Discussion:
Bach and his music
(too old to reply)
Jon Slaughter
2005-09-07 12:55:30 UTC
Permalink
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc.html

I found this site that analyzes all the fugues in WTC and it seems to have
some lofy ideas on how and why Bach did some of the things he did.

For example,
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc/i04.html#movie


I'm curious about how much of this is true? Is there any real evidence for
this or is it just people that have nothing better to do than find *their*
meaning in something that doesn't necessarily have it?

e.g. He says that the first 4 notes are the sign of the cross and a load of
other stuff.


Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly influenced his
music but did he "design" is music specific and consciously for that reason?


Or is it that he happend to associate certain feelings with certain melodies
and such and just reused them in pieces that had a mood that it could fit in
with? Like for example I have noticed that he use the motive from his 13
invention in several other pieces(I've probably heard it in over 5 other
pieces atleast) but I get the feeling he either just reused that idea cause
he liked it or it was just coincidence. I doubt he said to himself "This
motive represents the creation of the universe by gods hand: the first part
of the theme being god and the second his hand" then in some other piece he
says "I will put gods hand here to represent the wrath of the flood and over
here I start with god to represent that wrath" and then maybe he repeats the
hand part several times to represent god pounding with his hand on the earth
or some crap like that.

I mean, is there any physical evidence(such as letters from him stating
things like this) that he composed like this or is it just all coincidences
and "over-analyzers"?

Jon
paramucho
2005-09-07 13:49:30 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 7 Sep 2005 07:55:30 -0500, "Jon Slaughter"
Post by Jon Slaughter
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc.html
I found this site that analyzes all the fugues in WTC and it seems to have
some lofy ideas on how and why Bach did some of the things he did.
For example,
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc/i04.html#movie
I'm curious about how much of this is true? Is there any real evidence for
this or is it just people that have nothing better to do than find *their*
meaning in something that doesn't necessarily have it?
e.g. He says that the first 4 notes are the sign of the cross and a load of
other stuff.
Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly influenced his
music but did he "design" is music specific and consciously for that reason?
Or is it that he happend to associate certain feelings with certain melodies
and such and just reused them in pieces that had a mood that it could fit in
with? Like for example I have noticed that he use the motive from his 13
invention in several other pieces(I've probably heard it in over 5 other
pieces atleast) but I get the feeling he either just reused that idea cause
he liked it or it was just coincidence. I doubt he said to himself "This
motive represents the creation of the universe by gods hand: the first part
of the theme being god and the second his hand" then in some other piece he
says "I will put gods hand here to represent the wrath of the flood and over
here I start with god to represent that wrath" and then maybe he repeats the
hand part several times to represent god pounding with his hand on the earth
or some crap like that.
I mean, is there any physical evidence(such as letters from him stating
things like this) that he composed like this or is it just all coincidences
and "over-analyzers"?
Jon
All manner of number games were played with music way back when, and
there was symbolic use as well. However, you need exceptionally good
evidence to reverse-engineer this kind of stuff -- either great
primary source material or the establishment of a pervasive pattern of
behaviour across many works. These essays don't seem to provide
either.
Matthew Fields
2005-09-07 14:48:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jon Slaughter
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc.html
I found this site that analyzes all the fugues in WTC and it seems to have
some lofy ideas on how and why Bach did some of the things he did.
For example,
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc/i04.html#movie
I'm curious about how much of this is true? Is there any real evidence for
this or is it just people that have nothing better to do than find *their*
meaning in something that doesn't necessarily have it?
e.g. He says that the first 4 notes are the sign of the cross and a load of
other stuff.
Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly influenced his
music but did he "design" is music specific and consciously for that reason?
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
Post by Jon Slaughter
I mean, is there any physical evidence(such as letters from him stating
things like this) that he composed like this or is it just all coincidences
and "over-analyzers"?
Over-analyzers. Bach came at the end of a long tradition of baroque and
post-Renaissance music where symbolism was about affective states. The
prevailing doctrines that apply to his music are the then-current doctrines
of affects, the then-current dance styles, and the waning remnants of
Renaissance counterpoint.

However, Dufay's "Nuper Rosarum Flores", composed for the dedication of the
Duomo of Florence, *IS* specifically set out in isomelodic proportions
based explicitly on the proportions of the cathedral domed by the Duomo--
and there are contemporaneous sources to back that, apparently. But that's
1436, and Bach wasn't born until 1685.
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
J Jensen
2005-09-08 17:17:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew Fields
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
J.S. Bach certainly composed a *lot* of music celebrating Christianity,
so it stands to reason that he was a true believer. I don't
think there is any evidence to the contrary. Personally, I
hope it is true, since I am a believer also.

--Jeff
Bob Pease
2005-09-08 17:51:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by J Jensen
Post by Matthew Fields
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
J.S. Bach certainly composed a *lot* of music celebrating Christianity,
so it stands to reason that he was a true believer. I don't
think there is any evidence to the contrary. Personally, I
hope it is true, since I am a believer also.
--Jeff
I sense a hidden chauvinism in this statement, someething like "Well, since
Bach and I have some similar Religious beliefs, I can know more about the
"REAL" meaning of his music"
The same statement could be made about John Dowland and Catholics or
Mendelsshon and Jews

The quality of his music as perceived by 21st secular listeners does not
depend on Bach's religious mindset in his time.

Although I believe that the emotional response of music is NOT universal,
but does depend on the upbringing of the listener,
That makes Bach "Feel" more "Churchy" to some than to others.

