my first post = question #1 :)

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Paco
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my first post = question #1 :)

Post by Paco » Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:37 pm

Hello to everyone on this board.
I am a dj from Canada and dont know much about classical music.
As a dj I constantly try to mix songs together (regardless of teh style) and while it is not very easy ... the result is what gives me goosebumps in
music :)
This process has made me very curious ... "what makes it that some songs fit so perfectly !" ... this question led me to a new word: Polyphonic and from there I got to Bach ! So far I've learned that polyphonic is when a song has more than 1 melody and most music since the time of Bach has been Homophony (only 1 main melody) .
What I'm trying to understand is if the art of couterpoint/polyphony could possibly help me as a dj ?
Please correct me if I am not understanding the meaning of Bach's polyphonic music.

Thank you for your time
:)

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Aug 18, 2006 1:57 am

Hey, Paco! Welcome to the board. Kick your shoes off and set a spell.

In answer to your question, it's a little more complicated than that. First of all, the more common term for a single unaccompanied melody is monophony, and it pretty much characterizes western music before the very late 11th century.

Second, polyphony was "invented" at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the earliest records we have of compositions in that style are by Perotin and Leonin circa 1150, considerably before Bach.

Third, the history of western music from 1150 to today is that of composers experimenting with and refining their mastery of polyphony, which offered much greater richness than monophony, which ceased to be the playgound of professional composers by the 13th century. Just about everything you will hear written after 13th century will employ polyphony to a greater or lesser extent. Some are better at it than others but they all use it. So really it's just the reverse of your comment.

Fourth, forget about the forms and all that technical stuff and just listen to music, perhaps on CBC or BBC 3. Listen, listen, and then listen more.

Fifth, buy yourself a good music history text, like Crocker's A History of Musical Style (can be had in pb for pennies from Amazon used) or Grout's A History of Western Music.

I'll leave Bach to someone else to help you with as he's not high on my list.
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Post by david johnson » Fri Aug 18, 2006 3:45 am

you're on the right track.

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... um_id=4125

listen to some stokowski transcriptions of bach fugues to get a nice flavor of how the music goes.

try some garbieli, also.
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... m_id=19650

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... m_id=90635

dj


corlyss:

gasp! herr bach is low on your list?

Paco
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Post by Paco » Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:10 am

Thank you for the welcome Corlyss_D :)
I do realize Bach did not invent polyphonic but from what I have read, he really took it to the limit with his music and not much has been added to this art of polyphonic since! an example of description I have read :
Very different is the case, when two melodies are so interwoven with each other that they, as it were, converse together, like two persons of the same rank and equally well informed. ... This sort of union of two melodies gives rise to new combinations of tones and consequently to an increase in the variety of musical expressions.

If this is the definition of polyphonic, then I would love to find out more about this art.
Thank you again for any help :)

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Post by keyla_c » Fri Aug 18, 2006 3:20 pm

Hi,

it's right that bach was not the inventor of polyphony but he is known as the master of fugues and a fugue is a very difficult kind of polyphon composition with very strict rules

to make two voices which are independent from each other fit together you have to follow some rules- which would take to much time to explain you now
of course I'll try to answer your questions if you have some
...I never really understood what a dj exacly does but I think the rules of polyphony maybe could help you as a dj

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterpoint
and if you are able to understand german try the german version which I find easier to understand:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kontrapunkt

:)
caro

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:10 pm

david johnson wrote: corlyss:

gasp! herr bach is low on your list?
He's too busy for me. I like more clarity. I'm not a keyboardist or a singer. I'm just a listener. I can stand him in small doses.
Corlyss
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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:38 pm

keyla_c wrote:Hi,

it's right that bach was not the inventor of polyphony but he is known as the master of fugues and a fugue is a very difficult kind of polyphon composition with very strict rules

to make two voices which are independent from each other fit together you have to follow some rules- which would take to much time to explain you now
of course I'll try to answer your questions if you have some
...I never really understood what a dj exacly does but I think the rules of polyphony maybe could help you as a dj

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterpoint
and if you are able to understand german try the german version which I find easier to understand:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kontrapunkt

:)
caro
Hey, Caro!

Welcome to the board! Two first-timers in a single thread. Kick your shoes off and set a spell. Post early and often.
Corlyss
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Post by anasazi » Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:56 pm

Hi Paco,

I'm always happy someone wants to talk about J. Sebastian Bach. No, as has been mentioned, he did not invent polyphony. But most music critics and scholars believe he perfected it, that has also been said.

