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South Korean researchers developed some metric for novelty and innovation calculated these metrics over 900 piano compositions by 19 composers and found that Rachmaninoff was the most innovative composer for piano, of these composers who worked during the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras.

The full paper detailing their work can be found here.
I suppose with the appropriately chosen definition of innovative any composer could end up being the most innovative. I doubt many knowledgeable musicians would classify Rachmaninov that way no matter what their personal definition of innovative was. In fact, since I think most would classify his music as Romantic one could argue that he was the opposite of innovative since he composed at the end of that period.
edit: I was still typing before seeing Plover's post. I'm saying essentially the same thing as he did (plus other stuff).

I'm much into baseball and its analytic methods, and come across things like this over there all the time.

When I see something like this -- for example, let's say, a research piece "showing" that Derek Jeter wasn't that good of a player -- what I know is, 2 things:

-- The thing isn't really worth looking at.
-- If I do look at it, it will only be to see what clear mistakes were made, which generally won't take long to see.


What mistakes I expect we'd find in this thing:

First of all and mainly, that the article's concept of "innovative" is one that is pretty outlying and with which I would greatly disagree.

The usual musicological view is that Rachmaninoff, love him or not, was one of the very least innovative of the great composers. I don't mean that such consensus views are always right, but, I do mean that when we see a thing like what's apparently in that article, we'd hardly ever find it to be valid, if we examine it.

Nevertheless, I have to say, I do find it interesting that some writer feels he's shown that that's a valid view.
Not interesting enough to look at it, though. grin
This reminds me of an article I saw -- a parody article -- in some music journal around 1970. It was ostensibly a research project to determine objectively who was the greatest composer of all time. As I remember, it started out in a way that you couldn't necessarily tell that this wasn't serious but pretty soon you could see that they were being silly.

Their "method" was to look at the Schwann record catalogue (does that still exist? do all of you know what that was? do any of you at all besides maybe 3 or 4 of us fogies know what that was?) ha .....and see which composer had the most mentions.

Except, there were certain exclusions and disqualifiers. Unfortunately I only remember one of them, which was that if a composer had any relatives with the same last name who were also listed, or in fact even a non-relative with the same last name, he was kicked out, because those other composers were probably a ploy on his part to confuse the issue and make us think they were all him.
Golly, I wish I could remember the other disqualifiers. All I can tell you is, most of them were even sillier than that one.

The result was that the greatest composer of all time was PONCHIELLI.
It was the first time I heard of him. It took a while longer for me even to realize that I'd heard anything of his, and in fact that I'd heard stuff of his (and takeoffs on them) many many times.
(It took me even longer to learn how his name is pronounced.)
Originally Posted by Mark_C
edit: I was still typing before seeing Plover's post. I'm saying essentially the same thing as he did (plus other stuff).

I'm much into baseball and its analytic methods, and come across things like this over there all the time.

When I see something like this -- for example, let's say, a research piece "showing" that Derek Jeter wasn't that good of a player -- what I know is, 2 things:

-- The thing isn't really worth looking at.
-- If I do look at it, it will only be to see what clear mistakes were made, which generally won't take long to see.


What mistakes I expect we'd find in this thing:

First of all and mainly, that the article's concept of "innovative" is one that is pretty outlying and with which I would greatly disagree.

The usual musicological view is that Rachmaninoff, love him or not, was one of the very least innovative of the great composers. I don't mean that such consensus views are always right, but, I do mean that when we see a thing like what's apparently in that article, we'd hardly ever find it to be valid, if we examine it.

Nevertheless, I have to say, I do find it interesting that some writer feels he's shown that that's a valid view.
Not interesting enough to look at it, though. grin

Firstly, comparisons with those sorts of baseball analyses are unfair since this paper is in a refereed journal. Baseball statistics and trend analysis is rarely peer reviewed. Better if you compare this work with the original cold fusion paper or something like that that was also peer reviewed and later debunked.

Secondly, their definition and intuitive basis for innovation seem rather logical to me, although I'm not a music expert. I'd be interested in the considered views of any music experts in this specific definition and intuitive basis:

Quote
In order to compute the novelty of a creative work, we first consider the fact that any new creative work—be it a scientific paper, a technological patent, or a musical composition— contains the familiar, ‘conventional’ elements that can be found in known older works, and the unfamiliar, ‘novel’ elements that have not.
Quote
Intuitively then a work that features a larger novel-to-conventional ratio of elements could be considered more novel, and vice versa. How can one tell if an element is conventional or novel?
Quote
A more reliable and general method would be then to make a direct comparison between an older work and a new one to identify common elements. If there exists one, it would be an indication that the older work may have been referenced in the creation of the new one. We say ‘may have been’ because the shared element could have been taken from a different work (either known, or unknown to us presently), or been ‘invented’ by the creator oblivious to a previous usage.
Quote
Although we have above argued for the appeal of novel works to living beings and their value for progress, it is unlikely that novelty alone is a sign that the work is of any value; if it were, one could simply assemble elements not found in the older works (or ask a chimpanzee that has just completed composing a piece of ‘literature’ on a typewriter to play the piano now, practically to the same effect), and claim to have created the most valuable work. In addition to quantifying a work’s difference from the past, it is necessary to gauge a work’s value via how much it has influenced the posterity, in other words how much the later works have referenced it.

I'm also curious about the other results of their research and whether it is musicologically controversial. Can the musicologists among you take a look at the following and call out what is just flat out wrong?

Quote
During the Baroque period Handel is the most influential... More interesting patterns can be found when we observe the rise and fall of the composers’ influences over time. Since a high influence means that later works share common elements, we can interpret such rise and fall of composers’ influence as indicating shifts in compositional style, and providing a quantitative justification for the distinct period labels. Let us examine, as a start, the Baroque and the Classical periods... While Handel maintains his dominant influence until around the mid-Classical period, we identify two notable patterns: First, Scarlatti overtakes Bach in influence shortly before the Classical period, in agreement with the well-acknowledged significance of Scarlatti on the Classical period; Second, Haydn and Mozart emerge during the Classical period with a high influence, soon rivaling Handel’s. Similar dynamics–the clear rise and emergence of a new leading influential figure and therefore dominant ‘style’,reminiscent of Kuhn’s so-called paradigm shift–are observed in subsequent periods. The Classical-to-Romantic transitional period is characterised by the emergence of Beethoven whose historical significance is clearly shown. Beethoven’s high influence in this period shows his younger contemporaries adopting his [compositional elements] more willingly than any other predecessor’s that continues well into the Romantic period. Also, we see that being referenced by a highly-novel composer leads to high influence, as high novelty means referencing uncom-mon elements, and so the one referenced is credited with more influence. This is likely why Beethoven, referenced by highly novel Romantic composers, has a high influence score. Then, through a similar mechanism, during the Romantic period new composers such as Schubert, Chopin, and Liszt rise in influence to rival or overtake Mozart and Beethoven, befitting their reputation as of finally eclipsing those “classical sounds” and establishing many essential repertoire now permanently associated with the piano.
Quote
While originality and success are both important characteristics of meaningful creative works, they do not correlate perfectly. That Handel was less novel than Bach and many others but had more influence on Classical and Romantic composers is a good example. Similarly, Beethoven, Schubert, and Liszt were less novel than Mendelssohn and Schumann, but eventually came to exert more influence and inspire more piano music to follow. The separation between novelty and influence is particularly auspicious in the case of music from the Classical period (especially Mozart): Mozart is shown to have used fewer novel [compositional elements] per se and opted to use the conventions from the Baroque period, but his works nevertheless had enough high artistic value that he gained much influence in the future. This is another agreement between our findings and traditional musicology that characterises the Classical period as one that “values shared conventions, rational restraint and the playful exploitation of established constraints”. This contrasts with the composers of the later Romantic period who introduced new elements at a faster pace and again corroborates the traditional musicological assessment of their “pursuit of the value of being individual, peculiar and original”

