicians there are nuances and traits that just stick to one without even noticing. So Bach could very well have been Chopin's favorites regardless of the fact that he did nothing to try and emulate him.

  3. Likes DrKilroy liked this post
  4. #3
    Senior Member Eschbeg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    682
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Chopin's voice leading, especially in his preludes, is surely a result of his study of Bach's counterpoint. The topic was discussed (rather contentiously) in this thread, though the discussion there was pretty doomed from the start owing to the nearly automatic equating of counterpoint with fugues and canons. But when counterpoint is understood in its historically traditional sense--i.e. dissonance treatment--then Chopin's handling of chromaticism by all the traditional methods usually associated with Baroque counterpoint becomes pretty evident.

  5. Likes Taggart, JCarmel, aleazk and 2 others liked this post
  6. #4
    Senior Member JCarmel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Yorkshire Dales, UK
    Posts
    1,069
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Excellent post, Eschbeg...though it looks as if your Avatar is suffering a bit of Dissonance, himself? Something he ate...or sat-on??
    Last edited by JCarmel; Sep-13-2013 at 17:24.

  7. Likes Eschbeg liked this post
  8. #5
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    11,532
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    There is that general set of misunderstandings about counterpoint:
    That it it always be two or more equal independent voices, i.e. all the elements are "in the front row" of your hearing.
    That the movement of those voices must always be in contrary motion
    ... and more simply, that it must sound very much like the procedure Bach used, and then primarily in fugue.

    Well, no. as long as it is not too oblique, and the "voicing" stands out as independent enough that it is not entirely "just configured harmony"....
    Have a listen to the Fourth Ballade, a riot of counterpoint.

    Look at / listen to that famous E minor prelude, which so often gets so wrongly analyzed (a somewhat infamous trap / red herring assignment in undergrad harmony courses:-). That one has only two functioning chords I; V, I -- all theparallel chromatic lines are independent horizontals, "side-slipping" through and around that basic I - V - I structure. This too, is counterpoint, masterly, and not at all sounding like Bach. (students are prone to label dozens of vertical harmonies and label them... sure, they spell chords, but no Functioning chords as per the piece or the key it is in -- that is the trap and lesson. "We do not slap a Roman numeral on a vertical harmony unless it is a functioning chord." LOL. Instead of literally dozens of of Roman numerals, this piece in analysis only gets two chords, three marks on it: I-V-I.)

    Chopin's works are littered with counterpoint, or peppered with it in a passage here and there, often enough: and to many listeners, the presence of the counterpoint will never announce itself enough to be noticed... unless you are already prepared that counterpoint can sound and work like this, too -- which it can and does.

    The other huge Bach influence on Chopin? -- little or very little / least use of sustain pedal :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Sep-13-2013 at 18:33.

  9. Likes Taggart, Mahlerian, Praeludium and 3 others liked this post
  10. #6
    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Minotaur's labyrinth
    Posts
    3,803
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    There is that general set of misunderstandings about counterpoint:
    That it it always be two or more equal independent voices, i.e. all the elements are "in the front row" of your hearing.
    That the movement of those voices must always be in contrary motion
    ... and more simply, that it must sound very much like the procedure Bach used, and then primarily in fugue.

    Well, no. as long as it is not too oblique, and the "voicing" stands out as independent enough that it is not entirely "just configured harmony"....
    Have a listen to the Fourth Ballade, a riot of counterpoint.

    Look at / listen to that famous E minor prelude, which so often gets so wrongly analyzed (a somewhat infamous trap / red herring assignment in undergrad harmony courses:-). That one has only two functioning chords I; V, I -- all theparallel chromatic lines are independent horizontals, "side-slipping" through and around that basic I - V - I structure. This too, is counterpoint, masterly, and not at all sounding like Bach. (students are prone to label dozens of vertical harmonies and label them... sure, they spell chords, but no Functioning chords as per the piece or the key it is in -- that is the trap and lesson. "We do not slap a Roman numeral on a vertical harmony unless it is a functioning chord." LOL. Instead of literally dozens of of Roman numerals, this piece in analysis only gets two chords, three marks on it: I-V-I.)

    Chopin's works are littered with counterpoint, or peppered with it in a passage here and there, often enough: and to many listeners, the presence of the counterpoint will never announce itself enough to be noticed... unless you are already prepared that counterpoint can sound and work like this, too -- which it can and does.

    The other huge Bach influence on Chopin? -- little or very little / least use of sustain pedal :-)
    And if that's not convincing enough; to Petr's delight, we have this little "Bachian" counterpoint from Chopin anyway : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0RrT6hMOgI

  11. Likes Taggart, PetrB liked this post
  12. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    879
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    The root problem, to me, seems to be the use of the term contrapuntal referring to both, technique and style.

    Given a sufficiently broad and technical definition of counterpoint, Chopin's Préludes and Bach's Fugues might indeed be equally contrapuntal. But then term becomes pretty much universally applicable and thus meaningless.

    I think it regains meaningfullness if one applies it in a stylistic sense. Provided one agreed that Chopin's Préludes and Bach's Fugue differ vastly in style, one could use the term countrapuntal to mark the difference between the two.

    Counterpoint as a stylistic term refers to a spectrum ranging, roughly speaking, from the master-and-servant relationship of melody and (figured-bass) accompaniment on the one end and the total equality of voices of Renaissance polyphony on the other. Seen this way, the wide gap between Chopin and Bach becomes tangible.

