Discussion:
Bach style
(too old to reply)
tom g
2016-04-30 11:35:03 UTC
Permalink
Andrew suggested this theme recently to someone without result. I found that this series of videos by Angela Hewitt, specialist in Bach, was a very good introduction although she is talking about performance on the modern piano:



Although we can study French, Italian, English "style" etc, reading for example the clear words of Francois Couperin in his harpsichord tutor of 1716-17, it is possible that this will not help us very much. When Bach names a suite "French" he mixes these styles so that the pieces are not only in one style. It seems probable that when he composes in "French" style he refers himself to the model for his composition and not so much to a performance style.

As I mentioned before, I learned from my teacher that we can understand a lot about Bachs style by studying "Galant" style which was a reaction against it. This quickly shows the very big difference in the musical tastes and mentality of these times in relation to our epoch.

In spite of these designations we see many modern performers of Bach more concerned with articulation, "flow", "architecture" etc and a musical expression that happens inside these priorities.

By the way, I dont recommend "Bach, The Learned Musician"/Christoph Wolff, for information about performance (or notational) style. Its a biography.

tom g
Andrew Schulman
2016-04-30 12:30:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by tom g
http://youtu.be/ZAeLjliS1LY
Although we can study French, Italian, English "style" etc, reading for example the clear words of Francois Couperin in his harpsichord tutor of 1716-17, it is possible that this will not help us very much. When Bach names a suite "French" he mixes these styles so that the pieces are not only in one style. It seems probable that when he composes in "French" style he refers himself to the model for his composition and not so much to a performance style.
As I mentioned before, I learned from my teacher that we can understand a lot about Bachs style by studying "Galant" style which was a reaction against it. This quickly shows the very big difference in the musical tastes and mentality of these times in relation to our epoch.
In spite of these designations we see many modern performers of Bach more concerned with articulation, "flow", "architecture" etc and a musical expression that happens inside these priorities.
By the way, I dont recommend "Bach, The Learned Musician"/Christoph Wolff, for information about performance (or notational) style. Its a biography.
tom g
Glad to see this thread started. For us, Bach is our most important composer fortunately because his music lends itself so well to transcription for the guitar.

I'll just address one thing you mention, I'd written about this somewhere in one of the recent threads so for some this is a repeat. One of my theory/composition teachers in college was Professor Isaac Nemiroff, a respected composer - http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/ark:/99166/w6029161

At the time he was in his 60s and he told us he could trace his teacher's lineage back to Bach. Fascinating man. One day he told us that there were four pre-dominant styles in Europe in the first half of the 18th century. The first two were Italian and French style. The third style was how most composers wrote music, a mixture of the first two. Then, voice rising, he said, "And the fourth style was the most dominant of all, the Bach style!"

Andrew
tom g
2016-04-30 12:47:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by tom g
http://youtu.be/ZAeLjliS1LY
Although we can study French, Italian, English "style" etc, reading for example the clear words of Francois Couperin in his harpsichord tutor of 1716-17, it is possible that this will not help us very much. When Bach names a suite "French" he mixes these styles so that the pieces are not only in one style. It seems probable that when he composes in "French" style he refers himself to the model for his composition and not so much to a performance style.
As I mentioned before, I learned from my teacher that we can understand a lot about Bachs style by studying "Galant" style which was a reaction against it. This quickly shows the very big difference in the musical tastes and mentality of these times in relation to our epoch.
In spite of these designations we see many modern performers of Bach more concerned with articulation, "flow", "architecture" etc and a musical expression that happens inside these priorities.
By the way, I dont recommend "Bach, The Learned Musician"/Christoph Wolff, for information about performance (or notational) style. Its a biography.
tom g
Glad to see this thread started. For us, Bach is our most important composer fortunately because his music lends itself so well to transcription for the guitar.
I'll just address one thing you mention, I'd written about this somewhere in one of the recent threads so for some this is a repeat. One of my theory/composition teachers in college was Professor Isaac Nemiroff, a respected composer - http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/ark:/99166/w6029161
At the time he was in his 60s and he told us he could trace his teacher's lineage back to Bach. Fascinating man. One day he told us that there were four pre-dominant styles in Europe in the first half of the 18th century. The first two were Italian and French style. The third style was how most composers wrote music, a mixture of the first two. Then, voice rising, he said, "And the fourth style was the most dominant of all, the Bach style!"
Andrew
I think he was completely right!