It also might ( and does) piss a lot of people off as not having a "Groove"

Honi soit...

RJ P
J Jensen
2005-09-09 03:52:56 UTC
Permalink
RJP>I sense a hidden chauvinism in this statement, someething like
"Well, since
RJP>Bach and I have some similar Religious beliefs, I can know more
about the
RJP>"REAL" meaning of his music"

Huh? I didn't say anything along those lines. But now that you
suggest it,
it is an interesting idea. On the other hand, I've never thought of
music
as having a "REAL meaning", although sometimes I think the composer
is tying to evoke certain feelings or paint a musical picture of
certain
images. Its hardly anything to get pissed off about...

--Jeff
Bob Pease
2005-09-09 14:39:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by J Jensen
RJP>I sense a hidden chauvinism in this statement, someething like
"Well, since
RJP>Bach and I have some similar Religious beliefs, I can know more
about the
RJP>"REAL" meaning of his music"
Huh? I didn't say anything along those lines. But now that you
suggest it,
it is an interesting idea. On the other hand, I've never thought of
music
as having a "REAL meaning", although sometimes I think the composer
is tying to evoke certain feelings or paint a musical picture of
certain
images. Its hardly anything to get pissed off about...
--Jeff
Thanks for your response.

I was more concerned as to assumptions that would be made about similarity
of feelings of "believers" over 30 generations of breakneck cultural change,

"Pissed off" is a little strong to describe it, but I do seem to have a
strong reaction to claims of having privy to absolutes in matters of taste
( that's why the "honi soit")

It was my intention to evoke exactly this type of discussion.

I used to get into discussions ( or just listen and try to quell rising
nausea and rage) with people who claim to have the "Real" meaning to music.

IMO the only "Real" meaning to a piece of music is the set of emotions
generally agreed upon as shared by the particular cultural setting of its
origin.

I can't imagine anyone liking music for any other reason except for the way
it makes them feel when they hear it, even if the feeling is not always a
"Good" emotion.

In ANY of Bach's Chorales (351?) I have only a vague idea of how it would
have felt to be there as a 17th century German Protestant. but I'm really
sure that the feeling would be quite different from a Punk-rock 11 year old
wannabe who would hear it (even on an electric guitar) rather than in its
original choral context.

Although it seems extreme, i actually know people who
do not know the difference from "Major" or "Minor" or who know nothing about
scales and Keys, actually call station KVOD and claim that Mozart should
have known better than to write music that they would end up getting bored
with. And insisting at length that anyone who would allow Mozart to be
played is a Musical Ignoramus and ...

( continue conspiracy rave for ten minutes)

But to quote Dobie Gillis "I digress here"

Bob Pease
Jon Slaughter
2005-09-09 06:48:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bob Pease
Post by J Jensen
Post by Matthew Fields
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
J.S. Bach certainly composed a *lot* of music celebrating Christianity,
so it stands to reason that he was a true believer. I don't
think there is any evidence to the contrary. Personally, I
hope it is true, since I am a believer also.
--Jeff
I sense a hidden chauvinism in this statement, someething like "Well, since
Bach and I have some similar Religious beliefs, I can know more about the
"REAL" meaning of his music"
The same statement could be made about John Dowland and Catholics or
Mendelsshon and Jews
The quality of his music as perceived by 21st secular listeners does not
depend on Bach's religious mindset in his time.
Although I believe that the emotional response of music is NOT universal,
but does depend on the upbringing of the listener,
That makes Bach "Feel" more "Churchy" to some than to others.
Well, I'm not religous by any means but I love Bach's music from which ever
point of view he composed it as. I think religion is just a way for many
people to cope with life but everyone is human and share the same feeling no
matter what they believe in. To me music is music and I prefer not to put
in type of extra baggage into it. Wether Bach used religion as a vehicle to
make his work has no bearing on how I interpret it but it doesn't mean that
I won't have a similar emotional experience that he did when he created
it/heard it or anyone else. I do think a piece of music will have virtually
the exact same effect on everyone but because of other factors that effect
can be drastically changed. So, for example, just because two people don't
have the same response to a piece of music doesn't mean that it had the same
effect... its just that effect was transformed on its "way out"(ofcourse
this assumes that on its "way in" to the brain it wasn't effected much)
Post by Bob Pease
It also might ( and does) piss a lot of people off as not having a "Groove"
Honi soit...
RJ P
Jon
Matthew Fields
2005-09-08 17:59:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by J Jensen
Post by Matthew Fields
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
J.S. Bach certainly composed a *lot* of music celebrating Christianity,
so it stands to reason that he was a true believer.
No, it doesn't. Charles Alkan composed a *lot* of music for churches too,
and remained Jewish.
Post by J Jensen
I don't
think there is any evidence to the contrary.
Burden-shifting.

Bach also composed a *lot* of music for petty royalty. That also
doesn't serve as evidence that he was in the least bit politically
minded, let alone a fascist.
Post by J Jensen
Personally, I
hope it is true, since I am a believer also.
What good would it do you if it is true, and what harm would it do
you if it is not true? Your hopes have no bearing on the truth.

