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  1. #101

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    I really enjoy the idea that Bach was a bit of rebel. I have no idea about the scholarship, but we’ve had such a narrative of Bach being the sort of monkish music nerd who channeled the celestial harmony, and not an actual human being with earthly foibles who kind of got off on his own virtuosity.

    I also really enjoy the idea that his music was just a bit too, well, baroque. Sort of a prog rocker I guess.

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  3. #102

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    I really enjoy the idea that Bach was a bit of hellraising rebel. I have no idea about the scholarship, but we’ve had such a long narrative of Bach being the sort of monkish music nerd who wrote music that reflected celestial harmony, and not an actual human being with an earthly existence.

    I also really enjoy the idea that his music was just a bit too, well, baroque for the baroque era lol. Sort of a prog rocker I guess.
    I think he also seemed anachronistic quite often.
    But it should not be overestimated today too. His counterppoint technique may have seemed so, but his harmonic (in vertical sense) language was extremely modern and vivid and its application in real texture (meter, rhythm, melodic, harmonic, textual relations) is so complex that it is difficult to analyze and grasp at a time, it is a breathing ambivalence. You can grasp at a time multifold meanings and perspectives that are impossible to describe simultaneously in analysis (this is what makes it Art)


    I am also convinced that most of his music has quite preceivable (not necessarily verbalized) and complex philosphical and religious meaning. Religious does not mean abstract. He was a passionate religious thinker in music, unsoppable, daring, demanding, asking, protectig, attacking.
    5th Evangelist is not a metaphor. He litteraly is. It concerns not only vocal (textual) music but almos all of his instrumental music.
    I have more or less clear Evangelic (or Bible) association with most his instrumental work... not that I would share them in every case because in music they are expressed in much more complexity than I would have in words and it would oversimplify it.
    But in some cases - I guess it is quite possible for each of us to have the direct associations (except mine I know at least 3 personal lists of WTK pieces contents realtion to New Testaments episodes and in many cases they coincide).

    I am just saying all this so that we would not misunderstand what we have to deal with.
    We deal with Dante and Shakespeare in music so we should be aware about the contents we have to face.

  4. #103

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    This is the sort of thing that did people's heads in back in his day. It's a gigue, usually a throwaway piece at the end of a suite of dances. The first three bars contain all twelve semitones...we have to wait until bar 5 for the d natural...Mind you, Dowland was equally chromatic in some of his serious fantasies a hundred years earlier, but few could play them. But Bach is doing it with a traditionally light piece.

    Hopefully this will start 58 minutes in:


  5. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    I think he also seemed anachronistic quite often.
    But it should not be overestimated today too. His counterppoint technique may have seemed so, but his harmonic (in vertical sense) language was extremely modern and vivid and its application in real texture (meter, rhythm, melodic, harmonic, textual relations) is so complex that it is difficult to analyze and grasp at a time, it is a breathing ambivalence. You can grasp at a time multifold meanings and perspectives that are impossible to describe simultaneously in analysis (this is what makes it Art)


    I am also convinced that most of his music has quite preceivable (not necessarily verbalized) and complex philosphical and religious meaning. Religious does not mean abstract. He was a passionate religious thinker in music, unsoppable, daring, demanding, asking, protectig, attacking.
    5th Evangelist is not a metaphor. He litteraly is. It concerns not only vocal (textual) music but almos all of his instrumental music.
    I have more or less clear Evangelic (or Bible) association with most his instrumental work... not that I would share them in every case because in music they are expressed in much more complexity than I would have in words and it would oversimplify it.
    But in some cases - I guess it is quite possible for each of us to have the direct associations (except mine I know at least 3 personal lists of WTK pieces contents realtion to New Testaments episodes and in many cases they coincide).

    I am just saying all this so that we would not misunderstand what we have to deal with.
    We deal with Dante and Shakespeare in music so we should be aware about the contents we have to face.
    Oh sure. I think he as a very complex and manifestly brilliant person. But he was a person.

    Anyway, I've just (finally) seen Hamilton, so maybe I'm viewing Bach as the musical equivalent of Alexander Hamilton as portrayed by Lin-Manuel Miranda lol.

    All this talk of JS Bach is a little beside the point when it comes to Partimento.

