Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

Please help me understand Beethoven (or counterpoint in general)

Hello Dear Forumers. :) Very happy to write my first post.

I'm an amateur and like to study works of classical masters to see how certain things are done and among other things I also try to grasp counterpoint theory and learn about species. Recently I listened and analysed the score of Beethoven's 9th symphony's 2nd movement molto vivace and was struck how the strings are written:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5favl2Qtx0

So when I looked at the score I could not grasp what is going on here because sometimes for example there are parallel thirds descending between two voices when another voice go opposite direction, sometimes the rhythm is hanging on one note, change of octavesetc. You can see the strings "bricks" in the video so you'll see what I mean. I can't understand how it is written, is it note against note counterpoint with rules broken? I have a hard time to figure out which voice is written against which voice if that makes sense. :)

I also have a side question for things like Bach:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y_L0-aqLLs

I was taught by the materials that two voices should generally be in opposite direction or oblique motion for the best effect, but this uses parallel motions almost all the time from the beginning minus the leaps on every first note in the group. Bach's ear dictated this or are there other principles behind this?

Thank you.

Views: 551

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Daniel your critique was full of pejorative remarks. A few simple phrases with less contentious adjectives is all thats needed.

The beauty about music today is its diversity. Tonality is not dead (neither is it for me, I still feel gravitational pull when writing), but music is an evolving entity like language and the  practice will always respond to the current zeitgeist. The 20thC language has ensured that music will not stagnate for the foreseeable future, a good thing right?

I'm glad your attack on the 20thc was based on some knowledge of the music, but as you have admitted, there are gaps in your knowledge. I hope your attitude softens if you find yourself on an even more familiar footing with modern practices.

We are in agreement about where the accolades fall, it is too easy to praise or condemn  a work that is difficult to grasp - here I feel the cult of personality plays a distorting role. All we can do is trust our own artistic sensibilities....

Well done on getting through to the next stage with your piece.

Perhaps I could have spared some details when it came to what I think of Bob's work.  It is quite late, and I am quite sick, not that that excuses anything.  Overall though, I do disapprove of what I heard on Bob's soundcloud.  I won't apologize for that. (Not saying you were asking me to apologize, I am just saying I feel no immediate regret about expressing intense disapproval of Bob's work) 

Mike Hewer said:

Daniel your critique was full of pejorative remarks. A few simple phrases with less contentious adjectives is all thats needed.

The beauty about music today is its diversity. Tonality is not dead (neither is it for me, I still feel gravitational pull when writing), but music is an evolving entity like language and the  practice will always respond to the current zeitgeist. The 20thC language has ensured that music will not stagnate for the foreseeable future, a good thing right?

I'm glad your attack on the 20thc was based on some knowledge of the music, but as you have admitted, there are gaps in your knowledge. I hope your attitude softens if you find yourself on an even more familiar footing with modern practices.

We are in agreement about where the accolades fall, it is too easy to praise or condemn  a work that is difficult to grasp - here I feel the cult of personality plays a distorting role. All we can do is trust our own artistic sensibilities....

Well done on getting through to the next stage with your piece.

Replies by Daniel Zarb-Cousin :

Judging from the music on that soundcloud you posted, I'm assuming you are trying to justify your own decadent writing by saying that tonal music is worn out.  I mean, there is a lot to justify in those drawn out spasms of cool sounds. The music on there is just ghastly and horrid, and I feel nothing by it and want to be surprised by the following it has garnered, yet I am not surprised.

Perhaps I could have spared some details when it came to what I think of Bob's work.  It is quite late, and I am quite sick, not that that excuses anything.  Overall though, I do disapprove of what I heard on Bob's soundcloud.  I won't apologize for that. (Not saying you were asking me to apologize, I am just saying I feel no immediate regret about expressing intense disapproval of Bob's work)



On the civility of my comments: I assaulted no character.  If Bob puts his soundcloud at the bottom of his reply, I assumed he was asking for a comment on his music.  I condemn the music because I find it harmful.  Do I want legislation passed to ban it?  No, absolutely not, everyone has tastes, opinions, what have you, etc. etc.  I just don't want it encouraged in the arts to write music such as it, while simultaneously it is generally discouraged to write music in older styles.