tom g
Andrew Schulman
2016-04-30 16:12:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by tom g
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by tom g
http://youtu.be/ZAeLjliS1LY
Although we can study French, Italian, English "style" etc, reading for example the clear words of Francois Couperin in his harpsichord tutor of 1716-17, it is possible that this will not help us very much. When Bach names a suite "French" he mixes these styles so that the pieces are not only in one style. It seems probable that when he composes in "French" style he refers himself to the model for his composition and not so much to a performance style.
As I mentioned before, I learned from my teacher that we can understand a lot about Bachs style by studying "Galant" style which was a reaction against it. This quickly shows the very big difference in the musical tastes and mentality of these times in relation to our epoch.
In spite of these designations we see many modern performers of Bach more concerned with articulation, "flow", "architecture" etc and a musical expression that happens inside these priorities.
By the way, I dont recommend "Bach, The Learned Musician"/Christoph Wolff, for information about performance (or notational) style. Its a biography.
tom g
Glad to see this thread started. For us, Bach is our most important composer fortunately because his music lends itself so well to transcription for the guitar.
I'll just address one thing you mention, I'd written about this somewhere in one of the recent threads so for some this is a repeat. One of my theory/composition teachers in college was Professor Isaac Nemiroff, a respected composer - http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/ark:/99166/w6029161
At the time he was in his 60s and he told us he could trace his teacher's lineage back to Bach. Fascinating man. One day he told us that there were four pre-dominant styles in Europe in the first half of the 18th century. The first two were Italian and French style. The third style was how most composers wrote music, a mixture of the first two. Then, voice rising, he said, "And the fourth style was the most dominant of all, the Bach style!"
Andrew
I think he was completely right!
tom g
Wait, this cannot be possible, are we actually agreeing about something!?! :-)

A.
tom g
2016-04-30 18:24:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by tom g
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by tom g
http://youtu.be/ZAeLjliS1LY
Although we can study French, Italian, English "style" etc, reading for example the clear words of Francois Couperin in his harpsichord tutor of 1716-17, it is possible that this will not help us very much. When Bach names a suite "French" he mixes these styles so that the pieces are not only in one style. It seems probable that when he composes in "French" style he refers himself to the model for his composition and not so much to a performance style.
As I mentioned before, I learned from my teacher that we can understand a lot about Bachs style by studying "Galant" style which was a reaction against it. This quickly shows the very big difference in the musical tastes and mentality of these times in relation to our epoch.
In spite of these designations we see many modern performers of Bach more concerned with articulation, "flow", "architecture" etc and a musical expression that happens inside these priorities.
By the way, I dont recommend "Bach, The Learned Musician"/Christoph Wolff, for information about performance (or notational) style. Its a biography.
tom g
Glad to see this thread started. For us, Bach is our most important composer fortunately because his music lends itself so well to transcription for the guitar.
I'll just address one thing you mention, I'd written about this somewhere in one of the recent threads so for some this is a repeat. One of my theory/composition teachers in college was Professor Isaac Nemiroff, a respected composer - http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/ark:/99166/w6029161
At the time he was in his 60s and he told us he could trace his teacher's lineage back to Bach. Fascinating man. One day he told us that there were four pre-dominant styles in Europe in the first half of the 18th century. The first two were Italian and French style. The third style was how most composers wrote music, a mixture of the first two. Then, voice rising, he said, "And the fourth style was the most dominant of all, the Bach style!"
Andrew
I think he was completely right!
tom g
Wait, this cannot be possible, are we actually agreeing about something!?! :-)
A.
Shurely shum mishtake!! ;-)
Well, of fact we are both agreeing with Isaac Nemiroff so lets call it a half-agreement...
Andrew Schulman
2016-04-30 18:36:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by tom g
Shurely shum mishtake!! ;-)
Well, of fact we are both agreeing with Isaac Nemiroff so lets call it a half-agreement...
Good enough!