As a layman, I see them comparing above with what is apparently known to musicologists, but I can only take their word for it. So I'd be grateful if someone with a musicology background can just say if they went off the reservation in the observations above.

It would be one thing if all of the results of their research were controversial. it would be another thing if only their results concerning Rachmaninoff were controversial and their other results were noncontroversial.

Other than making these comments, I will neither contest nor defend this paper. I just don't have the musicology background, but I hope that someone that does can add some specific insight about whether the researchers are on track, or if they are not, where specifically they took the wrong turn.

Originally Posted by Mark_C
This reminds me of an article I saw -- a parody article -- in some music journal around 1970. It was ostensibly a research project to determine objectively who was the greatest composer of all time. As I remember, it started out in a way that you couldn't necessarily tell that this wasn't serious but pretty soon you could see that they were being silly.

It's also unfair to compare peer reviewed research with parody articles.
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
It's also unfair to compare peer reviewed research with parody articles.

I wasn't comparing them.
What I meant was that the conclusion of this article is equally eyebrow-raising as the supposed conclusion of that one, and indeed it is.
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
It's also unfair to compare peer reviewed research with parody articles.

I wasn't comparing them.
What I meant was that the conclusion of this article is equally eyebrow-raising as the supposed conclusion of that one, and indeed it is.

Still, eyebrow-raising or not, that this was published in a refereed journal presupposes an entirely different level of scrutiny of the work and its results than the typical "wild" Internet claim. I suppose in the course of your career, you've also published in refereed journals, as I did myself, though many years ago, and getting a peer-reviewed paper published is never a walk in the park. So while one my take exception to their findings, I think it would be only fair to recognize the researchers' serious intent.
Researchers are right, Rachmaninoff is the pinnacle of piano composition. He somehow managed to create these incredibly difficult pieces which are at the same time incredibly beautiful/emotional. No one has done it at that level smile
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
It's also unfair to compare peer reviewed research with parody articles.

I wasn't comparing them.
What I meant was that the conclusion of this article is equally eyebrow-raising as the supposed conclusion of that one, and indeed it is.

Still, eyebrow-raising or not, that this was published in a refereed journal presupposes an entirely different level of scrutiny of the work and its results than the typical "wild" Internet claim. I suppose in the course of your career, you've also published in refereed journals, as I did myself, though many years ago, and getting a peer-reviewed paper published is never a walk in the park. So while one my take exception to their findings, I think it would be only fair to recognize the researchers' serious intent.


There's no question about them being serious. The validity of their chosen research methods however can be critizised on various levels. I am not going to do it here, it's an amusing practice on a rather obscure research problem. It would not be too difficult to arrive in a different result with similarly reliable scientific method. I would say a nice attempt to steer musicology towards "serious" research resembling hard sciences. Not sure it is necessary though and one might ask what is the end value of such results.

BTW. Not all peer reviewed journals are of the same quality and you may remember the case of a very prestige journal publishing an article that was total BS and it took a while before it was revealed as such. Unfortunately the only way to judge these days is to look into the methodology and the data collection with a critical eye and that requires both time and knowledge and few people have that. Only subjects that have general interests are usually researched further enough and by different teams to make sure all errors in the process are found.
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Mark_C
I wasn't comparing them.
What I meant was that the conclusion of this article is equally eyebrow-raising as the supposed conclusion of that one, and indeed it is.
Still, eyebrow-raising or not, that this was published in a refereed journal presupposes an entirely different level of scrutiny of the work and its results than the typical "wild" Internet claim. I suppose in the course of your career, you've also published in refereed journals, as I did myself, though many years ago, and getting a peer-reviewed paper published is never a walk in the park. So while one my take exception to their findings, I think it would be only fair to recognize the researchers' serious intent.
There's no question about them being serious. The validity of their chosen research methods however can be critizised on various levels. I am not going to do it here, it's an amusing practice on a rather obscure research problem. It would not be too difficult to arrive in a different result with similarly reliable scientific method. I would say a nice attempt to steer musicology towards "serious" research resembling hard sciences. Not sure it is necessary though and one might ask what is the end value of such results.

BTW. Not all peer reviewed journals are of the same quality and you may remember the case of a very prestige journal publishing an article that was total BS and it took a while before it was revealed as such. Unfortunately the only way to judge these days is to look into the methodology and the data collection with a critical eye and that requires both time and knowledge and few people have that. Only subjects that have general interests are usually researched further enough and by different teams to make sure all errors in the process are found.

You obviously disagree with their specific definition and intuitive basis. What do you find wrong with it?
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Mark_C
I wasn't comparing them.
What I meant was that the conclusion of this article is equally eyebrow-raising as the supposed conclusion of that one, and indeed it is.
Still, eyebrow-raising or not, that this was published in a refereed journal presupposes an entirely different level of scrutiny of the work and its results than the typical "wild" Internet claim. I suppose in the course of your career, you've also published in refereed journals, as I did myself, though many years ago, and getting a peer-reviewed paper published is never a walk in the park. So while one my take exception to their findings, I think it would be only fair to recognize the researchers' serious intent.
There's no question about them being serious. The validity of their chosen research methods however can be critizised on various levels. I am not going to do it here, it's an amusing practice on a rather obscure research problem. It would not be too difficult to arrive in a different result with similarly reliable scientific method. I would say a nice attempt to steer musicology towards "serious" research resembling hard sciences. Not sure it is necessary though and one might ask what is the end value of such results.

BTW. Not all peer reviewed journals are of the same quality and you may remember the case of a very prestige journal publishing an article that was total BS and it took a while before it was revealed as such. Unfortunately the only way to judge these days is to look into the methodology and the data collection with a critical eye and that requires both time and knowledge and few people have that. Only subjects that have general interests are usually researched further enough and by different teams to make sure all errors in the process are found.

You obviously disagree with their specific definition and intuitive basis. What do you find wrong with it?


