Some Listening Tips for Canon Newcomers

When I began work on my album Canons I expected that its main audience would consist of three groups of experienced classical listeners:

  • those with a particular interest in counterpoint (folks who own multiple recordings of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Bach’s Art of The Fugue, Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues, Hindemith’s Ludus Tonalis, and so on)
  • those with a particular interest in the harpsichord, and in new repertoire for early keyboard instruments (folks who own a recording of Lambert’s Clavichord by Herbert Howells, for example)
  • those with a particular interest in math-music connections (folks who own the book Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter)

At the same time, I hoped that I could turn some new listeners on to counterpoint, including those who don’t consider themselves classical music buffs and who might not know what a harpsichord is.

On the evening of April 3, 2017 I had my first success towards that latter goal. Continue reading


Counterpoint as conversation

I’ve been thinking about what advice I’d give to a listener who wants to explore musical counterpoint. What is the best way to understand a composition where several musical parts (or lines, or voices) are moving independently, in a way that seems fascinating but sometimes overwhelming and difficult to follow?

The best way I can explain counterpoint is to liken it to a spoken conversation. To understand a contrapuntal piece of music, you can apply the same listening strategies that you would use in understanding a conversation between people.

Continue reading