    The Italian Partimento tradition of Fenaroli is really associated with the Gallant movement in C18 music - for those used to the C19 historical division between classical and baroque, this might be best thought of as the evolutionary line that led eventually to Haydn, Mozart and so on, although earlier Gallant composers such as Pergolesi are classified today as Italian Baroque composers. (But saying that an animal lived in the Cretaceous doesn't obviously tell you if it was a Dinosaur or a Mammal.)

    In any case the histories were rewritten in the C19 to preference a German lineage in music... but it doesn't take much research to realise the influence of Italian composers on the musical world throughout Europe right up to the era of, shall we say, Bismarck.

    I was at one point interested in becoming a professional classical singer (what was I thinking???), and this tradition is preserved somewhat through Bel Canto through Vaccaj and so on - the beginners voice repertoire, the Arie Antiche, was written by the exact same masters who wrote the Partimenti manuals. Singing, unlike harmony and counterpoint pedagogy, is still owned but the Italians.

    Bach's writing for voices, as a singer betrays his completely different tradition in his conception of vocal music. Pergolesi, Paisello and Durante just like Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini after them write singer's music first and foremost; their teaching started with vocal improvisation through ornamentation, the solfeggio, and some of this is preserved in Vaccaj's method (Vaccaj was a student of Paisello).

    Singing Bach is like an elaborate form of torture one is willing to go through in order to give voice to some of the finest music ever written. It's not that he writes badly for voice - he knows what's possible. It's just that if you don't have perfect technique, you won't make it to the end of some of those phrases. I've never been roasted so hard as I have on those Bach arias in B Minor Mass and Passions etc. Handel? Piece of piss by comparison.

    It is more complex - Partimento, according to Early Music Sources, traces its history back to the late Renaissance and organ improvisation; so I'm sure its connection to the Neapolitan/Italian tradition does not mean it was exclusively used by them. Anyway here's the video in case I hadn't posted it above. It might also offer some ideas for improv in an earlier Renaissance/Early Baroque style.

    Last edited by Christian Miller; 08-03-2021 at 12:47 PM.

  6. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Exactly. I think I mentioned earlier I detected a macho vibe from guitar players trying to emulate keyboard players: "Look how many notes I can fit in! I'm doing it CORRECT!", whereas lute players never bothered with that kind of complexity, yet still contributed something more suited to their instruments.
    It's open question which approach is best suited to the modern guitar, though?

    There is a through line into Italian classical guitar repertoire, Giuliani, Cacassi etc in much the same way as there is into Bel Canto opera. This is quite interesting, and actually he makes many of the same points as you do Rob, albeit with reference to the C19 guitar (I also think he plays lute, but IIRC he does' talk much about that.)



    As far as lute goes, I don't honestly know. I'd love to know more.

  7. #106

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    I think one of the most important features of baroque music in comparison to renaissance is dance as main vehicle for all the music.
    In renaissance period mostly dance music was separate area (we can find it begins to mix in instrumental music first, many vihuela and lute fantasias begin to show the genre features of dances in traditional polyphonic structure but in vocal music it qas totally separate.)

    In baroque period dance penetrates everything: Stabat Mater, Missa, Passions, operatic areas - everything shows features of courantes, allemandes, sarabandes and etc.
    Dances begin to have strong semantic association (like Sarabande or Allemande) and genre is being used as part of the language... Handel actively uses dance idioms in opearas and oratorias to express additional meaning of the episode.
    Bach in Passiona and cantatas.

    In late Romantic period it became almost concious (Tchaykovsky's 6th symphiny is the 1st example of modernism in a god sense for me.. it is full of historical musical references used as idioms: beginning from instrumentations (how and where he uses clarinet, French horn, basson) and up to movements relationships (illusion of shifts of the movements (1st seems to be 1 and 2 in one, 2ns is both 2nd but also sounds like 3rd (wlatz in 5/4), 3rd is both Scherzo and March of the finale... that creates irreal effect that the 4th part is outside the Symphony. Post mortem experience ) and genre references (Sarabande in the 4th movements together with French horn)

    Sorry for going off)))

    The domination of dance in baroque time results in graduate shifts of vertical relationship... meter becomes more regular, harmony more strong vertically...

    I think one of the most interesting thing in dance suites/sonatas is how composers put in order ('ordre' is common namen for dance suites in France as I am sure you know of course) various dance parts, how they function.

    Gigue eventually developed into classical sonata/simphony Scherzo.

    this is why I think it is quite fair to look at baroque time through Romatic tradition (quite opposite to HIP point of view)... because it is basically the same tradition...

