Author Topic: Essay_04  (Read 82 times)

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RJB54

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Essay_04
« on: January 05, 2018, 01:10:15 PM »
I would like to present my Essay #4 (For String Orchestra)

Score=https://app.box.com/s/66pmof1kuhviyen09bwtnol5h46gncyq
Audio=https://app.box.com/s/5n75zkdic7orfdbn46md73g23jv6j0p4

This piece has the following structure:
    A                m.1-33
    Transition 1 m.34-40
    B                m.41-73
    C                m.74-97
    Transition 2 m.98-107
    B1              m.108-136
    Transition 3 m.137-142
    A1              m.143-168
    Coda          m.169-176

This piece is completely serial, no interpolations of any kind. It came relatively quickly as an offshoot of my 2nd Chamber Symphony and the related discussion of serialism.

A large part of the approach to the treatment of the rows in this piece ties in with that discussion regarding the inclusion of, or reference to, tonalistic elements in a serial context.

The rows in this piece are handled in a way that even more closely lines up with the highly chromatic late romantic/early contemporary style of the turn of the 20th century. In this piece diatonic chords are often presented, or at least implied, and the serially controlled 'non-harmonic tones' are often handled in a more 'diatonic' manner. This is especially true in the A and A1 sections.

For example, the opening cello part could almost be Wagner even though it is presenting a strict tone row. The row itself is constructed so as to allow for this. There are also many implied diatonic relationships throughout the A section. The cello line implies A Minor at the beginning which resolves into an implied D Minor at the end. Another clear example is at the ending of the A section and the beginning of Transition 1. In this case section A clearly ends in G Major while Transition 1 clearly begins in B Minor.

At the very end of the piece there is a chord progression which strongly implies, though it is not explicit, a cadence in D Minor. It is not explicit since the final chord is missing its third and the preceding penultimate chord, which clearly has a 'dominant' relationship to the final chord (especially in the voice leading of its resolution), is not an actual diatonic dominant chord of any type.

You might ask why go through all of these serial gyrations to get to a sort of tonal result? Why not just write diatonically, or almost diatonically?

For me the answer goes back to the same pressures that pushed Schoenberg over the line to atonality, and ultimately serialism, in the first place. At some point the chromaticism cannot be coherently controlled by diatonic principles. By starting from base material which is serial and then creating a highly chromatic, almost diatonic, surface from that, all of the chromatics can be clearly, coherently, controlled via the tone rows. One does not have to go though an increasingly tortured mental legerdemain to 'justify' or 'explain' the chromatics. Each 'non-harmonic' tone in the piece can be 'justified' and clearly placed in relation to the other tones by their presence in a given row (or rows in my case).
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.
Frank Zappa

gogreen

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Re: Essay_04
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2018, 02:41:17 PM »
Wow, RJB. This was magnificent. I loved the textures you created with rhythms, staccato/legato portions, bowing techniques, dynamics, and tempi. I don't relate to the "harmony"--it's VERY different from what I do. Still, I'm blown away by this piece. Very well done.

RJB54

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Re: Essay_04
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2018, 03:58:00 PM »
Art, thanks.

Yes, my approach to harmony is not for everyone but at least it isn't that really wild and crazy avant-garde stuff!  :)
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.
Frank Zappa

mjf1947

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Re: Essay_04
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2018, 08:59:59 AM »
As always I really enjoyed the work ... wonderful atmosphere.

I am curious though why you choose to work within this "serial" context?

Why not explore other types of musical composition/expression?

What's the pull for you?

Mark

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: Essay_04
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2018, 11:30:24 AM »
Robert,
 
As usual, I'm in awe of your facility with this language and your sheer creativity.
 
The wonderful contrasts in this piece make it exciting to listen to. I did so cold, but I want to again, this time keeping in mind your structural outline and remarks.
 
Cheers,
Jer
Finale 25
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RJB54

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Re: Essay_04
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2018, 04:03:43 PM »
Mark and Jerry, thanks for your comments. Sorry for the delay in responding. It's always annoying when real life gets in the way  :).

Mark, I have explored many compositional approaches over the years, some of which have been posted here (For example, my String Symphony #1 which is primarily octatonic, Clarinet Concerto #1 which is based on the enigmatic scale, Brass Quintet #1 which is primarily pentatonic/quartal, or String Quartet #1 which is primarily based on atonal pitch cells). I have come to this row based approach after much experimentation and theoretical musing. For me theory always precedes composition.

As I have said above, and in other threads, for me the starting point of the theory I currently follow is to ignore Schoenberg's precept that tonal/diatonic elements are to be avoided, rather, I deliberately create tone rows with tonal ramifications which allows me to express tonalistic elements.

For example, the pitch complex I am currently using for my compositions consists of 5 tone rows. These rows were deliberately created in ways that allow for the inclusion in my pieces of material consisting of diatonic chords, quartal chords, semitonal scales, whole tone scales, diatonic scales, pentatonic scales, octatonic scales, and other elements all controlled by the rows.

This being the case, I actually have many technical components available to me as a composer while at the same time being able to identify and justify theoretically every pitch in the composition (which is something that is important to me).

I have found that this approach is the most fulfilling and interesting for me as a composer.
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.
Frank Zappa