Interconnectedness of the Philosophical and Aesthetical Views and Principles of Polyphonic Thinking in the Time of Baroque

Olena Kuzmuk


The article “Interconnectedness of The Philosophical and Aesthetical Views and Principles of Polyphonic Thinking in The Time of Baroque” is focused on the combinatorial method as the key compositional idea of polyphonic music of J. S. Bach; it emphasizes parallels between the scientific and artistic ideas of the time.  The article also explores the interconnectedness of the philosophical-aesthetic, mathematical, and artistic cognition of the world in the Baroque period and its reflection in the music of J. S. Bach.

Polyphonic thinking is viewed as a creative phenomenon in the larger context of the historical development of Western European music.

The article employs a complex method, a synthesis of various structural approaches ranging from the traditional methods of theoretical musicology to those of other sciences, structural linguistics in particular.

Aria No. 3 from Bach's “Magnificat” and canon in four from his “Musical Offering” are brought into discussion as the works, which feature combinatorial method in Bach’s instrumental and vocal-instrumental writing.

J. S. Bach uses combinatorial technique of two types - permutation and combination. Tones, motives, and larger thematic constructions could become subjects to permutations. The criterion for the selection of elements that participate in the combinatorial game is the principle of similarity and difference and the contrast between repetition and non-repetition, variability and immutability, which, in their turn, become manifestations of Ars combinatoria.

The combinatorial method in Bach's music is not only its key compositional idea (at the level of operating with a limited number of intonational motifs-symbols in the infinitely large number of their combinations through different spatial relationships), but also the main factor in the continuous development of the dramatic idea, which corresponds to G. W. Leibniz’s principle of “maximum and minimum."

Anahtar Kelimeler

Polyphony, combinatorics in music, J. S. Bach, G. W. Leibniz, Baroque, Ars combinatoria.

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