2-23-09: Three Part Invention (sort of)

2-23-09: Three Part Invention (sort of)

In recent years (if 30 years can be called recent) I’ve been trying to develop a contrapuntal improvisational style. J.S.Bach, who is inarguably the all-time master of counterpoint, is my teacher but I’m not his apprentice: I look to his examples for general technical and aesthetic guidance, but, in the interest of developing my own contrapuntal voice, I go for extended periods without listening to him at all—and I rarely play his music anymore. My challenge has been to figure out how to develop a style of polyphony that:

  • Does use a contemporary musical language;
  • Doesn’t sound too “classical”;
  • Doesn’t sound too symmetrical;
  • Doesn’t sound like I’m trying to sound like Bach;
  • Does sound cool.

That’s three negatives and two positives—a lot to keep track of.

Perhaps I’m getting close (as I write this in late 2012 I’m considerably closer) to achieving my contrapuntal ideal, but it doesn’t really matter because, for some reason, the fact that this flawed little piece came into the world at all makes me very happy. I can, and have, and will do a lot better, but this has a certain magic that can’t be improved upon with mere “betterness”.


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