I did not say that. It is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, but rather a consideration whether it is worth taking the time for full objective evaluation for their work on such a research question. So much more would need to be done to create a meaningful research discipline for something like this and I doubt it will never happen, considering the nature of music as art. And as I said this is not a place for extensive discussion of scientifc research...

Edit: The discussion part of the article is very short, but it brings out some of the challenges of such study. The writers themselves understand the limitations of the results. I would say their purpose was more to experiment the possibilities with mathematical modelling than trying to actually find a definite answer to the question.
I looked at the article.

I don't agree with Outo that "The writers themselves understand the limitations of the results." It would be better if they did. I don't find any suggestion that they did.

Granting that I don't understand much of the inner detail and didn't much try to, which will give an easy dismissal of this to anyone who is half inclined to do that, I have to say that the article fails by a very wide margin to overcome the natural resistance to a seemingly absurd finding -- and that it's not hard to surmise what's the problem in the method.

And, as near as I can tell, the article does not deal at all with the central wonderment that comes out of any critical reading of it, which is, what exactly they mean by "novelty," and how and why they decided on seeing it how they did, whatever that was. It talks in general terms about the issue but doesn't get around to really letting us know how they were operating, or even if they grasped the fact that it involved choices, that any choices that would be made toward such a complex end would necessarily be highly sophisticated, and that they would be debatable. I would say that any credible attempt at such a project would need to deal head-on with this -- first of all to show the awareness, secondly to show in plain English how and what they decided on, and, importantly, to explain their choices. The article is full of formulas which I imagine contain some (but not all) of the answers. But that's not enough. I'm left with no confidence that they grasped the complexity and debatability of what would be involved.

(An aside: A thing that makes the result less bizarre than it might seem is that they didn't consider a real high number of composers -- just 19. However, it was enough that the result still is odd. Their method was such that the 'winner' was almost certain to be a later composer than an earlier one.)

BTW, does anyone else here who has looked at the article (or will look at it) have any greater confidence about that? Or do you even see or understand how they defined anything?

They talk about it in general terms, and they do give some seeming specifics, like this, which I'm going to quote at length because it exemplifies how they don't really address this issue; they give vague generalities together with isolated specifics that don't help, together with some jargon which, granted, it wouldn't hurt if I understood it but which has the strong appearance of failing to deal with the fundamental issues that I talked about.
(BTW you may notice some grammatical errors too, which also appear elsewhere in the article. Pardon if this sounds elitist grin but such things in themselves make it hard for me to have a high regard for the journal.)

".....we model a musical composition as a temporally ordered set of simultaneously played nodes or codewords. For the actual element we take the codeword transition, the bigram (2-gram) of codewords. They are shown in Fig. 2(A) with the beginning of one of Chopin’s preludes as an example. While our methodology can be applied in a clear and straightforward manner to analysing musical compositions, we note that other aspects of music such as structure, tempo, instrumentation, etc. are also important in music. Our primary focus on codeword transitions here are based on the importance of harmony and melody in the Western classical music tradition [29] and the fact that for this paper we will be studying the piano, but for a more complete and useful modeling of music those elements will need to be incorporated in the future, and later we discuss some recent developments therein."


In case you're interested in some specifics about the math -- which IMO more than anything else show how they start running with this thing before they've established their feet or the ground that they're running on:

"Since each codeword transition is a directed dyad, they can be collectively visualised as a network whose backbone is shown in Fig. 2(B). The cumulative distribution of the number of occurrences of the codewords is shown in Fig. 2(C), and approximates a power law with exponent ρ = 2.13 ± 0.02, indi- cating significant disparities in popularity between codeword transitions. Although such a pattern is established early in history (Fig. S1), the number of unique codeword transi- tions ever used also constantly increases in time (inset of Fig. 2(C)), with the highest rate of increase observed during the Romantic period.
We now compute the novelty and influence of musical compositions. Writing a composition ζ as a sequence of codewords ζ = {γ1,γ2,...,γm} the generation probability of ζ is given by the first-order Markov chain
ΠΩ(ζ)=πΩ(γ1)πΩ(γ1 →γ2)···πΩ(γm–1 →γm), (5) For πΩ we employ the Maximum A Priori (MAP) estimator [31] commonly used in
Markov chains, given as
πΩ(γi →γj)= z(γi →γj)+α0(γi →γj) , (6)
γ∈Γ (z(γi →γ)+α0(γi →γ))
where z(γi → γj) is the number of the γi → γj transition in the conventional pool Ω and α0(γi → γj) is the prior representing the novel pool in our scheme...."


BTW, to me, phrases like "We now compute the novelty and influence of musical compositions" could in themselves raise other questions and provoke laughter in some minds, like the thing in Dead Poets Society about it become a simple matter to calculate the greatness of a poem.

For fun, I'll quote this other line, which has another grammar error (but never mind about that) and which would further decrease most people's expectation of goodness in the article's method:

"Beethoven, for instance, stand among the lower half in computed novelty."


BTW, I can easily imagine how they got that -- and at the same time, from it I can easily see some of what was missing in the method.

Similarly, there's also this, which isn't as outrageous as the Beethoven example but would provoke similar head-shaking in many -- not even mainly in the basic point but in the flat-out-ness of it:

"....Beethoven, Schubert, and Liszt were less novel than Mendelssohn and Schumann...."


Worst of all (IMO), they don't recognize the weakness of what they did, and apparently they don't know what they don't know -- what they don't know about music, and what they don't know about the complexity of such a subject. Look at this confidence that they indicate about this work, toward the end of the article:

"Higher-order Markov modeling shows a broad agreement with our main findings using first-order Markov, showing further robustness of our model and analysis."




As I said before, I do find it of interest that there's some method (any method, even a bad one) that shows this Rachmaninoff result -- because it's so opposite from any usual notion. But, the natural immediate takeaway, without looking at the article, is that the method probably was nuts. And it looks like indeed it was.
Bach trumps them all 🤛🏻
My friend, who holds a degree in music composition and works on algorithmic music composition, says that the paper looks very interesting because it mentions entropy and references some good sources, papers by Meyer, Temperley, and Pachet.

I won’t pretend to understand the technical details behind that paper. It’s not my field.
The main problem about the article from a musicology point of view is that the (almost non-existing) theoretical foundations presented of the study focus on the modelling rather than the actual research question. In that sence it's built on a very shaky ground and the whole thing can be easily challenged. To me it does not seem that the research team is interested in creating such theoretical foundation at all. It would require for example proper discussion of definitions and choices behind classifications as well as linking the research to previous discourse. They do however briefly discuss these limitations themselves, so imo it's kind of a harmless exercise unless one is really passionate about putting composers into some order for their value to the human kind smile
Although I agree that Rachmaninoff was very innovative composer, and, what is more important, he innovated in a very sensible, meaningul way, with no avant-garde nonsense and no innovation for the sake of innovation, but I doubt that it can be truely proven scientifically because the criteria of innovation is not obvious.

