Accompaniment (Ger. Begleitung).
- David Fuller
In the most general sense, the subordinate parts of any musical texture made up of strands of differing importance. A folksinger's listeners clap their hands in accompaniment to the song; a church organist keeps the congregation to the pitch and tempo with his or her accompaniment; the left hand provides the accompaniment to the right in a piano rag; when one part of a Schoenberg string quartet momentarily carries the symbol for Hauptstimme, the other parts are an accompaniment, though they may take their turns as Hauptstimmen later on. The meaning of the term ‘accompaniment’ is variable and not subject to rigorous definition. The countersubject of a Bach fugue ‘accompanies’ the subject, but in principle all the voices are equal and the countersubject may well be more prominent than the subject. In one sense, the added parts of a cantus firmus composition are an ‘accompaniment’, yet the pre-existing tune may be so stretched out and buried as to become less a melody than a kind of Schenkerian ...