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A224-16J TMA 06 Matt Wilkey (C671808)

Part A
Write an essay discussing the techniques used in each of the Variations 1, 5, 8, 9, 11
and 12. Discuss key, harmony, melody, rhythm, texture and any other topics you think
noteworthy. Your answer should be in the form of continuous prose of about 750
words.

The theme is in closed binary form and homophonic texture. It begins with the upper right-

hand piano part moving in conjunct motion in bb.1-8 with the dominant, sub-dominant and

leading tones being most prominent. The tonic is introduced in b.6 but quickly becomes a

suspension as part of an E major chord resolving to Am in b.8. The lower melody of the

right-hand part moves in conjunct motion undulating around C4 and B3 in bb.1-4 and rising

from B3 to E4 in bb.5-8. When one part becomes mobile the other becomes comparatively

static as if trying to maintain restraint. The prominence of the dominant, sub-dominant and

leading tone in the upper line combined with the delayed introduction of the tonic yields a
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restless character reinforced by the undulation of the lower right-hand line whilst the 4 time

signature and rhythmic motif of creates a processional feel.

Harmonically, section A comes from A minor whereas section B (bb.9-16) begins with A

major as a V of iv, moves to B major as a V of V in bb.11-12 before finishing with a weak

perfect cadence in b.16. These harmonic excursions combine with the ascending melody to

infer a climax which is reinforced with thicker textured chords in b.15-16 but is subdued by

the final weak perfect cadence.

The bassline of variation I is an octave lower, features a mixture of conjunct motion, disjunct

motion and sequences in bb.3-4, 9 & 11. The main rhythmic motif is compressed down to

, and is augmented with and played staccato resulting in a highly

melodic bassline.
A224-16J TMA 06 Matt Wilkey (C671808)

The right-hand part of the original theme can be found in the right-hand chords of variation 1

and outlines the same basic progression in A minor but with additional dominant sevenths

(e.g. bb.2 5, 9, 11) and chromatic chords (e.g. bb.7, 10, 13, 14). The subtle increase in

chordal tension and resolution alongside the presence of a mobile bassline replaces the

Themas austere solemnity with movement and colour.

In Variation V Schubert moves into A major staying predominantly in the treble clef for a light

texture whilst retaining the established chord progression for continuity. Section A places

bb.1-8 of the entire Thema in the left-hand with a right-hand melody comprised of a constant

stream of triplets yielding a melody + accompaniment homophony. The left-hand of section

B incorporates elements of the main theme such as the first note of each triplet in the right-

hand b.9 describing the C#-B-C# in the left-hand of b.9 (thema).

Variation VIII imitates Themas bassline and upper voice (albeit an octave higher). Schubert

then creates a vigorous inner voice using a decorated version of the inner voice from the

Thema (see below):


A224-16J TMA 06 Matt Wilkey (C671808)

This combination of high upper voice and mobile inner voice makes this variation sound as if

it were written for music-box. This is reinforced by the chromaticism of b.8 and the tierce de

Picardie in the final repeat bar of section B which covers a wide range.

Variation IX is in A major and uses the conjunct motion of E4 down to A3 and back to C4 from

the Thema (bb.1-4) as a motif in bb.1-3 before being transposed to start on A4 in b.5. The

general u-shape of this phrase is then used to form the melody in bb.9 and 11 before being

inverted to an arch shaped motif in bb.13-14. The chord progression modulates briefly to G#

major and C# minor in bb.4-6 and much use is made of appoggiaturas (b.4,6,8,11,12 & 16)

whose unprepared dissonance creates an enigmatic character.

The motif used in bb.1-3 of Variation IX is stated in the left-hand of variation XI before being

imitated in octaves with the right-hand much like a canon. This phrase is then developed in

both hands throughout bb.1-8 using the initial rhythmic motif from the Thema. Bars 9-16

follow the familiar harmonic and melodic pattern laid down in bb.9-16 of the Thema with the

addition of dotted rhythms in the left- and right-hand parts, combing with the wide range

between left- and right-hand parts to create an open-sounding delicacy similar to the music-

box effect of variation VIII but with light-heartedness from the dotted rhythms.
A224-16J TMA 06 Matt Wilkey (C671808)

The upper part of variation XIII plays the motif from variation IX but transposed to start on C5

in the key of Am in bb.1-3 but the awkward tension of this variation comes from the bassline

and inner voice. The bassline features a demisemiquaver-quaver-crotchet motif played

staccato and offset to start 3 demisemiquavers into beat one creating a stumbling feel. The

lower part of the right-hand is a constant flurry of semiquavers chromatically decorating

chord tones with flattened fifths being a consistent decoration resulting in a tense and

energetic feel.

In conclusion, Schubert has transferred the theme to another part, decorated the theme and

varied the accompaniment and harmony. Additionally variation IX creates a hitherto unseen

melody from elements of the Thema and variations XI and XIII build on this melody. So

Schubert has pushed the boundaries of variation form by creating variations which owe more

to variation IX than the original Thema.