I also think some of my old teachers would have been shocked by such an invasion of math into art and would have resisted it strongly.
I may be in the minority but I never managed to get what’s so great about Rachmaninoff. Don’t get me wrong, I like his symphonies and symphonic dances, I adore his 2nd and 3rd piano concertos, I occasionally enjoy a few of his piano pieces but I fail to see what kind of innovation he has really done in music. He pretty much worked in the tonal idiom stepping on what’s been established by Chopin (in terms of ultimate piano lyricism), Debussy (in terms of harmonic innovations) and Scriabin (both lyricism/pianism and innovative harmonic language). And frankly some of his pieces to me sound like created for the sake of being technically difficult without much of music content.

I can fully agree this opinion will be outrageous to others, so don’t take it personal, it’s just an opinion smile Rachmaninoff is maybe not my cup of tea. But the most innovative composer?! Well, that’s way too odd. Or I’m missing something.
Originally Posted by CyberGene
.....I fail to see what kind of innovation he has really done in music. He pretty much worked in the tonal idiom stepping on what’s been established by Chopin (in terms of ultimate piano lyricism), Debussy (in terms of harmonic innovations) and Scriabin (both lyricism/pianism and innovative harmonic language)...
I can fully agree this opinion will be outrageous to others....

Actually that part of what you said is the most common musicological consensus, and, per what you said, he's considered less "innovative" than those other 3. (BTW, Scriabin wasn't among the composers considered in the article, so he wasn't in the running.)

As to why Rachmaninoff came out so high, I'm going to engage in some speculation here, and I realize it's simplistic, but I'd like to offer the thought, and would love it if anyone would be able to see if you can rule it out, in terms of what you can figure out from the methodology:

I think the reason he came out as the most innovative was, he had the most notes. grin
Really.

I'd guess it comes down to that. I think his music has by far the greatest concentration of notes, including over the most recent other composers, which I think counts significantly in the method.
BTW, for this "concentration of notes" thing, I think it would have worked this way at either extreme -- like, if he had a hugely lesser concentration of notes than any of the previous composers. So, really what I'm saying is that it isn't per se because of "most notes," but that the concentration was so outlying, in either direction, compared to the other composers.
I put it the other way up there for pith. smile

I don't mean that nothing else was involved -- I'm sure harmonic aspects were too -- just that I'd guess this in itself basically did it.
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

You obviously disagree with their specific definition and intuitive basis. What do you find wrong with it?


What is interesting in this article is that they manage to not get into any musical specifics during the entire 15 or so pages. The article just describes what seems to be a highly mathematical approach which by the way, as written, takes only into account a very marginal set of musical characteristics. At no point are they actually able to describe in words what is novelty. So the article jumps from a lenghtly process description straight to the conclusion. The reason being that what they did is simply to put together a set of formulas and compute numbers by using very fragmented and marginal compositional elements. Thus they are unable to actually explain what would be the specific musical characteristics which would justify the novelty and influence of one composer vs another. Structure, rythmic novelty, harmony, articulation, melodic phrasing, .....

In fact this type of analysis can be used to compare just about anything. Unlike scientific theories which are tested against reality, in this case, the conclusion can not be proven. Is Rach more innovative than Beethoven ? It depends on the criteria but intuitively and on a very broad level I would say no. So how do they know if their results is right or wrong ? and if they change slightly their formulas (untested) and they come up with a different result, which one would be the right one ?

All in all, I am surprised there is funding for this type of useless research, funding which could be better used for something more directly usefull.
Originally Posted by Mosotti
Researchers are right, Rachmaninoff is the pinnacle of piano composition. He somehow managed to create these incredibly difficult pieces which are at the same time incredibly beautiful/emotional. No one has done it at that level smile

What do you mean by "incredibly difficult"?

His works are musically often quite simple and not difficult. The difficulty is usually in the pianist technique involved - which is a result of his being a virtuosic pianist himself (and parts of his work often resemble studies and technical exercises, which he was raised on).

Originally Posted by CyberGene
I like his symphonies and symphonic dances, I adore his 2nd and 3rd piano concertos, I occasionally enjoy a few of his piano pieces but I fail to see what kind of innovation he has really done in music.

To say something (perhaps pointlessly) subjective, I find a lot of his writing in the piano concertos and symphonies to be "kitsch and cheesy", and this feeling gets worse the more I know the melodies.

On the other hand, I love almost all his solo piano and chamber pieces. While he was a wonderful composer on the solo piano, unfortunately, I feel like he lost his taste and decorum whenever he got near a orchestra.
This is low quality research. The measure of novelty was just pulled out of the air as something the researchers thought about and was not validated. It does not consider all of the aspects of music, just note values. It is not surprising that they obtained erroneous results. Rachmaninov may be a great composer, but finding a very late romantic composer who was born 60+ years after Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Liszt (and was composing most of his romantic works after the romantic era was over) the most innovative should have given the researchers pause that their measure may be wrong. Rachmaninov was heavily influenced Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, and Chopin.
Nope. Chopin was the most innovative. Fight me! 😂😂😂😂😂
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Rachmaninov was heavily influenced Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, and Chopin.

Rachmaninoff also was influenced by others as well: he cherished Anton Rubinstein, he had respect for Scriabin, and he loved Grieg.

I know, because Rachmaninoff based his Third Concerto in D minor after the Rubinstein Fourth (also in D minor). Rachmaninoff also based his First Concerto in F-sharp minor off of Grieg's A minor, for a more famous example.

Rachmaninoff played Scriabin's concerto in 1911 with Scriabin conducting, and again in 1915 as a memorial for Scriabin.

Rachmaninoff was not necessarily the most innovative. Rachmaninoff took cues from the past. But his music is wonderful!

Originally Posted by ebonykawai
Nope. Chopin was the most innovative. Fight me! 😂😂😂😂😂

Chopin was very innovative.

Ballades were first written by Chopin! Liszt's 2 ballades, Brahms's 4 ballades, and Grieg's 1 ballade, came much later.

He made études into an exercise for the heart, rather than just technique.

Polonaises never sounded better under Chopin. (Beethoven's Op. 89 cannot compare to Chopin's Op. 53.)

But ultimately, John Field invented the nocturne, so we need to stop neglecting the past.

Just like how we wouldn't have the same Rach #3 we have today without Anton Rubinstein, Chopin wouldn't have written Nocturnes without John Field, or Études without Czerny.

Originally Posted by Mosotti
Researchers are right, Rachmaninoff is the pinnacle of piano composition. He somehow managed to create these incredibly difficult pieces which are at the same time incredibly beautiful/emotional. No one has done it at that level smile


Sure, Rachmaninoff's level is incredibly high to reach. But the pinnacle of piano composition is not Rachmaninoff. That'd be Mozart.
Mozart influenced Beethoven, who influenced Anton Rubinstein, who influenced Tchaikovsky, who influenced Rachmaninoff.
OK, now let's really get down to work! cool

How about an 'official' ranking of those composers in the article, on innovation -- considering just piano music (actually better we say keyboard), as in the article.

