VIOLA & PIANO/MUSIC THEORY LESSON X. GRADE 0.

This week, for theory I will be focusing on…

  1. Writing a 1000 word essay discussing the evolution of orchestra and musical convention–from Mozart’s time period to Beethoven’s. I must support all findings with evidence from peer-reviewed sources. And I must complete this before 31-07-2020. The referencing format will be APA 6th. My viola instructor doesn’t mess around, no sirree.
  2. Meters, and the hierarchy of beats (strong-medium-weak…)
    I learnt that the classical convention of the common time (4/4) meter is strong-weak-medium-weak.
  3. More annotation of… alto clef and treble clef staves. Then, annotation of C Major and G Major (the F# in the G Major at a F5 range) scale families –with chords, both simultaneous and arpeggiated.
  4. Note value: Dotted note.
    By rule, a dotted note is a note which has half of its equivalent added to it… thus extending the length of how long it is played for. I.E: A dotted minim would play for three beats, past two.
  5. Doing an exploration, and examination of pieces selected from the following composers: Resphigi and Tchaikovsky.
  6. Piano practice, and application of music theory to the instrument.
  7. Viola practice for 30 minutes-1 hour.

What I had learnt from my previous lesson, so I can better remember:

+ One finds a tonic, in a piece depending on how the scale is being played. That is to the corresponding note. The tonic either steps up or down.

+A dotted minim, equals three beats due to half of the note value (minim= two) being added to it.

+When writing a dotted note, one never writes the dot on the stave/line. Always, will it sit inside the spaces.

+Accidentals, if not in key, only last for the duration of that bar–that is, if another accidental doesn’t follow within that bar, to return it to its key signature state.

+C Major does have a key signature. And, that is “No flats, or sharps”.

+Sharps raise a note half a step; Flats lower a note half a step; naturals returns the note to its pure form–neither flat or sharp.

+When one is writing a sharp, or a flat in writing (not manuscript on paper) the accidental is super-scripted. I.E: F#.

+A chord is either arpeggiated, or simultaneously played at once. Never can they be mixed together.

So that I may learn music more seriously, I always notate on paper via traditional means (pencil) past digital conventions. The same goes for drawing, and how I learnt. One must always go through traditional means. Always.

+Melodic and Harmonic intervals.

+Modulation theory. hehehehe~

+An intervallic pattern refers to the pattern of intervals that make a mode. I.E: Your ionian intervallic pattern is WWHWWWH.

On a similar note. My instructor decided that we won’t be continuing with the “AMEB music craft” series for the rest of our journey together–instead, he had made mention that we will move onto a theoretical textbook, at university level. One, which is quite expanse… and will get me to where I need to go for learning music theory. We will, however continue with the”AMEB music craft” series, ’til Kindergarten level is surpassed (pre-lim).

Also, he had made mention that in my intention of becoming a composer… being multi-instrumental is suggested. Seeing as I have no other preoccupations aside from my Academic career, for the foreseeable future, I welcome it! My instructor’s colleagues, who are composers, are said to be multi-instrumentalists themselves… like swiss-army knives they are. Oh, composers~

So far, I am learning: The piano and viola.

THEORY:

A word on accidentals:

A key signature refers to a collection, in accordance to a particular scale–for example, your G Major scale, has one sharp placed upon the F stave (F5 for treble stave). It determines the ‘Key’ the piece is set in, and as a result the set of notes to be used in a ‘normal setting’. NOTE: All F’s are, by default, in accordance to the key signature of G Major, F#s.

Accidentals, are also applicable by term to… flats, sharps, and naturals. These instances can deviate away from the original key signature, should the composer wish (See Modulation Theory).

These are all accidentals:
A sharp raises the pitch of a note up, a half-step.
A flat lowers the pitch of a note down, a half-step.
A natural renders the note to a state, which is neither flat or sharp.

A key signature is what utilizes the accidentals.

In reference to your G Major scale, let’s say one applies a natural accidental to a note placed on the F stave at the range of 5, on your treble staves. This would render the note an F, as opposed to an F#. What’s more, should one deviate away from an F# by G Major’s key signature… to, let’s say a flat… then, if one wishes to return the corresponding note to its key signature note, one must add a sharp again.

However, by the next bar… in accordance to the key signature. The note will ALWAYS return to its key signature state.

Accidentals, are always written to the left of the note…

A Brief Essay:

Here is a brief essay (not surpassing 1000 words) I wrote one night, to fulfill the request of my teacher:

A brief foray into the evolution of orchestra and music conventions between the era of Mozart and Beethoven.

