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Thread: Beethoven the contrapuntist

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArsMusica View Post
    So many inaccurate comments about counterpoint on this thread.

    Anyone here who believes Bach was not thinking harmonically when he composed his counterpoint is WRONG.

    As a music major I had to take a semester (a 20-week semester) of tonal, i.e., 18th-century, i.e., Bachian counterpoint. And since that class I have studied it deeply and composed contrapuntal pieces in that style. Bach’s counterpoint is harmonically based.

    One of the prime challenges is composing counterpoint in that style is to combine good contrapuntal writing (and all that entails such as the shape and the logic of each voice in the contrapuntal texture, adherence to the rules regarding the combination of all voices, avoidance of forbidden parallelism, and many more concepts/rules) with good harmonic writing (and all that entails including logical chord progressions, uses of inversions and many more concepts/rules).

    Bach (or Handel or Telemann or Corelli or Vivaldi) did not follow a "counterpoint first" policy. That was not the nature of 18th-century counterpoint.


    No one is saying that Bach wasn’t aware of the harmonic consequences of his canonic writing, it’s just that he was prepared, happy, to accept dissonance if the logic suggested it. My favourite example of this - it’s one of the most “interesting” pieces of music Bach wrote in a way - is the central section of Duetti II from Clavier Ubung III. That piece is like a study in galant counterpoint versus an older style.

    I don’t know anything about the other C18 composers you mentioned like Handel and Vivaldi. I once heard it said by someone that Beethoven’s fugues had Handel as an inspiration, not Bach.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Today at 06:12.

  2. #47
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Bach: Contrapuntalist or harmonist? Beethoven wrote in a letter, "That you are going to publish Sebastian Bach's works is something that does good to my heart, which beats in love of the great and lofty art of this ancestral father of harmony; I want to see them soon." (1801)


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