Assignments, Part 2 - Assignment

Variations on a Waltz – Assignment 2

I wrote this piece as a clarinet solo because after two months of solo woodwind analysis, I concluded that the clarinet is, in my opinion, the most versatile instrument in the woodwind family.

In the composition, I instantly state the range I intended using throughout the composition in the 5 bar introduction.. In the same way Gordon Jacob stated the range of notes he was going to use in movement IV of his Seven Bagatelles. I stated the notes of the major scale that I was going to use the bar before A.

In section A, I show the main 24 bar theme which I variate twice. The theme itself is specifically within the comfortable register of the clarinet. The melody itself is meant to be enjoyable for both performer and audience alike. I include a characterful glissando at the end of the theme so that the performer can milk it for all its worth.

The Anacrusis of section B brings us in to the The first variation . I use the warmer lower register of the clarinet as we have transposed to B minor. This was a technique I learned from project 5. The idea of having semi-quavers in a slow passage came to me after listening to Alan Hovhaness’s Lament for clarinet solo. Part of the characteristic of the clarinet is the ability to play fast intervals and still maintain a mature level of expressiveness.

Section C focuses on the virtuosic properties of the clarinet. It has very fast passages, incorporating the use of demi-semi quavers and semi quavers. These passages are mostly written in the major scale while the accents outline the original theme. I adopted frequent use of the higher register as I aimed to keep a bright and spirited sound.

Where as I am pleased with my main theme and first variation, I struggle to enjoy variation II with such enthusiasm. I feel that there are too many fast bars and passages. I also worry that the intervals may be quite tricky and may sound a bit “muddy” when played live.

The composition follows an A, A(b), A(C) structure with a 5 bar intro where as the various changes in tempi are used to give the performers space to interpret as they like. It outlines the clarinets abilities to play both expressively in a cantabile style, as well as its ability to play virtuoso and strut its stuff.

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