Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Scherzo in C Major for Solo Guitar

The Waltz from the previous post has grown into a Scherzo now, just by my rendering the tune in 4/4 for a Trio, and then the original tune in 3/4 returns. I have an idea for a 6/8 rendering - and it is written out in a alpha test version - but I haven't gotten it perfect yet.

The main challenge in juxtaposing one time signature against another is that you either have to create a metric modulation, or an effective pivot. In this simple little piece I decided to pivot.

Here's the AIFF audio file: Scherzo in C Major

The song remains the same - haha - until the second ending of the B' section, where two eighths appear under the open G on the final beat. This pivots the piece perfectly into the 4/4 rendering, which has an Alberti bass in eighth notes. So, whereas the 3/4 section has eighths only in the axial return to the tonic level, in the 4/4 rendering, it's constant eighths. This has a surprising and humorous effect, which is what scherzi are all about.

As you can see, the melody is pretty much the same, except in those measures where the melodic trajectory returns to balance with the eighth notes in the lead. This 4/4 version allowed me to use the entire four note chromatic lick in the bass of the C section, and a true dominant lead-in to the final measure of the D section. You can also hear that I had a lot of fun with the Alberti bass. The final measure of the D' section, we get the pivot back to the quarters of the 3/4 version. It is in these pivots, which look so simple, that student composers often foul up. To pivot from quarters to eighths, it is only the final beat that needs eighths in the bass to pivot, but to slow from eighths to quarters requires a full half measure.

Then the original tune returns, but without repeats. In performance, the guitarist could play the waltz - considered a scandalously sexual dance when it first appeared - very slutty, but the Alberti section all prim and proper. It is a very effective and humorous musical contrast.

And so we're done. I don't take composition students anymore - frankly because there aren't any who I'm interested in teaching at present - but I encourage student composers to write lots and lots of miniatures. If someone tells me they are a composer, I ask them to show me the simplest piece they've ever composed that they think is perfect, because if you can't compose perfect miniatures, you can't compose at all. And my smallest perfect miniature is much smaller than this compound form (Though this is the smallest compound form miniature I've ever done).

This will be the Scherzo for my third sonata for solo guitar. I already had the Allegro and the Finale, so now all I need is a slow movement, which I think I'll do as a theme and variations.

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