    With renaissance it may require some different approach in many cases - it is true.


  8. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    I think one of the most important features of baroque music in comparison to renaissance is dance as main vehicle for all the music.
    In renaissance period mostly dance music was separate area (we can find it begins to mix in instrumental music first, many vihuela and lute fantasias begin to show the genre features of dances in traditional polyphonic structure but in vocal music it qas totally separate.)

    In baroque period dance penetrates everything: Stabat Mater, Missa, Passions, operatic areas - everything shows features of courantes, allemandes, sarabandes and etc.
    Dances begin to have strong semantic association (like Sarabande or Allemande) and genre is being used as part of the language... Handel actively uses dance idioms in opearas and oratorias to express additional meaning of the episode.
    Bach in Passiona and cantatas.

    In late Romantic period it became almost concious (Tchaykovsky's 6th symphiny is the 1st example of modernism in a god sense for me.. it is full of historical musical references used as idioms: beginning from instrumentations (how and where he uses clarinet, French horn, basson) and up to movements relationships (illusion of shifts of the movements (1st seems to be 1 and 2 in one, 2ns is both 2nd but also sounds like 3rd (wlatz in 5/4), 3rd is both Scherzo and March of the finale... that creates irreal effect that the 4th part is outside the Symphony. Post mortem experience ) and genre references (Sarabande in the 4th movements together with French horn)

    Sorry for going off)))

    The domination of dance in baroque time results in graduate shifts of vertical relationship... meter becomes more regular, harmony more strong vertically...

    I think one of the most interesting thing in dance suites/sonatas is how composers put in order ('ordre' is common namen for dance suites in France as I am sure you know of course) various dance parts, how they function.

    Gigue eventually developed into classical sonata/simphony Scherzo.

    this is why I think it is quite fair to look at baroque time through Romatic tradition (quite opposite to HIP point of view)... because it is basically the same tradition...

    With renaissance it may require some different approach in many cases - it is true.

    i think it is definitely fair to examine it from the Italian romantic tradition? As that really is the same tradition.

    Apparently no one at the academy took it seriously after the German theorists took over.

    That Verdi; no slouch at counterpoint. Just saying. And he felt he had to prove himself.

    Apparently this goes right through into Berio…

    Anyway, Gjerdingen’s latest book, Child composers in the Old Conservatories is much concerned with C19 - early C20 French pedagogy (esp. at the Paris Conservatoire). Which is to say he thinks it was basically the same system as that in Italy. As an American he is no doubt thinking about Nadia Boulanger? :-)
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 08-03-2021 at 01:58 PM.

  9. #108

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    i think it is definitely fair to examine it from the Italian romantic tradition? As that is the same tradition.

    That Verdi; no slouch at counterpoint. Just saying. Apparently this goes right through into Berio…

    Anyway, Gjerdingen’s latest book, Child composers in the Old Conservatories is much concerned with C19 - early C20 French pedagogy (esp. at the Paris Conservatoire). Which is to say he thinks it was basically the same system as that in Italy. As an American he is no doubt thinking about Nadia Boulanger? :-)
    probably so.. but German tradition is much bigger.

    Check Patrick Barbier's books. They are more about historic context, written in quite popular style but contain much details.
    I had 'Venice of Vivaldi', 'The Festivities of Naples. XVIIIth century'. 'The History of Catrates'

    They have plenty of routine details of concert practice, educational institutions, performers and composers routine and relationships and so on.


    As for Italian tradition.. partly so of course I believe.
    But I think in general Baroque period became a decline of Italy in music... they kept only operatic line .. and that was hugely influenced by Wagner... both greats: Verdi and Puccini.

    But German music only began with baroque period.

    I always feel a bit perplexed being educated in Russian tradition... you know when you are told from early years that you are in the middle of all the greatesr and everything the great is just accumulated here ... quite tough... especially when you realize that it is not quite so... (you in UK must know this feeling)

    But partly it was still true...
    Russian classical tradition was relatively late and it mostly followed the German school... and to some degree it was relaly one of the latest liveing classical school... I think I do not know foreign composers of the level of Shostakovich or Prokofiev who would compose music in such a traditional style in the same period and that it would not sound as stylization of imitation... it is live.
    No, I can name one... the great Sibelius.. but it is also connected with young national tradition connected with German school.
    So as a kid I managed to catch a living spirit of what was coming from Bach through Schumann Beetoven Bruckner and then Russian composers and performers...
    By the way I think one of the reason why HIP goes so slowly in Russia (and so agressively accepted in academic enviroment) is connected with the fact that there was no Russian music during renaissance and not much of it in baroque period. It is not our musical tradition.