(Methodology: the top of my head.) ha

BTW, "top of the head" has its advantages, because it can take everything into account, and in flexible proportions according to what seems most relevant for each composer -- which IMO is exactly what the most perfect objective methods would do, if only we could put it into a formula, which I don't think we could, and even if we did, it would still be subjective.

The only disadvantage, as near as I can tell, is that it's the top of my head. grin

Bach
Beethoven
Chopin
Liszt
Debussy (the article has him absurdly low -- below the median)
Ravel
Scarlatti
Mozart (I'm ready to be blasted for not putting him higher, and I wouldn't fight you on it)
Schumann (in fact I could be blasted for not putting everybody higher)
Schubert
Albeniz
Mendelssohn
Brahms
Tchaikovsky
Rachmaninoff
Haydn
Mussorgsky
Clementi (who I love, but still)
Handel (I might just not know enough about his keyboard music; could belong higher)

Other official rankings invited, of course. smile
......BTW, here's how the article ranks them, I think. (a little hard to see exactly)

Rachmaninoff
Brahms (who BTW is also not generally considered particularly an innovator)
Bach
Chopin
Mendelssohn
Schumann
Ravel
Albeniz
Handel
Liszt
Schubert
Scarlatti
Debussy
Beethoven
Mussorgsky
Tchaikovsky
Mozart
Haydn
Clementi
- Bach, I can end up here smile
- Chopin (nobody else could ever reach his lyricism, greatest melodies ever)
- Wagner - wow, so daring harmonies and instrumentation, still unreachable and still applicable (P.S. not a piano composer but I think he innovated a lot to influence many late-romantic piano composers)
- Debussy - took-off from Wagner's initial hints at non-functional harmony and brought it to entirely new and original level of tone/chord color, still applicable to this day
- Stravinsky probably... for daring to experiment in a way that's both atonal yet fresh and captivating (in contrast to Schönberg) (P.P.S not piano composer either but I still think is very important for modern piano music as an early innovator in modernism)

Honorable mention: Scriabin who kind of innovated in every of the above fields but somehow isn't known a lot today and I still don't know why...
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I suppose with the appropriately chosen definition of innovative any composer could end up being the most innovative.[...]


Exactly: the discussion is unfocused and its conclusion would be indecisive unless there is a mutual agreement on what "innovative" means.

Regards,
I think several posters are confusing innovative with great or assuming great means innovative. For example, from what I've read Bach is considered the apotheosis of the Baroque but not particularly innovative.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think several posters are confusing innovative with great or assuming great means innovative. For example, from what I've read Bach is considered the apotheosis of the Baroque but not particularly innovative.

Bach innovated in almost every possible way smile Even by following centuries’ standards.

Here’s a proof:


Just kidding. But still... 🤪
Quote

Brahms (who BTW is also not generally considered particularly an innovator)

The symphonies and piano concertos may not be particularly innovative, but I think Brahms chamber music is quite innovative. The Serenade #1 in D for orchestra shows a fair bit of originality, as do the Rhapsody in Gm Op 79 #2 and Capriccio in Gm Op 116 #3. No doubt others may be identified. On the other hand, a piece like the Handel variations would not be very innovative (despite being among his greatest works).
I've by no means digested the article, but for the authors novelty in music seems to mean lots of chord-to-chord transitions that haven't been used much in the past. And they apparently count any vertical arrangement of notes as a unique chord, which means anyone can be a novel composer for piano by simply juxtaposing a whole bunch of chords in many different inversions and registers. And it does seem like Rachmaninoff did a lot of that, maybe more than anybody considering how dense many of his compositions are. But to take this a metric for real musical novelty seems misguided.
Bach has tremendously innovative. If you compare JS Bach and Handel, Handel generated harmonic variety through key changes. I think that was typical of most Baroque composers other than Bach (and earlier composers who achieved harmonic variety). Bach generated harmonic variety through use of much more diverse and innovative harmonies, much more so than any of his contemporaries or predecessors.

I realize that my comment is a general one, and no doubt exceptions may be found, but I think Bach was tremendously innovative with respect to harmonization.

Since the research was with respect to keyboard music, I think it would be remiss not to consider the substantial innovative contributions of some earlier keyboard players/composers: Sweelinck, Frescobaldi, Froberger, and Buxtehude.
I think that there is a fatal flaw in the measure used by the researchers. Even if their measure actually captured musical variety, it is biased to later composers. If a composer used paradigms of all who came before and added 1% original paradigms, the researcher’s measure would show that composer to be more innovative than predecessors.
Bach, Mozart and Beethoven blew all the other composers out of the water in terms of their impact on the development of Western classical music....even if you just consider their keyboard works (solo and ensemble).

.
When it comes to innovation, I do not think any of those old fogies compare to Henry Cowell.
Quote
Similarly, Beethoven, Schubert, and Liszt were less novel than Mendelssohn and Schumann, but eventually came to exert more influence and inspire more piano music to follow.
What's the basis for that statement? I think it's wrong, peer reviewed or not. Rachmaninoff was a fine composer and great pianist, but I don't think of "innovative" when I hear his music.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think several posters are confusing innovative with great or assuming great means innovative. For example, from what I've read Bach is considered the apotheosis of the Baroque but not particularly innovative.

Bach was paradoxically extremely innovative and forward-looking though within the established forms, mainly in terms of chromaticism. There's a video clip with Charles Rosen in some documentary (can't remember the name of it) in which he demonstrates this at the keyboard using the examples of the opening or closing chorus of the St Matthew Passion compared to the closing chorus of Handel's Theodora.
It is very difficult to isolate the individual contribution of one composer. When looking at large shifts of style in music history, it is always related to a network of factors including social, economic and other surrounding arts. Mozart did not create his style out of the blue but was fed and influenced by other composers and previously existing technic.

So was Bach who worked essentially within the framework of the musical legacy of his german predecessors, themselves largely influenced by italian and french music (luth style and orchestral dances). The chromaticism of Bach music is actually lesser than many other composers before him like Schein, or Schutz (not speaking of the intense chromaticism of most italian composers of the early baroque period). The so called great composers demonstrated a superior talent in compositions, but to measure how much is due to their own contribution vs what they borrowed from other contemporaries or past composers is complicated, and then to rank it is even more difficult and very subjective.

In a sense if innovation includes perfecting a style one can say that Bach achieved a superior talent in developing at the highest level existing forms, which can be viewed as a form of innovation. In other areas like coming up with new structures and style, he would be ranked lower than other composers of his time or past times.
Originally Posted by Sidokar
The chromaticism of Bach music is actually lesser than many other composers before him like Schein, or Schutz (not speaking of the intense chromaticism of most italian composers of the early baroque period).
Define "lesser". The importance of chromaticism in Bach is not for its own sake, but as a medium of expression. I can't think of any composer before him that's comparable in a consistent way. It was clarity and not necessarily chromaticism that was the Italian influence on Bach. Come to think of it, one innovation of Bach was fusing all those disparate regional styles while not going whole-hog Italianate like Handel.
I'm likely spouting off in ignorance.

