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.


Project 13: Elaborate Cadences

Today I finished my collection of four Elaborate Cadences. In this section I focused on the Dominant-tonic Perfect Cadence. Within this project I had to disguise an upcoming perfect cadence by remaining on the dominant in the bass while allowing the right hand to tickle, tease us and to keep the listener guessing as to what is coming up next.

My first cadence was mostly entirely based on the dominant apart from one bar where I ventured out in to a different chord.

Task A in Bb major

You will see that the majority of this study the chord is heavily weighted on the F with just a bare C to G progression. This is a trick to keep the listener trying to guess what key we are in and as to whether we are major or minor. Whilst I try at all costs to mislead the listener we can tell that the weighted F in the bass asserts the key this is written in. We are in Bb Major but the recurrent use of the G leads us to believe we could be in G minor. We progress to G minor in the 3rd bar but before we know it we end up on the major triad at the end of the exercise.

For my second cadence I tried to achieve a bouncy drinking song kind of feel with the use of the 9/8 time measure.

Task B in D major

You will note that the bass line is mostly based around the A major triad (V of D major) The melody has a very lively feel and with a very limited and quick use of dissonance. The exercise keeps its lively up beat and staccato feel. This is mostly a consonant composition apart from a few very brief clashes in the melody which are used, in this instance, to subconsciously generate some more interest in the melody. We are then given a very elaborate dominant 7 chord at the start of the perfect cadence because the 7th adds the craving to get back to the tonic.

My third cadence was in the style of a waltz, almost.

Task 3 in C major

I used stereotypical waltz traits of the quick 3/4 time measure and the typical waltz beats on 2 and 3 to maintain the waltz feel. This piece rarely leaves the dominant G chord, only in a passing F# in the third bar. The melody and harmony gets nice and colourful however as the bars modulate between the second degree A minor (3rd bar), and dominant of G, D major (4th bar) before reverting back in to G major for the penultimate bar and finishing on the tonic in the final bar. I enjoyed experimenting with the different chords over the bulging G in the bass line as I felt it added a much more developed and advanced grasp of how harmony works. It added a much more interesting sound, one I should like to explore further as my degree progresses.

I saved my personal favourite until last. I wrote it in my favourite key signature (C# minor) I feel there is a serene beauty around this key and I always feel mesmerised by it.

Task 4 in C# minor

Using the mechanism of dynamics, articulation, key signature selection and harmony, I composed a brief musical portrait of un-settling anticipation which eases in to a simple C# minor chord right at the very end. The melody doesn’t leave the dominant G# until the next bar when the melody is written around a D# chord. The third bar dabbles in A major then the penultimate bar starts with the arpeggio of F major 7 and is responded with an augmentation back in to F# minor(aug). This happens while the bass line draws in back to the perfect cadence. I found this to be a pleasant surprise! The Perfect cadence felt un-expected but still worked in the context of the piece.


Project 12: Two-part Inventions

Today I wrote two contrapuntal diversions. In order to compose these contrapuntal diversions I utilised three areas of research. My first area of research came from my UCA Student Handbook (1), My second and third bits of research can be found on my listening log. I listened to Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in G Minor” from his “Well Tempered Clavier”, BMV 851 (2) and I researched from Bach’s “Fugue in C Major” BMV 953 (3).

Project 12: Two-part Inventions for Trumpet written by David Healy

In my first Invention we hear the original theme or “subject” being played. The subject is a phrase of four bars duration. The next two bars (5 & 6) we hear the subject diminished in length as I have used the same notes but reduced the note values by half. This completes the phrase in two bars. In bars 7-10 we hear an exact imitation of the original subject, only this time, pitched an octave lower. These leads in to the next section. In bars 11-14 we hear the same notes only played at even values. In bars 15-18 I inverted the phrase mathematically to bring this piece to it’s end.

I used my first attempt at project 12 to get a feel for re-arranging rhythm augmenting and diminishing certain notes in the phrase, in order to experiment with different sounds within the phrase. I utilised some of the mechanisms of contrapuntal diversions including Diminution and inverting.