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    probably so.. but German tradition is much bigger.

    Check Patrick Barbier's books. They are more about historic context, written in quite popular style but contain much details.
    I had 'Venice of Vivaldi', 'The Festivities of Naples. XVIIIth century'. 'The History of Catrates'

    They have plenty of routine details of concert practice, educational institutions, performers and composers routine and relationships and so on.


    As for Italian tradition.. partly so of course I believe.
    But I think in general Baroque period became a decline of Italy in music... they kept only operatic line .. and that was hugely influenced by Wagner... both greats: Verdi and Puccini.

    But German music only began with baroque period.

    I always feel a bit perplexed being educated in Russian tradition... you know when you are told from early years that you are in the middle of all the greatesr and everything the great is just accumulated here ... quite tough... especially when you realize that it is not quite so... (you in UK must know this feeling)

    But partly it was still true...
    Russian classical tradition was relatively late and it mostly followed the German school... and to some degree it was relaly one of the latest liveing classical school... I think I do not know foreign composers of the level of Shostakovich or Prokofiev who would compose music in such a traditional style in the same period and that it would not sound as stylization of imitation... it is live.
    No, I can name one... the great Sibelius.. but it is also connected with young national tradition connected with German school.
    So as a kid I managed to catch a living spirit of what was coming from Bach through Schumann Beetoven Bruckner and then Russian composers and performers...
    By the way I think one of the reason why HIP goes so slowly in Russia (and so agressively accepted in academic enviroment) is connected with the fact that there was no Russian music during renaissance and not much of it in baroque period. It is not our musical tradition.
    The German tradition is in part a rewrite of 18th century music history. While German baroque music is certainly stylistically it’s own thing, by JS Bach’s lifetime German speaking composers were writing in the fashionable Italianate galant style (notably his sons.)

    Italian composers such as Durante who are now largely forgotten were extremely popular in their day, too.

    The rise of German music was during the 19th century, and I get the feeling the histories and theories were written to create a certain narrative.

    Many German speaking composers (Schubert, Haydn) were trained by Italians. It wasn’t so national then, more based around the court aristocracy. Of course this all starts to change around Mozart’s time…

  11. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    The German tradition is in part a rewrite of 18th century music history. German speaking composers were writing in the Italianate galant style. Many German speaking composers (Schubert, Haydn) were trained by Italians. It wasn’t so nationalistic then, more based around the court aristocracy. Of course this all changes around Mozart’s time…
    You are right of course that it is based on Italian (and partly French too) school.

    But German style is quite recognizable already in baroque times... though retrospectively.
    Telemann, Bieber or Weiss... most of their music you cannot mistake with Italian composers.
    Even Handel... the most Italian Englishman ..

    I read a big musicological book on Handel recently there were interesting chapters about Getman scene during his youth and operas with German lyrics and often mixed lyrics! Partly Italian partly German... sometimes within one air.. such a mess.
    And there was already national idea around it..

    Though with Mozart it was sort of officially ordered by the authorities.

    But even Wagner began with trying Italian libretto (in Paris) first to secure that the opera would gain some attention.

  12. #111

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    You are right of course that it is based on Italian (and partly French too) school.

    German style is quite recognizable already in baroque times... though retrospectively.
    Telemann, Bieber or Weiss... most of their music you cannot mistake with Italian composers.
    Even Handel... the most Italian Englishman ..
    Yeah I amended my comment above to note that…

  13. #112

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    Wait - isn’t it Biber, not Bieber? ;-)

    Sorry

  14. #113

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    The rise of German music was during the 19th century, and I get the feeling the histories and theories were written to create a certain narrative.
    Maybe so.. but we have important evidence: music and our ears... and my ears often tell me more than books on history or theory can))))


    But creating a national myth was of course conciously begun by Wagner
    ... Beethoven was more or less unconsciously in loved into it...
    I guess Schimann could have some conceptions about it ..

    But Wagner was consistent, conscious and very elaborated about creating that myth.
    That was the foundation of his musical universe.

