Monday, July 18, 2005

"Completed" Climax and Fugatto Sketches

As promised, I am going to present the completed initial version of the climax phrase I was working on earlier for my sonata-process movement in today's post, but I have also done a lot of polishing up on the fugatto as well, and it's now reached the same initial stage of completion, so I will present that today too.

The only change to the first two phrases of the climax episode is in the pitch level: This movement has now found its home in the key of D minor (Scads of monumental symphonic movements are in the key of D minor: No pressure ;^)). Raising the pitch level a wholetone from C to D brightens it up a tad, and as you will see, allows for a low C-sharp in the contrabasses near the end (I always assume five string basses, or basses with low C extensions, will be available. Since the only place this will probably ever be played is in my Virtuoso 2000 sound module, it's not really a consideration in any case).

In the completion above you can see that I have written a six-voice canon that dissolves back to a singularity on the bottom line B-flat of the contrabass staff. The six-voice simultaneous diatonic mirror climax itself actually wrote most of the canon for me as you can see: Using the me, re, do figure that violin one has in the following voices made it work out effertlessly, and as a result it sounds very organic. Repeating the concluding eighth note figure violin two has at the end of the climax in successively lower octaves releases the tension inherant in the climax quite effectively. This passage may seem overly brief, but I have programmed in a retardando along with a diminuendo to stretch it out so that the climax is still near the Lagrange Point of the Golden Mean in terms of temporal duration. Using the decending augmented triad for the dissolve was really the only thing "I" had to come up with. I piddled around with the mirror of this canon, and it had some interesting effects, but it was nowhere near as nice as this rectus version.

Note that I have a feint to D major in the middle of the first measure of the canon: Since this is shaping up as a battle between the major and minor modes, this is a cool little point of doubt about exactly where the phrase is headed. Also, at the very end the leading tone is abandoned for the natural seventh degree to allow the phrase to end with the deceptive movement to B-flat, which is the major key of the submediant degree. Combined with the keys explored or implied by the fugatto, I am beginning to get my first ideas about which regions of the home key will be explored in this piece.

Since the buildup phrase exists in both major and minor versions, the climax exists in minor and major/minor hybrid versions, and this deceptive movement at the end here can also retain the leading tone and end on B-natural, there are eight possible permutations of this phrase. If you'll remember, I eliminated the mirror with the diatonic bass line due to a parallel fifth (Twelfth, actually) that resulted from the combination, not to mention the vioce crossing that resulted. Had I not made this decision, I would be faced with a harrowing sixteen choices here: When you develop well organized sketching proceedures that exhaustively enumerate all the arithmetical possibilities, you will never be faced with a derth of material from which to choose; rather, the problem you'll face will be concerning what to winnow out from the embarrassment of riches you will have come up with. That is why it is important, in my opinion, to allow your taste and intuition to function in these instances: The parallel twelfth bothered me, so I eliminated those two combinations. Here, I like the gravity of the deceptive movement to the B-flat, along with the jaw-rattling effect of the super-low minor third that preceeds it, better than the possible movement to B-natural, so I am back down to four possible variations of this climactic phrase. The version that has the buildup to the climax in D major, the climax itself in D minor, and this very same dissolving canon is without doubt my favorite of the four: The brief feint back toward D major in that version is particularly poignant.

On to the revised fugatto.

The changes in the exposition and counterexposition are limited to the cadential measures. I have added a decending cadential line and moved the ascending cadential line up an octave to change the former parallel sixths to thirds, like I had in the second phrase previously. I did this retrospectively after I had modified the final cadential episode at the end of the subject/answer canon, as you will see shortly. Now, these cadential lines create incidental parallelisms with the repeated tail figure, some of which are parallel perfect consonances, and some of which are parallel dissonances. Examples of this abound in the classical literature, and the purely contrapuntal passages are perfect in any case. Though I find Shenkerian analysis to be of dubious worth at best, and consider Shenker to be a snake-oil peddler at worst, I do like his concept of Free Composition, and that is what these episodes are: A settup for a larger plan and the coming climactic gesture(s).

That reminds me of a great anecdote. An editor approached Beethoven late in his life, and had to communicate to him with pen and paper due to the advanced stage of B's deafness. He asked, "Her Beethoven, do you allow for parallel fifths in your music?", to which Beethoven wrote back, "What do you mean?". The editor replied, "According to the rules of counterpoint, parallel fifths are not allowed.", and so B replied, "Then I do not allow them." The editor, thinking he had Beethoven cornered, then produced a manuscript that Beethoven had sent him to be published and pointing said, "Well, you've written parallel fifths right here." Beethoven's response was perfect: "Then I allow them." The point of learning to spot parallesims is to develop total awareness. Enough said.

In the second cadential measure the decending line is now just above the bass, where it will be in its final appearance, while in the third, the figures are back to their original positions, only here, they are reinterpreted so that the modulation to the relative major can be made. This improves the effectiveness of these cadential episodes enormously. In the fourth example, the arrangement with the decending line between the two ascending ones is presented, and in the final example above, the original arrangement appears for a third time, but breaks off into a remodulation back to the tonic minor. This level of sweating the details is what seperates the music of a Mozart from a Vivaldi, or similar (Though I certainly don't consider myself to be on the level of a prolific genius like Vivaldi, some of his music nevertheless does show some signs of having been written in haste, which probably has more to do with the pressures and demands of his position than anything else).

At the end of the subject/answer canon, where the two cadential figures dovetail into simultaneous statements in contrary motion, I have added an octave doubling of the descending cadential line to that measure, which adds a very powerful Beethovian effect to this climactic episode. That line continues to take over the ascending line in the following measure, where the octave doublings of all of the voices break off consecutively into individual voices finally "resloving" deceptively to a gargantuan and highly dissonant V7(m9/A11)/bIII, which implies the parallel minor of the relative major is to follow, but yet not, with the augmented eleventh present (You can take the composer out of jazz, but you can't take the jazz out of the composer). I really love this effect, but I'm not sure where I want to go with it yet. As I said earlier, I need a canabile theme for this movement, and that is probably where this should go, but expressive melody writing is definately the biggest of many chinks in my armour. I love counterpoint and voice leading so much that, as a result, most of my melodic ideas are overly linear in conception. As with all of the larger pieces I write, I have reached a point with this where I will now let it germinate in my subconscious for a while so that I can then return to it with a fresh perspective and new ideas.

Since I have mentioned linear cadential formulas, and I want to develop some of those for this piece, that will probably be the subject of the next post. For a long time I wondered how Beethoven got such powerful effects with such seemingly simple opening and closing bi-linear and multi-linear wedge formations. Finally realizing they were cadential pendulums swinging back and fourth between dominant and tonic function harmonies was a revelation.


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