Saturday, March 09, 2013

Five-Voice Ricercare for Orchestra, v1.0

Well, what do you know. Less than a month after getting the five-voice exposition done (previous post), I got a first version of the development area finished.

This is huge, as this piece is probably obviously the finale of a symphony. It also just may be that this ends up being the final version, as it is well proportioned and filled with clever contrapuntal devices that are quite dramatic. I've been listening to it for several days, and for now I don't see any way to improve upon it (These things are always subject to change, of course).

Here's today's MIDI to MP3 conversion: Five-Voice Ricercare for Orchestra, v1.0

Once through the exposition again: On the top system is the five-measure subject, which I composed as a five-voice canon at the octave and single measures of delay. With chromatic subjects like this, the answers have to be real, and so the real answer and its counter-answer are on the second system. Starting in measure eight, the counter-answer is the head of the answer in augmentation.

The augmented head of the answer in the counter-answer makes the expected leap of a diminished seventh into the next statement of the subject. This works out perfectly because the minor sixth degree from the perspective of the dominant region - the C in the viola part in measure eleven - is the minor third degree from the perspective of the tonic.

This doesn't work out going from the tonic to the dominant, however, as the minor sixth degree from the perspective of the tonic is the minor second degree relative to the dominant. So, I had to insert the four measure episode you get at sixteen to reorient the voices for another dominant statement. This greatly increases the interest of the exposition.

The real answer then enters again in measure twenty, and in the highest octave of the orchestra. The C-natural in twenty-one is, in fact, the pitch climax of the entire piece. At first blush, it may seem strange to have the pitch climax in the exposition, but actually, if you want to take a Schenkerian view of it, the piece has a 5-4-3-2-1 line through it, as the real answer on the dominant degree becomes the subject on the tonic degree in the recapitulation.

Then the final answer appears in the lowest octave, and it hits the lowest note in the orchestra - the E-natural in twenty-nine - a mere eight measures after the peak, and five octaves plus a minor sixth lower. That was the point of this fugue: To write a five-voice fugue that used all five octaves of the orchestra (Or string choir, at this point).

A larger version of the previous four-measure episode then returns at thirty, and then a new element is required, which is the six-measure interlude at thirty-four. I changed the ending versus the version in the previous post, as it must now lead into the middle entries instead of the five-voice perpetual canon that is the recapitulation. This has a less than perfectly satisfying effect, which will be, "fixed" the next time we hear this.

Our middle entries begin with a stretto that is also a perfect dovetail structure: The counter-subject does not have to be modified to enter the subject - it is simply interrupted - and vice versa; the subject moves seamlessly into the counter-subject (The augmented head of the subject at forty-five). I then present a two-part version of the four-measure episode at forty-eight, and we're set up for the three voice section. This was taken directly from the two-part solo guitar version, and I hear this as an unaccompanied duet between oboe and clarinet, by the way (I will introduce rests when I get to orchestrating).

Whereas the previous stretto had two measures of overlap/three measures of delay in the tonic, these will have three measures of overlap/two measures of delay on the dominant. Here I present a sort of mensural canon I've never encountered before, and for which I have no appropriate terminology. The subject statements at two measures of delay dovetail into augmented versions of the entire subject at two measures of delay, which would be one measure of delay in the original note values. It is very, very cool.

As this unfolds, the tempo drops to almost nothing, and since the head of the subject will work at a half-measure of delay in the original note values, I can introduce it in double-augmentation here (Starting at sixty-seven in violin one). This is really an amazing passage! Years of working with contrapuntal dovetails has lead up to this; one of the coolest dovetails I've yet devised.

Well, the good old diminished seventh leap in the doubly-augmented version allows another driect modulation back to the tonic, where I present the four-voice stretti. This section is obviously highly organized, but it is weirdly dissonant and unsettled: Things work out fine technically, but they are not in the most copacetic possible order.

Starting in eighty-three we get the tightest possible stretto; that of a single measure of delay. This too has an unsettling effect, as things are not in the most perfect arrangement, which raises the question, why? This aggressively strident section peaks in measure eighty-seven, where the cello and bass land on a unison, after, "kissing" many times on seconds. The cello then dips below the bass on the final triplet of that measure. An awesome and startling effect, but why?

As the augmented versions begin to appear in eighty-eight, the tension reduces, and all is calm again by ninety.

All questions are answered here, as we reenter the episode and interlude that were at the end of the exposition, with nothing needing adjustment and all voicings the same. To set up a highly organized musical drama of this intricacy is obviously a very deep thing. There's so much that can't be put into words, as the thinking that leads to this is symbolic, and not verbal. One thing is for sure, and that is that it's awesome.

In one-hundred and one-hundred-one I, "fix" the interlude so that it resolves properly, and that leads into the five-voice perpetual canon that is the recapitulation and codetta.

Here, at last, everything is presented in the perfect order, and everything leading up to it makes perfect sense now. Violin One gets the subject on the proper level instead of the answer a fifth above, and so the thematic resolution is complete.

I've described this perpetual canon many times before, so I'll just let it speak for itself now.

And so, there it is. Epic.

The thing I'm considering right now is to allow the doubly-augmented version play out, which is possible with the diatonic augmented version here in the recap. On with the show, then.


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