Posted in Project 1: Percussion solos

Example 2: Le petit jeu d’eau for Temple Blocks

Note: Before you take a look at this example, please read my two-part research. In the first part, I write about temple blocks and the forms of jeux d’eau, which Liszt and Ravel used. More importantly, read about the inspiration for my structure in part two, which describes the Chinese composition Three Variations of Yang Guan Pass and moto-perpetuo in Corelli’s allegro movements of his violin sonatas.   



You can listen to it below:

As I’ve mentioned in the research, I structured this example in two parts. I am not going to analyze it as AB form, since the first Andante section is, more of an introduction for the main Allegro moderato section.

4-bar Andante introduction is written in the style of Li Ying-hai’s Three Variations at Yangguan pass. (Fig. 1) Already in the first two bars of his composition, it’s evident that the tempo, the time signatures and rhythmical figures with the ornaments are all used similarly in my piece.


Fig. 1. Li Ying-hai, Three Variations at Yangguan pass, bar 1-3

However, the melody is different and I’ve added more ornaments and the rolls that sustain the notes. I looked at the technique used in orchestral playing and I’m not sure if the temple blocks will be able to play many of the ornaments, but maybe it would be possible with slower speed. The last bar of the introduction acts like a dominant chord for the main section. In a way I think this introduction can be understood as a musical sentence.

For the contrasting main section, beside the livelier tempo and forte dynamics, I used the sixteenth-note moto perpetuo type of rhythmic pulse to create a Western feel. (I’ve talked about this in research about Corelli’s allegros.) I’ve chosen the minor mode of pentatonic scale and I think this is a good choice for many reasons. It blends well with the previous part and with the available tones, it gives a easier way to create illusions of different chords and harmonic progression.

Radice (2012: 17) points out that the key signature of pieces in the minor scale in Corelli’s time typically omit the status of scale’s sixth degree. The theoretical model for him and his contemporaries was Dorian mode, rather than our diatonic minor. Example of the minor tonality being modal rather than tonal is his A minor Gavotta, 4th movement in Op. 4 No. 5  (Fig. 2), Scarlatti’s Larghetto in D minor (Sonata K. 34)  also illustrates this practice. (Fig. 3)


Fig. 2. Corelli’s Gavotta in a minor, transcribed for piano by Clementi in his Op. 42


Fig. 3. Scarlatti’s Larghetto in d minor,  transcribed for piano by Clementi in his Op. 42

This goes quite nicely with the minor version of pentatonic scale that also has a similar structure to Dorian mode, especially the 7th degree, and it also omits the 6th degree which imitates its role in Corelli’s time. Despite the fact that minor pentatonic also leaves out 2nd degree, I think I have managed to create a nice effect.

The allegro moderato has its own form – a b a1 subsections. Part a starts on bar 5, and is a 4-bar  theme (bar 5 to bar 8). Then, there’s b (bar 9-12), the beginning of which I have marked with an accent. It is a  4-bar passage that reminds of a musical sequence. It’s really impossible to use the regular harmonic progression, since I am limited by 5 tones. However, I think I have melodically suggested its presence. In bar 9, there’s the tonic, in bar 10 it’s the VII chord (natural), then it seems as if bar 11 progresses to VI or IV and bar 12 leads to the dominant. Again, these notes can’t form the real chords, but merely remind of them. The passage leads to a1 (bar 13-16) which is similar to a, however the first and third bar end differently than in a, and the chord in-between is different and has a dominant effect.

All in all, I think it’s an interesting example with amusing effects, and in it’s own way bears some resemblance to the sound of passing water.





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