Re: The Bach choral dilemma (Pierre Divenyi )

Subject: Re: The Bach choral dilemma
From:    Pierre Divenyi  <pdivenyi(at)EBIRE.ORG>
Date:    Thu, 23 Jan 2003 11:54:51 -0800

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

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