Started by BWV 1080, April 26, 2023, 11:52:12 AM
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Quote from: krummholz on May 03, 2023, 10:45:27 AMIf Bach could improvise the kind of intricate contrapuntal developments one hears in his best fugues, then he was an amazing individual.
Quote from: Karl Henning on May 03, 2023, 11:29:08 AMEven after Bach, many organists maintained a tradition of improvising fugues. I've heard at least two ex tempore fugues in organ recitals. Not anywhere as finished as Bach, but still impressive feats.
Quote from: Luke on May 03, 2023, 11:20:44 AMYes, and notice that the fugue improvised in the above video (whilst clearly very impressive) is not properly fugal throughout, and where it is, it is mostly counterpoint of quite a free variety. Precisely because anything more than this is supremely difficult.
Quote from: BWV 1080 on May 03, 2023, 12:41:28 PMTrue, but we don't know the capabilities of the masters. Using a chess analogy, perhaps Mortensen is an 1800 player while Bach had a 2800 rating - he very well may have simply known nearly all the potential contrapuntal moves and had them under his fingers. Not saying everything Bach wrote was improvised on the spot, but I suspect the amount of his music that was is more than we might think.
Quote from: Luke on May 03, 2023, 12:54:49 PMNo, I don't disagree with this at all. We can't know what was possible 'back then,' but I'm fairly sure that, as counterpoint and harmony were absorbed differently, because experienced differently, there were players who could do things that are not really possible today. These days even those that 'can,' such as the undoubtedly very skilled example you posted, have to skimp on their fugal textures here and there, as I said. And not only that but also, of course, the pianist in your example has experienced all that post-Baroque music which Bach et al never did, which has also informed his playing whether he wants it to or not. You can hear that in some sections of his fugue.
Quote from: krummholz on May 04, 2023, 10:36:46 AMI've never used figured bass - in fact, it wasn't even taught in theory class when I was taking it. And since those college days I've never used the Roman numeral system either. Granted, I only took up composing again about 3 years ago and have only one completed work (well, mostly completed) that is tonal in the Common Practice sense. But that piece moves all over the tonal universe and I never had any need for either system in writing it. Not sure if it would have helped. The writing is almost entirely linear and only in a few places did I worry about what position the resulting chords were in - mostly at cadences. I'm not sure it would even make sense to subject it to detailed analysis using the Roman numeral system, as there is constant modulation. Probably shows that I'm really just a rank amateur at this.Apologies for the thread drift...
Quote from: Luke on May 04, 2023, 09:32:43 AMThere's a place for both, and I think, in their own varying ways and to varying degrees, the great composers would have thought in both, and in other ways too. Certainly you are right that, at a moment-to-moment level, thinking in figurings is a very efficient way of going about things. But though a C# with a 6 figuring is a very smooth way of indicating the chord, the jazz notation for the same chord (A/C#) is just as easy to read - and it clearly works perfectly well for jazz improvisers. But, for a composer (rather than an improviser) who is writing (for example) a piece in Eb major, thinking of that same chord as a #IVb reinforces the sense of its (very distant) place within the tonal universe of the whole. For a composer planning a large-scale work and thinking in terms of the bigger tonal movements of the piece - e.g. a section in the subdominant, a movement across the circle of fifths.... - the Roman numeral system is very useful and figured chords don't come into it.
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