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#1177763 - 04/10/09 09:49 AM Need help with 2-Part Invention
A. Lively Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 6
Loc: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
I'm attempting to write a 2-part invention in the style of J.S. Bach.

I've written the motive and counter motive, but before I move on I want to make sure I've made a solid foundation to build on.

Take a look at the screenshot below:



M.1-2 is the motive, M.3-4 has the counter-motive on top, and the motive in the left hand. M.5-6 switches the two.

You can listen to what I've got so far on YouTube:

2-Part Invention in D Major

I've tried my best to eliminate parallel/direct fifths, fourths, and octaves, and scrubbed it of the more dissonant sonorities.

The main rule I'm consciously breaking is in the motive (M.2, beats 2-3), where I outline a diminished triad.

Any counterpoint-trained folks care to tell me what I'm missing?

I will say that this is harder than I remember it, it seems like whenever I make a change to avoid breaking one rule, I end up breaking something else! It sometimes feels more like filling in a sudoku puzzle than making music.

Thanks for your help.


Edited by A. Lively (04/10/09 10:01 AM)

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#1178067 - 04/10/09 04:57 PM Re: Need help with 2-Part Invention [Re: A. Lively]
Harmosis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 308
Loc: California
I would suggest you first decide what form you're going to use - are you going for a strict canon, just motivic manipulation, something fugal, binary, etc.

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#1178110 - 04/10/09 06:59 PM Re: Need help with 2-Part Invention [Re: Harmosis]
A. Lively Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 6
Loc: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Hmm... could you elaborate on those items? I wasn't aware I had a choice; are there different kinds of 2-part inventions? I'm pretty much trying to copy what Bach did.

I've taken most of my cues from my old college music theory book (Benward and Saker Volume II).

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#1178202 - 04/10/09 10:47 PM Re: Need help with 2-Part Invention [Re: A. Lively]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12211
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I would try to play around with different motives. What can you do with your subject (the first 2 bars or so)? Try changing the mood (go to minor), different articulations, embellishing, making the subject twice as long (augmentation) or twice a short (diminution), doing it backwards (retrograde), or making it upside down (inversion), or any combination of the above!

Also, you can take little parts of what you have in your subject and just play around with those. Remember to make sequences, so for example, if your motive was C-D-E, you could make a sequence then of D-E-F, then E-F-G. Generally sequences are in threes, with a slight change to the third to get you onto the next idea.

You've got plenty there to play with. Remember that in Baroque music, every line is important. Sing each line (LH & RH) to make sure it makes sense on its own as well as with the other hand. Let us know when you get more of it done!
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#1178265 - 04/11/09 01:04 AM Re: Need help with 2-Part Invention [Re: A. Lively]
Harmosis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 308
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: A. Lively
Hmm... could you elaborate on those items? I wasn't aware I had a choice; are there different kinds of 2-part inventions? I'm pretty much trying to copy what Bach did.


I'm just saying that you should have a strategy for the overall form. For example, Bach's Invention No. 6 is in binary form, No. 8 is canonic, No. 10 is more fugal, etc. The procedural elements that Morodiene has addressed are also important.

Speaking specifically to what you have thus far, I would expect a modulation to the dominant after establishing the subject.

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#1188672 - 04/27/09 09:17 PM Re: Need help with 2-Part Invention [Re: Harmosis]
A. Lively Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 6
Loc: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
I've done some additional work on the piece:

PDF Sheet Music

MP3 File

It now contains the following sections:

- Motive and counter-motive in D Major
- Transition to A Major
- Motive and Counter Motive in A Major
- Transition to E Minor

If you see any glaring problems in the piece so far, let me know.

I've mostly been getting my musical form ideas from Bach's 2-part inventions No. 8 (F-Major) and No. 13. (A-Minor).

At this point in some of the Bach inventions I've analyzed, they go into a diminished-chord heavy transition section that eventually leads back to the tonic key. This is the section where Bach usually mixes things up with more inversions and more "foreign" material before coming back to the familiar.

I'll put another post up once I get further with that!


Edited by A. Lively (04/27/09 09:26 PM)

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