He also tested to perfection one other idea, the well-tempered scale. Until Bach, even after him for awhile, different music scales (C, C#, Db, D etc) were not exactly enharmonious with each other. The reasons have to do with the overtones present in music, I guess the science of it. But the result was that if you began a piece in d minor, you would be advised not to modulate to say Eb, or some other unrelated key. What would have been in tune for d minor would have not been in tune for other keys.

What Bach did was fiddle with the tuning of his clavier. He cheated and basically edged certain strings down a bump or two or up a bump or two until he could modulate through all 24 key signatures. It's not quite as in tune in any one key (as antique instrument groups like to remind us), but without it, how would jazz have ever happened?

I guess Bach did not originate the idea, a book had been earlier published about the theory, but he kind of tested it and then composed his Well Tempered Clavier as his proof.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints" - John Muir.

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Post by Paco » Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:18 pm

Yes I did learn about bach and the well tempered scale … I thought it was typical of him to think of using a scale where no key is perfect yet the result gives rise to more flexibilities! Kinda similar to that description I posted before … polyphonic.

Caro, thank you for your offer ... I’m not sure how or if a good understanding of polyphonic (or fugue) would help my mixing. Of course learning it would take a long time which is no problem as long as I know it will help :)
The main reason why I thought this art of fugue could help is from reading the definition of polyphonic … which of course led me to Bach.

Polyphonic = having two or more independent but harmonically related melodic parts sounding together.

I try and explain what a dj does … as well as what music I play…

The music is called “house music” - measure is mainly 4/4 and the BPM (beats per minute) is between 115-135.
Dj’s job is to create a mood throughout the night … playing continuous music …. the technique is with 2 or more audio sources and a mixer equipped with equalizers. Basically he(or she) can mix from one song to the next thanks to this method which is called beatmatching.
The cool thing is how its done …. Basically you have to listen to 1 song with your right ear while the other is being heard through your left ear. After many many years of practice, it becomes like breathing … very little effort to hear 2 songs in your head and keep them beat matched. Of course I should mention that we adjust the tempo of each song with a “pitch control” that comes with every audio source (for example turntables) …. As for the EQ’s on the mixer , they are used to tweak each songs frequencies in order to gel the 2 songs better.
Most songs have intros and outros (consisting of simple beats) in order to give time for the dj to mix …. So intro of song 2 over the outro of song 1 = the most common way a dj mixes :)
Not to say that this doesn’t require any creativity as no 2 dj will play the same music the same way yet some sound so much better than others! The true art of djing / mixing is when the dj is not just mixing intros onto outros but using each song to add to the next. When 2 songs lose their individualities to become part of a greater song. Only then am I willing to say that it sounds like the definition of polyphonic where I hear 2 different songs transform into something with a lot more (energy) !

I hope by explaining what I do, some could guide me through my quest :)

Thank you all for your comments and help so far …

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 21, 2006 5:00 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
david johnson wrote: corlyss:

gasp! herr bach is low on your list?
He's too busy for me. I like more clarity. I'm not a keyboardist or a singer. I'm just a listener. I can stand him in small doses.
And in this matter, you can stand alone.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Paco
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Post by Paco » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:08 pm

I forgot to thank the other dj !

thank you for the links ;)

will get my hands(ears) on them soon ...

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:29 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
david johnson wrote: corlyss:

gasp! herr bach is low on your list?
He's too busy for me. I like more clarity. I'm not a keyboardist or a singer. I'm just a listener. I can stand him in small doses.
And in this matter, you can stand alone.
8) Won't be the first time . . .
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:39 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
david johnson wrote: corlyss:

gasp! herr bach is low on your list?
He's too busy for me. I like more clarity. I'm not a keyboardist or a singer. I'm just a listener. I can stand him in small doses.
And in this matter, you can stand alone.
8) Won't be the first time . . .
Maybe, but if you moderate a classical music site, you're not supposed to be proud of being indifferent to Bach.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by greymouse » Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:12 am

... I’m not sure how or if a good understanding of polyphonic (or fugue) would help my mixing. Of course learning it would take a long time which is no problem as long as I know it will help
Hi Paco!

