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Principles of

Some

Design

IN MUSIC
Some
PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN
REPETITION
VARIATION
CONTRAST
BALANCE – symmetry/asymmetry
EMPHASIS - accent
ECONOMY
PROPORTION
SCALE
Eadweard Muybridge, photographer
Repetition/Variation in Music

Small-scale repetition creates a sense of


pulse, rhythm and meter

Motific repetition is used to build phrases

Repetition of group of notes is a pattern


called an ostinato

Large-scale repetition creates FORM


an idea returns
phrases
within the after contrasting
repeated
phrase sections
immediately

REPETITION Immediate Sectional Large-scale

EXTREME

MODERATE

RARE
Some repetition in music

PHILIP GLASS
EINSTEIN ON THE
BEACH
(an opera)
REPETITION Immediate Sectional Large-scale

EXTREME

MODERATE

RARE
CAILLEBOTTE, Gustave
Paris: A Rainy D ay, 1877, Oil on canvas, 83 1/2 x 108 3/4"
Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor,
1ST movement

The motif is immediately repeated


and varied – the music is built with
this motif (aka motive)

This section of music will return a


minute later and then a couple of
minutes later – large-scale,
sectional repetition
Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor,
1ST movement

REPETITION Immediate Sectional Large-scale

EXTREME MOTIFIC

MODERATE some; not yes


(usual) exact
RARE
Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor,
3rd movement

• each section is repeated


• the first 2 sections return after a contrasting
section
• General form (design) is ABA
• Specifically, it is aabbccddab (does anyone
listen that way?)
Based on dance music, but it is not dance music
• triple meter
Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor,
3rd movement

REPETITION Immediate Sectional Large-scale

EXTREME Yes Yes

MODERATE Some

RARE

Melodic shapes and evolution; rhythmic patterns


CONTRAST
Thelonious Monk, Epistrophy
c. 1948, recorded 1957-58. (From the CD Thelonious Monk
with John Coltrane. A photograph of Thelonious Monk, with a stupid
caption, appears on p. 23 of the textbook.)

This example demonstrates


repetition at three levels
“statement, departure, return” at multiple levels
contour
sequence
FORM
The simplest form is unvaried repetition:
AAAA . . .

A complete lack of repetition creates a complex form:


ABCDEFGHI . . .

But many forms depend on the sense of


STATEMENT, DEPARTURE and RETURN:

ABA
Song Forms
Verse-refrain (ABABAB) . . . - Ex. The
Jovial Tradesmen

AABA – very standard. Actually, it is ababCab;


verse-refrain-verse-refrain-bridge-verse-refrain
(“refrain” is also known as “chorus”).
The statement-departure-return (or statement-contrast) structure
works at two different levels, abab and the larger AABA.

The text varies (usually) only on the verse:


text: v1 – r – v2 – r – bridge – v3 – r
music: a – b – a – b – bridge – a – b
Earth, Wind & Fire, Fantasy (1977)
Maurice White, Eddie del Barrio & Verdine White

Every man has a place, in his heart there's a space,


and the world can't erase his fantasies
Take a ride in the sky, on our ship fantasii
all your dreams will come true, right away
Every thought is a dream, rushing by in a stream,
And we will bringing life tountil
live together, ourthe
kingdom
twelfthofofdoing
never
Take
our voices will a ride
ring in the
forever, assky,
oneon our ship fantasii
all your dreams will come true, miles away

Our voices will ring together until the twelfth of never,


we all, will live forever, as one
Earth, Wind & Fire, Fantasy (1977)
Come to see, victory, in the land called fantasy
loving life, a new decree,
and as you stay for the play, fantasy, has in store for you,
bring your mind to everlasting liberty
a glowing light will see you through

Come to see, victory in a land called fantasy,


It's your day, shining day, all your dreams come true
loving life, for you and me, to behold, to your soul is ecstasy
As you glide, in your stride with the wind, as you fly away
You will find, other kind, that has been in search for you,
give a smile, from your lips, and say
many lives has brought you to
I am free, yes I'm free, now I'm on my way
recognize it's your life, now in review

Come to see, victory in a land called fantasy,


loving life, . . . now in review
MUSICAL FORM: So what?

Expectations confirmed:

SATISFACTION!
(clichéd, boring, too predictable)

Expectations denied:

EXPRESSION!
(meaningless, wrong, incompetent)
Other Forms
We will encounter many types of forms such as:
Variation – A A’A’’A’’’ . . .
Binary – AABB
Rondo – ABACA
Sonata –
intro-A-B-A-B-dev-A-B’-coda
and an entire zoo of forms perhaps not entirely worth
cataloging.
CONTRAST IN MUSIC

Mozart -- first movement from Symphony No. 35 in


D Major, K. 385, "Haffner"
LOW/HIGH (contrast in register)
LONG/SHORT

Contrast in timbre (sound color):


Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
(also contrast in dynamics – loud and soft)
BALANCE

symmetry

EQUILIBRIUM
Assymetical
balance
in music?

