[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: The Bach choral dilemma

When I was a music student, before the days Al Bregman came out with the
streaming concept, we called "hidden polyphony" those melodic lines in
which the continuity was broken in a way that gave the illusion of two
voices. Virtually all pieces of music written for solo string or wind
instruments, including the Bach sonatas, partitas, and suites or the Bartok
violin sonata, contain a lot of such examples. However, because the two
voices in these examples never sound simultaneously, by definition there is
ambiguity as to how to hear it: polyphonically, as a single voice, or as a
carrier of the underlying harmony. Since I trust composers more than
hearing theorists (or music theorists as a matter of fact), I am willing to
bet that the ambiguity is on purpose and at the service of the musical
message. So, I would not get frazzled because somebody thinks that a
particular passage is an example of streaming and I just cannot hear it
that way -- Bach surely wanted it so.

Pierre Divenyi