Project 14 – Suspend 5

Today I completed project 14 which is a single piece for piano. The majority of this piece of music in in the Dominant C# minor. I chose the key of F# minor because I knew that I would be writing the majority of this piece in C# minor. This is my favourite key because I feel it has a melancholic beauty as the High C#’s I write hang hauntingly in the air. Bars 5 and 6 hold a couple of suspensions which were inspired by the new music like the “lake of tenderness” in my listening log.

Please see video

by David Healy-Richards

In the start of the piece we hear the first phrase of the melody line, lasting about 6 bars. This is mostly in C# minor with only a small Hint of the 7th (Em.) As I use the VII it gives me a chance to explore a new phrase or modulate. However I went back to the V of the tonic to continue the phrase. I try to create an effect of something different coming up and then return to the safe haven of the dominant as before. We hear, in bars 5 and 6 some of the suspensions I mentioned in the introduction. These are suspensions I hear a lot in contemporary music, including the “Lux Arumbeque” and “Lake of Tenderness” in my listening log.

Bar 7 introduces a new phrase in the right hand that sits underneath the hanging the high C# and D in the top of the right hand. I use the method of trying to minimise the two different hands moving at a time, (matches my lack of ability on the piano!) This technique of one line moving while the other is quite still was a method I learned from the descant writing earlier on in this module. This reoccurs throughout this whole particular exercise. In to bar 8 we see more of those contemporary suspensions. In Bars 10 and 11 we are back in the VII of F# (or the III of C#) so this little two bar section features a nice contrast with little movement and then the phrase repeats an octave higher. This is a simple, but, quite an affective way to break the melody up.

As we come in to B we hear a slightly varied version of the original theme with a little bit more happening in the right hand. However I diminish the length of the phrase to introduce the same figure we hear in bars 10 and 11 in 16 and 17. The difference is we get these chords uite high up in the piano and even the bass lane feels lighter as it is only on the octave in the stave and not doubled in the E below the stave. I used this technique to create a much lighter feeling, A breath of fresh air in the heavy melancholy.

In Bar 17 I return to the original phrase but with added weight, I used more chords in the right hand. Originally when I wrote this the B in the 5th beat of this bar was over two octaves, the one you see and the only below it. However this proved to be too much of a stretch, certainly for myself. So I had to lose the lower octave. When we go to bar 18 The last beat on the left hand is altered and so leads to a new chord we have not yet heard on this piece. We go in to the G# minor.

G# minor is the second degree of F# but is also the dominant of C# so it fits in both camps. I felt this added a new expectation. Originally I did not have this in but I wanted to experiment with the harmony. I was relatively pleased with it’s application. In bar 20 we hear a real little tease of the original signature the 3rd beat goes to the conic from the first but with the bass line rising and the E in the right hand, this can’t be the finish. I cheated the tonic. It is too brief to be final but it does suggest what might be coming up.

In Bar 21 I just use the first three notes and I play about with the different scales. They are all familiar, one in B, one in D, one in F# and then again one in C. (VI, VII, IV, I, V) the last 3 bars take us through V and VII as I alternate between C# and E Before finally ending on the final perfect cadence. With the addition of the B the penultimate chord becomes a dominant 7 and it pulls us, finally to the tonic note.

I enjoyed this project as I managed to utilise parts of my listening log and previous assignments and projects from this particular module. I used the suspensions I have listened to in my listening log, I used the high range in the piano that Yiruma and Einaudi have made me fall in love with. I matched the range with the timbre of the Piano. We studied timbre a little bit when looking in to woodwind instruments. I used the mechanism of one line moving while the other is still that we learned in writing descants. I really feel I have a deeper understanding of harmony from writing this particular little piece.


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