One thing we can guarantee: Bach wrote a lot of music. He managed to
get paid for his musical efforts (composing, teaching, choir-leading,
singing, playing various instruments) well enough to run a household
and teach his sons music. So the evidence is that whatever he
believed, he was an apt businessman as well as a musician.
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Kristof Bastiaensen
2005-09-12 00:27:31 UTC
Permalink
At Thu, 08 Sep 2005 17:59:29 GMT,
Post by Matthew Fields
Post by J Jensen
Post by Matthew Fields
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
J.S. Bach certainly composed a *lot* of music celebrating Christianity,
so it stands to reason that he was a true believer.
No, it doesn't. Charles Alkan composed a *lot* of music for churches too,
and remained Jewish.
Just writing religious music isn't enough to conclude that someone is
a religous person. However in the case of Bach there are a lot more
sources to conclude that he was very religious, such as letters,
inscriptions on scores, research done by biographers, etc... You seem
to contradict that. Could you give the sources with which you can
back your claim?

Kristof Bastiaensen
Matthew Fields
2005-09-12 00:48:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
At Thu, 08 Sep 2005 17:59:29 GMT,
Post by Matthew Fields
Post by J Jensen
Post by Matthew Fields
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
J.S. Bach certainly composed a *lot* of music celebrating Christianity,
so it stands to reason that he was a true believer.
No, it doesn't. Charles Alkan composed a *lot* of music for churches too,
and remained Jewish.
Just writing religious music isn't enough to conclude that someone is
a religous person. However in the case of Bach there are a lot more
sources to conclude that he was very religious, such as letters,
inscriptions on scores, research done by biographers, etc... You seem
to contradict that. Could you give the sources with which you can
back your claim?
You have just engaged in the fallacy of burden-shifting.
I made no claims regarding Bach's religious life, just pointed out
that his music is no evidence for him.

Verdi wrote religious music by the boatload. What was his perspective
on religion?
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Kristof Bastiaensen
2005-09-12 12:54:08 UTC
Permalink
At Mon, 12 Sep 2005 00:48:53 GMT,
<snip>
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
Just writing religious music isn't enough to conclude that someone is
a religous person. However in the case of Bach there are a lot more
sources to conclude that he was very religious, such as letters,
inscriptions on scores, research done by biographers, etc... You seem
to contradict that. Could you give the sources with which you can
back your claim?
You have just engaged in the fallacy of burden-shifting.
I made no claims regarding Bach's religious life, just pointed out
that his music is no evidence for him.
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly influenced his
music but did he "design" is music specific and consciously for that reason?
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
There is little uncertainty that he was a very religious person (the
term freak leaves a bit to much to the imagination). Then why
wouldn't he have used music to express his religious feelings?
Verdi wrote religious music by the boatload. What was his perspective
on religion?
Well, I don't know about Verdi, but anyway the discussion was about
Bach.

Kristof Bastiaensen
Jon Slaughter
2005-09-12 14:16:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
At Mon, 12 Sep 2005 00:48:53 GMT,
<snip>
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
Just writing religious music isn't enough to conclude that someone is
a religous person. However in the case of Bach there are a lot more
sources to conclude that he was very religious, such as letters,
inscriptions on scores, research done by biographers, etc... You seem
to contradict that. Could you give the sources with which you can
back your claim?
You have just engaged in the fallacy of burden-shifting.
I made no claims regarding Bach's religious life, just pointed out
that his music is no evidence for him.
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly influenced his
music but did he "design" is music specific and consciously for that reason?
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
There is little uncertainty that he was a very religious person (the
term freak leaves a bit to much to the imagination). Then why
wouldn't he have used music to express his religious feelings?
Verdi wrote religious music by the boatload. What was his perspective
on religion?
Well, I don't know about Verdi, but anyway the discussion was about
Bach.
lol
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
Kristof Bastiaensen
I think he is saying something along the lines "We do know Bach was religous
but we just don't know how much"... I mean, I doubt anyone would argue that
he wasn't religous... surely if he wasn't he wouldn't sign all his works as
he did. But as all veiws there are many shades. I think Matt might be
implying that Bach was use religion as a transport for his music. Surely if
you love to compose music a good way, atleast back then, to get your music
heard would to be a capelmiser or whatever its called? Wasn't one of Bach's
high points in his life when he was creating secular music for some king or
something? Surely Bach was religous but maybe organized religion was, for
him, more about his music than about the religion itself? Not that I'm
implying that he didn't like it... just that maybe subconciously it had a
big part to do with it? I have no idea because I'm not a historian but it
seems like a possibility.

Jon
Charlton Wilbur
2005-09-12 16:50:56 UTC
Permalink
JS> I think he is saying something along the lines "We do know
JS> Bach was religous but we just don't know how much"...

Actually, I think Matt has made it clear that he meant "we can't tell
how religious Bach was *from the music itself.*" You can't take *just
the notes* and prove that Bach was a devout Lutheran or that Bach was
an atheist. At best, the music proves that Bach could find gainful
employment as a composer of church music and a church music director.

This is *not* the same point as "Bach was not religious"; there's
ample evidence for that, and once you can start demonstrating it from
extramusical sources the music adds a nice reinforcement. You just
can't conclude anything one way or the other from the music alone.

