Johann Sebastian Bach
Born – Eisenach, Germany, March 21, 1685
Died – Leipzig, Germany, July 28, 1750
|Bach composed 15 “inventions” for the keyboard, each a 2-part “contrapuntal” piece written to serve as an exercise for his students. “Counterpoint” is a very special form of “polyphony.”If you listen to the two voices (pianist’s right hand and left hand) in the 2-part invention, you’ll notice that although the two parts fit together harmonically, each voice is rhythmically and melodically independent of the other.Learning to play a two-part invention requires great coordination because the pianist has to be able to direct his or her two hands to do two different things at the same time.
MUSIC MEMORY SELECTION:
Here is a young pianist named Yuuki playing Bach’s Invention No. 8 in F Major. In 2009 when this video was recorded, he was only 7 years old! Learning the definitions of these three terms can help you become a more “active” listener:
Listen again to Yuuki and see if you can describe in your own words, the harmony, melody, and rhythm of Invention No. 8.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Do you think visual artists imbue the works they create with elements of harmony, melody, and rhythm?
To help you answer this question, pick any object within your field of vision at the moment and look at it vertically (up and down). How do your eyes move? Now look at the same objects horizontally. How are your eyes moving this time?
Now sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
Now, let’s isolate the melody and harmony of the song by clicking below: first “melody”, then “harmony”, the “melody and harmony” together.
Melody & Harmony
Now look at the building of The Hampstead Garden Trust. Which way does the architect make your eyes move?
Look closely. Can you find elements in this building that make your eyes move the other way? Can you identify them?
Architects and musicians use similar ways of thinking about movement when creating a work of art. The design of the building above makes our eyes move both horizontally and vertically in space, just as in the 2-part Invention our ears detect sound moving horizontally through time, sustained by a more vertical harmonic structure.