[Smt-talk] Pieces with improvisatory openings

gzar at mail2.gis.net gzar at mail2.gis.net
Wed Oct 26 07:46:40 PDT 2011

Dear List:

Let me suggest the opening (and closing?!) of the Beethoven Coriolan 
Overture, as I did for the previous discussion mentioned. (Apologies 
if it already has been mentioned; I have not been able to follow the 
whole thread.) Perhaps the Coriolan is appropriate for this 
discussion as well, aside from its "fake-out" slow-tempo beginning 
(long durations notated already within the movement's overall fast 
tempo). This time, I notice that the huge contrast between the long 
durations and subsequent abrupt cut-offs (and also-long rests) 
perhaps inhibits feeling any sense of meter, Adagio or Allegro 
(unless the conductor unfortunately is beating quarters or even 
halves -- or anything at all).-- followed by equally-"anti-metric" 
bursts of fast figures, that lead to music with a clearer fast-beat, 
but accented without clarifying a meter. That latter process breaks 
off and restarts, but now with the movement's opening tonality 
becoming less clear. Perhaps only as the M.T. ends (and becomes 
transformed into the Expo's Transition) do we feel that a 
quasi-improvisational texture, beat, meter, and key finally has given 
way to a "composed" movement...



Gerald Zaritzky
Faculty, Department of Music Theory
New England Conservatory of Music
290 Huntington Avenue (Room JH 325)
Boston, Massachusetts 02115  USA
gerald.zaritzky at necmusic.edu
office: 617-585-1373 (voicemail only)

At 12:31 PM -0400 10/21/11, Mitch Ohriner wrote:
>Hello Collected Wisdom and Beloved Scholars,
>I'm interested in studying the emergence of tempo from the 
>perspective of the listener. One viable case study for this 
>phenomenon is the class of pieces that begin with short, 
>improvisatory passages that precede more temporally patterned 
>movements proper.
>This is slightly different than the phenomenon previously discussed 
>on this list in which the most salient level of time-span 
>organization is initially obscured in preference for a faster or 
>slower rate (i.e., London's "metric fakeout").
>A paragon of what I'm looking for would be Chopin's G-minor Ballade, 
>Op. 23. I've also been directed to Schumann's String Quartet No. 3, 
>Op. 41, no. 3.
>Do you know of other tonal examples like these? I'll take responses 
>off-list unless they're of general interest.
>Thank you for your thoughts and I look forward to seeing many of you 
>at our Annual Meeting next week.
>Best regards,
>Mitch Ohriner
><mailto:mohriner at gmail.com>mohriner at gmail.com
>Assistant Professor of Music Theory
>Shenandoah Conservatory
>Winchester, VA
>Smt-talk mailing list
>Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org

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