Author Topic: Variations of short pieces  (Read 2710 times)

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Ron

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Variations of short pieces
« on: January 14, 2013, 09:57:13 AM »
For relaxation I sometimes like to write sets of variations of well-known tunes. A problem I run into is that often folk tunes are very short--musically speaking; maybe 8 measures for refrain and 8 measures for verse. 16-measure variations go by very quickly. How do others handle this? Do you write variations that are much longer than the original--which means you are really getting into development more than straight variation? Do you extend the original by presenting it several times? What do you do?
« Last Edit: January 14, 2013, 10:31:24 AM by Michel.R.E »
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Michel.R.E

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Re: Variations of short pieces
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2013, 10:08:59 AM »
well, I've only done a single set of variations on a pre-existing tune - the Country Gardens one you proposed last year.

my approach was that the first few variations were very close in shape and length to the original folk tune. as the material grew further afield from the source material, the variations also grew progressively longer.

there are so many approaches however that are just as legitimate.

if a tune is very short, variations can be based upon phrases in the original rather than the entire tune.
repetition, as you commented, is equally valid.

personally, I like to see a set of variations create an overall form/structure. I'd rather hear a set of variations that require a complete listen, than a set of variations where any single variation can be taken out of context and be "complete".

take as example of this last approach the Rachmaninovv "Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini". There is an implied 3-movement structure, paralleling that of a concerto.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2013, 10:31:37 AM by Michel.R.E »
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gogreen

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Re: Variations of short pieces
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2013, 02:51:31 PM »
Quote
For relaxation I sometimes like to write sets of variations of well-known tunes. A problem I run into is that often folk tunes are very short--musically speaking; maybe 8 measures for refrain and 8 measures for verse. 16-measure variations go by very quickly. How do others handle this? Do you write variations that are much longer than the original--which means you are really getting into development more than straight variation? Do you extend the original by presenting it several times? What do you do?

I've done two "theme and variations" recently. I do like doing this!

In both pieces, I wrote 8-measure original themes. The variations stick to the 8-measure structure. I get the "variation" part by changing the meter (4/4 to 3/4, for example), going from major mode to minor, altering the harmony, passing the melody around to different instrument groups, and greatly altering any accompaniment. I also create round-like, imitative variations, which, as you suggest, is developmental.

Now that you mention it, I'm going to revisit some of this material and write more variations that are longer than the original.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 02:53:22 PM by gogreen »