Charlton
--
cwilbur at chromatico dot net
cwilbur at mac dot com
Matthew Fields
2005-09-12 14:45:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
At Mon, 12 Sep 2005 00:48:53 GMT,
<snip>
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
Just writing religious music isn't enough to conclude that someone is
a religous person. However in the case of Bach there are a lot more
sources to conclude that he was very religious, such as letters,
inscriptions on scores, research done by biographers, etc... You seem
to contradict that. Could you give the sources with which you can
back your claim?
You have just engaged in the fallacy of burden-shifting.
I made no claims regarding Bach's religious life, just pointed out
that his music is no evidence for him.
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly influenced his
music but did he "design" is music specific and consciously for that reason?
Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig when he saw
one hasn't been established for sure.
There is little uncertainty that he was a very religious person (the
term freak leaves a bit to much to the imagination). Then why
wouldn't he have used music to express his religious feelings?
Because that wasn't what he was paid for. He was never paid to express
himself. He was paid to attract people to church at Leipzig et al. So
his own feelings on the matter were quite besides the point.
Post by Kristof Bastiaensen
Verdi wrote religious music by the boatload. What was his perspective
on religion?
Well, I don't know about Verdi, but anyway the discussion was about
Bach.
http://www.ffrf.org/day/?sel=1&day=9&month=10
Scroll down to Verdi, whose Requiem for Rossini is famous.

The point remains relevant: The intensity of our appreciatio of Bach's
music for the church tells us nothing about Bach's feelings or religion.
Were that the only evidence we had on the topic, he might well be
another Verdi. As it is, there's really no reason to suppose him to
have been any more or less than an average member of the local Lutheran
church, who worked for the church when it employed him, and worked
for the provincial court at Koethen when it employed him.
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Charlton Wilbur
2005-09-12 17:00:21 UTC
Permalink
MF> Because that wasn't what he was paid for. He was never paid to
MF> express himself. He was paid to attract people to church at
MF> Leipzig et al. So his own feelings on the matter were quite
MF> besides the point.

Except that they aren't.

"He wasn't paid to express himself, therefore what he wrote has no
relation to his true feelings" is about as insupportable as "He wrote
a lot of church music, so he was very devout." At best it can be said
in both cases that the conclusion does not follow from the premises;
the fact that Bach was paid to attract people to church does not
indicate that he did not enjoy it, or that the pay was the sole reason
he wrote the music.

Charlton
--
cwilbur at chromatico dot net
cwilbur at mac dot com
Matthew Fields
2005-09-12 17:17:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charlton Wilbur
MF> Because that wasn't what he was paid for. He was never paid to
MF> express himself. He was paid to attract people to church at
MF> Leipzig et al. So his own feelings on the matter were quite
MF> besides the point.
Except that they aren't.
"He wasn't paid to express himself, therefore what he wrote has no
a lot of church music, so he was very devout." At best it can be said
in both cases that the conclusion does not follow from the premises;
the fact that Bach was paid to attract people to church does not
indicate that he did not enjoy it, or that the pay was the sole reason
he wrote the music.
Yes, but "he wasn't paid to express himself, therefore what he
wrote has no relation to his true feelings" is a red herring.
All I wrote is that you can draw no conclusions about his feelings
from his music. After all, without OTHER documentation, he might
be another Verdi... or an Alkan.
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Jerry Kohl
2005-09-08 19:26:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew Fields
However, Dufay's "Nuper Rosarum Flores", composed for the dedication of the
Duomo of Florence, *IS* specifically set out in isomelodic proportions
based explicitly on the proportions of the cathedral domed by the Duomo--
and there are contemporaneous sources to back that, apparently. But that's
1436, and Bach wasn't born until 1685.
It's a quibble, perhaps, but the "contemporaneous source" was actually
in 1973, not 1436, and it is a fabrication. The proportions of
Brunelleschi's dome were seriously fudged by Charles Warren in his
famous Musical Quarterly article. This matter was finally set straight
by Craig Wright in 1994. See:

<http://www.jstor.org/view/00030139/sp040003/04x0013m/0>

The proportions, as it happens, correspond to the biblical description
of King Solomon's Temple, not to Brunelleschi's dome.

Jerry Kohl
"Légpárnás hajóm tele van angolnákkal."
Ertugrul iNANÇ
2005-09-09 02:34:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jerry Kohl
<http://www.jstor.org/view/00030139/sp040003/04x0013m/0>
"We're sorry. You do not have access to JSTOR from your current location."
bla bla...
Jerry Kohl
2005-09-09 06:23:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ertugrul iNANÇ
Post by Jerry Kohl
<http://www.jstor.org/view/00030139/sp040003/04x0013m/0>
"We're sorry. You do not have access to JSTOR from your current location."
bla bla...
OK, so the reference was to Craig Wright's article in the 1994 volume
of JAMS. Fetch it off your library's shelf. I'm glad you're interested.

Jerry Kohl <***@comcast.net>
"Légpárnás hajóm tele van angolnákkal."
Charlton Wilbur
2005-09-08 22:02:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jon Slaughter
Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly
influenced his music but did he "design" is music specific and
consciously for that reason?
MF> Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig
MF> when he saw one hasn't been established for sure.

There's a lot of extramusical evidence that makes a good deal more
sense with the axiom "Bach was a religious believer" than with the
axiom "Bach was an atheist, faking it to keep his job."
Post by Jon Slaughter
I mean, is there any physical evidence(such as letters from him
stating things like this) that he composed like this or is it
just all coincidences and "over-analyzers"?
MF> Over-analyzers. Bach came at the end of a long tradition of
MF> baroque and post-Renaissance music where symbolism was about
MF> affective states. The prevailing doctrines that apply to his
MF> music are the then-current doctrines of affects, the
MF> then-current dance styles, and the waning remnants of
MF> Renaissance counterpoint.

Bach also played numerological games from time to time, and while it's
impossible to determine whether a particular numerological or
structural trait is there by design or accident, the goal of musical
analysis is to understand and interpret the work, not its composer.
If we find a cruciform structure in the B-minor Mass, and that it
works as an organizing principle in the Mass, does it matter whether
it was put there intentionally or not?

