Project 14: improvisation on the dominant

the point of this project was for us to build up a harmony around the dominant and then resolve to the tonic key of the signature at the very end. For this exercise, I looked at modern composers of piano music such as Einaudi and Yiruma. I find thier almost minimalistic approach to harmony and melody highly effective.

In this exercise, I wrote an extended passage on the dominant (C#m) of F#m. The melody hangs these beautiful high notes of the piano in almost a style of a lament. I chose this approach because I wanted to incorporate some suspensions with my harmony as I have picked up from my listening log in Eric Whiticare’s lux arumbuque and Ben Hollings Lake of Tenderness.

Suspend 5 by David Healy-Richards

I specifically chose 6/4 as a time measure so that I could create long phrases within the piece. I chose F# minor, purely, because the dominant C# is my favourite key to work in – as I find it beautiful to listen to. The harmony of this piece though based on the dominant ventures in to Em (III of C#) Bm, (the VII) but always bases around the C# dominant. I tried to give the illusion to the listener that we are actually in the key of C# minor.

I employed the use of modern suspsensions and resolutions to vary the long phrases and even when I revert back to the original line at bar 17. I have built on the original line we heard in bar 1. The idea for that came from Yiruma’s “Kiss the Rain” I felt that even though the melody line was there the added in harmony meant that it was still just as interesting to listen to. Throughout the piece, I have, mostly, kept one line moving while one line was static. However, when I wanted to pronounce a different key I left the chord to ring through just to add contrast between moving lines and static chords. Whilst the dissonant suspensions are always moving, I only left a chord ring through if it was consonant for the listener.

Through this project, I learned about building up harmony around the dominant and then resolving on to the tonic in the very last bar. I enjoyed working with a slower tempo because it meant that I could suspended and resolve chords in the key of C# minor. I found inspiration from various modern piano composers as mentioned above, but the real foundation for this piece was to build on my knowledge of composing around the dominant and then resolving on to the tonic after having tried to convince the listener we were in a different key.

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