Word count: 847


A224-16J TMA 06 Matt Wilkey (C671808)

Part B

Listen to the song Someone to watch over me by Gershwin on CD 12, Track 5, while

following the score in Scores 3, Item 72, p 62. How does the composer use techniques

of form, word setting, harmony, melody, rhythm and texture to create an effective

song?

This song is in the verse and refrain form found in many songs of the Great American

Songbook. The verse has an aaIbc form where a and a1 are in Eb (bb.1-20) whilst b and c

move to Gm (bb.21-28). The refrain is aaIba where sections a and a1 in Eb and the song

moves to Ab for section b.

The verses aaIbc form is founded on two 8-bar phrases (a and a1) and two 4-bar phrases (b

and c) . Section a is antecedent ending with an imperfect cadence whilst a1 ends with a

consequent perfect cadence creating a 16-bar parallel period (aa1). Both phrases feature

two subphrases with a range of a perfect fourth which undulate around C5 before coming to

rest on the third of their harmonising chord. The second subphrase (b.7-8) is particularly

effective as the expected move to Fm7 is replaced with F7 and the resultant word setting of

find with A sounds more optimistic that it would with a diatonic Ab.

Subphrase 3 (b.9-12) describes two arched contours, the first using conjunct motion to

ascend a major 6th and descend a minor 7th whilst the second uses disjunct motion to

ascend a major 6th and descend a tone. Beginning with crotchets (b.9) and a homophonic

accompaniment it creates a word setting which sounds determined, contrasting with the

blues-tinged dotted quaver-semiquaver rhythm of the previous subphrases.

The third subphrase of sections a and a1 (bb.9-12 and 17-19) offer striking surprises. A

consequent perfect cadence in b.11 is subverted by a move to Fm7, ultimately ending with
A224-16J TMA 06 Matt Wilkey (C671808)

an imperfect cadence. This musical teasing underpins the lyrics which tease about the

identity of a certain lad. In b.19 a perfect cadence is emphasised by a plagal cadence

indicating that the verse has ended until sections b and c extend it further. These sections

(bb.21-28) offer contrast with 4-bar phrases which descends a perfect fifth, change the

established rhythmic vocal pattern by beginning with two longs notes nnd travel away from

the tonic to Gm before returning to Eb for the refrain.

The refrains phrase structure is aa1ba where a is 8-bars, a1 is 7-bars and b is 9-bars. All

phrases begin near the bottom of the melodic range of Eb4 F5, ascend to the top within 1

bar but whilst a and a1 descend using a sequenced motif to end consequently on Eb4 or G4,

b undulates from C5-F5 for 6 bars (bb.44-49) before ending antecedently. The static

undulation and ultimate antecedence of b creates tension as we are used to the descent of a

and a1 and this tension makes the final descent to consequence in bb.54-60 more satisfying.

In bb.30-32 each melody note of the words see,he & be is a flattened fifth above the

root; an interval characteristic of the blues. The harmonising diminished chords create a

smooth, descending progression with the same pull as a succession of dominant sevenths

because each chord contains the 3rd and 7th of a dominant 7th, e.g. Ab diminished contains

the 3rd and 7th of Bb7, F# diminished the 3rd and 7th of F7 whilst E diminished contains the 3rd

and 7th of C7. Furthermore, in b30-31 these notes resolve as the 3rd and 7th of dominant

chords as supposed to (i.e. 3rd ascending, 7th descending). Moreover, each diminished chord

contains almost all the notes of a dom7b9 chord so bb.30-331 could be seen as:

Ab7 B7b9 Eb F7b9 Bb7 C7b9 Fm

This can be seen as a IV(7) V7 I(7) in Eb, Bb and Fm and the use of dominant sevenths for

I and IV hints at a blues progression. This influence combined with the use of the flattened
A224-16J TMA 06 Matt Wilkey (C671808)

fifth imbues the lyric with despondent yearning which is felt throughout the refrain as this

progression is repeated in bb.37-41 and bb.53-57.

The verse melodys long-short rhythmic motif is present in the refrain but is outweighed by a

quaver-crotchet motif (bb.30-33 and 38-40) and a crotchet-minim motif (bb.46-50). These

motifs syncopate with the accompaniment giving the refrain increased energy.

Additional energy is provided by the mobility of the vocal line moving quickly through its

wider range and the stride pattern accompaniment which is more active than the verse

accompaniment. This causes the refrain to become the main focus of interest as is

traditional with music of the Great American Songbook.

In conclusion, the song effectively transmits the romantic inertia in the verses lyric and

contrasts it with energy and optimism in the refrain ensuring that this becomes the main

point of interest whilst the subtle influence of the blues infuses a little melancholy. However, I

believe the pieces dotted rhythms would render the piece jaunty and ineffective if performed

as a scherzando as instructed because none of the ballad quality associated with the song

for so many years could have been present" (Wilder, p.137). Therefore the interpretation of

this piece as a ballad is foundational to its effectiveness.

Word count: 820

References

Wilder A, (1972), American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950, Oxford

University Press, New York.