A.
d***@gmail.com
2016-04-30 16:51:42 UTC
Permalink
I have been very busy. One approach to Bach is to treat the line with slight accents (there is a method to this) in such a way there becomes an underlying rhythm within the line. By doing this, you can create a hierarchy of phrasing right down to the beat level. Of course, one should consider the overall meter as well as the accents within the dance. The sense of strong/weak or 'quantatis intrinsica' is important to establish especially in Italian style lines. Knowing is the dance or movement is in Italian or French style is also important because surely this will inform your use and treatment of ornamentation
(French-small discrete ornaments or Italian- wholesale treatment of the melodic line). An ever so slight 'pregnancy' or pause before the downbeat tends to be better than the stereotypical 19th century across the bar phrasing (I have mentioned this before here). I could go on...

Doug
d***@gmail.com
2016-04-30 16:59:11 UTC
Permalink
Here is what I wrote about phrasing across the barline:

Since he uses Bach as one of the examples, this
a problem, especially in the French style. There should be a slight
hesitance or "pregnancy" before the downbeat which does the opposite
of what he is describing. This goes back to the dance origins of this
suites. Not to mention, the harmonic movement/continuo is usually
relatively slow moving in the Baroque and often changes at the
barline.
Andrew Schulman
2016-04-30 17:35:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@gmail.com
Since he uses Bach as one of the examples, this
a problem, especially in the French style. There should be a slight
hesitance or "pregnancy" before the downbeat which does the opposite
of what he is describing. This goes back to the dance origins of this
suites. Not to mention, the harmonic movement/continuo is usually
relatively slow moving in the Baroque and often changes at the
barline.
From the Bach Reader, a great insight into Bach in several ways, especially rhythm - an observation by a contemporary, Johann Gesner, of Bach conducting in 1738:

"If you could see him...singing with one voice and playing his own parts, but watching over everything and bringing back to the rhythm and the beat, out of thirty or even forty musicians, the one with a nod, another by tapping with his foot, the third with a warning finger, giving the right note to one from the top of his voice, to another from the bottom, and to a third from the middle of it -- all alone, in the midst of the greatest din made by all the participants, and, although he is executing the most difficult parts himself, noticing at once whenever and wherever a mistake occurs, holding everyone together, taking precautions everywhere, and repairing any unsteadiness, full of rhythm in every part of his body..."

Andrew
d***@gmail.com
2016-04-30 23:20:31 UTC
Permalink
This is a great quote! It am curious about how others approach Bach melodically. This is just one layer of many aspects we must consider, but I have found it to be very interesting because when articulated and shaped well (melodic shaping) it brings to light other layers aurally to this music. I have a method I use (I was taught it so I can't claim any credit for developing it), I am interested what others might do. It seems some do nothing at all. I suppose this could be a valid approach too. Not very expressive, but valid.

Doug
Andrew Schulman
2016-05-01 04:23:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@gmail.com
This is a great quote! It am curious about how others approach Bach melodically. This is just one layer of many aspects we must consider, but I have found it to be very interesting because when articulated and shaped well (melodic shaping) it brings to light other layers aurally to this music. I have a method I use (I was taught it so I can't claim any credit for developing it), I am interested what others might do. It seems some do nothing at all. I suppose this could be a valid approach too. Not very expressive, but valid.
Doug
Yes, the quote really is great. Certainly paints a picture, among other things, about how important rhythm is in this music

There is another quote that I'll share that tells how powerful Bach's music is. I first read it in May 2010, three months after I started playing in the Surgical ICU at Beth Israel hospital. I'd played for a post-brain surgery patient that day and when I got home I immediately did a search on Bach + Brain. This quote was the first thing that came up: "Of all the music we tested in medical school with patients, colleagues and others, Bach's music consistently made the brain work in a balanced way better than any other genre." - Dr. Arthur Harvey, neuromusicologist.