In project 12b, I have tried to introduce the mechanisms of Inversion, diminution, augmentation and transposition. It has a lot more to it than my first project 12. The initial phrase is 8 bars long in 3/8. Bars 9-13 are a diminished answer to the initial subject and within this diminution I disregarded bar 3 of the subject completely and transposed the subject in to F. I ended on the dominant C so I could recapitulate back in to the tonic for the next diversion. Bars 14-22 are now inverted imitations of the original subject. However, Instead of mathematical inversion as demonstrated on project 12a. I employed the principle of free inversion. This means that I have altered some of the rhythms slightly for variety and overall sound quality. For instance bar 16, is slightly different from bar 3. Where bars 4-6 descend in gradual steps bars 17 and 18 ascend in sequence using dynamics to exaggerate the contrast. I disregard bar 4 in my inversion and instead of starting the run down from G, I start it from F. Bar 19 is an inversion of bar 7 before I then re-use bar 7 in bar 20 as an imitation. I then augment this subject further with an extra bar of quavers highlighting the triad of C major before ending on a pause on the tonic.

  1. University of the Creative Arts Student Handbook page 78 Project 28 example 48
  2. “Prelude and Fugue in G Minor” from “The Well Tempered Clavier” BMV 851 by J.S. Bach and the Petrucci Music Library
  3. “Fugue in C Major” BMV 953 by J.S. Bach and the Petrucci Music Library
Part 2 - Project 5, Projects

Project 5 – Vocal Melodies

Today (105/08/2018) I focused my efforts on to project 5. I had to compose 3 contrasting melodies for vocal solos based around the pentatonic scales.

Vocal Melody 1 in A minor.

My first piece “Vocal Melody 1 in A minor”, is completely based on the A minor pentatonic scale. I instructed “Meno Mosso” or “with movement” as it is important to keep this particular phrase moving. The first part of the phrase up to the minim with the wedge mostly jumps up in intervals this represents a joyous start. The piece dims down in to the second section of the phrase. In a contrast to the first section, the second section is still loud but instead of ascending intervals the intervals mostly descend. The study still has a joyful beat to it but the phrase finishes on the sub-dominant of the A minor scale. This provides the listener an insecure feeling. It leaves ambiguity in the interpretation. The third section of the phrase is a lot more quiet and as the tonic rises from the dominant this provides us a melancholy perfect cadence.

Vocal Melody 2 in E minor.

In my second vocal melody in E minor the phrase is a lot slower moving than my first melody. I instructed this melody to be “expressive.” It is also a lot more quiet than the first movement. It is because of the expressivity and the dynamic that this melody has more of a lament feel to it. The first phrase is transposed up a 3rd which introduces a strange augmented Sub-Dominant A#. This music has a tormented feel to it and the phrase climaxes to it’s top note, a desperate and high tonic E before it descends and before returning back to the leading note before we rallentando and diminuendo until the bitter end.

Vocal Melody 3 in F major

As a complete contrast, my final melody line is in F major. and in itself has a lot to say. The melody starts off allegro (quite quickly) almost like a fanfare with sharp tidy quavers announcing the start of the phrase. The melody mostly ascends to its climactic top noted on the Bb, before a contrasting middle section reduces in rallentando to a pause on the tonic. The rall, is instructed “dolce” or “sweetly” and the notes are marked tenuto as the melody decrescendos to another pause. The third part of the melodic phrase is then picked up again except, this time, marked “quickly, with spirit” and ending on a major perfect cadence with a fortissimo on the tonic.

Part 1 - Project 3, Projects

Project 3 – Who’s the Bossa?

In this section I have composed a short piece called “Who’s the Bossa?”. I wrote it for an ensemble of Latin percussion instruments. It takes the form of introduction, first section, second section, third section then there is a reprise of the first section. the reprise forms a four bar outro. In each section, I alter the position of the 3,2 or 2,3 rhythm performed on the Maracas and Claves. I then build the assisting or accompanying rhythm from the claves highlighting the rhythm played by the wooden instruments.

In section A, I introduce the Okonkolo and Bongos. This section is aimed at building up a sense of excitement in the piece. The okonkolo and Bongos build this section up with a typical call and response. It is not in it’s full Bossa Nova swing yet – as the emphasis is not highlighting the 2, 3 or 3, 2 rhythm played on the claves.

At section B the Okonkolo and Bongos carry on in call and response but they are now putting emphasis on the 2, 3 feel. The mechanisms I have used to emphasize the beats are articulated accents, intervals and rhythms. For instance in bar 20, I have used the higher line of the Okonkolo to highlight the clave rhythm. I have used semi-quavers to emphasise rhythm on beat 4 of bar 22.

In section C, the 3, 2 feel has been restored but has been placed one beat further forward. This then has a whole new syncopated feel. Both the Bongo and the Okonkolo lines are much more involved. I incorporated the use of retrograde in bar 33 to gain the new clave rhythm. This instrumentation and rhythm is being diminished back to the original rhythm at bar 38 as the original clave rhythm returns.