How Nils Frahm and J. S. Bach are very good friends

When we listen to certain music by Nils Frahm, it is inevitable to think about Western classical music.

He, among other contemporary composers, has recovered the term “neo-classical music” as a tag for playlists and instrumental music. However, in the academic environment, it was reserved for certain specific composers from 1917 and 1930. So, how did they recover this label, and is this the correct designation for this style of music?

Well, it seems to me to be completely fair. Let me explain to you why:

The neoclassical musicians were called this because they were looking for pieces that reflected order and control over the form as it used to be in the past.

But among other things, they used to admire classical forms of compositions such as those from the “Fugues” or “Preludes” from the Baroque Period, and that’s why we are going to speak today about “Because This Must Be” by Nils Frahms, a piece that is a great example of this.

Let’s analyze a couple of elements from the composition to better understand the concept and why Nils Frahm takes inspiration from the Baroque period of music.

First of all, the way of displaying broken chords he uses in a stable and smooth way, which creates a constant pattern throughout the whole piece, was a really common way to structure the “preludes.” We need to think it was a warming-up finger piece to get used to the key signature and feel comfortable for the rest of the performance.

Please check out the example and even listen to the beginning of both pieces to understand how similar the approach is.

Secondly, the use of functional harmony, and in this case, to use the V as dominant (V7) (taking it from the harmonic minor scale), transports us to the world of “harmony laws” of the classical period.

Thirdly, at the end, Nils disrupts the constant rhythmical pattern and goes for a free ending. It couldn’t be more relatable to the form of preludes and baroque pieces, where the ending would be an improvisation with certain virtuosistic patterns called “cadenza.”

Let me show you some examples that represent this idea in a really clear way:

Learning this piece will give you a great opportunity to re-discover functional harmony, move your fingers as a proper Baroque student, and enjoy the music of Nils Frahm. Even if they are based on old techniques, they sound fresh as a new breeze of summer.

You can download the music score at the following links: