Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Shepherd School of Music
Passacaglia for Strings
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
to 4:00 PM
2233 Alice Pratt Brown Hall
In Passacaglia for Strings, expressive relationships between the music in the foreground and the structural design of the piece are explored. The opening melody of the bass provides a harmonic foundation and the main source of musical material for the piece. Textural variety and changes in orchestration allow the bass player to frequently take the role of soloist, and to add a more expressive value to the melodies in the bass. The piece is in four sections, with the bass line playing a different role in each.
An equally important element of the work is the melody played by the first violin in the chorale section of the piece, especially its rhythmic character, as after several refrains in the first section, the primary bass line dissolves within the chordal texture of the chorale, and allows this secondary melody to become predominant for a while. It returns in the third section of the work, but with more agitation and, lastly, goes through a short imitative episode in the fourth, “codetta”, section of the piece, where it completely adapts the rhythmic profile of the melody from the choral section. The harmonic context of the work is primarily dictated by the presence of six distinct vertical sonorities, which move to the foreground in the middle section of the piece. The work comes to an end when the opening bass line is fully revealed in the foreground, and entirely transformed through its interaction with the melody from the chorale section.