I'd also like to say that I have no doubt that Bob, along with many of the greats of the 20th century (Schoenberg, Cage, etc.), is an incredible musician, who knows tons more than I, and who could write in any tonal idiom with far better than proficiency than I.  Where my problem lies is with where they allocate that genius.    



Bob Morabito said:

Ive heard many people write in older styles as they like it more, and are more comfortable there-- and with all thats been written on it, easier to understand and therefore express themselves. And again thats fine, as with my previous comments.


"Though I must state that IMO, older does not mean irrelevant or outdated -- I reject the modernistic notion that to be "relevant" one must throw out the old altogether and reinvent the (square) wheel.)"


Its sad that its unfortunately viewed this way--

No one is trying to reinvent the wheel, or dictating the "rules of relevance"...

Writing music nowadays in older styles etc thats already been done so excessively, and  done so much better many many years ago-- ie using and reusing  the same old "wheel"--doesnt work for ALL of us..We seek to use sounds, methods and materials available to us now, while we're alive, and write music of our time.

It seems that possibly some are using reinventing 'music' in place of the 'wheel' in that quote, and again, all that I feel is being done are composers being of "our time"..in our thoughts and methods of creating music.

And for those who choose to write music in older styles, etc, go for it.! IMHO, though I would hope at least SOMETHING of each composer will be there new in these older style pieces, so we can hear THEIR voice, and not keep hearing the same old already well established, all too familiar voices drowning them out.


For the Beethoven, heres a search with many results for its analysis--hopefully something will be of use there:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Beethoven%27s+9th+symphony%27s+2nd+...

And as for these "rules" for my money maybe only look upon them as older suggestions..observations on what was done..and when confronted with judging what sounds good versus following a rule, throw the rule out.

Also in music as regards the saying "you need to know the rules before you can break them" , Id choose to simply write your own rules, using your heart, ears, and brain to guide, create, and decide your own rules.

To me its the road to originality in ones music..and of course with all of this -YMMV! :)!!
--------

Hi Daniel  Ive posted some of your remarks, and some of my replies to this thread. I think possibly re-reading them might help.

FYI I post my Soundcloud music link as part of my signature NOT because, as you sadly wrongly assumed "he was asking for a comment on his music", as if I had wanted that I would post them in the forum here for music critique, as that mechanism already exists.
I think we all should have signatures allowed here that contain links, or programs, and equipment we use, as it s on many other forums.

As for your opinion of my music, (while not presented IMHO in the very best way, or again asked for: ) youre more than entitled to it, and since you did, thanks for sharing. Im very proud of my music and wil continue writing in this style--described by you as " decadent writing.  drawn out spasms of cool sounds,  just ghastly and horrid, (THAT'S my favorite-LOL:) etc.

In ending Id like to quote what I wrote before:


Ive heard many people write in older styles as they like it more, and are more comfortable there-- and with all thats been written on it, easier to understand and therefore express themselves. And again thats fine, as with my previous comments.

And for those who choose to write music in older styles, etc, go for it.! IMHO, though I would hope at least SOMETHING of each composer will be there new in these older style pieces, so we can hear THEIR voice, and not keep hearing the same old already well established, all too familiar voices drowning them out.

I stand by these comments, as I do my music.

Feel better as you said you were quite sick.

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

PS funny thing--I was trying to post ANOTHER "ghastly and horrid" piece today LOL  if I could have finished it, but replying to this will probably delay it, or else I think I would have spent more time on my reply to your post. Thanks



Rules are for students. If you've finished your study, you're free to do as you please. As Beethoven did. August Wilhelm Ambroß, a music professor in Prague in the 19th century wrote:

The harsh, maybe even partly frightful scholastic, regulations that students are to be teached, and can not bear without, are for the master of arts no unbreakable laws; even so he can not stray at random, for the basic foundation of the arts may not be torn.

> decadent writing.  drawn out spasms of cool sounds,  just ghastly and horrid...

That made me curious, Bob. It is quite an achievement to get such a emotional respond. Usually people just say that your music is 'interesting'. I had to listen to your music, so I went to your soundcloud page.

I heard this kind of music before, even 40 years ago, when as a first-year student I went to my first concert in the concert hall of the conservatory of music. This style was already starting to age back then, but I'm not complaining because I like to write my music in a much older style, although spiced with advanced harmonies.

Nowadays your style can't be called modern any more, because of its age, but who cares? You like it, that's what matters. As a composer though you must feel a bit isolated, because there aren't much musicians who want to play this. Back in the days that was a problem too, especially because there were no computers and virtual orchestras.

Which virtual string instruments did you use for the string quartet?

By the way, I found the registration of a concert at my old conservatory and as you will hear, you're not alone :-)

The concert hall is a former chapel. The conservatory used to be an old monastery. They moved out to a modern building in the city centre, but there are still concerts in the chapel.

> decadent writing.  drawn out spasms of cool sounds,  just ghastly and horrid...

That made me curious, Bob. It is quite an achievement to get such a emotional respond. Usually people just say that your music is 'interesting'. I had to listen to your music, so I went to your soundcloud page.

LOLOL..thanks, Rowy, and along with interesting, Ive received many kind words which Im very appreciative of-- however  on the other hand one person said that I needed  to"chill":) Lots of undeserved references to the great Cecil Taylor, probably because of the large chromatic clusters, played on the piano with ones forearms. You're welcome to check the comments on each piece at Soundcloud and blogs on the web.

However this was my very FIRST"ghastly and horrid!" :)

I heard this kind of music before, even 40 years ago, when as a first-year student I went to my first concert in the concert hall of the conservatory of music. This style was already starting to age back then, but I'm not complaining because I like to write my music in a much older style, although spiced with advanced harmonies.

Well dont write it off into a walker and old age home just yet because of your opinion, Rowy..it simply isnt so!  And Id kindly suggest you listen to a LOT more "modern music". I deliberately took a point of reference which is still the basis for new music today, only the narrative has changed, and instrumental technique has advanced GREATLY and at times almost completely overrules or even absent the basic elements of older music.

Also I did go to your website and you werent kidding when you said you "like to write (your) music in a much older style"-

though sadly I couldnt find where the "spiced with advanced harmonies" were, as I was very interested to see how you accomplished that. Could you kindly point them out? I didnt listen to everything and would appreciate it- thanks so much..

Nowadays your style can't be called modern any more, because of its age, but who cares?

Again I kindly suggest more more listening and research into the music of today, Rowy, thanks, and naming it is really very ambiguous and I usually just go with "contemporary classical" as many of us do..

You like it, that's what matters. As a composer though you must feel a bit isolated, because there aren't much musicians who want to play this. Back in the days that was a problem too, especially because there were no computers and virtual orchestras.

Again Rowy in all kindness and fairness I feel your take on new music is cursory, and isnt wholly accurate as to what it is, and the number of those who want to and are actually playing new music. It will really surprise you.

Which virtual string instruments did you use for the string quartet?

The Solo Strings from  an older version of Xsample Chamber Ensemble (XCE) which I reviewed. That can be found here: http://xsample.de/index_htm_files/XCE_Review.pdf

By the way, I found the registration of a concert at my old conservatory and as you will hear, you're not alone :-)

I listened and didnt find much specific similarity especially to what Im doing, but thanks for sharing.

And I do think its important to note that IMHO many of us in "Contemporary Classical music" or whatever one might call it,  are actually working in a kind of  "common practice period",  just putting our own personal stamp on it.

Its a very exciting time to be a composer, and enjoyer of new music--and ALL good music, regardless of its "age". 

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Hi Bob,

Well dont write it off into a walker and old age home just yet because of your opinion, Rowy..it simply isnt so!  And Id kindly suggest you listen to a LOT more "modern music". I deliberately took a point of reference which is still the basis for new music today, only the narrative has changed, and instrumental technique has advanced GREATLY and at times almost completely overrules or even absent the basic elements of older music.

True, I lost interest over the years. In general avant-gardism isn't that popular any more among the "elite" in Europe. Avant-gardism was heavily subsidized, but there were some major cuts in the arts. The younger generation of composers prefer to write tonal music (you might call it "modal", but to us "modal" means in a church key). Film music is very popular right now, and music for games. Actually we should call film music "modern" :-)

though sadly I couldnt find where the "spiced with advanced harmonies" were, as I was very interested to see how you accomplished that. Could you kindly point them out? I didnt listen to everything and would appreciate it- thanks so much..

