10 Bach memes that will accurately teach you music theory

19 February 2020, 09:14 | Updated: 23 June 2020, 10:36

By Kyle Macdonald

Johann Sebastian Bach memes, to help you get your head around some of the foundations of music theory and write better chorales.

  1. Bach was the master of counterpoint

    Just like Doge is the master of the meme.

    Doge Bach
    Doge Bach. Picture: Getty / Classic FM
  2. You need to learn to love the Chorale

    Introducing your new favourite form, the four-part chorale. As you can see, it was also a favourite of Bach’s, so you’re in good company. Master it, and it will help unlock a world of good harmony and counterpoint, no matter what you’re composing.

  3. No parallel fifths

    Guys, when penning the harmonisation of your four-part counterpoint chorale, no consecutive octaves, or parallel fifths.

    Bach Drake meme
    Bach Drake meme. Picture: Classic FM
  4. Remember leading notes

    This is when pitch resolves – or *leads* – to one semitone higher or lower, creating great shape, contour and tension in your part-writing. Toddler-Bach knows it sounds awesome, so do it!

    Bach leading note win
    Bach leading note win. Picture: Classic FM
  5. Contrary, not similar motion

    Good counterpoint is also about the motion of the parts within those harmonic rules. Contrary motion – where lines move in different directions to each other – should dominate, thus:

    Bach motion
    Bach motion. Picture: Classic FM
  6. Learn your circle of fifths...

  7. Major endings

    A picardy third is when a piece in a minor tonality ends on a chord with a major third. At the strike of the chord, dark clouds part, and light and warmth stream through stained-glass windows (or so it sounds). As this meme suggests, Bach used this often – to great effect.

    Picardy third
    Picardy third. Picture: Mendelssohn-Kin/Tumblr
  8. Don’t worry if it’s hard. Because it is.

    Bach Chorale
    Bach Chorale. Picture: Me.me
  9. But learn the rules, so you can break them

    Bach was the master, but he was a pro at breaking the harmonic commandments for expressive effect. Following the rules doesn’t create great art, so trust yourself, be creative, inventive, and...

  10. Do all this and you will make Bach happy

    Go forth and write, and make JSB smile.

    Happy Bach
    Happy Bach. Picture: Getty / Classic FM