Posted in Project 1: Sonata Form

Exercise 5.3

The task of exercise 5.3 is to reflect on the previous two exercises – 5.1 and 5.2, considering the questions outlined in the brief. The aim is to write 250 words.

  • What are your thoughts on the investigation of Haydn’s Emperor that you have carried out?

Generally, I am quite used to the analytical approach to musical form, having applied identical methods to the one used in this project in my previous studies. Looking at different elements such as the tonal plan, texture and the character of the themes helps distinguish specific structural components and allows the musician to dissect the work and explore in detail how the material has been organized. Personally, I always learn a lot by delving deep into a composer’s work, which is what this type of investigation enables.

  • What kind of information does it tell?

I think beside the more general information such as the harmony, texture and other elements I’ve mentioned above, the analytical method of musical form also reveals how the composers themselves interact with the established conventions of style and genre of their own time. In the case of Haydn’s Emperor, the investigation imparts both the more standard qualities of the sonata form, but also the moments when there are certain innovations and deviations from the usual practice.

  • What does it leave out?

I believe that in the case of Haydn’t Emperor, the pure analytical approach left out some historical considerations. For example, if investigated only from the formal aspect as a piece of absolute music, it would be easy to miss out on the pastoral and other topoi being evoked in certain parts of the movement (see exercise 5.2). Along these lines, a completely objective stance that only relies on the notation in an isolated way could overlook Haydn’s reliance on the specific topics created by the previous generations in order to musically elicit specific landscapes and sentiments.

  • Is it a useful thing to do?

I would definitely answer yes to this question. However, I don’t believe the pure analysis should be used in an isolated way, but should be combined with other approaches when considering a piece of music. While it is immensely important as a method, particularly for musicians to dissect specific details of a composition, I would argue that the formal analysis alone could leave out some functional and historical aspects, just like in this example. As such, I would suggest that this type of investigation should be supplemented with a broader examination of different cultural, social and ideological circumstances that surrounded the creation of not only a musical work, but also impacted the wider formation of one’s musical vocabulary and treatment of form.

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