- What is the overall affect of the piece? How does it make you feel? How does the composer achieve that?
- List three remarkable or notable aspects of the piece. Include measure numbers or rehearsal numbers or letters and explain your answer.
- Comment on the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic language used. What are some of the challenges presented in the performances of this work created by these languages?
- Finally, compare and contrast both works. What are their similarities? What are their differences?
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Thought on Carter and Tymoczko Quintet
It was interesting to listen to Elliot Carter's Brass quintet and Dmitri Tymoczko's Rube Goldberg Variations for Brass Quintet and prepared piano yesterday morning during Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature class. After finished listening, we were asked to answer below questions.
I would answer above questions in the following order: 3, 1, 2, 4. To me, it flows better that way.
Here are my thought
3. Comment on the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic language used. What are some of the challenges presented in the performances of this work created by these languages?
Base on my limit knowledge of atonal music and analysis, I will try my best to give the answer.
This piece is constructed using twelve-tone technique. The prime (if I understand correctly) is D# B G# D A E Bb G C# E F# C which spread throughout the group from measure 1 to 7. Harmonic and melodic languages are based on the row and its inversion, retrogade and retrograde-inversion. I must admit that I am not sure how the motif construct. However, the different grouping of rhythmic language can be identified from the form of this piece. This is how the form constructed.
Whole ensemble (described as Quodlibet) followed by smaller groups (Trio or Duo). For example, this is how first 118 measures pan out: Quodlibet - Trio - Duo - Quodlibet - Duo - Trio... and so on. These sections are not clearly divided. They are, however, new section always come in before previous sections end.
Quodlibet, according to dictionary.com, means "a humorous composition consisting of two or more independent and harmonically complementary melodies, usually quotations of well-known tunes, played or sung together, usually to different texts, in a polyphonic arrangement."
Even though Carter did not use any well-known tunes, he definitely captured other elements such as humorous, independent, and polyphonic arrangement. You might argue that this piece is not humorous and rather difficult to listen to, those elements and other individual expressions are provided in each part. It, sometime, gave me a sense that they are having a conversations. Composer provided formal plan of the whole piece on the score so that musicians can understand the whole picture of this piece, thus giving the best performance they can.
The challenge of this piece is how to put it together. I have not seen individual parts but given that today's technology is so advance, I might perform this piece looking at the whole score from one of the tablets. The recording did very well in staying together even though the time wasn't always steadied.
Rube Goldberg Variations was composed in 2014 and is based on Rube Goldberg and his cartoon about complicated subject for simple task performance. Do watch the video on Rube Goldberg link above. It is fun!
This piece consists of four movements - I. To a leaf, II. Stravinsky Fountain, III. Homage, and IV. Father Makes the World. What special about this piece is the additional of 'prepared' piano to the brass quintet. Because piano is being prepared, it does give machine effect that composer might aim for.
Unlike Carter, this piece is more tonal. The rhythmic language is more simple and straight forward. There aren't any clear melodies but motivic ideas can be heard clearly in each movement.
There are two challenges for this piece. To find a place that have a piano and willing to have it prepared and to have everything perfectly in sync to get a better effect which is not the case for Carter where characteristic and expression are more important.
1. What is the overall affect of the piece? How does it make you feel? How does the composer achieve that?
In order to answer above questions, there are many things need to be considered - what technique does composer used (answers given above), how much do performers put their interpretation in, and recording itself (let alone media players).
As mentioned above, this piece gave me a sense of having conversations and expressing a lot of different emotions. I don't know if the American Brass Quintet got to work with the composer for the recording but, for me, they did very well in portray that to listeners. I don't think I could comment on how much each member put their interpretation on but the expression really came through. I also really like the balance and different colors and textures that came out of the recording. However they did it, it should be followed.
My only comment is that sometime the beat does not always stay the same in each section. Being able to tap along or to find the actual beat would help listener (who are not familiar with this kind of music) to find thing that they can attach to. It would be fun to put this on Sibelius or Finale just to hear how it synchronize.
The idea of 'machine' can be heard clearly through repetitive rhythm/motifs in each movement. I really enjoy listening to this piece and really wish that I could read program note so that I can enjoy it even more! As the Atlantic Brass Quintet worked with the composer for this recording and the premiered, the interpretation or ideas of this piece should be agreed. The only thing that kind of annoy me a little bit (just me!) is that the recording sounds very studio recorded. It sounds really dry and the trumpets are too powering at times (especially when I listen to this piece with my earphone). I found the Carter recording above a lot easier to listen to due to this reason. It does not hinder the fact that this piece was very well performed by the group!
2. List three remarkable or notable aspects of the piece. Include measure numbers or rehearsal numbers or letters and explain your answer.
1. How the composer interprets 'Quolidbet' and doesn't make it sounds like random.
2. Each parts have their own individual expressions to give contrasts to the piece. This also happen through out the piece.
3. Horn cadenza!! It is not easy and was remarkable to hear it perform flawlessly!
I can only found two that I think are remarkable.
1. Prepared piano and its effect. Again, this happen throughout the piece. I didn't know that prepared piano can give so much sounds.
2. How the piece portray Goldberg machine using different kind of sound but it is still very easy to listen and to understand.
4. Finally, compare and contrast both works. What are their similarities? What are their differences?
I think both pieces are so unique that it really have any similarities. If I have to pick one, it will be how both composers try to use as much tone colors from each instrument as possible to express what they want.
- Composition technique and style - a tonal vs more tonal.
- One movement vs multi-movement
- Clear stories vs Expressionism
Please follow this LINK for original post from Prof. Manning blog post and recording of both pieces.
Would love to hear your thought!