I don't know anything about mixing, but I know some dj's and they often look to other styles of music to expand their horizons. Your equipment has features such as beat matching, pitch matching/bending/identification, seamless transitions, etc. Those I think are the most important tools you'll need for blending, plus a great deal of imagination and modeling after the most respected figures in your field.

You may benefit from light theory (like a course or a book in basic theory) if you don't know basic ideas like key and meter. For instance, a little theory may convince you that a sample in F major mixes well with a sample in D minor because they share the same pitches.

However Bach's counterpoint may not help you because it applies specifically to the art of combining melodies, and even if it helps it is so incredibly difficult to learn (for most, it takes steady classes for several years). You may benefit more from just listening to and getting aquainted with classical music, for a whole new source of sample ideas and inspiration and it's definitely easier. If you really want to learn Bach theory there are books to do so, but keep in mind it's geared toward seasoned musicians with experience in classical music theory and keyboard.

That's just my perspective, but I don't know enough about it all to make it more than a guess.

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Post by greymouse » Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:46 am

You know, it occurs to me Paco ...

While I just said counterpoint in the style of Bach is fiercely technical and complicated to learn (it is), I should also add that it is based on very simple concepts that you probably already know. In fact most polyphonic classical music is based on some easy concepts:

-Independence of the voices. If one melody goes up, the other should go down. If one rhythm gets faster, the other should slow down.

-Consonance. The two voices should create harmonies as often as possible, especially on the downbeats. Avoid harsh dissonances (find out what intervals are considered consonant and dissonant).

-Don't be too repetitious. Don't repeat a pattern any more than 3 times.

-Smooth melodies. Don't make jagged, unnatural leaps just to keep the counterpoint going.

I probably am leaving some stuff out, but those are things you can think about without ever learning how to compose a fugue which is just an extremely complicated multi-voice version of the same above concepts. :)

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Post by Paco » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:10 am

Hello to all again ...
since all your wonderful inputs, I have spent as much time as I could reading/hearing Bach ... he is GREAT !
Thank you all :)

While reading about him, I can accross a name associated with many websites for various purposes but what grabbed my attention was his ideas / respect for the music of Bach (his polyphonic style) ... very very positive ... I am very curious to know if others have heard of him.
His name is Peter Huebner(Germany).

As always I am fascinated by Bach's art of polyphonic, in his music as well as in theory. I will definitly have more questions as I learn more about Bach ... hope some of you will still be around
:)

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:44 am

Hey, don't be a stranger.
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Post by Nashvillebill » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:40 am

Hello Paco,

You know this will really have nothign to do with Bach, but as a DJ you might be itnerested in some of the 20th century music. Some of it's really out there but could really lead to some very interesting creations. Guys like Terry Riley, John Cage, Stockhausen, PHilip Glass and others might tweek your interest, since some of they use some very interesting concepts and technology that could blend really well with house music.

Check out Riley's "IN C" there are many versions of it but Dacapo records is releasing a version next week featuring percussion and voices.

http://www.dacapo-records.dk/?page=catalogue&id=2270

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Post by greymouse » Thu Jan 25, 2007 11:19 am

Nashvillebill is so right about those recommedations. Another excellent choice is Steve Reich - particularly the phase music. His phase music (taking two tape loops of the same music and slowly phasing them away from eachother) was extremely influential on electronic music.

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Post by RebLem » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:10 pm

A few recommendations:

1. William Byrd's Masses for 3, 4, and 5 Voices by the Tallis Singers.
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... um_id=6698

2. An album of Buxtehude Cantatas on the Australian Tall Poppies label by an ensemble called Arcadia led by Jacqueline Ogeil. Listening to a Buxtehude cantata after listening to a Bach cantata is like listening to a Haydn String Quartet after listening to one of the late Beethoven Quartets. This CD is hard to find in the US, but is available from www.buywell.com in Western Australia. They give excellent service and are highly reliable.
http://www.buywell.com/cgi-bin/buywelli ... _arg=01610

3. The 18 string quartets of Darius Milhaud. These are also hard to find in the US; I got mine, by the Parisii Quartet, from Amazon UK. One of the interesting things here especially with regard to the subject at hand is that the 14th and 15th quartets can, of course, be played as discrete pieces, but are also designed to be played together as an octet. These quartets are played in both versions in this set; the Manfred Quartet appears with the Parisii Quartet in the octet version.

