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Joined: Nov 2013
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The wonderful reality of music is that a given work can be appreciated on so many levels. Sometimes we just want to be immersed in the incredibly rich harmonies, textures, sonorities, and timbres in a live acoustical environment (Prelude and Fugue in G- organ work of Marcel Dupré). Or we want to be emotionally devastated by the music written for a particular reason (Opening of Shostakovich Symphony 11). Or we want to explore how it was possible for J.S. Bach to write the Goldberg Variations, a monumental work of incredible beauty and at the same time the most intricate mathematical structure permeating the whole work.

I love Brahms' piano works for the above reasons. On a given day I can play them for any of the above reasons - His nods to his childhood whorehouse playing days, his thumbing his nose at the elite establishment with drinking songs, his musical references to his love for Clara S., his incredible rhythmic interplays and overlays, and his deep, sonorous bass lines and chords.

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Originally Posted by wolfpaw
When playing counterpoint I find it hard/impossible to have an awareness of all the voices and what they're doing at any given time. Is that something that comes with practice and experience? I tend to focus on one 'line' and leave the other things to do their own thing. I'm guessing that's not right, but it's hard to remove oneself enough to see the bigger picture.

When the voices are close to each other and on certain instruments like the harpsichord or the piano it is really difficult, sometimes even impossible, to distinguish them. In complex compositions with 3 or 4 voices going at the same time, it is usually possible to hear the top voice and the bass voice, but more complicated to sort out between alto and tenor. Originally the fugue started as a technique used in vocal compositions. The voices, like the name implies, have each their own character, so you can in the same time hear the whole while also hearing each individual voice within the mix. Transposed to a keyboard instruments, in sections where all 4 voices are running, the voices loose a large part of their individuality, so you tend to hear more the resulting harmony. You can still hear different lines but it is not easy to say which voice is which.

For example listen the contrapunctus 14 played by a quatuor. You have an incredible clarity and individuality of the voices vs what you can get on an harpsichord.


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Yes, I find I'm hearing harmony a lot more than voices when I play. That's a useful way of putting it, thanks. I use an open score too for the fugues so I've got an idea what the individual voices should sound like, but getting them to sound separate, even in my own head, while playing them is another matter. I find the Yamaha's organ voices do make it clearer but then I miss the much more subtle sound of the piano too.

The quartet really brings out the character and line of each voice! [although I'm still impressed that two hands at a keyboard can play more than two-part music at all, lol. It's quite something when you think about it. I find it quite addictive too].

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