Composing Inventions

Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.
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Composers' Workshop
Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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Rich

Composing Inventions

Post by Rich » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:37 pm

I am working through a series of books on form by Percy Goetschius. They are old but very detailed and methodical which appeals to me. I am now studying his treatment of polyphonic forms and am attempting to compose some Inventions. I have found some analysis of Bach inventions online and that has been instructive. But I am finding this very challenging and I am wondering if anyone has experience with this that they might wish to share.

Max Karios

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by Max Karios » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:59 am

I would just copy the form of any Bach invention: pick one of them and analyse how long theme is, on which note with respect to the root it starts, what pitch range it spans, how it is handled after its first occurence, imitated in the 2nd voice, transposed, shortened, extended, maybe inverted, and what the chord progession looks like -- this includes modulations. Then find a theme yourself and try to do everthing exactly as in the original: same chord progression and the same treatment of the theme. If it turns out that your theme does not allow for exactly the same treatment, find out why, i.e. look at the intervals of the original theme and compare it to you own one. That is how I would approach it.

Do you want to do this on the guitar or in written notation? If you do it on paper or in a notation program you might end up with something that is difficult or impossible to play on the guitar.

Rich

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by Rich » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:32 pm

Thank you for taking the time to reply. Right now I write everything for the guitar. I use pencil, paper and instrument. Working in notation is more difficult for me as far as real time experimentation with ideas. This biggest problem I am facing with Inventions is work flow. You your suggestion is well taken for, though I have not literally tracked an invention in the manner you described, I have done so in essence. If I noticed in a Bach invention that he used an Augmentation of the Motive as a counterpoint to a statement of the Motive in inversion, I try doing so as well. But as I suggested, the work flow is not smooth. Trying to maintain some semblance of a form is a challenge. I am at a point at which in free composition I have a grasp of the rudiments of form. I may not compose something beautiful but it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It goes somewhere within the form. I am having a hard time doing that in an Invention style. I say something to myself like" Ok I have stated the Motive and Harmonically have stated a closed progression, now I want to state the Motive in inversion with an opening progression and I wonder if a statement of the Countermotive in Augmentation could be set as a counterpoint to this statement of the Motive." Trying to be conscious of this as well as where I am Harmonically reduces the process to a bit of trial and error. Whereas in a less restricted setting, I can easily fill in the form with phrases that have a sense of direction and structure, though, again, not necessarily beautiful.

Gene

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by Gene » Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:33 pm

I have some inventions of Bach written down, and wouldn't think that they are a style!
Bach said if you cann't invent don't compose,he does not mean a style.
The theme as you are calling it is what he means, so even if you have no development , which are not 100% creation, as the romantic melody you have an invention.When he says invention he means as in your own patent. I have learnd that Bach encompasses all music not eras, What you want is beauty and the less development you have or need because those are from need, the better.

JohnPierce

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by JohnPierce » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:40 am

Gene wrote:I have some inventions of Bach written down, and wouldn't think that they are a style!

As a music composition term, an invention refers to a very specific compositional form in two-part counterpoint. The Wikipedia article on them is clear and concise (for once).

Rich

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by Rich » Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:57 am

jwp wrote:
As a music composition term, an invention refers to a very specific compositional form in two-part counterpoint. The Wikipedia article on them is clear and concise (for once).
Yes. In every work on form that I have seen, Inventions are treated as a polyphonic form. I am working right now out of a book on the polyphonic forms by Percy Goetschius and he details the form of the Invention. There are 3 part inventions as well, which are called sinfonias.

Gene

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by Gene » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:04 pm

Why would you think that the history of music has no inventions? Of that type, that when they say how important Bach is they don't me anything specific. Who ever used them? What guitar player? Well do you use 4 ths?

Gene

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by Gene » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:11 pm

Do you how many books are wrong? Its using one word for another as a definition, look how many music theory books define music in this very way with added dumbness of such things as any realty.

Gene

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by Gene » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:18 pm

Also, look up a Mr. Marpurg the formost authority on Bach. And the Dover book on Bach.

soltirefa
Posts: 2358
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by soltirefa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:40 am

Cookoo.

Gene

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by Gene » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:02 pm

I hope you don't mean me, in no way is permutations going anywhere, there are two kinds of fugue one of rules only the other of no rules only, an invention is a two part fugue . Music of no beauty is what ? You might as well study math and organic design. Etc

elrond

Re: Composing Inventions

Post by elrond » Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:32 pm

Max Karios wrote:I would just copy the form of any Bach invention: pick one of them and analyse how long theme is, on which note with respect to the root it starts, what pitch range it spans, how it is handled after its first occurence, imitated in the 2nd voice, transposed, shortened, extended, maybe inverted, and what the chord progession looks like -- this includes modulations. Then find a theme yourself and try to do everthing exactly as in the original: same chord progression and the same treatment of the theme. If it turns out that your theme does not allow for exactly the same treatment, find out why, i.e. look at the intervals of the original theme and compare it to you own one. That is how I would approach it.

Do you want to do this on the guitar or in written notation? If you do it on paper or in a notation program you might end up with something that is difficult or impossible to play on the guitar.
That is fantastic advice, thanks! I have always wanted to learn how to compose something akin to Bach's Invention 13, but didn't know how to go about getting started. Your post sounds like something that would work extremely well.

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