Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"October" by Whitacre

This is a recent piece for band, though it carries with it many choral elements.

This piece begins with a pedal tone by the clarinets with a repeated motive by the oboes that ends on the half cadence. This results in the first tonic chord not occuring until about thirty seconds in the piece.

The first section has a melody in the woodwinds that builds in voices to a very poignant half cadence in the first half of the period and then most of voices drop out by the time the resolution happens. Unlike most songs that emphasize the authentic cadences, this song finds its beauty in the cadences that have lots of tension. The next period takes the piece into a full crecendo that really emphasizes the authentic cadence by having the top voices doing a re do from the dominant to tonic chord and then the lower voices doing the same re do as a suspension on the tonic chord.

The next section features a phrase that is played by the woodwinds and then moves immediatly to the lower voices, and this eventually crecendos into another authentic cadence with several suspensions to accentuate the chord. After this loud section the voices are taken away until it is just one clairnet that plays the resolution of an authentic cadence.

The first woodwind pedal and motive is heard again, and then a new section comes in with an emphasis on the flutes. Then the next section is based on chords that follow the melody going up a scale several notes and then coming back a few and moving up again. Since the chord structure is based on this continuing melody, there is no feeling of cadences in this section. At the next crecendo, an anticipation is used. The next crecendo finally has a tonic chord that isn't embellished with non-chord tones but the melody immediately takes over from the chord.

The pedal tone idea from the first section is then used again after another crecendo, but this time the pedal is on the dominant chord, which creates a whole section with tension wanting to resolve, which is heightned by the low brass getting a melody that has faster rhythm and all this texture gets resolved with everyone dropping out except for woodwind trills on the resolution.

The next crecendo uses gives equal emphasis to each chord in a secondary dominant - dominant - secondary dominant - dominant - tonic pattern that has an incredible amount of tension because it has the same brass instruments playing multiple notes, especially the major second intervals and the woodwinds doing tremelos. The following decrecendo section uses more suspensions and ends with a timpani roll on do, but with some of the instruments playing re.

I like this piece because of the great voicings the composer makes for the chords, using the suspensions and anticipations to grab every bit of emotion out of the music that is possible.

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