That was six years ago. I just tried Googling those two words and Arthur's quote is far enough away that I stopped looking after a few pages.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that because it appears in two chapters in my book, and..."spoilers"!

"I am curious about how others approach Bach melodically."

My first quick response is that I approach Bach the same I do as any other music, melodically and otherwise. Figure out what's going on (to the best of my ability) and play it.

Meaning: everything is there in any piece you play. What you know from studying and experience informs all your choices so you can bring out what's there to the best effect. Some people will agree with you, some won't. If you are playing professionally there is a percentage you have reached that agree with you, i.e. like it, or you wouldn't be working. If you play for your own enjoyment, the only audience that matters is you. (In a way that is still the same for I think most professional musicians.)

With "classical" music (I don't mean the Classical period) there are certain ideas about how things should be that you must adhere to but within that there is still plenty of room. So, back to Bach: if it's a fugue one aspect is that it's pretty straight ahead. In a piece like the Ciaccona there is much more room for what could be called Romantic playing.

Okay, Doug, let's hear about your method!

Andrew
d***@gmail.com
2016-05-01 14:04:39 UTC
Permalink
Andrew,
My approach is really a simple one and like you mentioned in your post, works well with other tonal music as well. Hierarchical phrasing of Bach at the beat level, at its most simplistic, is bringing out the sense of quantatis intrisica or the sense of strong/weak or tension/resolution between two notes. Next, the proper articulation of the codified figures or written of embellishment figures. Shaping these figures melodically brings out the next layer, rhythmically though slight accents, when there is a leap or change of direction in the line in the figure, you slightly accent it. Next, look at the small subphrases, then larger phrases etc... Of course, the are metrical considerations and larger accenting considerations which are fluid depending on the dance or work. Like I said before, I didn't developed this. I learned all this stuff from Stanley. As a student, I remember being in awe of his mastery of Bach. It is all 'out there' and published in his book, but I don't hear many people doing it. I have been trying though! Lately, I have been playing more galant style. I transcribed Vivaldi's g minor Trio Sonata for guitar in eminor. It sound surprisingly good!

Doug
Andrew Schulman
2016-05-01 18:17:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@gmail.com
Andrew,
My approach is really a simple one and like you mentioned in your post, works well with other tonal music as well. Hierarchical phrasing of Bach at the beat level, at its most simplistic, is bringing out the sense of quantatis intrisica or the sense of strong/weak or tension/resolution between two notes. Next, the proper articulation of the codified figures or written of embellishment figures. Shaping these figures melodically brings out the next layer, rhythmically though slight accents, when there is a leap or change of direction in the line in the figure, you slightly accent it. Next, look at the small subphrases, then larger phrases etc... Of course, the are metrical considerations and larger accenting considerations which are fluid depending on the dance or work. Like I said before, I didn't developed this. I learned all this stuff from Stanley. As a student, I remember being in awe of his mastery of Bach. It is all 'out there' and published in his book, but I don't hear many people doing it. I have been trying though! Lately, I have been playing more galant style. I transcribed Vivaldi's g minor Trio Sonata for guitar in eminor. It sound surprisingly good!
Doug
Absolutely solid approach.

(Did you notice the subliminal cue in the word *absolutely*?)

Thanks,

Andrew
d***@gmail.com
2016-05-02 13:01:08 UTC
Permalink
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Andrew Schulman
2016-05-02 13:05:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@gmail.com
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Lutefisk!*

A.

