Author Topic: Essay_06  (Read 384 times)

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RJB54

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Essay_06
« on: July 01, 2018, 09:25:11 AM »
I would like to present my Essay #6 (For Solo Piano)

Score=https://app.box.com/s/ux3yt5ksv2cis61xfbvaqvt58h3pe3vv
Audio=https://app.box.com/s/0fh359ggp6fsu3h42wkafg087e1kswjr

After a great deal of trepidation I have finally decided to bite the bullet and try writing a substantial piece for solo piano. As someone who does not play the piano, except in the most rudimentary manner, I have been reluctant to do so as I was concerned that the result would be pianistically flawed. As I've said in other threads, while I am not particularly concerned if a passage is hard, I do care if it is ridiculous or impossible. Hopefully I have avoided that result. I'll leave it to the pianists out there to tell me where I've gone wrong.

I am very unhappy with Finale's performance of this piece. I feel that it is a very flat performance. To me the performance of the dynamics is terrible and dynamics are an important part of the surface affect of the piece. For example, one measure will be marked p and the next measure is marked f yet Finale plays both measures at the same volume (at least to my ear). In another spot there is a crescendo clearly marked yet Finale plays a decrescendo! Passages which should be fast and loud and exciting are played in a flat and dull manner which, in my opinion, does not due justice to the material.

From a technical perspective, there is an aspect of this piece which is somewhat new which I have avoided really engaging with in the past. In other threads I have made references to the fact that the tone rows upon which my recent compositions have been based have been deliberately created to incorporate various non-serial entities such as diatonic scales, chords, etc. Up until now I have not really exercised some of these row capabilities and I decided to address that with this piece.

Starting at m.200 there is a passage which is explicitly diatonic which one would not expect in a serial composition.

The passage running from m.200 to m.222 has two strains. Looking at the left hand part, the first strain is explicitly in Bb Minor and the second strain is explicitly in Eb Minor.

How can this be serial? It can be thus because the row which the left hand is presenting is structured so that the first seven pitches contain the pitches of a given diatonic scale. In this case the row transposition is chosen which yields diatonic chords in Bb Minor.

The melody in the right hand for those bars is based upon the presentation of different rows at transposition levels which provide pitches which coincide at salient points with the various diatonic chords which are appearing in the left hand. These bars also present some convenient semitonal interval cycles (scales).

The end result of all of this serial activity is music which sounds like somewhat chromatic diatonic music but which is actually controlled serially.

There is one point where there is a deviation from the presentation of self-contained rows in the manner I typically follow.

In another thread Michel had asked if I ever deviated from my theoretical approach and I answered no. Here there is a moment where I might have to say yes, though I can make an argument that it is still no.

In m.204 a Bb appears in the right hand on the upbeat of beat three. This Bb is not a proper part of the row being presented in the right hand. The preceding B is a proper member of the right hand's row at that point, but, that B is dissonant in relation to the Bb minor chord being presented in the left hand. I have the melody move from the 'correct' B of the prevailing row to a Bb to match the left had chord, thus treating the proper pitch B as a neighbor note to the incorrect Bb.

Is this a deviation from my method? On one hand you could say yes because that Bb is not part of the right hand's prevailing row at that point (the row's proper Bb has already appeared in m.202); however, I could also make a case for no by referring to the concept of borrowing. In this case, the Bb is a member of the subset of the row which is being presented by the left hand; therefore, one can make the argument that the Bb in the right hand is still properly serial in that it is being 'borrowed' into the right hand from the row subset being presented in the left hand.

Is this sophist hair-splitting and convoluted over-justification? Maybe, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  ;D

The next thing to be dealt with is the rest of the left hand's row. The first seven pitches of the row have provided the material which allowed for all of the diatonic chords in m.200-209. The remaining five pitches of the row then appear in both hands in m.210. Then in m.211 the last five pitches of a new transposition of the row is presented. These two bars are effective as a 'modulatory' passage between the first and second strains because four of the five pitches in m.210 are invariant with four of the five pitches in m.211. Then the first seven pitches of the new transposition of the row are presented providing the diatonic chords for the Eb Minor of the second strain beginning in m.212.

In addition, to make things even more complicated and to add to the chromaticism, in the second strain additional counter melodies are presented via appropriate transpositions of other rows in order to produce chromatic lines in the right hand which also largely coincide with the prevailing Eb Minor chords in the left hand.

The second strain is repeated as a third strain in m.233ff in the first strain's Bb Minor rather than the second strain's Eb Minor.

In future pieces this sort of thing will go on more and more as I explore the incorporation of further diatonic passages as well as other non-serial passages such as pentatonic and octatonic areas which are supported by the structure of the rows.
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_06
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2018, 03:29:02 PM »
I am overwhelmed by the sheer ambition(ness) of this work.  I am amazed every time you post how the work does not feel serial.

The composition is uber alles in its conception.  You definitely have a wonderful/interesting mind.

By the way what is your profession ....?

As for it's play ability .... I leave that to others to comment.

And yes I enjoyed the work immensely .... although it may be enhanced in it's overall impact by some judicial editing.

Mark

RJB54

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Re: Essay_06
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2018, 04:47:15 PM »
Mark. thanks for your comments.

I work in IT and do various things depending on the situation, programming, systems analysis and design, QA testing, and technical writing.
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

sandalwood

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Re: Essay_06
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2018, 09:33:54 AM »
Some of your previous posts have taught me not to be astonished by how expressive and "coherent"  your "serialist" works can be. I'm still amazed by this piece, nevertheless.

As someone who struggles with making simple forms and styles work, I am also humbled by the intricate scheme of innerworking of the piece, as you describe it.  Though I only have a very vague grasp of your explorations into more hybrid and variegated interpretations of serialism, I'm glad on my behalf that they lead to such expressive and more accessible  works in a "row :)".

RJB54

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Re: Essay_06
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 03:59:18 PM »
Thank you very much for your kind comments.

It is always pleasing to me when someone feels that my 'serial' efforts don't sound/feel like the traditional serial compositions since my design goal has always been to write music which an audience would like to hear rather than music which academics would like to talk and write about but nobody wants to hear.
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

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: Essay_06
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 04:55:50 PM »
Robert,
 
Like your other works, this takes me on an exciting adventure, full of surprises and variety.
 
Cheers,
Jer
Finale 25
GPO 5
iMac El Capitan

RJB54

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Re: Essay_06
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 05:41:01 PM »
Jerry, thanks.
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

LA Dierker

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Re: Essay_06
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2018, 08:49:48 AM »
Hello Robert,
      I also am amazed and impressed with your serial piece, Essay #6.  Your title is much too modest for such an accomplished composition.  I appreciated the intermixing of dissonant with more tonal sections.  Your variation of textures and articulations creates a dynamic range and counteracts Finale's problem with "reading" the dynamic markings. Sometimes serial pieces can feel dry and uninspired.  Your work is a delight and elicits a range of emotion including humor.  Also, the analysis in your reply is an education for those of us less experienced in composing serial works.  Thank you so much for posting.  LA
         

RJB54

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Re: Essay_06
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2018, 11:24:46 AM »
LA, thank you very much.
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