To me innovative is adding something new and significant and significant enough that those who follow later include what you have done in their own work.

To me Rachmaninoff is the last, if not then one of the last composers of significance of the classical/romantic music eras before avant-garde classical starts to dominate.

What it feels like the authors have captured is not what I think of as innovative, but that Rachmaninoff has all of that rich history behind him which he has taken on and that is expressed in his own work. That doesn't say that he didn't innovate but classical music took a different direction. What more recent composers are there who include Rachmaninoff as a source for their own work?

To me the list from Mark_C pulled from the article mostly has mostly later composers as being more innovative with Bach being the big exception. Perhaps that says something unique about Bach. But it was the observation about the later composers being more innovative based on that list suggests to me a different definition for innovation is being used to what I understand.
Originally Posted by KevinM
To me Rachmaninoff is the last, if not then one of the last composers of significance of the classical/romantic music eras before avant-garde classical starts to dominate.
I think of someone who was born about 9 years before Rachmaninoff: Richard Strauss. Was Strauss more "innovative" than Rachmaninoff? And can a composer have been "innovative" early on, but at the same time live long enough to be considered kind of musically obsolete?

To be honest, I don't think "innovation" is an inherent mark of greatness anyway. I think the word is a little loaded with a value judgement. If a composer's music moves me even though using old-fashioned, well-worn styles or forms, that's higher on the scale of things. I think that's a kind of innovation in itself.
Well chromaticism is for the purpose of expression for just any baroque composer (and others as well). In Bach, in particular his keyboard compositions, the chromaticism is the result of modulations and are to some extent a consequence of his counterpoint. To better evaluate the expressivity of his chromatic usage, it is better to look at his vocal compositions like his passions and cantatas.

I am not sure what you mean by clarity. The italian school in the early baroque period essentially florentin and venetian invented the expressive style of monody and concertato which would influence heavily the german music. Listen to just any composition of Gesualdo, Monteverdi last books of madrigal, Schutz Cantione sacrae. The chomaticism of these compositions is inherent to the early baroque italian style and it is one major innovation vs what used to be the stile antico of the previous Renaissance period. Another german composer interesting to listen to is Schein who was like Bach the Kapelmeister in Leipzig, who composed highly expressive and chromatic pieces of chorale concertato like Opella nova.

You can also listen to Sweelinck fantasias for keyboard which equal Bach (my personal opinion of course) in terms of counterpoint and structure. For example his Fantasia chromatica or fantasia contraria.

I am not saying that Bach music is not expressive nor that he is not using chromaticism, but it is the essence of the baroque music at its origin and again in my personal view there are several composers who used it with more intensity than Bach.
I would tend to agree with the statement about Rachmaninoff, but I would tend to tie him in first place with Liszt. I find myself unable to place one above the other.
Originally Posted by Zaphod
I would tend to agree with the statement about Rachmaninoff, but I would tend to tie him in first place with Liszt. I find myself unable to place one above the other.


That's a good analogy. In some sense I find both composers equally "boring", at least according to my personal taste. As I said, I occasionally enjoy Rachmaninoff and that also applies to Liszt but in general I find them really similar in how there's more of a technical stuff for the sake of being difficult and flashy than for having any real musical substance. Again, this is just a personal opinion, so I hope there's no offense.
Originally Posted by Sidokar
I am not saying that Bach music is not expressive nor that he is not using chromaticism, but it is the essence of the baroque music at its origin and again in my personal view there are several composers who used it with more intensity than Bach.
"More intensity". I'd have to see/hear some specific examples. grin
Here you go:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9zHWp9nEL0s

Composed around 1600, I think Sweelinck’s Fantasia Chromatica was a landmark composition that influenced keyboard composers for almost 150 years, and even influenced some 20th century composers.

Sweelinck also produced a harpsichord version that readily can be played on piano. Sweelinck’s Fantasies also included contrapuntal devices that foreshadowed and influenced the development of the fugue. I cannot think of anything composed by Rachmaninov that was as innovative or influential. Perhaps Rachmaninov’s Vespers and some of his symphonies (eg #2 in Em) were his most novel and innovative work.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Here you go:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9zHWp9nEL0s

Composed around 1600, I think Sweelinck’s Fantasia Chromatica was a landmark composition that influenced keyboard composers for almost 150 years, and even influenced some 20th century composers.

Sweelinck also produced a harpsichord version that readily can be played on piano. Sweelinck’s Fantasies also included contrapuntal devices that foreshadowed and influenced the development of the fugue. I cannot think of anything composed by Rachmaninov that was as innovative or influential. Perhaps Rachmaninov’s Vespers and some of his symphonies (eg #2 in Em) were his most novel and innovative work.

That's a wonderful piece, and thanks for pointing it out. No doubt such composers were a great influence on Bach. But: it doesn't really match the "intensity" or emotional impact of, say, the opening chorus of the St John Passion or the six part ricercar from the Musical Offering, which is why we remember the Bach works. It's a culmination, an innovative (if you will) gathering of strands while refining and imposing one's own voice. Mozart similarly.
^ I think I can put my finger on the difference in that particular piece compared to Bach, and that's the sense of purpose and forward motion. It seems to be always present in Bach. He rarely if ever wallows. Unlike, say, Handel in the following piece. It's OK, but doesn't really seem to go anywhere:
https://youtu.be/aEf60elZF3A
Nobody was doubting the greatness or very high level of innovation of J.S. Bach. But I would be careful denigrating the music of Handel. Beethoven once said that Handel was the greatest composer of all time. That of course meant at the time of the quote, and Bach’s work had not yet been published so Beethoven may have only been familiar with a little of Bach’s music. But he still was ranking Handel above Haydn, Mozart, and himself.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Nobody was doubting the greatness or very high level of innovation of J.S. Bach. But I would be careful denigrating the music of Handel. Beethoven once said that Handel was the greatest composer of all time. That of course meant at the time of the quote, and Bach’s work had not yet been published so Beethoven may have only been familiar with a little of Bach’s music. But he still was ranking Handel above Haydn, Mozart, and himself.

That's all fine and good, but that fugue still goes nowhere. grin
That Sweelinck piece is indeed interesting due to the chromaticism but I’d say it’s just chromatic sequences that are predictable. Bach really used chromaticism to another level of harmonic freedom predating Wagner by more than a century.

Besides the Crucifixus from the Mass I posted previously, here are a few more examples.

The ending from 3:40


From 1:32 to the end


Master of the orgelpunkt (pedal point):


Looking forward to romanticism:
Originally Posted by CyberGene
That Sweelinck piece is indeed interesting due to the chromaticism but I’d say it’s just chromatic sequences that are predictable. Bach really used chromaticism to another level of harmonic freedom predating Wagner by more than a century.
Yes indeed. The Sweelinck and Handel pieces are more "chromaticism for the sake of chromaticism...listen to what it sounds like". Bach didn't invent the chromatic scale, of course. But I can't think of another composer before him who utilized it in quite the same way he did. By the way, I love Handel's music too, and revere his memory as much as the next person, but Bach is another level entirely, Beethoven's opinions notwithstanding.

And to the person who asked what I meant by "Italian clarity", I mean clearness and economy in melodic writing, which you'll usually find in abundance in Corelli, Albinoni, Vivaldi et al.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Nobody was doubting the greatness or very high level of innovation of J.S. Bach.
Several posters have already doubted the level of innovation although certainly not the greatness of Bach. As I already indicated, some feel he was the culmination or summation of the Baroque but not greatly innovative. Of course, this whole discussion depends on one's personal definition of "innovative".

In his keyboard music(the topic of the study quoted in this thread), other than demonstrating that keyboards using the new tuning could be played in all keys via the WTC, what other innovations do you attribute to him?
Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
The Sweelinck and Handel pieces are more "chromaticism for the sake of chromaticism...listen to what it sounds like". Bach didn't invent the chromatic scale, of course. But I can't think of another composer before him who utilized it in quite the same way he did. By the way, I love Handel's music too, and revere his memory as much as the next person, but Bach is another level entirely, Beethoven's opinions notwithstanding.

And to the person who asked what I meant by "Italian clarity", I mean clearness and economy in melodic writing, which you'll usually find in abundance in Corelli, Albinoni, Vivaldi et al.


No great composer is writing chromaticism just for the sake of it. It is always for the purpose of expression. The reason composers like Monteverdi used it is to highlight the meaning of the underlying text. The fact that you do not see where the fugue is going, so to speak, is because you are not used to the modal writing and the logic of it. Each person is more sensitive to a certain style of music.

It is recognized by all experts that the intense chromaticism is the hallmark of early baroque. I am not trying to convince you, but you should take time to explore the music of this period, Monteverdi, Schutz, Shein, Ligrenzi, and others to see how it relates to Bach. Albinoni and Vivaldi are already late baroque composers. I would not qualify their melodic writing to be clear. On the contrary, Vivaldi melodic writing is lavish. I think you are referring more to the textural and polyphonic complexity of their music.

An example of intense dissonance:

https://youtu.be/pMaYAFuC3RQ

Again i am not saying Bach is not a great composer, but in terms of expressiveness and emotional intensity, I do not see him at the top of the list. I will leave it here though.
I would add one last point. I think there is a confusion between what people name chromaticism which they may equate to harmonic richness and complexity. I would concurr that Bach certainly was a master in harmonic complexity , though in a tonal system, and this richness implies necessarily some level of chromaticism but those are two different things. Like all baroque composers Bach used chromatic elements in his vocal music, diminished 7th for example in many of his passion most dramatic sequences. That said in this particular area many composers before him had done that to a larger extent. What he was unique at is to associate melodic expressiveness with a unique sense of harmonic architecture and complexity, all of this often times embedded in a complex counterpoint.
There seems to be some conflation of the use of accidentals with chromaticism, which is only sometimes a correct identification. Often the use of accidentals is to effect a key change. When the key is changed, those accidental notes are not chromaticism or dissonances but just part of the key to which the piece modulated. In Baroque music, it is not uncommon that the modulation moves forward a step around the circle of 5ths and the accidental is the leading tone for the root of the new key. This makes it seem predictable and not seem like a dissonance. Of course accidental scare also used for the leading tone of the root of minor keys.

Chromaticism refers to using notes outside of the scale in melodies or contrapuntal voices for coloration. In Sweelinck’s Fantasia Chromatica you find both— almost constant key changes in some sections, but also walking bass lines and melodies and parallel intervals descending on a chromatic scales. By comparison, in Handel’s keyboard music you will most of the time see accidentals for the raised 7th position of a minor scale or for key changes that at times are so fleeting that they may only last as little as half a measure before moving to another key.

Handel’s harpsichord suite in G HWV 441 is a good example. In the 3rd full measure of the opening Allemande movement, the F natural is to create a G7 harmony, the 5-7 chord of C major to effect a key change into C. By the end of the measure the F# returns leading into G major but it only lasts for one 32nd note leading into an A major chord (with C# accidental) on the first beat of the next measure to effect a key change to D major, which does not last through even that whole measure as a C natural at the end creates a D7 chord (5-7 chord of G major) to effect a modulation back to G. All of this happens in the course of two measures. The key changes provide harmonic coloration. The use of accidentals is explained by that analysis. Handel manages the melodic flow through these fleeting key changes so effortlessly that most listeners would not even be aware of them.

This is just one example of the things that collectively are sufficient to rank Handel as one of the great, first tier composers. But the parallels with the key changes in Fantasia Chromatica seem unlikely to be coincidental.

I think the composing of Fantasia Chromatica roughly around 1600 (date unknown, possibly between 1609 and 1621, the period of the truce in the 80 years war for Dutch independence) also is interesting for the light it may shed on the history of tuning and temperaments. My understanding is that, while the temperament of a pipe organ may be modified after it is built, it is not a task to be embarked upon lightly. Pipes may need to be shortened or lengthened so that it is an expensive, labor-intensive proposition. The purchase and installation of a pipe organ was a major community commitment of resources whether facilitated by a church or a city. As a result, the choice of temperament could be a source of great political controversy. With much music being sacred, the choice of temperament was entangled with religious doctrine, and advocating for change could be interpreted as heresy, especially in the time of the reformation or inquisition.

I don’t know what temperament was implemented on the two organs in the Oude Kerk where Sweelinck was the organist, and it would have been more feasible to change the temperament of the small choir organ than to change it for the larger organ. (These organs were installed when Amsterdam was still Roman Catholic). I’ve heard recordings of Fantasia Chromatica in a generic mean tone, and I don’t think they sound as good as ones on instruments with a well (or equal) temperament. Sweelinck at one point made a trip to Antwerp to select a harpsichord to be purchased by the city of Amsterdam, and I’ve wondered if having the use of a harpsichord that he could tune himself facilitated the composition of Fantasia Chromatica.



Originally Posted by Sidokar
No great composer is writing chromaticism just for the sake of it.
I think that in the Sweelinck and Handel pieces, that was probably 90% of the idea behind them.
Originally Posted by Sidokar
I would add one last point. I think there is a confusion between what people name chromaticism which they may equate to harmonic richness and complexity.
I'm not confused. The two things are not mutually exclusive. Harmonic progressions can also be chromatic. "Chromaticism" doesn't necessarily mean only Schoenberg and Webern, either...although while we're at it we could check if it was Sweelinck or Bach which wielded the biggest influence even on those two.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
There seems to be some conflation of the use of accidentals with chromaticism, which is only sometimes a correct identification.
I know the difference, thanks. Just as I can tell the difference between Haydn and Mozart.
I found the snippet of documentary with Charles Rosen. Here ya go:

https://youtu.be/rmDb4Nt4RJY
If you look at my first posting above not on the subject of the research cited by the thread, I wrote:
Quote

Bach has (edit: was) tremendously innovative. If you compare JS Bach and Handel, Handel generated harmonic variety through key changes. I think that was typical of most Baroque composers other than Bach (and earlier composers who achieved harmonic variety). Bach generated harmonic variety through use of much more diverse and innovative harmonies, much more so than any of his contemporaries or predecessors.

