September 9, 2008 § Leave a comment
Whilst working on a third piano sonata I have produced a third Mazurka. The three main subjects that have all remained were produced within a few hours of improvisation. But playing these subjects repeatedly in my mind the following day I added a fourth contrasting subject that is used at the introduction and appears again in the middle and used prominently in the coda. This introduction actually takes a harmonic sequence that I invented recently while exploring ideas for the third piano sonata. The harmony simply moves down in tones while alternating between major and minor (for example E, D minor C, B flat minor, A flat, G flat minor, returning to E) while the inversions are chosen carefully to allow the harmonies to appear to move upwards rather than downwards. The effect is wonderful.
It is tempting yet foolish to begin notation as soon as a piece of music seems interesting enough to be surely kept as a composition and thus I played the subjects repeatedly over subsequent days and temporarily moved my third piano sonata to the back of my mind. Avoiding notating allows a composition, which could be seen as finished, to be kept moderately liquid and thereby made more substantial. When you finally write you will do it in great haste.
The new Mazurka subjects could lend themselves to a variety of rhythmic accompaniment. The length of phrases through the various subjects were kept in multiples of six which allowed the accompaniment to be in 2/3, 3/4 or 6/8. I occasionally had to disregard ideas that moved the composition away from being a Mazurka although generally such contradictions do not worry me and can prove useful.
When I was happy with the structure I attempted to add further variety by refining the inversions of harmonies, altered the relationship between registers (choosing which octave one phrase should be played versus another phrase, swapping left and right hands, etc) and generally aesthetically critiquing each second of the music. When preparing any work of another composer for performance a plan should be consciously followed within each moment of the music by the interpreter – there is always something that must be happening (even of making nothing happen is what was decided to happen). This approach can apply when refining a composition. The composer’s job in this mature stage of a composition is so similar to a performer making decisions of tempo, dynamics and theme and applying one’s good taste. The composer thinks exactly in such a way except note changes are taken as mere dynamics. As so my third Mazurka was refined over the last week and I can say more or less finished.