  13. Likes Taggart liked this post
  14. #8
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    11,532
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by aleazk View Post
    And if that's not convincing enough; to Petr's delight, we have this little "Bachian" counterpoint from Chopin anyway : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0RrT6hMOgI
    Ah,that youthful piece, a rather delightfully loopy fugue, and a near student-like exercise in the style (though by a very talented young composer :-)

  15. #9
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    11,532
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
    The root problem, to me, seems to be the use of the term contrapuntal referring to both, technique and style.

    Given a sufficiently broad and technical definition of counterpoint, Chopin's Préludes and Bach's Fugues might indeed be equally contrapuntal. But then term becomes pretty much universally applicable and thus meaningless.

    I think it regains meaningfullness if one applies it in a stylistic sense. Provided one agreed that Chopin's Préludes and Bach's Fugue differ vastly in style, one could use the term countrapuntal to mark the difference between the two.

    Counterpoint as a stylistic term refers to a spectrum ranging, roughly speaking, from the master-and-servant relationship of melody and (figured-bass) accompaniment on the one end and the total equality of voices of Renaissance polyphony on the other. Seen this way, the wide gap between Chopin and Bach becomes tangible.
    To me, you've got it in reverse, or rather, from the earliest to the most current applications of technique, that is all "contrapuntal style." A mere sentimental liking more for the older styles which used counterpoint, or a lack of willingness to acknowledge later contrapuntal works as contrapuntal is rather personal, I think, and doesn't come in to play if wishing to inform about what counterpoint is, or at the least the personal preference should be declared as personal aside.

  16. #10
    Senior Member Eschbeg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    682
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
    Given a sufficiently broad and technical definition of counterpoint, Chopin's Préludes and Bach's Fugues might indeed be equally contrapuntal. But then term becomes pretty much universally applicable and thus meaningless.
    I'm not seeing why the ability to apply a technical term to two composers as varied as Chopin and Bach should make that term meaningless. Both Berlioz and Ligeti treated timbre as a central compositional element; both Gesualdo and Schoenberg were equally unconventional in their use of harmony. In each case, the pairs of composers achieved wildly divergent results. But this does not make timbre and harmony meaningless terms.

  17. Likes PetrB liked this post
  18. #11
    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    11,532
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Eschbeg View Post
    I'm not seeing why the ability to apply a technical term to two composers as varied as Chopin and Bach should make that term meaningless. Both Berlioz and Ligeti treated timbre as a central compositional element; both Gesualdo and Schoenberg were equally unconventional in their use of harmony. In each case, the pairs of composers achieved wildly divergent results. But this does not make timbre and harmony meaningless terms.
    Right -- the mistake is to think a technique generates but one style, or an envelope of certain styles. It is "just" a technique, or rather "a procedure" which can be deployed in boundless ways and directions.

  19. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    879
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Eschbeg View Post
    I'm not seeing why the ability to apply a technical term to two composers as varied as Chopin and Bach should make that term meaningless. Both Berlioz and Ligeti treated timbre as a central compositional element; both Gesualdo and Schoenberg were equally unconventional in their use of harmony. In each case, the pairs of composers achieved wildly divergent results. But this does not make timbre and harmony meaningless terms.
    But would you use terms like "timbral" or "harmonic" to describe music? Certainly not in a yes/no way. A great poirtion of music is harmonic in that is uses harmony as a technique. But certain pieces are harmonically denser, richer, more varied than others. To say "yes, but they're all harmonic because they use harmony" would hardly serve any meaningful purpose, in my view. Same with counterpoint.

  20. Likes niv liked this post
  21. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    879
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    Right -- the mistake is to think a technique generates but one style, or an envelope of certain styles. It is "just" a technique, or rather "a procedure" which can be deployed in boundless ways and directions.
    But it would seem to me more helpful to use terminology in such a way that it allows one to describe the gradual differences between various styles rather than to trace them all back to their one unifying characteristic.

  22. #14
    Senior Member Eschbeg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    682
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
    Given a sufficiently broad and technical definition of counterpoint, Chopin's Préludes and Bach's Fugues might indeed be equally contrapuntal.
    Quote Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
    But would you use terms like "timbral" or "harmonic" to describe music? Certainly not in a yes/no way. A great poirtion of music is harmonic in that is uses harmony as a technique. But certain pieces are harmonically denser, richer, more varied than others. To say "yes, but they're all harmonic because they use harmony" would hardly serve any meaningful purpose, in my view. Same with counterpoint.

    I think a conflation is being made between the following statements:

    1. Bach and Chopin both used counterpoint.
    2. Bach and Chopin are equally contrapuntal.

    Your objection applies primarily to the second statement, it seems to me, which is not a statement anyone to my knowledge has made here or in the other thread I linked to above. As PetrB hinted at, counterpoint, like timbre and harmony, are techniques. Thus the first statement is perfectly fine provided it is followed by some description of how the techniques are used--i.e. that Chopin's counterpoint takes the form of voice leading and the handling of non-chord tones while Bach's counterpoint takes the form of simultaneous independent lines and complexity of texture.

    The second statement, by contrast, is just a straw man. I've really only ever heard it stated by people who were arguing against it.
    Last edited by Eschbeg; Sep-17-2013 at 15:34.

  23. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    237
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    You both agree on the concepts even if the words used might be different.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Classical Influence on Beatles
    By sree in forum Non-Classical Music
    Replies: 185
    Last Post: Mar-22-2018, 07:03
  2. Replies: 203
    Last Post: Mar-15-2018, 08:14
  3. Mozart's influence on Chopin
    By Aurelian in forum Keyboard Instruments
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Aug-16-2013, 00:50
  4. Replies: 19
    Last Post: May-29-2012, 15:28
  5. Ethnic Influence in Classical Music...
    By hawk in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: Nov-09-2007, 23:21

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •