Monday, September 12, 2005

Thoughts on the Sonata "Process" (And Guitar): II

1) I will not post while exhausted.

2) I will not post while exhausted.

3) I will not post while exhausted.

4) I will not post while exhausted.

5) I will not post while exhausted.

6) I will not post while exhausted.

7) I will not post while exhausted.

8) I will not post while exhausted.

9) I will not post while exhausted.

10) I will not post while exhausted.

OK. Now that I have my Bart Simpson exercise finished, we may begin.

I was so anxious to create yesterday's entry that I decided to do it before I slept on it. For some reason, I do some of my better music writing when I'm dead tired. Perhaps it is just that I have to be tired enough to get my right brain out of the way so that my left brain can have free reign; I'm not sure. In any event, I definitely do not do my best analysis or English language writing in that state.

When I woke up and re-read last evening's entry, I noticed some pretty good blunders. Blunders in analyzing my own music. At least I got a self-depreciating laugh out of it.

I'll point out the errors as we go through the revision of this morning. The exposition and recapitulation are now in their initial stage of completion, and with the little minimalist bridge I wrote, the piece now qualifies as a sonatina. What I am going to do is work it up in this state until I can play it with some facility, work it into my gigging set, and play it for a while to get some ideas for the development I want to write.

The first thing I noticed is that I mis-labelled the bVII(7) in measure six as bVI(7): That is now repaired. Then I noticed that I failed to put the bVI(M7) at the beginning of measure eight, so I added that. Then, hilariously, the augmented sixth sonority I couldn't rationalize at the end of that measure turned out to be a simple subV(9)/V, which from a traditional view is an altered form of a German Augmented Sixth chord. I changed the D-sharp to E-flat and added the appropriate analysis there.

I also decided to change measure seven from a simple secondary dominant targeting bVI to a French Augmented Sixth sonority targeting the same degree, as it adds quite a bit of interest. That does it for changes to page one.

The only change to page two is a notational one, where I changed measure twenty-six to better reflect what I was actually playing with the sixteenth notes. One of the major problems that has come down to us guitarists is that we are craming everything onto a single stave and using a treble cleff, with the implied transposition of the music sounding an octave lower. Where pianists can use pedal indications to get sustained arpeggios, writing such passages for guitar would make even simple passages appear dauntingly formidable. I try to split the difference, but completely harmless idiomatic textures such as the ones I'm using here still look much more difficult than they really are, not to mention that they are a pain to read. Hey, this is a simplification for me: At one time I notated everything where it actually sounded on a grand staff with an alto clef above a bass cleff. I played a couple of my pieces for Bill Kanengiser at a masterclass back in those days, and when he looked at the music he asked, "What planet are you from?!". My answer was, "Not this one." ;^)

On to the recap.

There is no change to the first phrase of theme one until the point where, in the exposition, it goes into the second phrase of that texture. As you can see, I changed the end of measure 43 to launch into the second texture there, now in the tonic minor. I have notated the first part of the phrase in sixteenth notes because I'm playing all of the upper voice on the high E string so I can take advantage of the open E, which makes the passage much easier to play and far more idiomatic.

Previously I mentioned how I like to work the jazz harmonies I know and love into these antique forms, and you can see how I'm doing that in some places, like the subV(9) and "major-seven, sharp-eleven" chords in the exposition, and here in the recap, the IV(7/d5) of measure forty-eight. This is not functioning as a dominant at all; it's just there for the color, and to relate back to the major seven, sharp-eleven that was in this position when this theme was in the relative major.

Another color chord appears in measure 49: What jazzers call a seven, sharp-nine chord, even though it's notated enharmonically with both a major and a minor third. I actually prefer the jazz terminology for this chord, since I consider the fundamental triad to be inviolable: I do not allow for different inflections of triadic degrees to exist simultaneously. In other words, there is no such thing as a major/minor triad in my system. The major third takes precidence, and the minor third must be explained as an altered upper structure ninth degree.

The decending figure of measure fifty-four is extended through another of these seven, sharp-nine chords in measure fifty-five to get the line back down to the proper level to finish off the piece. For the ending, I used a modified version of measures seven through ten of the exposition. The vi(m7) is a modal interchange chord that I borrowed from the parallel major, and it will appear in the development, so this is actually harkening back to a development that does not as yet exist (Except - and roughly - in my mind). What this chord allows me to do is to introduce the bII(6/4) chord in measure fifty-seven, which is a traditional Neapolitan triad in second inversion, versus the more common first inversion. I really, really, really like the effect of this progression.

Instead of launching into the second phrase of the first theme/texture as in the exposition, or launching into the second theme/texture as previously in the recapitulation, here this phrase turns around to end the piece. The penultimate measure is the first measure: An effect I like and use often. I may put an G-sharp in the bass at the second quarter note of measure fifty-nine, but other than that, I think the exposition and recapitulation will survive the development section intact.

If you discount the very last measure - which is just the resolution of the piece - the expo and the recap are both twenty-seven measures in length: This was no accident.

As I said, I am going to work this up to where I can perform it in my set as-is, and while I'm doing that, I'll be getting ideas for the development, some of which I've sketched out already.

In the mean time, I have enough music entered to create another post on Beethoven's Ninth, which I'll do for next week.


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