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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.

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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



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