Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 17 February 2011

No laughs here, I fear

Works Well has been getting flabby (Useful adj, Lucy), playing to the gallery, looking for cheap laughs. Time for custard-pie risk.

Here’s musical counterpoint defined: Simultaneously sounding two or more parts or melodies. Sounds easy. Who’s big in counterpoint? J. S. Bach, it figures in most of his stuff. And what’s one of his many pinnacles? How about the chaconne, the fifth part of his second partita for unaccompanied violin. Don’t take my word, here’s Brahms:

On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.

Spotted the contradiction? “On one stave.” Two (or more) melodies on one instrument! Fine on the two-handed piano, but a violin?

For music I turn to Prague. I ask Julia: Does this mean that the line is broken into alternating fragments from each voice and that the listener “carries over” the alternating gaps in his own mind?

Julia responds: Great question! (You see why I email Julia.) Bach is able to sneak in lots of voices through both chords played double stop (across two strings) and then by using arpeggios, etc, to create an implied counterpoint.

And Larry Solomon on the chaconne, adds: ...what looks at times like a simple scale often divides into motivic counterpoint between two voices.

As I write Itzhak Perlman scrapes. Julia suggests “the violin sonatas (may be) more for the performer than for a listener.” Hmm. The jewel case sticker says I spent £23.99 for Itzhak’s two CDs. When I was very poor.