Martin Anderson wrote:
>Jon mentioned Per Norgard, too. I was interviewing Per before the UK
>premiere of his Sixth Symphony, and he was explaining that the music was
>intended to explore the bass regions of the orchestra. As he went into
>ever-deeper detail, I asked him whether he expected his audiences to
>perceive what was going on. His response: "How many people understand
>a Bach fugue".
What a great quote!
I am reminded of my several semesters of study devoted to counterpoint.
In my final semester we would often devote an entire week studying a
single Fugue from the WTC. At the end of the week, I felt like I finally
understood at least something of the thought process involved in what
Reading Bodky's book on the keyboard music of Bach and being exposed
to the likely use of numbers in Bach's music, then coupling it with the
expressive content of the music...for me, Bach's music is far more complex
than anything written by Boulez or Xenakis.
One exercise that I found enlightening...copying out a Bach fugue.
One can do that on a superficial level, but if you have immersed yourself
in the functional harmony of the period...keeping your copy of Forte's
"Tonal harmony in concept and practice" handy...and, beginning with the
second entrance of the subject, look for all of the possibilities for
each note of the countersubject and then try and figure out why Bach
chose the note and duration that he did. It becomes a bit like a chess
game since one is setting up a process which will effect the rest of the
piece. I used to try choosing a note other than Bach did and seeing
where it would take the piece. The process reminded me of writing an
algorithm, where one has to determine the ramifications of each line of
code, and all of the possible results.
As far as I know, Bach never had any Beta versions of his music!
My guess would be that he must have dreamt in notes.