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The harmony of the melody

Categories Art, Music

Essay, Pages 4 (861 words)

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Essay, Pages 4 (861 words)

This melody also features repetition and variation on motifs used, which “produces unity, relationship, coherence, logic, comprehensibility and fluency. ” (P. 8, Schoenberg, A. (1967) Fundamentals of Modern Composition, Faber & Faber Ltd), some of the most important elements of popular melody. The accompaniment in this section is used to imply the harmony of the melody; and to create an increase in volume, width, and texture towards the point of arrival of the section. It begins with quiet strings playing middle register pitches, and then gradually increases in volume and progresses to more extreme pitches.

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The harmony of the melody

The first violins then play a harmony to the melody, while the strings continue to build up and the brass enters the accompaniment. When the melody enters a second time, the flutes are backed up by the oboes and violins playing the same melody. The use of brass and percussion increases the range of tone colours and builds the texture up to the final cadence, passing the melody to the horn is especially effective at adding weight and brightness.

At the transition point the chord changes to a B diminished as a tension building point for section two.

Section two and the final ‘Victory Scene’

For section two I wished to create a sense of violence foreboding in the music. To achieve this I took inspiration form the opening bars of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’, but used the technique at a much slower pace to create more tension. The constant use of down strokes on the accented note creates a uniform strength and progressiveness.

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The parallel motion of the brass melody was inspired by a section of Jerry Goldsmiths ‘Life is a Dream’ from the Star Trek film score. The melody also utilises repetition and variation on the motif as it is passed around the instruments.

The final ‘Victory Scene’ is best represented by a standard march. It begins with a trumpet fanfare, a technique that sparks instant recognition to the nature of the occasion after the first few notes. The chord sequence uses root and fifth chords, the bass drum and cymbals add intensity, and the melody uses motif repetition and variation. Additive Form This piece is based on, and highly influenced by ‘New York Counterpoint: Movement 2’ by Steve Reich, an American minimalist / post-minimalist composer.

Reich did lots of experimental composition with phasing, firstly with tapes before “finding the technique of phasing with tape to have its limitations” (P. 179, Potter, K. (2000) Four Musical Minimalists, Cambridge University Press), then with live instruments. Through his career in New York, Reich has tended slightly towards classical techniques with the incorporation of harmony and melody into his post-minimalist compositions, and often he will begin a piece with the “establishment of a musical idea with a modal pitch profile” (P.188, Potter, K. (2000)

First? second and third motif

‘New York Counterpoint: Movement 2’ is one such piece. It is written for nine clarinets, eight recorded and the ninth played live over the top; and begins with two inter-related motifs, 2 bars in length, and with a contrapuntal texture. These motifs are passed between the clarinets, overlapped and set against each other to create texture and dynamic. Later in the piece a third completely opposite motif is included to create a different texture.

My first motif (M1) is a flowing melodic line, much in the style of Reich’s motif from ‘New York Counterpoint. In contradiction my second motif (M2) brings a rhythmic element with it and has a more obvious tonal centre, but it is much simpler and far less melodic. I used a variety of classical wind instruments to enable a wide variety of tonal colours with which to enhance the piece, comprising of 2 flute, a Cor Anglais, 2 clarinets, a bass clarinet and a trumpet. The piece begins by establishing M1.

This should be done in a “characteristic… manner” (P. 8, Schoenberg, A.(1967) Fundamentals of Modern Composition, Faber & Faber Ltd), in this case, on a single clarinet to achieve a very thin texture with a warm sound. M2 is similarly introduced on the trumpet for a contradicting tone colour. Through the rest of the piece layers of instruments are built up playing the two motifs to create different textures and tone colours. At times the motifs are in unison and at others they are offset against each other. After the first few standard repetitions M2 is set back by a crotchet rest, to change the position of the natural accents caused by notes played at the same time.

This technique is also used later in the piece on both motifs. Another technique used is offsetting the motif against itself on different instruments, to create a delayed effect with different instruments. This is especially effective when M1 is set against itself by a minim rest, as the quaver section is super-imposed over the melodic crotchet section. This first section of the piece is inter-dispersed with M1s in unison, but transposed to a harmony of the original, adding another layer to the music and further expanding the texture. 55 bars into the piece a third motif (M3) is established.

Cite this essay

The harmony of the melody. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/steve-reich-12867-new-essay

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