Stephan Lewandowski

'Back to the Future' - The Music Theorist Heinrich Josef Vincent (1819-1901) and his Polemic against Figured Bass

A critique that the discipline of music theory sometimes has to face is that it would be lagging behind the musical products of composition, what means in other words, that there would be some musical reality that has to be built first, before it can be theorized. But there have always been approaches existing that seem to turn round the relationship between music theory and composition by containing almost futuristic ideas in their time or dealing with sound material, which was in use only in later generations of composers. In my presentation, I wish to concentrate on the theorist Heinrich Joseph Vincent (actually Winzenhoerlein), whose ideas are nowadays not in the main focus of the theoretical discourse, maybe not completely without any reason. Nevertheless, Vincents works appear as refreshing by being rigorous and partly seeming completely liberated of any historicity. Among other aspects, I would like to talk especially about Vincent's representations of sounds as geometric figures on circles, his almost fanatical renunciation from the traditional figured bass system, and about his draft of a new musical notation. Finally, I would like to present some (conscious or unconscious) possible precursors and successors of Vincent´s ideas. A timeline of related approaches emerging this way might shed a new light on the alleged outsider Vincent.