Charlton
--
cwilbur at chromatico dot net
cwilbur at mac dot com
Matthew Fields
2005-09-08 22:36:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charlton Wilbur
Post by Jon Slaughter
Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly
influenced his music but did he "design" is music specific and
consciously for that reason?
MF> Whether Bach was a religious freak or just knew a good gig
MF> when he saw one hasn't been established for sure.
There's a lot of extramusical evidence that makes a good deal more
sense with the axiom "Bach was a religious believer" than with the
axiom "Bach was an atheist, faking it to keep his job."
He didn't have to fake anything. His job wasn't to pretend to anything,
just to make music for stuff.

Check the hired singers augmenting choirs at churchs and synagogues and
you may well be surprised at the number of people who are serving a good
gig the way Alkan did.
Post by Charlton Wilbur
Post by Jon Slaughter
I mean, is there any physical evidence(such as letters from him
stating things like this) that he composed like this or is it
just all coincidences and "over-analyzers"?
MF> Over-analyzers. Bach came at the end of a long tradition of
MF> baroque and post-Renaissance music where symbolism was about
MF> affective states. The prevailing doctrines that apply to his
MF> music are the then-current doctrines of affects, the
MF> then-current dance styles, and the waning remnants of
MF> Renaissance counterpoint.
Bach also played numerological games from time to time, and while it's
impossible to determine whether a particular numerological or
structural trait is there by design or accident, the goal of musical
analysis is to understand and interpret the work, not its composer.
Exactly. What makes it salient to its time is whether it will be
known by its target audience, not whether it says anything about the
beliefs of the composer. I mean, my gosh, Todd Levin's "Turn..extended
dance mix" quotes the Dies Irae over a disco beat, does that say anything
about his religion?
Post by Charlton Wilbur
If we find a cruciform structure in the B-minor Mass, and that it
works as an organizing principle in the Mass, does it matter whether
it was put there intentionally or not?
It may tell us something about intent. But not about the artist.
Post by Charlton Wilbur
Charlton
--
cwilbur at chromatico dot net
cwilbur at mac dot com
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Steve Latham
2005-09-08 23:24:16 UTC
Permalink
"Charlton Wilbur" <***@chromatico.net> wrote in message news:***@ubiquity.chromatico.net...
[snip]
Post by Charlton Wilbur
Bach also played numerological games from time to time, and while it's
impossible to determine whether a particular numerological or
structural trait is there by design or accident, the goal of musical
analysis is to understand and interpret the work, not its composer.
If we find a cruciform structure in the B-minor Mass, and that it
works as an organizing principle in the Mass, does it matter whether
it was put there intentionally or not?
This is one of the few times I disagree with you. Most composers have
stylistic traits that can only be revealed by analysis of a multitude of
their works. Understanding the composer by doing so helps identify those
very same traits in a new analysis of a work by the same composer (or
identify similar traits in other composers, recognize pupils of a composer,
etc.)- so one can "look for" particular traits (however, looking for, and
"creating" when none are there are different things).

If we find a cruciform idea within a piece, it is us who have put it there
intentionally if the composer did not. I personally like to believe the
composer knows more about their works than everyone else (though many
analyses make assumptions based on what the authors think they know). Now, I
do believe that a composer could be in a certain frame of mind when working
on a piece, such that they subconsciously might use something that they
didn't realize they were using, so we might be able to discover such things
after the fact without the composer's intentions, but by and large, I feel
that people "discovering" things in works usually works to their own end,
rather than that of the work or the composer (IOW, they're riding on
its/their coat-tails).

Steve
Charlton Wilbur
2005-09-09 02:48:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charlton Wilbur
If we find a cruciform structure in the B-minor Mass, and that
it works as an organizing principle in the Mass, does it matter
whether it was put there intentionally or not?
SL> If we find a cruciform idea within a piece, it is us who have
SL> put it there intentionally if the composer did not.

A cruciform structure is a cruciform structure, period: it is there,
like a false recapitulation or a third key area in a sonata, and it
often doesn't rely on anywhere nearly the same chain of logic as, say,
finding a Schenkerian 5-line as an organizing principle.

So if I look at the Mass in B minor and find a cruciform organizing
structure, does it matter if Bach put it there intentionally or not?
It's *there*, after all, and we can argue about whether Bach *meant*
to put it there, but it's extremely difficult to refute the notes on
the page by saying that the pattern can only exist if we *know* it was
intentional on Bach's part.

The logical extension of this is that *any* evident structure - a V-I
cadence, a V-IV6 retrogression - can only be analyzed if we *know*
that the composer *intended* that.

SL> I personally like to believe the composer knows more about
SL> their works than everyone else (though many analyses make
SL> assumptions based on what the authors think they know).

And as a sometime composer, I've found patterns and structures in my
works afterwards that I did not put there but was quite pleased to
discover myself. Were they not there before I discovered them? Had
an analyst pointed them out, would he or she have been wrong?

Charlton
--
cwilbur at chromatico dot net
cwilbur at mac dot com
Tom K.
2005-09-09 03:17:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charlton Wilbur
The logical extension of this is that *any* evident structure - a V-I
cadence, a V-IV6 retrogression - can only be analyzed if we *know*
that the composer *intended* that.
At least one text specifically lists V-IV6 (but not root position IV) as a
possible deceptive resolution or cadence - the difference between IV6 and vi
being only one semitone in one voice.

