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Percussion Quintet Research, Part 3: Viennese and piano waltz

As I’ve written in the previous part of the research, the early waltz, or deutscher walzer will lead to the Viennese waltz. As McKee writes, this dance was revolutionary not so much that it involved the embrace, but because the couples maintained it through the whole dance while continuously turning in circles (McKee, 2012: 100). In dancing, there is one important distinction between this early form of the late eighteenth century and the Viennese waltz of the early nineteenth century, and it involves the coordination of the couples. In deutscher walzer, the couples coordinated their movements with each other as a type of group dance. With Viennese waltz, couples, aside from a general counterclockwise motion around the room, didn’t coordinate their movements with other couples.

Music was also different. At first, early waltz tunes were fairly simple in form, based on the old landler or deutscher tanze melodies I’ve mentioned in the previous part. It wasn’t until around the second decade of the nineteenth century that the waltz music started to become more independent with the characteristics like the oom-pah-pah ostinato accompaniment, which wasn’t consistently used, nor established as a defining feature in the old landler or deautscher pieces. Scott goes further to write that it was even scarcely and rarely used. McKee pointes out how Reeser observed the oom-pah-pah in the waltz music occurring “only sporadically before about 1815.” (McKee, 2012: 71)

Generally, only with the explosion and popularity of waltz, did the oom-pah-pah become associated with a single genre, like it is today. In the past, by itself oom-pah-pah could have been used in different ways within a variety of styles. For example, the oom-pah-pah figures wasn’t used at all in Mozart’s first collection of deutsche tanze, while in the subsequent deutsche and landler pieces, it was utilized inconsistently, yet the pattern appeared as a standard accompaniment in his minuet trios. In fact, it was used as a standard pattern also in trios by many other composers, with the earliest occurrence that McKee had found being the trio of a minuet by J.C. Bach. (Fig. 1)

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Fig. 1. Oom-pah-pah in J.C. Bach’s minuet trio Continue reading “Percussion Quintet Research, Part 3: Viennese and piano waltz”

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Percussion Trio Research: Sonata Allegro Form

In my first example for several percussion instruments, I chose to write a trio for tambourine, snare drum and finger cymbals. Since I already did quite some research about them, which you can find on the blog, I will only write about the musical form of this trio – the sonata allegro form. This makes it the only single-part research I did while writing an example piece for this part of the course.

The gradual evolving of the sonata allegro form, until its use in the works of the Viennese School, spans through three periods – the baroque, rococo and classical. Initially, I wanted to write a post about the whole sonata cycle, including the older baroque forms, like Corelli’s sonata da camera and sonata da chiesa I already posted about, but I will reserve that for later parts of the course.

The origins of what we now term the sonata allegro form, used as the first, allegro movement of a sonata, is actually developed from the last, allegro movement of  violin sonatas by baroque composers of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Contrasting tonal areas and contrasting themes, although in binary form, are found in the last movements by Geminiani, Locatelli, Veracini, Tartini and others. Bellow is the illustration of the form by Stein. (Fig. 1.)

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Fig. 1. Structure of the last allegro movement in baroque violin sonatas  Continue reading “Percussion Trio Research: Sonata Allegro Form”

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Percussion Quintet Research, Part 2: The Origin of Waltz, La Volta and German Turning Dances

The Romantic Movement brought a new social trend against the conventional rules, well-ordered symmetry and emotional restraint that characterized the classicism and its main dance form – minuet. In music, I wrote how scherzo began to play against these characteristics, starting as a modified joking of minuet. But, a new dance – waltz, as a separate form, showed more revolt to the old minuet, demonstrating directly that:

“As a rapidly growing middle class struggled to find its identity, art, music, literature, and dance became ways to express rebellion against authority and establish cultural independence.” (Knowles, 2009: 26)

Like many subjects I did my research on, there is some controversy over the origin of waltz. Some authors, among them many French writers, claim that la volta (Fig. 1), a renaissance dance, popular around the middle of 16th century to the middle of 17th, was its ancestor.

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Fig. 1. La volta danced by unknown couple from the French Valois school, despite its mocking title, Queen Elizabeth I Dancing with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester Continue reading “Percussion Quintet Research, Part 2: The Origin of Waltz, La Volta and German Turning Dances”

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Percussion Quintet Research, Part 1: Cymbals

The instruments I’ve chosen for my first example were all used in my previous short solo or duet percussion pieces: snare drum, bass drum, triangle and tambourine, except for the cymbals, if we don’t count the miniature version – finger cymbals, which I did experiment with. I researched about them, which you will see on the blog.

Like the frame drum I’ve written about, cymbals are also among the oldest, ancient instruments. One of the first appearances of cymbal-like objects were discovered in excavations of pre-Aryan, Indus civilization dating from the time around 3000 BC. Sachs (1940: 151) writes that, although these could have been used as lids from vessels, their form with a central boss, and softly sloping and slightly turned up brim, is so closely related to actual cymbals, that these may be considered precursors or perhaps, prototypes, of the musical instrument. Blades mentions it’s not wrong to assume that around the time, in other places as well, cymbals might have existed in some form, as the metal clappers had already appeared and the metal crafts had been practiced, like in Chaldea.

However, as Blades (2005: 165) writes, the earliest actual use of cymbals that historians refer to was around 1200 BC, in the worship of Anatolian mother goddess, Cybele (Fig. 1) in Central Asia Minor.


Fig. Anatolian statue believed to be of Cybele, c. 6.000 BC Continue reading “Percussion Quintet Research, Part 1: Cymbals”