The digital life is quite new to me. I want to write new music, and convert it into a video or mp3. The few pieces on my site are just trials. I orchestrated old piano compositions, just to see if I can make an orchestra sound real enough. Well, I can't, yet. Perhaps because I'm not really interested in the digital stuff, I don't know.

The plan was to start writing in autumn, but at the moment I'm losing a lot of time with experiments. God, I hate computers! And further more... well, sob story and so on... I prefer to write music at the piano, but there's a problem with my hands. Perhaps it will go away.

Again Rowy in all kindness and fairness I feel your take on new music is cursory, and isnt wholly accurate as to what it is, and the number of those who want to and are actually playing new music. It will really surprise you.

Not really. I guess it's different in your country. Maybe we're more modern over here :-) The conservatories have special composition departments now, where students learn "applied composition", music for film, games and commercials. The classical department (that had to endure me as a student) has become less important.

By the way, as a young composer I wrote atonal and serial music for some time, but I wasn't really into it, so I went back to my roots. I wrote even tonal music when everyone else was still writing the contemporary stuff. I didn't mind and I still don't. But if someone tells me I should write contemporary or "decadent writing.  drawn out spasms of cool sounds,  just ghastly and horrid..." music, I'm going to hit them over the head with a celery.

 I'm going to hit them over the head with a celery.

That's given me an idea for using vegetables in the root position....sorry, couldn't resist..:-)

English is not my native language, so I had to think for a while (or I'm just stupid), but then I got it. Funny! I can't find any emoticons though (composers are so serious...)

Mike Hewer said:

 I'm going to hit them over the head with a celery.

That's given me an idea for using vegetables in the root position....sorry, couldn't resist..:-)

I think we've established your style isn't to my preference, but I thought I'd tip my respect hat your way for essentially not giving a shit or apologising for/explaining your music in the face of arrant rudeness. Having great confidence in your work is an admirable asset which I find hard to sustain; I'm working hard on owning my style rather than immediately apologising for it being "big", "silly", "80s" or whatever.

Of course, you can be very proud and confident and still seek feedback from those you respect, but true vitriol like Daniel's is almost an affirmation.

Bob Morabito said:

 Im very proud of my music and wil continue writing in this style--described by you as " decadent writing.  drawn out spasms of cool sounds,  just ghastly and horrid"

I'm going to hit them over the head with a celery.

That's given me an idea for using vegetables in the root position....sorry, couldn't resist..:-)

As long as celery is "the tonic"...http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/nyregion/answers-to-questions-abo...

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

In general avant-gardism isn't that popular any more among the "elite" in Europe. Avant-gardism was heavily subsidized, but there were some major cuts in the arts. The younger generation of composers prefer to write tonal music (you might call it "modal", but to us "modal" means in a church key).

Hi Rowy--The subsidized part Ive read and am familiar with (IRCAM)  but I honestly really do find it hard to believe that the younger generation prefers to write tonal music.

I think this opinion is firstly heavily influenced by what kind of composing a person does, and then what kinds of groups and concerts they choose to join, come in contact with, and attend, etc. Surrounded by like minded people, its very easy then to mistakenly think EVERYONE is writing the kind of music they are.

Also I think much modern music takes a greater deal of effort to compose, hence the somewhat easier route with simpler tonal music, and even improvising, most of which is atonal I feel for for obvious reasons. I note I do heartily applaud those who write tonally but find a way to make it new and fresh, and own it. This is very impressive to me, but I really dont see much of it. But again, what I wrote in my paragraph above applies to me also, although I do listen to newly composed music in many genres for hours a day.

And lastly there are those who simply hate it, and Ive reserved MANY stalks of celery for them :)

Again Rowy in all kindness and fairness I feel your take on new music is cursory, and isnt wholly accurate as to what it is, and the number of those who want to and are actually playing new music. It will really surprise you.

Not really. I guess it's different in your country. Maybe we're more modern over here :-

:) Again, I still think your take on this is from an outsider cursorily looking in, and not someone deeply entrenched in composing and performing 'modern music'..again, just my opinion. Please feel free to disagree.

By the way, as a young composer I wrote atonal and serial music for some time,

GOOD FOR YOU!!

However when I ask to hear some of this when others have made such a claim, it usually never materializes or is sad to say not very well done, and in many ways lacking.

Do you have something I might listen to? Id enjoy it very much!

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2017   Created by Chris Merritt.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service