So I agree with Mr. Rosen. Diverse harmonies should not, however, be conflated with chromaticism.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck

So I agree with Mr. Rosen. Diverse harmonies should not, however, be conflated with chromaticism.
That doesn't make any sense. Saying that chromaticism is being used in writing harmony or whatever else isn't a "conflation", it's a description.
You don’t need chromatics to construct dissonant harmonies. With the notes in a C major scale you can make Fmaj7, Cmaj7, Dm7, F9, .... without the use of chromatics. And you can superimpose a consonant chord over a dissonant bass note all within the scale. Bach did use chromatics to construct dissonant harmonies, but I think he more often used other sources of dissonance. As I’ve already alluded to, I think some of the controversy in the thread has to do with the usage of the term chromatic.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
You don’t need chromatics to construct dissonant harmonies. With the notes in a C major scale you can make Fmaj7, Cmaj7, Dm7, F9, .... without the use of chromatics. And you can superimpose a consonant chord over a dissonant bass note all within the scale. Bach did use chromatics to construct dissonant harmonies,
Give me a break. grin

Originally Posted by Sweelinck
As I’ve already alluded to, I think some of the controversy in the thread has to do with the usage of the term chromatic.
I think some people are conflating "chromaticism" with "serialism". grin
There has been no discussion of serialism.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
There has been no discussion of serialism.

Or really of chromaticism either. Gotta love online discussion boards. You really have to love the condescending tone in some of this, like:
Originally Posted by Sidokar

It is recognized by all experts that the intense chromaticism is the hallmark of early baroque. I am not trying to convince you, but you should take time to explore the music of this period, Monteverdi, Schutz, Shein, Ligrenzi, and others to see how it relates to Bach.

The points-scoring hair splitting gets silly.
Originally Posted by rmns2bseen

Or really of chromaticism either. Gotta love online discussion boards. You really have to love the condescending tone in some of this, like:


It was not intended to be, so if you feel it that way, I appologize for this. My point was not a personal one related to you, but was simply to mention that in order to evaluate the compositional style of a composer, it is necessary to put it in perspective of what has been done before him in the very long period of baroque evolution since the beginning of the 17th century.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Nobody was doubting the greatness or very high level of innovation of J.S. Bach.
Several posters have already doubted the level of innovation although certainly not the greatness of Bach. As I already indicated, some feel he was the culmination or summation of the Baroque but not greatly innovative. Of course, this whole discussion depends on one's personal definition of "innovative".

In his keyboard music(the topic of the study quoted in this thread), other than demonstrating that keyboards using the new tuning could be played in all keys via the WTC, what other innovations do you attribute to him?

As noted a few times, Bach’s major innovation was in using much more diverse harmonies and harmonizations than his contemporaries and predecessors. Bach’s music often is closer to that of the early romantic era harmonically than it is to the music of other Baroque composers.

I think he also propelled keyboard technique forward using his virtuosity to write music requiring more advanced technique than before, analogous to Chopin having done the same for piano.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
As noted a few times, Bach’s major innovation was in using much more diverse harmonies and harmonizations than his contemporaries and predecessors.
Really. So explain in musical terms what sets Bach's harmonic writing apart from Sweelinck's, Monteverdi's or Handel's.
Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
As noted a few times, Bach’s major innovation was in using much more diverse harmonies and harmonizations than his contemporaries and predecessors.
Really. So explain in musical terms what sets Bach's harmonic writing apart from Sweelinck's, Monteverdi's or Handel's.

I posted an adagio some posts ago. Listen to the coda from 3:40. There’s a total escape from diatonic harmony, dissonance is interwoven with polyphony and a harmony with altered extensions and it’s not just a single chord for “color” but an entire progression that logically evolves. Such devices would appear centuries later. Can you show me a single example from Sweelinck, Handel or Monteverdi that utilizes similar devices?
Here are some other examples.

https://youtu.be/7wqHSlOyFXg
Also this, especially at around the 6 minute mark:

https://youtu.be/eTq3gszPsIQ
Originally Posted by rmns2bseen
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
As noted a few times, Bach’s major innovation was in using much more diverse harmonies and harmonizations than his contemporaries and predecessors.
Really. So explain in musical terms what sets Bach's harmonic writing apart from Sweelinck's, Monteverdi's or Handel's.

Handel achieved harmonic variety through key changes. Within a key, chord progressions were usually straightforward I V or I IV V progressions. Bach used a much more diverse palette of harmonies and did not need to rely on key changes or chromatic movement to achieve diverse colorations. There is a large palette of dissonant harmonies within a key, either dissonant chords or superimposing a consonant chord over a dissonant bass note.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Bach used a much more diverse palette of harmonies and did not need to rely on key changes or chromatic movement to achieve diverse colorations.
Using what techniques? This goes a little beyond using mere sevenths and ninths within a scale. By the way of example, using the dominant of the dominant (which occurs frequently not only in Bach but also in Mozart) would be necessarily chromatic. There's no getting around it.
It is an accidental, which just means it is outside the primary key signature of the piece, but it is a part of the scale of the key to which the music modulated. But we were not discussing whether Handel used chromatics.

I really do not wish to argue about the matter.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
It is an accidental, which just means it is outside the primary key signature of the piece, but it is a part of the scale of the key to which the music modulated.
grin Which modulation is called... grin

Hilarious.
Originally Posted by Sidokar
It was not intended to be, so if you feel it that way, I appologize for this. My point was not a personal one related to you, but was simply to mention that in order to evaluate the compositional style of a composer, it is necessary to put it in perspective of what has been done before him in the very long period of baroque evolution since the beginning of the 17th century.
No need for apologies really, since I'm also an offender. I'll be the first to admit that I'm certainly no expert on Italian or French Baroque music. But I do detect differences between Corelli and Vivaldi on one hand and Bach on the other, just as there are differences between Bach and Handel. Those differences mean a lot, in my opinion.
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by Zaphod
I would tend to agree with the statement about Rachmaninoff, but I would tend to tie him in first place with Liszt. I find myself unable to place one above the other.


That's a good analogy. In some sense I find both composers equally "boring", at least according to my personal taste. As I said, I occasionally enjoy Rachmaninoff and that also applies to Liszt but in general I find them really similar in how there's more of a technical stuff for the sake of being difficult and flashy than for having any real musical substance. Again, this is just a personal opinion, so I hope there's no offense.


It's funny you say that, because I feel the opposite, as if the technical passages are used as tools for certain effects, and I gain great musical satisfaction form them. I simply put that down as an indicator of different tastes. I don't think there's a right or wrong about it, so no it's not offensive to say that in the least.

I have the same with the Classical era - most of it leaves me pretty cold, whereas some people think it's the best stuff.
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