Assignments, Part 3 - Assignment

Assignment 3 – Adventurous Counterpoint

Today (29/12/2018) I finished assignment 3. an exercise on counterpoint. I called this composition “Folk Law” It is called this because of its medieval folk feel. The composition is based on 3 triads. C# minor, E minor and A major. Each section of this piece is labelled with its own rehearsal mark.

I chose three flutes as I remembered when I first heard of   J.S. Bach’s “Brandenburg” concerto no. 4 (1.) how well two flutes sounds blended. They are also a good instrument for representing the medieval sound that I wanted for this particular exercise.

The start of the piece is written in C# minor. This was based on my previous task in counterpoint because I was enticingly  engaged in writing and producing this short piece of music. I wanted to expand upon what I had already written. The irregular time measures that I wrote contributed towards the medieval feel as did my choice of key signature. The first section is a nod to Jeremy Soule who is the composer of the soundtrack to “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” which is a medieval fantasy game. In that he wrote some of the folk-song’s performed by bards in the game in the minor key signature and punctuated his sentences as musical phrases. One of his pieces that stands out for me is “The Dragonborn Comes” (2.)

Section A modulates to E minor. I do this by using the Dominant B triad in second inversion. I chose to voice the chord this way because second inversion ins the least stable inversion and it meant that the intervals on the flute were easier to play. I used the scale in bar 20 to cement the tonal centre of E minor. As we enter the next section I re-introduce the rhythmic figure that we heard in bar 4 before the new rhythmic feature starts building up and accelerating from bar 26 to the 6/8 Rhythm at rehearsal mark B.

I used a dominant 7th chord to transition in to B. The VII (D) is in the top line so it stands out. This section represents a good old fashioned knees up represented by the two groupings of 3 in a 6/8 and alternation between a dotted quaver and three quaver rhythm. This is quite similar to the sort of Irish folk music that you hear. The section is based on the A major triad. A major is the sub-dominant of E minor but also the lower mediant of C# minor so as to keep the piece relevant to the original tonal centre. I use dynamics in this particular section to delegate roles to each part. The loudest dynamic would be the main melody. The Lesser dynamic would be adding harmony or a counter melody and the least dynamic provides a tonal centre for the bar to be built upon. A dramatic Ritard takes solemnly in to our next section (C).

In this section we have returned to the tonal centre of E minor and this is the slowest section of the whole composition. The Em triad I based this composition on is written in first inversion. I keep irregular time measures to maintain the context of the piece. In bar 75 I use a very similar suspension as Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer used in “One Last Shot” from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” soundtrack (3.) When we get to Bar 77 I  invert the rhythm played on the second flute in bar 76 which gives us an unsettled F natural. This statement says “get ready for a change” and then bar 78 uses the G# (dominant of C#) to augment back in to the original tonal centre of C# minor. We hear a slight reprise of the original melody for 8 bars. However the altered phrase in bar 87 changes the previous climax of the High C#s in bar 9 and places is in a much less triumphant feel only reaching the high B not quite the triumphant High C#s from before but we gradually morendo back to our very first triad of C# minor – complete in second inversion.

I thoroughly enjoyed bringing this piece to life. I challenged myself to use an array of time signatures specifically as it was a new challenge and I found that by doing so you can incorporate some really unique musical phrases. I tried to maintain strict polyphony but I notice that I have specifically used different chords in some places to punctuate phrases and particularly in section B where I have used one line as chordal accompaniment. However as the notes changed every bar. They could be used to perform longer phrases which if I were to us lyrics could be used as a significant contrasting melody line with some powerful lyrics. However I thoroughly enjoyed referencing a video game composer.


1.) Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major by J.S. Bach

2.) “The Dragonborn Comes” from “The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim” by Jeremy Soule

3.) “One Last Shot” from “Pirates of the Carribean” by Hans Zimmer/Klaus Badelt




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