4. A rather simple example of polyphony can be found in the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.

And, welcome to our strange little group here, Paco. :) :shock:
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Post by Paco » Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:41 pm

Thank you for so many great advices ... please keep them coming, specially if you Love Bach.
The more I learn of him, the more I picture a man with Great Values and Talent of course :)

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Post by IcedNote » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:04 am

Paco wrote:Thank you for so many great advices ... please keep them coming, specially if you Love Bach.
The more I learn of him, the more I picture a man with Great Values and Talent of course :)
Hey there. I should probably jump in here too...

I'm a classically trained musician who just happened to grow up in the Detroit rave scene, so I can offer a bit of perspective from both sides. This is an absolutely shameless plug, but it actually fits in perfectly:

I write for a dance music magazine, and a few months ago I wrote an article about Jeff Mills' newest DVD/CD, "Blue Potential." Surely you know who Jeff Mills is! In any case, this CD is him spinning alongside a full orchestra. It works rather well in spots and is repulsive in others. The review is here:

http://www.onbeat.com/dvds.php

Also, I wrote another story about the London Sinfonietta interpreting works by Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. You can find that here:

http://www.onbeat.com/albums.php

I like how you're making a connection between spinning records and polyphony, and I bet it can lead you to some great things.

Oh, and for the record, I'm a techno and drum'n'bass guy. I mean, c'mon, I grew up in Detroit! 8)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Post by diegobueno » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:16 am

Paco,

It sounds to me like a knowledge of harmony might help you do what you want to do. That is, if you can figure out what the chord progressions are to the songs you play, you can then match up songs which have identical chord progressions, which are more likely to sound good together.

-----

Another classical composer you might listen to is Charles Ives, who relished the sound of two marching bands playing at the same time, and tried to recreate that in his music. Listen to his Three places in New England.
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Post by Paco » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:43 pm

I'm kicking myself for not turning to this forum sooner ! so many great advices ...
well it is great to have someone else (Mr G.) who seems to know about my side ... welcome!
yes, a connection/relation between mixing records and polyphonic is exactly what I feel and with the help of everyone here, I have no doubt to find my answers
:)

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Post by Marc » Sat Jan 27, 2007 6:42 am

Hello Paco!

Great to see someone 'falling in love' with Bach. He's my favourite composer, too. I also like Mozart, and I take the liberty to give you just a few examples of 'Mozartian' counterpoint:

The Finale of Symphony No. 41, KV 551 Jupiter
The Mass for the Dead Requiem, KV 626: especially the fugues in the 'Kyrie eleison' and in the Offertorium 'Domine Jesu' (Quam olim Abrahae)
Also very special to me: the Menuetto in canone in the Serenade for Winds KV 388.

Just a few examples. Check them out, if you're interested. :)

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Post by Paco » Sat Jan 27, 2007 12:12 pm

falling in love would be an understatement !
as little as I migth still know about Bach, I don't doubt that he is "the dj's Dj" or I should say, the "musicians, Musician"

Mr G ... I read your work and really enjoyed it! You write very well and even got me to wana buy a new dvd ;)
... would love to read more as you write

I am not into drum n bass, but I do enjoy a lot of minimal tecno ... let's say anything minimal, techy with a nice groove ... I call all this music "House music" ... what amazes me, is how well some of these songs "gel together" .... not at any random location, but there are many spots where you can start mixing and really transform what you were playing into a new form ... and if you have not PRACTICED or trained your ear for a long LONG time, you will never be able to do such a mix !

How cool that I can talk about my experiences (as a dj) on this type of forum ...

did I say how much I love JSBach ???
:)

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Post by CharmNewton » Sat Jan 27, 2007 1:13 pm

Hello, Paco. Your discussion of djing is fascinating and reminds me of the days when I did high-impact aerobics, when I marveled at how well songs were matched together and had to get up to somewhere around 170-180 BPM.

Others have recommended a great deal of music, but I did want to add the Third Movement from Beethoven's Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. In this movement Beethoven begins with a melody that derives from a progression of chords played by the quartet members. Beethoven gradually dissolves these chords into some of the most beautiful melody and polyphony I've ever heard.

John

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Post by Paco » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:20 pm

[quote="CharmNewton"]Hello, Paco. Your discussion of djing is fascinating and reminds me of the days when I did high-impact aerobics, when I marveled at how well songs were matched together and had to get up to somewhere around 170-180 BPM.]

hello my friend and thank you for your words ... I will end up listening to most of the suggestions received so please feel free to continue sharing your thoughts.

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