Classical conventions are a result of the proceeding eras before. Earliest aesthetical influences, which had inspired the movement are found appositely within Plato’s writings—for an artiste to create, the artiste must be inspired, by that which he had experienced (Kuisma 2003). Such an argument would imply, that all manner of experience—whether that be physical qualia, or that which is eidetic in its nature, would qualify. The platonic model of theory therein informs the convention of Bach’s adage, which implied that music must reflect the glory of a higher power, past artiste or the modality itself. However, it was by that artistic enterprise, a rational foundation of informing music had not yet been employed. Thereon, the classical era challenged the notion of the ‘unconscious artiste’, who had once created through the premise, that inspiration flowed through them in proxy to a higher power. It was therefore, argued, that it was not the artiste who had brought music to the world, but god themselves (Marissen 2016).

A comparison between two composers: Mozart and Beethoven/Hadyn, would do well to position a comparison of how the convention of music, had evolved.    

Between classical, and romantic pieces the difference is marked firstly in textural quality (Bent 1995). The transparency, where some lines of music are heard above others are markedly exemplified in the classical era, as opposed to the romanticist era (Kerman et al. 2001). During the early 19th century, ranges possible for the instrumentalist, through innovation of a variety instruments was also observed—especially in the woodwind and brass section. Music, could therefore, be better helmed more demonstratively in expressing power and range… and by extension, aesthetical implication. To further discuss the disparities, the classical era consisted of, in comparison to the romanticist era, shorter movements. This is attributed to composers, who were still at the time, devising methods of how they could extend their pieces. Beethoven’s Eroica, for instance, lasts for a duration of fifty minutes—twice the length of Hadyn or Mozart’s symphonies. His Heroic era piece had demonstrated that extension of a movement was possible (Bruce et al. 1974; Esther et al. 1986). Furthermore, Beethoven influenced the proceeding early-romanticism era in his appending piccolos and trombones into his pieces—a convention, which was not yet introduced (Will 2002 ,179). Prior to Beethoven’s era (before Beethoven’s #5), trombones in symphonic orchestras were at a lack. Within the periods of both baroque and classical, vibrato was rarely used—except as an embellishment for certain pieces. The 19th century, presented a prevalence of the technique, that far exceeded its former use. To the extent that continuous vibrato is a commonly observed device, used within romantic pieces. This thereby accounts for a larger populace within the string section, of romantic pieces, than any music period proceeding it (Bent 1996).


Aesthetics is not about beauty, per se. The study of aesthetics, through its philosophical underpinnings alludes to that of which, moves one through the senses. Ugliness could be aesthetically moving. Aesthetics does not account for style itself, exclusively. Aesthetics, again, accounts for natural qualia of emotion (the metaphysical) and that which is experienced through the somatosensory system.

By the early 19th century, the departure from the classical era to early romanticism is observed. The resurgence of aesthetic idealism, as expressed through the modality, was expressed. By that extension, the transcendental qualities of esoteric implications were yet again employed, however to a more informed degree. Just as well, the harmonic qualities of the romantic period, sought to be more imaginative and evocative in its demonstration of chromaticism—notes, which had prevailed outside of the key, were observed (Bent 1996). By that vein of discussion, music was in the process of being developed still, past the convention of classical. Technical proficiency by virtuosic composers and performers such as Paganini and Liszt, transformed the repertoire of musicians’ technique during the remainder of romanticism. However, as observed, romanticism, acted as a precursor to the degradation of tonality observed in the early 20th century. An example of this notion is best demonstrated through the composer Schoenberg. Wherein, within his compositions tonal hierarchy was non-existent (Dahlhaus 1987, 162).

Reference List:

Cavett-Dunsby, Esther.Theory and Practice – Journal of the Music Theory Society of New York State; Fredonia, N.Y. Vol. 11,  (1986).McKinney, William Bruce. Gustav Mahler’s Score of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony, a Document of Orchestral Performance Practice in the Nineteenth-Century (Ph.D., Univ. of Cincinnati, 1974).
Marissen, M. (2016). Bach & God: Oxford University Press.
Kuisma, O. (2003). Art Or Experience: A Study on Plotinus’ Aesthetics: Societas Scientiarum Fennica.
Kerman, JosephTyson, Alan; Burnham, Scott G. (2001). “Ludwig van Beethoven”. Oxford Music Online.
Bent, I. (1996). Music Theory in the Age of Romanticism: Cambridge University Press.
Will, R. (2002). The Characteristic Symphony in the Age of Haydn and Beethoven: Cambridge University Press.
Dahlhaus, C., Puffett, D., & Clayton, A. (1987). Schoenberg and the New Music: Essays by Carl Dahlhaus: Cambridge University Press.