A concerto
sets a soloist
or small
group of
soloists
“against” an
orchestra
EMPHASIS

accent
limitation of a composition to a few
ECONOMY essential elements; usually a voluntary
constraint that is part of the creative
process
SPECIFIC TO AN INDIVIDUAL WORK,
NOT THE GENRE , TYPE OR MEDIUM

Examples in music: deriving everything from a single


theme (musical idea), limiting the number of pitches,
type of instrument, etc.
Steve Reich, Music for Pieces of Wood, Clapping
Music, or other pieces
DC Meckler, Bliss (1999)
Morton Feldman, Three Voices (1982)
ECONOMY – very little suggests a lot

Picasso, Femme
PROPORTION

PROPORTION
PROPORTION
Shahn, Ben, Vacant Lot, 1939
Watercolor and gouache on paper mounted on plywood panel, 19 x 23 in
Proportion in music
A matter of time, usually lots of time.
Example: 3 Beethoven string quartets (Op 59,
1, 2 & 3). Each in 4 movements.
No. 1 – BIG 1st mvt
No. 2 – nervous 1st mvt, BIG 2nd mvt
No. 3 – BIG finale (4th mvt)
SCALE

SCALE - the size of a work compared to the


environment: miniature, human, monumental. The
term can also apply to musical works, although it has
an entirely different meaning than “musical scale.” (“A
symphony is a large-scale musical work when
compared to a song.”)
Claes Oldenburg, Knife Ship I, 1985

Vinyl-covered wood, steel, and aluminum with motors, dimensions variable,


maximum height 31 feet 8 inches x 40 feet 5 inches x 31 feet
6 inches.
Miniature

Leaf from Futuh al-Haramain (Description of


the Two Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina),
mid-16th century; Ottoman, 8x5 in.
a bit bigger . . .
Some examples of time scales in music

Less than a minute - Miniatures – Chopin, Webern, Schoenberg

Pop songs – 3-6 minutes


Early symphonies – 25-35 minutes
Later symphonies – 45 min - 1 hr
Longest – Mahler – 1 ½ hrs
Short opera – 2 hours
Average opera – 3-4 hours (including intermissions)
Long opera – 5 hours
Longest traditional opera – Wagner’s RING – 18 hours
Some
PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN
REPETITION
VARIATION
CONTRAST
BALANCE – symmetry/asymmetry
EMPHASIS - accent
ECONOMY
PROPORTION
SCALE
Monk, Epistrophy
repetition at three levels

a a b b a'a'b'b' a'a'b'b' a a b b c c' c'' d d' a'a'b'b'


(The little mark indicates some degree of variation.)

Three levels of repetition:


small-scale (motific) – aa
phrase level – a a b b compared to a'a'b'b'
sectional – the return of the a'a'b'b' after the bridge (c c'
c'' d d')
Monk, Epistrophy
“statement, departure, return”
– STATEMENT: a a b b
DEPARTURE: a'a'b'b' a'a'b'b'
RETURN: a a b b
– STATEMENT: a a b b a'a'b'b' a'a'b'b' a a b b
DEPARTURE: c c' c'' d d'
RETURN: a'a'b'b'
(complete structure: AA’A’ABA’)
– STATEMENT: AA’A’ABA’
DEPARTURE: solos –
RETURN: AA’A’ABA’ A [ending]
Monk, Epistrophy
contour and sequence

contour – melodic analog of shape in art


– a rises
– b rises and falls

sequence – repeating a pattern up or down a scale step or series


of steps
– d d’
Louis Andriessen, De Staat, (The State, 1973-1976)
Contrast in timbre (sound color):
DOUBLE REEDS/BRASS/VOICES+PIANO
(double reeds = woodwind instruments: oboe, English
horn, bassoon)
VARIATION:
the alliance between repetition and surprise

The extensive poem, moreover, satisfies another two-


fold requirement, one that is closely related to the rule of
variety within unity: repetition and surprise. Repetition
is a cardinal principal in poetry. Meter and its accents,
rhyme, the epithets in Homer and other poets, phrases
and incidents that recur like musical motifs and serve as
signs to emphasize continuity. At the other extreme are
breaks, changes, inventions - in a word, the unexpected.
What we call development is merely the alliance
between repetition and surprise, recurrence and
invention, continuity and interruption.
Octavio Paz, “Telling and Singing” in The Other Voice
CONTRAST IN MUSIC

Mozart -- first movement from Symphony No. 35 in


D Major, K. 385, "Haffner"
LOW/HIGH (contrast in register)
LONG/SHORT

Contrast in timbre (sound color):


Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
(also contrast in dynamics – loud and soft)