    Great book on the topic '100 years of a myth' it is more about his antisemitic conceptions as a part of bigger national idea.. with quotes from letters, essays, biographic details that consequently show how he built it step by step

  15. #114

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    Maybe so.. but we have important evidence: music and our ears... and my ears often tell me more than books on history or theory can))))


    But creating a national myth was of course conciously begun by Wagner
    ... Beethoven was more or less unconsciously in loved into it...
    I guess Schimann could have some conceptions about it ..

    But Wagner was consistent, conscious and very elaborated about creating that myth.
    That was the foundation of his musical universe.

    Great book on the topic '100 years of a myth' it is more about his antisemitic conceptions as a part of bigger national idea.. with quotes from letters, essays, biographic details that consequently show how he built it step by step
    That sounds heavy but really interesting.

    I'm thinking the German music theory and music history tradition as much as anything, retroactive contextualisation of music history; an aspect of that C19th nation building. Anyway, beyond that I couldn't comment, because it's above my historical pay grade and I haven't read those theorists first hand. (I should - apparently, Riemann is quite a lot weirder than you would think from present functional Reimannian theory.)

    But I would regard Schoenberg (who I have read) as being a good example of buying 100% into that narrative in his early writings...

    Aside from conscious nationalist efforts, German music it seems to me was concerned (with the exception of Wagner) with the development of instrumental music; opera always basically belonged to the Italians, it's just that this became less the central thing when the big symphonists came along, starting with Beethoven.

    The other thing is those histories and narratives arrive at the precise time when tonality is being taken to the limit and torn apart, the late 19th century - Wagner and Richard Strauss of course; what a funny time for someone to write theories of 18th century common practice harmony. Why? Not it seems to me to write this music (though Schoenberg of course wrote a fine book on this); but to place it in a historical context, in a narrative.

  16. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    That sounds heavy but really interesting.

    I'm thinking the German music theory and music history tradition as much as anything, retroactive contextualisation of music history; an aspect of that C19th nation building. Anyway, beyond that I couldn't comment, because it's above my historical pay grade and I haven't read those theorists first hand. (I should - apparently, Riemann is quite a lot weirder than you would think from present functional Reimannian theory.)

    But I would regard Schoenberg (who I have read) as being a good example of buying 100% into that narrative in his early writings...

    Aside from conscious nationalist efforts, German music it seems to me was concerned (with the exception of Wagner) with the development of instrumental music; opera always basically belonged to the Italians, it's just that this became less the central thing when the big symphonists came along, starting with Beethoven.

    The other thing is those histories and narratives arrive at the precise time when tonality is being taken to the limit and torn apart, the late 19th century - Wagner and Richard Strauss of course; what a funny time for someone to write theories of 18th century common practice harmony. Why? Not it seems to me to write this music (though Schoenberg of course wrote a fine book on this); but to place it in a historical context, in a narrative.
    It is interesting that Schoenberg's theoretic books seemed to be more inportant in English-speaking countries.
    I communicated a lot with German, Italian, Polish (and of course Russian) musicians and I cannot remember that we ever mentioned his theory books though we discussed a lot his music and other essays.

    It seems like his re-location to US made his a kind of 'European tradition bearer'. In Germany and Austria or Italy and Russia it just was not needed... there was already an established theory and practice of educational process.

    I agree with you about a kind of retrospective character of Riemann's theory -- by the way it was not ever referred to like this during my education period -- it says to me also that it was so much accomodated that it was out of problematics field. It was sort of natural enviroment. (Even Tchaikovsky's or Rimsky-Korsakov's methods were not used or mentioned often...)

    But I think that this rettrospective view is in a great deal true...

    I study a lot of early music with dedication and passion but whenever I hear Schubert or Bruckner or some war-time Furtwangler records I feel that this is where i am really home. And that story begins for me from baroque time - from Bach - and I can clearly hear it in music...
    It is not as much a historic view as an artistic one for me...

    You know... Young Titian worked with Giorgione a lot and this causes constant change of attribution of painting of both from that period.. to such an extent taht it seems to me taht at some moment they were one personality.
    But probably it is true.. from artistic point of view it was the same personality if we cannot detect by artistic means the difference.
    Historic factual eveidences do no make such an importance in that sense.

    Same thing here... I love reading histric stuff but whenever I hear music it tells me about spiritual inheritance and connections than any information about concert practices and educational approaches... and especially so popular today 'they thoughtthe other way than we do'.

    Actually at some point I thought: no, real men always thought the same. It is the mass mediocre conciousness and culture that was different but the real men (not so many there are) they always thought the same way.