*Any non-Norwegians get that? (I'm subliminally Norwegian; I taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1978-81.)
JMF
2016-05-02 15:07:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by d***@gmail.com
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Lutefisk!*
A.
*Any non-Norwegians get that? (I'm subliminally Norwegian; I taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1978-81.)
Not only did I get it, I have eaten it ... unfortunately ...
dsi1
2016-05-02 16:58:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by JMF
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by d***@gmail.com
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Lutefisk!*
A.
*Any non-Norwegians get that? (I'm subliminally Norwegian; I taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1978-81.)
Not only did I get it, I have eaten it ... unfortunately ...
My step-mom considers it a special treat to be made during the holiday season. She hasn't made it in Hawaii because it's tough getting food-grade drain cleaner over here. I pray that our luck will hold up.
Andrew Schulman
2016-05-02 17:31:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by dsi1
Post by JMF
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by d***@gmail.com
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Lutefisk!*
A.
*Any non-Norwegians get that? (I'm subliminally Norwegian; I taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1978-81.)
Not only did I get it, I have eaten it ... unfortunately ...
My step-mom considers it a special treat to be made during the holiday season. She hasn't made it in Hawaii because it's tough getting food-grade drain cleaner over here. I pray that our luck will hold up.
I just mailed a gallon of food-grade drain cleaner to your step-mom, care of the local district council office to make sure it arrives for her immediate use.

Bwahaha,
Andrew
dsi1
2016-05-02 18:26:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by dsi1
Post by JMF
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by d***@gmail.com
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Lutefisk!*
A.
*Any non-Norwegians get that? (I'm subliminally Norwegian; I taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1978-81.)
Not only did I get it, I have eaten it ... unfortunately ...
My step-mom considers it a special treat to be made during the holiday season. She hasn't made it in Hawaii because it's tough getting food-grade drain cleaner over here. I pray that our luck will hold up.
I just mailed a gallon of food-grade drain cleaner to your step-mom, care of the local district council office to make sure it arrives for her immediate use.
Bwahaha,
Andrew
Truly, you are the anti-christ. Hail Satan!
Andrew Schulman
2016-05-02 18:33:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by dsi1
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by dsi1
Post by JMF
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by d***@gmail.com
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Lutefisk!*
A.
*Any non-Norwegians get that? (I'm subliminally Norwegian; I taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1978-81.)
Not only did I get it, I have eaten it ... unfortunately ...
My step-mom considers it a special treat to be made during the holiday season. She hasn't made it in Hawaii because it's tough getting food-grade drain cleaner over here. I pray that our luck will hold up.
I just mailed a gallon of food-grade drain cleaner to your step-mom, care of the local district council office to make sure it arrives for her immediate use.
Bwahaha,
Andrew
Truly, you are the anti-christ. Hail Satan!
And you are one of my finest minions.

At ease,

Andrew
dsi1
2016-05-02 18:42:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by dsi1
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by dsi1
Post by JMF
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by d***@gmail.com
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Lutefisk!*
A.
*Any non-Norwegians get that? (I'm subliminally Norwegian; I taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1978-81.)
Not only did I get it, I have eaten it ... unfortunately ...
My step-mom considers it a special treat to be made during the holiday season. She hasn't made it in Hawaii because it's tough getting food-grade drain cleaner over here. I pray that our luck will hold up.
I just mailed a gallon of food-grade drain cleaner to your step-mom, care of the local district council office to make sure it arrives for her immediate use.
Bwahaha,
Andrew
Truly, you are the anti-christ. Hail Satan!
And you are one of my finest minions.
At ease,
Andrew
Best day ever!
Andrew Schulman
2016-05-02 22:14:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by dsi1
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by dsi1
Truly, you are the anti-christ. Hail Satan!
And you are one of my finest minions.
At ease,
Andrew
Best day ever!
You can have the last word.

A.

Andrew Schulman
2016-05-02 17:29:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by JMF
Post by Andrew Schulman
Post by d***@gmail.com
Lol. Abso-LUTE-ly!
Lutefisk!*
A.
*Any non-Norwegians get that? (I'm subliminally Norwegian; I taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1978-81.)
Not only did I get it, I have eaten it ... unfortunately ...
My sincere condolences,

Andrew
Continue reading on narkive:
Loading...