Composing Music Part 2 – Exploring Melody and Scales

Project 6: Analysing a Solo Composition

Paul Hindemith -Acht Stücke für Flöte allein

All eight parts in this composition have the following in common things in common

  • No key signature
  • Extensive use of dynamics
  • use of staccato notes
  • use of accented notes
  • different performance directions for each part
  • Considerable use of slurs

Where each part differs is in the time signatures, some have them and some don’t but each time signature is different and some do change mid part. Whilst each part has no key signature, the extensive use of sharps and flats coupled with the performance directions and dynamics make each part unique. There seems to be some freedom for the flautist to play freely here and there (Frei) and the piece as a whole has expression. I feel a sense of warmth listening to this, the eight parts flow into one another and make for a pleasurable overall listening experience.

Igor Stravinsky – Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo

The three pieces all have the following things in common

  • No key signature
  • grace notes
  • minimal dynamic markings
  • strict performance directions on each piece
  • Considerable use of slurs
  • Strict metronome markings for each piece
  • Breath markings that the composer states must be adhered to

In the three parts each has a distinctive look, feel and sound with two pieces played on the A Clarinet and one in Flat. Two pieces have variable metre, but these do not seem to be in any pattern that I can discern. The three pieces sound so different from one another. Piece one is slow and quiet using crotchets and semiquavers, piece two is very very intense. It uses the practically the whole of the clarinet range which makes for an interesting variation but the use of Demi semi quavers, semi quavers and staccato make this piece extremely fast sounding. No time signature means that the clarinetist can play this rapidly but of course they have to adhere to the breath symbols or the piece will not sound right as they lose breath. Putting in a rest would not have the same effect.

Piece three is different again with its variable metre and being played on clarinet B flat. This piece is loud and lets you know about it, as you are indicated to play forte from the beginning and it gradually gets louder with lots of accented and staccato notes which I found very difficult to follow at first and had to have a few listens to get this right.

With all the pieces having no time signature then the combination of sharps, flats and accidentals make for interesting listening.

Overall thoughts

I found the Hindemith piece more interesting to listen to, I enjoyed it much more as it seemed to say more to me. Stravinsky seems too rushed and devoid it seems of some emotion with its limited dynamic markings.

Exploring more scales

This scale like the pentatonic can appear to have no resting place or final note. Melodic lines begin and end on any one of its component notes. This produces a floating, never ending quality to melodic lines built within it.

Rimsky- Korsakov was amongst the first composers in the western classical tradition to explore the so called Middle-Eastern alternation of whole tone and semitone steps, resulting in the 8 note scale.

Might be seen as a combination of a diatonic and pentatonic scale a semitone below