Tom
Steve Latham
2005-09-09 04:34:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charlton Wilbur
Post by Charlton Wilbur
If we find a cruciform structure in the B-minor Mass, and that
it works as an organizing principle in the Mass, does it matter
whether it was put there intentionally or not?
SL> If we find a cruciform idea within a piece, it is us who have
SL> put it there intentionally if the composer did not.
A cruciform structure is a cruciform structure, period: it is there,
No it's not. If a composer put it there it's there. But if one simply
imagines that it's there, to use it to support a myriad of other invented
happenstances, then it is not there, it is only present in the mind of the
person who's imagining it there, and anyone they convince.
Post by Charlton Wilbur
like a false recapitulation or a third key area in a sonata,
No, those are physical things like notes and chords.

and it
Post by Charlton Wilbur
often doesn't rely on anywhere nearly the same chain of logic as, say,
finding a Schenkerian 5-line as an organizing principle.
So if I look at the Mass in B minor and find a cruciform organizing
structure, does it matter if Bach put it there intentionally or not?
If you look, and find, means only you've found it. It does not mean it's
actually there. When I look at Starry Night I may find some ridges of paint
that form what looks like a seagull. That doesn't mean it's there.
Post by Charlton Wilbur
It's *there*, after all, and we can argue about whether Bach *meant*
to put it there, but it's extremely difficult to refute the notes on
the page by saying that the pattern can only exist if we *know* it was
intentional on Bach's part.
We might be talking about different levels. If the notes on the page produce
an obvious pattern, I think it's safe to say that it is there. That said,
it's doubtful that the composer would have missed it, although on could
argue that it was happenstance (and not "meant" by them, but they kept it)
or that it was subconcious (a shakier argument). I'm talking about seeing
things that just arent there - like seeing shapes in clouds.
Post by Charlton Wilbur
The logical extension of this is that *any* evident structure - a V-I
cadence, a V-IV6 retrogression - can only be analyzed if we *know*
that the composer *intended* that.
Now you said evident - that makes a difference. A cadence is pretty evident.
A "shape" or a "code" may or may not be. Bb-A-C-Bn is pretty evident
(although he obviously meant it). But coming across C A Bb Bb A G E as a
fugal subject does not mean Bach was fond of Saurkraut (I would bet cabbage
is a different word in german, but these people would miss that). I'm
talking about people (as was the original post) who simply make things up.
That's their intent, not the composer's, nor anyone elses.
Post by Charlton Wilbur
SL> I personally like to believe the composer knows more about
SL> their works than everyone else (though many analyses make
SL> assumptions based on what the authors think they know).
And as a sometime composer, I've found patterns and structures in my
works afterwards that I did not put there but was quite pleased to
discover myself. Were they not there before I discovered them?
There was no pattern.
You placed a pattern upon it after the fact.
You discovered no pattern, you created one.

Hey, did you notice that "pattern" is the 4th word in every sentence above.
There's a pattern. There must be some significance to it, right. But it
means nothing. Yes those words are there, but it is you (or in this case I)
who are creating a pattern - 4th word of every sentence - but that pattern
means nothing - why isn't it the 4th letter, why is it every sentence, and
not just word in general.

Oooh, did you notice, my quote above and your response both have three
lines, and my new response has 3 sentences and three lines, and three
"pattern", "you", and "d" - there's a pattern. Wow, 3, that's the trinity,
it must mean I'm a devout Catholic - or better, I'm a 3 diminsional thinker,
or proponent of triadic harmony. This is the kind of hogwash I'm talking
about. Not the fact that I intentionally put pattern as the fourth word in
each sentence (and only "discovered" the remaining ones, whose only
significance would be nothing if I weren't giving it some by trying to prove
a point). There's nothing important about 3, the word pattern (except as the
topic of discussion), the word you, or the letter d, the number of
sentences, periods, lines, or anything else here. It's soley about the
content for which I have inteneded it, to communicate an Idea. Any patterns
like those I've "discovered" have nothing to do with anyone's understanding
of the topic, because that's already present in the letters, words, grammar,
sentence structure, etc.


Had
Post by Charlton Wilbur
an analyst pointed them out, would he or she have been wrong?
If it was something tangible, then no. But if it's pulling it out of their
ass, yes. (remember though I will allow that musicians sometimes do things
unconcoiusly, so I'll allow that they can be discovered after the fact, but
it still needs to be something relatively tangible).

Steve
Matthew Fields
2005-09-09 13:39:09 UTC
Permalink
A cruciform construction is... a cross, a figure of at least 2
*spatial* dimensions. Connecting these with features of music requires
metaphor, at the least. In a fundamental sense, a cruciform cannot be
in music at all. At most, you can try to arrive at some shared
symbolism ("Crossing" of voices or some such thing--the fact that the
name of the effect is "voice-crossing" does not mean that a spatial
cross is perceiveable from it).
Not even the Crucifixus in George Crumb's Makrokosmos v.1 has a
cross in the music--though the music is written on staves which
proceed first across the page, then up the middle of it (p.10 of the
CF Peters edition). It's a simple AA'B form.
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Steve Latham
2005-09-09 17:29:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew Fields
A cruciform construction is... a cross, a figure of at least 2
*spatial* dimensions. Connecting these with features of music requires
metaphor, at the least. In a fundamental sense, a cruciform cannot be
in music at all. At most, you can try to arrive at some shared
symbolism ("Crossing" of voices or some such thing--the fact that the
name of the effect is "voice-crossing" does not mean that a spatial
cross is perceiveable from it).
My experience is that the case is most often made for a "pre-Catholic"
cross, an "X" instead of a "+". In this case lines that go
E D C
C D E
Fit that bill, or potentially even
B G F D
D F G B
and other myraid configurations (in addition to the "cross" in the same
octave like Matt's voice crossing examples).

