Sunday, September 6, 2009
JOHANN JOSEPH FUX/The Study of Counterpoint
This is the definitive text on learning 16th Century counterpoint, a term you non-composers may not be familiar with. Basically, it's a strict style of composition with lots of sometimes conflicting rules that make you wonder about the sanity of the people who developed it.
But once you master the rules, the process actually becomes meditative and kind of fun in a very, very geeky way. After all, this is a text meant more to be used than read. And Fux really simplifies things, which is why I suspect so many people use this text. (It was used by the greats: Haydn, Beethoven, etc.)
But . . . I've docked it a star. Why? Fux uses A DIALOGUE BETWEEN A TEACHER AND HIS STUDENT to introduce the rules. I'll sit here for a moment while you let that sink in. A dialogue? Between the teacher and student? In the 16th Century?
Seriously, how hokey is that?? I'll give you an example:
Josephus: I come to you, venerable master, in order to be introduced to the rules and principles of music.
Aloysius: You want, then, to learn the art of composition?
. . .
Aloys: I am happy to recognize your natural aptitude. There is only one matter that still troubles me. If this is removed I shall take you into the circle of my pupils.
Joseph: Please say what it is, revered master. Yet surely neither this nor any other reason will move me to give up my plan.
You know, after typing these exchanges I realize this dialogue sounds vaguely sexual. Not quite the image I was going for, but now I think I'll be re-reading this in a whole new light.