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rbarata
KVRist
 
416 posts since 6 Feb, 2005, from Portugal

Postby rbarata; Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:33 am Riemenschnider - Analysis for beginners

Hello, my friends
Got myself Bach's 371 chorales book and I would like your help to know which are the easieast for a beginner analysis.
I'm interested in consolidate my knowledge of chord progressions and modes identification.
I know Bach's work is very complex and, although a good study material, it may raise a lot of even more complex questions if the piece choice is not done carefully.

Thanks
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StudioDave
KVRian
 
883 posts since 23 Jun, 2007, from Findlay OH USA

Postby StudioDave; Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:17 am Re: Riemenschnider - Analysis for beginners

rbarata wrote:Got myself Bach's 371 chorales book and I would like your help to know which are the easieast for a beginner analysis.
I'm interested in consolidate my knowledge of chord progressions and modes identification.
I know Bach's work is very complex and, although a good study material, it may raise a lot of even more complex questions if the piece choice is not done carefully.


I went through about a hundred of those chorales when I was a student in LA, they're pretty straightforward to analyze harmonically. I'm not sure if I'd recommend any over any others, just start with some that look easy and go from there. Have fun !

Best,

dp
Sandy
KVRer
 
25 posts since 5 Jun, 2007

Postby Sandy; Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:44 pm Re: Riemenschnider - Analysis for beginners

I have gone through these myself inside and outside of the context of classwork and yes, the chorales are a treasure trove of knowledge.

One thing to be aware of is that the "chord progressions" are more as a consequence of voiceleading than what pop people tend to do now which is to think, "what chord would sound good after this one?" Bach's harmonies EMERGED from the voiceleading. I think whichever method you pick, you should look as much horizontally as vertically.

I think it was fun to simply re-copy the outer voices and start by checking that out. Then I would try to provide my own tenor and alto parts and compare it against what Bach did. Conversely, you can re-write just the melody and treat it like the cantus firmus (fixed song) that Bach treated it as and write your own bass part and then compare what you came up with to what Bach wrote, etc.

A lesson in counterpoint before starting out wouldn't hurt either. Learning rigorous voiceleading is an eye-opening experience for sure.
rbarata
KVRist
 
416 posts since 6 Feb, 2005, from Portugal

Postby rbarata; Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:34 pm Re: Riemenschnider - Analysis for beginners

Sandy wrote:I have gone through these myself inside and outside of the context of classwork and yes, the chorales are a treasure trove of knowledge.

One thing to be aware of is that the "chord progressions" are more as a consequence of voiceleading than what pop people tend to do now which is to think, "what chord would sound good after this one?" Bach's harmonies EMERGED from the voiceleading. I think whichever method you pick, you should look as much horizontally as vertically.

I think it was fun to simply re-copy the outer voices and start by checking that out. Then I would try to provide my own tenor and alto parts and compare it against what Bach did. Conversely, you can re-write just the melody and treat it like the cantus firmus (fixed song) that Bach treated it as and write your own bass part and then compare what you came up with to what Bach wrote, etc.

A lesson in counterpoint before starting out wouldn't hurt either. Learning rigorous voiceleading is an eye-opening experience for sure.


Voice leading "forces" one to think both, horizontally and vertically. That's what makes it sometimes difficult.

A few years ago I've done several exercises as you've mentioned (mainly treating the soprano as a cantus firmus and harmonize it). In another forum we used to have forum threads where someone proposed a melody for the members to harmonize it and submit their solution to the critic of other members. Fun and educative threads. :)

Counterpoint will be my next re-study subject.
JumpingJackFlash
KVRian
 
1224 posts since 10 Oct, 2004

Postby JumpingJackFlash; Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:42 am Re: Riemenschnider - Analysis for beginners

rbarata wrote:Hello, my friends
Got myself Bach's 371 chorales book and I would like your help to know which are the easieast for a beginner analysis.
I'm interested in consolidate my knowledge of chord progressions and modes identification.
I know Bach's work is very complex and, although a good study material, it may raise a lot of even more complex questions if the piece choice is not done carefully.

Thanks


Firstly, this is a good idea and will undoubtedly help in many ways. Some things worth mentioning first though; you may have already realised that many chorale settings in the book effectively occur twice (or even three times) meaning in practice, there is actually less than 371 different examples there (but still plenty to work with), also note at least one setting in there is now known not to be by Bach. Unfortunately, the words of the hymns are not included with the music and this means you miss out on important lessons on how Bach harmonised the tunes.

Another problem with the collection is there are several errors in it. Many were inherited from the sources they were taken from, others were introduced fresh.

Another thing that should be mentioned (without going into detail) is issues of modality vs tonality. While many nowadays think of the chorales simply in either the major or minor key, many were strongly influenced by the older principles of modality which persisted in Germany a lot longer than elsewhere on the continent. As such, you will find many of the chorales defy a traditional (tonal) analysis - that is, they won't fit neatly into the major/minor systems explained in introductory textbooks (and in any case, Bach often did things that the authors of such harmony books would frown on).

Having said all that, after a quick flick through, some chorales I would recommend starting with are as follows (numbers refer to the Riemenschneider collection, other collections (which are often superior due to the issues mentioned above) use different numbering):
NB: "Major" settings will likely be easier to analyse than "minor" ones.

7
40
79
86
95
112
141
151
164 (good one to look at non-harmony notes)
174
204
228
278
287
297
301
323
334
336
350
360

Let me know if you need help.
Unfamiliar words can be looked up in my Glossary of musical terms.
Also check out my Introduction to Music Theory.
rbarata
KVRist
 
416 posts since 6 Feb, 2005, from Portugal

Postby rbarata; Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:50 pm Re: Riemenschnider - Analysis for beginners

Thanks for the sugestions and help offer, JumpingJackFlash.

Another thing that should be mentioned (without going into detail) is issues of modality vs tonality. While many nowadays think of the chorales simply in either the major or minor key, many were strongly influenced by the older principles of modality which persisted in Germany a lot longer than elsewhere on the continent. As such, you will find many of the chorales defy a traditional (tonal) analysis - that is, they won't fit neatly into the major/minor systems explained in introductory textbooks (and in any case, Bach often did things that the authors of such harmony books would frown on).


When I refer modes I really mean the 7 church modes (6, excluding Locrian) and not only major/minor.
I think that was the way how Bach thought about them.

Is there a way where to see the relationship between the different collections numbering?

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