If that were true, then, we'd need to assign that value to every time it
occurs (which is extremely common) and not just "select" occurences.

To add,
Steve
Jon Slaughter
2005-09-09 07:07:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charlton Wilbur
Post by Charlton Wilbur
If we find a cruciform structure in the B-minor Mass, and that
it works as an organizing principle in the Mass, does it matter
whether it was put there intentionally or not?
SL> If we find a cruciform idea within a piece, it is us who have
SL> put it there intentionally if the composer did not.
A cruciform structure is a cruciform structure, period: it is there,
like a false recapitulation or a third key area in a sonata, and it
often doesn't rely on anywhere nearly the same chain of logic as, say,
finding a Schenkerian 5-line as an organizing principle.
And who is the one who gave a name to this structure? Some religious nutt
analyzing Bach's music? Giving a name that has specific connotations that
are extraneous to music. Now, ONLY if the composer intentionally(wether
conscious or subconscious) for that reason then should it be called that.
But just finding some aspect of music that is repeatedly used in some piece
of work that is associated as religous and claiming there is has some
inherit meaning is wrong IMO.

Basicaly saying that in Bach's work he is using the "cruciform" and the
"cruciform" represents the unity of chirst and mankind(or whatever it
represents) is completely wrong because only Bach knows what he did and
unless he specifically told someone then its wrong to assume it(unless there
is clearly overwhelming evidience.. but this is still subjective somewhat).

Lets suppose I compose a secular piece of music that just by happenstance
uses the "cruciform"... does that mean my piece is really religous?

Now, if you are just giving that structure a name and not implying anything
external about it then I don't see a problem. Seems to me though, that in
this instance one is doing the opposite(Though I could be wrong). I just
think by doing this it leads to more false assertions which lead to more and
eventually just clouds the whole picture.

Now if the "definition" of the "cruciform" structure is a 4th up, 3rd down,
6th up(or whatever it is) then I have no problem with that but if its "a
musical figure that looks like the cross that jesus christ died for our sins
on" then I have a huge problem with it... though if the composer used the
second definition then I have no problem with it... but if you say he did
and have no evidience then I just think thats completely illogical.
Post by Charlton Wilbur
So if I look at the Mass in B minor and find a cruciform organizing
structure, does it matter if Bach put it there intentionally or not?
It's *there*, after all, and we can argue about whether Bach *meant*
to put it there, but it's extremely difficult to refute the notes on
the page by saying that the pattern can only exist if we *know* it was
intentional on Bach's part.
The logical extension of this is that *any* evident structure - a V-I
cadence, a V-IV6 retrogression - can only be analyzed if we *know*
that the composer *intended* that.
SL> I personally like to believe the composer knows more about
SL> their works than everyone else (though many analyses make
SL> assumptions based on what the authors think they know).
And as a sometime composer, I've found patterns and structures in my
works afterwards that I did not put there but was quite pleased to
discover myself. Were they not there before I discovered them? Had
an analyst pointed them out, would he or she have been wrong?
No, they wouldn't be wrong for pointing out patterns... but if they said it
was from some intelligient design then they would(because obivously they
were wrong cause you said yourself you didn't put them there).


I think the question all boils down to if Bach used these structures
intentionally with the idea that they had something non-musical to them(that
he gave them, or someone else gave them, but that he knew there was some
"extra" meaning attached to it that was non-musical and used them for that
purpose only(and not because they sounded good)).
Post by Charlton Wilbur
Charlton
--
cwilbur at chromatico dot net
cwilbur at mac dot com
Jon
Steve Latham
2005-09-07 21:10:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jon Slaughter
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc.html
I found this site that analyzes all the fugues in WTC and it seems to have
some lofy ideas on how and why Bach did some of the things he did.
For example,
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc/i04.html#movie
I'm curious about how much of this is true? Is there any real evidence for
this or is it just people that have nothing better to do than find *their*
meaning in something that doesn't necessarily have it?
Yes, some people just try to make things up. Intelligent Design comes to
mind imediately. People are always saying crap like "he used the Sonata Form
for his first movement because he wanted the incredible psycological effect
of the dual return of the Tonic key with the material of the first theme".
It's hogwash. He used it because that's what everyone did.

But, there are some meritable assumptions, and some authentic facts, you
just have to weed through a lot of junk.
Post by Jon Slaughter
e.g. He says that the first 4 notes are the sign of the cross and a load
of other stuff.
A load? You don't beleive him?
Post by Jon Slaughter
Now I know Bach was a religous freak and that it strongly influenced his
music but did he "design" is music specific and consciously for that reason?
I think I would need a specific fact to believe so. I don't have a problem
with calling it the "cross motive" (or subject) but I wouldn't say Bach
directly intended it as such unless either he, or one of his sons said so,
or unless it was a sommon device (like a lot of composers have used the
chant Dies Irae, which is "day of wrath" and it's obvious that they use it
for a specific connotation).
Post by Jon Slaughter
Or is it that he happend to associate certain feelings with certain
melodies and such and just reused them in pieces that had a mood that it
could fit in with?
See, now you're doing it!

Like for example I have noticed that he use the motive from his 13
Post by Jon Slaughter
invention in several other pieces(I've probably heard it in over 5 other
pieces atleast) but I get the feeling he either just reused that idea
cause he liked it or it was just coincidence.
I think that's more likely the case.