Pianistic “Alexandre” Portion:

In learning piano, if there is one thing I am interested in… it is developing both finger strength and finger independence. One plays the piano by way of the finer tendons, in their fingers. The larger muscles of the arms, and wrists should not be used by the pianist. I have ordered a Hanon piano technique book, with 60-exercises. I have the intention of ‘training’ my hands and fingers concurrently in learning the basics. I suppose, it’s a lot like going to the gym everyday. There is no difference, to me. It’s all about strengthening the hands and developing good habits from the beginning.

With preliminary exercises, that last 10-minutes for each hands, I thereon practice for about an hour (or two, I’m sorry… viola) daily. I practice from heavy guidance of “Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano course: Adult All-In-One Course” Although Americanized in its presentation, it is a fantastic book! I will be sure to re-correct disparities of language, further down the track.

As for exercising my hands. My pinkie needs the most attention, along with my ring-finger. They do not listen! Therefore, I will exercise them with these in-mind:

  1. Hermit Crab.
  2. Digging the sand.

    https://www.teachpianotoday.com/2016/09/28/3-video-tips-for-solving-your-piano-students-stiff-pinky-finger-problem/

Finger Independence for the last two are very meager. I will also, during idle moments drum my hands’s digits on flat surfaces… and always, I will appreciate my hands.

His fingers are AMAZING. He should be a musician, with hands like those.

Oh… wait. He is a musician.


Use it or lose it.

One plays with curved fingers firstly, to ensure that one allows the full use of their finger’s joints–that is, when they are first starting out. Many a pianistic virtuoso, I’ve observed, played with the flats of their fingers–however, their intention was to register a more mellower/richer sound. Compositions, by, for example Mozart would make better use of the curved approach just as well.

In my being an absolute and total beginner, I will use curved/domed fingers and nothing else for me! Uhhh… muuuuuchhhhh later~


For the first week of piano, now I know how to play “Jingle Bells” in 4/4 time, with the left hand accompanying in 4th and 5th Harmonic intervals. Yay, preschool level!

Before then, I learnt Melodic 2nds and 3rds. In playing Au Claire De Le Lune and Tisket, a Tisket.

Harmonic 4ths and 5ths, are essentially leaps.
Harmonic 2nds, are a step.
Harmonic 3rds, are a skip.

The piano is a wonderful instrument, you’ve the keys (notes/tones) lined up perfectly to one another. It works as a tremendous accompaniment in understanding music theory.

Viola “Gaspar” Portion:

I find it difficult in keeping track with the metronome whilst bowing. I have not yet perfected the ability to apply less weight on the bow, without compensating speed. Therefore, when I bow Gaspar, his sound drowns out the mechanical metronome I have ticking in the background.

So, as a way to cope, what I do is wear noise canceling headphones and play the metronome ticks through that. I cannot filter noises, like neurotypical people can (I am diagnosed with Asperger’s). My somatosensory processing, in regard to my auditory sense appears to merge all channels of noise in my immediate environment. Although, paradoxically, my hearing is very keen despite that.

Therefore, I believe this will have to suffice in-order to build kinaesthetic memory. I should remember how to keep in common-time, eventually.

Alexandre is comparatively different, I’ve found… although one sustains certain notes, they wish the instrument to ‘hold’ (in an acoustic piano, dampeners are lifted to allow the string to continue vibrating)... the piano’s manner of playing, is similar to the striking pizzicato method of plucking on the viola (sans sustain of the pizzicato).

Bowing is different. Each note is sustained, and the violist switches the direction of their bow–from left to right. The string must vibrate, by way of bow in-order to register a sound. Slurring is a different technique, where the notes on the viola are played seamlessly. Although, comparable to pizzicato, and piano… standard bowing, as I’ve observed still has a minute (tiny) silence/break in switching the direction of the bow from note to note in sight-reading.


Instrumentalists have some resilience, and discipline… I must say!

My being new to bowing has made my arm’s muscles quite tired. I practice for 30 minutes to an hour, at most. I can play the piano for one-two hours, in comparison. I’d attribute this, to my prerequisite skill of touch-typing typing since my early-teens… My fingers don’t seem bothered. Yet.

(I name all of my instruments. They are all males, for they are all the loves of my life.)

Compositions:

Before then, I explored the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky through this piece: Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 “Pathetique”. I answered a question, posed by my teacher in relation to the articulation of movements, and how it differs from Mozart and Haydn’s era. 

Despite the homophobia which was rampant around that time, Tchaikovsky dared to dedicate the entire piece to the man he loved.