I doubt he said to himself "This
Post by Jon Slaughter
motive represents the creation of the universe by gods hand: the first
part of the theme being god and the second his hand" then in some other
piece he says "I will put gods hand here to represent the wrath of the
flood and over here I start with god to represent that wrath" and then
maybe he repeats the hand part several times to represent god pounding
with his hand on the earth or some crap like that.
Who knows. Without facts it's just conjecture. But personally (and you seem
to agree) I'd rather err on the side of calling them nothing and later
discovering a factual relationship, rather than making something up and
having it disproven later (which happens time and time again with this very
same stuff).
Post by Jon Slaughter
I mean, is there any physical evidence(such as letters from him stating
things like this) that he composed like this or is it just all
coincidences and "over-analyzers"?
I think they're well-meaning, but, like anthropologists, they have to deal
with the facts they can dig up, and make suppositions about the rest. I
think you just have to not believe everything you read.

Steve
Jon Slaughter
2005-09-08 12:18:27 UTC
Permalink
Ok, thanks for the replies. Good to know that Music isn't that complex(i.e.
that you have to believe in god to make godly music ;).


Guess these people just have to much time on there hand. Just seems like
they are implying that is the way it is and there are no other alternatives.
I wonder if those guys are the same people who found those secret codes in
the bible?

Jon
Matthew Fields
2005-09-08 12:47:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jon Slaughter
Ok, thanks for the replies. Good to know that Music isn't that complex(i.e.
that you have to believe in god to make godly music ;).
Guess these people just have to much time on there hand. Just seems like
they are implying that is the way it is and there are no other alternatives.
I wonder if those guys are the same people who found those secret codes in
the bible?
Something like that. Perhaps they were trying to distract attention from
the fact that they hadn't learned rudimentary counterpoint.
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Steve Latham
2005-09-08 14:22:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew Fields
Post by Jon Slaughter
Ok, thanks for the replies. Good to know that Music isn't that complex(i.e.
that you have to believe in god to make godly music ;).
Guess these people just have to much time on there hand. Just seems like
they are implying that is the way it is and there are no other
alternatives.
I wonder if those guys are the same people who found those secret codes in
the bible?
Something like that. Perhaps they were trying to distract attention from
the fact that they hadn't learned rudimentary counterpoint.
LOL!

Steve
Ertugrul iNANÇ
2005-09-08 14:30:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Matthew Fields
Post by Jon Slaughter
Ok, thanks for the replies. Good to know that Music isn't that complex(i.e.
that you have to believe in god to make godly music ;).
Guess these people just have to much time on there hand. Just seems like
they are implying that is the way it is and there are no other
alternatives.
I wonder if those guys are the same people who found those secret codes in
the bible?
Something like that. Perhaps they were trying to distract attention from
the fact that they hadn't learned rudimentary counterpoint.
...or that they hadn't cared to. Most sociological (or any X-ological) music
analysis attempts, coming from the outside of music, are destined to fail
because there's simply no music in them at all. That in some degree includes
the boggling about tonal/atonal etc.

E.
Matthew Fields
2005-09-08 15:31:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ertugrul iNANÇ
Post by Matthew Fields
Post by Jon Slaughter
Ok, thanks for the replies. Good to know that Music isn't that complex(i.e.
that you have to believe in god to make godly music ;).
Guess these people just have to much time on there hand. Just seems like
they are implying that is the way it is and there are no other alternatives.
I wonder if those guys are the same people who found those secret codes in
the bible?
Something like that. Perhaps they were trying to distract attention from
the fact that they hadn't learned rudimentary counterpoint.
...or that they hadn't cared to. Most sociological (or any X-ological) music
analysis attempts, coming from the outside of music, are destined to fail
because there's simply no music in them at all. That in some degree includes
the boggling about tonal/atonal etc.
Precisely. Except that to even be talking about "tonal/atonal", you
have to have a 3rd-grade public-school understanding of the
terminology of music.
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Charlton Wilbur
2005-09-08 21:54:01 UTC
Permalink
MF> Precisely. Except that to even be talking about
MF> "tonal/atonal", you have to have a 3rd-grade public-school
MF> understanding of the terminology of music.

Unless you use "tonal" to mean "pleasant-sounding" and "atonal" to
mean "ugly," which is an error I've seen made even at the postgraduate
level.

Charlton
--
cwilbur at chromatico dot net
cwilbur at mac dot com
Matthew Fields
2005-09-08 22:31:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charlton Wilbur
MF> Precisely. Except that to even be talking about
MF> "tonal/atonal", you have to have a 3rd-grade public-school
MF> understanding of the terminology of music.
Unless you use "tonal" to mean "pleasant-sounding" and "atonal" to
mean "ugly," which is an error I've seen made even at the postgraduate
level.
Indeed, I've met postgraduate music historians whose knowledge
of music itself is at least at a 3rd-grade public-school level, believe
it or not!
--
Matthew H. Fields http://www.umich.edu/~fields
Music: Splendor in Sound
To be great, do better and better. Don't wait for talent: no such thing.
Brights have a naturalistic world-view. http://www.the-brights.net/
Steve Latham
2005-09-08 14:22:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jon Slaughter
Ok, thanks for the replies. Good to know that Music isn't that
complex(i.e. that you have to believe in god to make godly music ;).
Guess these people just have to much time on there hand. Just seems like
they are implying that is the way it is and there are no other
alternatives. I wonder if those guys are the same people who found those
secret codes in the bible?
Same types.

Steve
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