A Passionate Symphony. The very last symphony he ever wrote. And yes, in none other than the key of B Minor. This entire piece was written, more or less as a release of catharsis for the composer. It was during this time in 19th century Russia, homosexuality was seen as taboo. Tchaikovsky himself, being a homosexual, wrote about the pain of this secret in letters (much can be sourced from his brother, the other Tchaikovsky). As for the piece. Tchaikovsky felt ashamed, and somewhat ‘tainted’ by his lifelong secret. One of which he wished to escape, through failed marriages and the like. Eventually, the composer came to terms with his sexuality. Thus, the result of this symphony. Each movement details a different era within his life, in relation to these chapters of his life. I, focused on the desire he had felt in his youth–one taboo; II focused on his early adulthood, wherein he began to compose; III demonstrated the stagnation which middle age, through decay of the mind and body had introduced (regret also permeates throughout this movement); and finally IV, depicts the terror of death which looms. It is rather heartbreaking, the title of the symphony should give evidence of this–sure enough, “pathetique”. What’s more, the piece was dedicated to the greatest love of his life, his nephew, Vladimir Davydov. An unrequited love (oh~ you composers). The entire piece presents this obsession, from movement to movement. Tchaikovsky was infatuated with the boy, who was also homosexual–however, their relationship never did became sexual in nature.

All-in-all, it was this infatuation which had fueled Tchaikovsky to create, no-doubt.

It is speculated, that Tchaikovsky committed suicide after this piece. However, to this day still, no one knows how the composer truly died. Perhaps of a broken heart? To answer the question. “No”, it does not follow the ordering convention set by either Mozart and Haydn’s era. It was written in 1893, long after both of the aforementioned composer’s respective eras. What’s more, this was written when romanticism was coming to a close–giving way to the 20th century era. The IV. Finale: Adagio Lementoso begins very abruptly, just as well. There was a lot of COMPOUND MELODIES in his movements, for strings specifically. The illusion of time, being ‘unfolded’–for lack of a better word is heard in the much of finale. It as if isolated sound is expanded upon itself.

There’s is also topic of Tchaikovsky’s “Cross-motive” within his composed pieces. An ode, being ‘star-crossed’ and in-love with his nephew. This makes me want to cry.

Oh composers, you all suffer greatly to create such beauty. There was Chopin, who was virtually bed-ridden all of his life–there was Bach, who had nearly all of his children and wife die–Debussy didn’t fare well either.

What a life it is, to be a man of music, eh?

Not related… although related (it’s music). My Dad told me to listen to this. Little treasure from Japan.

Hehehe, it’s so cute~

Onto the things I wrote this week:

Here is a Sonata I composed, from this week. For piano and viola. At times, the pace between the two is unmatched. In the first set of bars, the pianist waits for the violist to match their pace. The violist eventually exceeds the pianist, who then waits for the pianist.

This was composed, as most of my pieces are, to form a conversation between instruments. It sounds as if the piano is saying “Ver-y good” through syllable, at the end. He commends her for keeping pace.


They end as they begin. The pianist closing the piece.

4/4 meter. F Major Key. Working Title: “Props To The Pianist”.

And here is a sketch of a composition, my mind conjured up. It is a variation of “Props To The Pianist.” I will resolve this one, in good-time. 2/4 time with 60 BPM mimics your clock, just as well the ‘phone rings’ allude to one being a workaholic. The symmetry, within the piece is akin to a life structured to the finest point. The piano, plays a pleasant voice answering the call. The beat of the timpani all the while… says “Follow the rat race.”

It’s a montage. Rise early. Arrange life. Coffee-coffee-coffee. Rinse, and then… repeat. Why bother? Because they can. Nothing will stop them.

These all belong to my Viola’s collection of pieces: The “Gaspar Suite”. Which now has 17/100 pieces composed.

2/4. A Major. Working Title: “It’s a Busy Life”. I’ve been listening to too much Susumu Hirasawa…

And then, here’s this one.

In reviewing his writing, one dares to ask, “Why do you use so many ellipses?” To which, he replies “I haven’t the slightest clue, to be honest. Wait… I use ellipses?”

3/4. D Major. Working Title: “Why do you use so many ellipses?”. Funny thing about that. It’s because he’s always thinking.

To me, composing is similar to drawing… with my creation of each piece, I am drawing sketches so as to build-up practice.

There is no objective in-mind with this suite. When it is complete, it should form a story. It’s an experimental venture, from my mind. With each composition, I use it as an example to measure my retaining of musical knowledge, and by extension, my ability to form a programmatic catalog. One must be capable of demonstrating different emotions, and scenes in composing, I have been told.


The more I find about music. The more I realize that
I know absolutely nothing.

Good, I hope I know nothing for a long time.

More next week. I must keep myself accountable.


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