Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn - Dello Joio

Since we talked about sectional variation in form and analysis, I thought I'd talk a bit about another band piece that is being performed this weekend that I also played in high school.

Since this is called Fantasies they are not pure variations, but do have some adherence to the theme. The fantasies are much longer than the theme and have extreme contrasts.

The first section is the theme. The theme is centered around a lot of scalar passages and arpeggios without a lot of lyrical melodies. Stark accents and lots of stacatto notes are also present in this section, and a lot of isolated instrument parts. For the most part, instruments do not play straight through a series of measure but have lots of isolated motives, especially the two eight notes on a downbeat and pickup to the downbeat.

The first fantasy switches from 2/4 to 4/4 and keeps much of the rhythmic energy. The major changes to this is a frolicking bass line that starts in the low brass and moves to higher instruments and a lot of sforzando accents in the brass that interuppt softer section of the music. Dello Joio also uses a couple of empty measures that don't have any sound which give a great contrast from loud sections to the return to softer section.

The second fantasy is the "slow" section and achieves some sense of lyricism by manipulating theme with more neighbor tones and the like, but the theme still isn't a naturally lyric melody. There are some really cool harmonies that are achieved in this section that are really bittersweet and poignant (hehe!). The end of this section has some very nice use of triplet rhythms to keep up the excitement. There is an extended transition section that leads from the second fantasy to the third fantasy which is marked by the timpani playing quarter notes on the downbeats and the rest of the group occasionally come in with soft chords.

The third fantasy immediately goes back to the active tempo with a neat little call and response between members of the winds and the xylophone player that helps to show the activeness of the melody. There are also some cool sounding sixteenth note runs in the brass runs. There is some more call and response with different instruments trading a two eighth note motive with one eighth note rest between each. There is a cool jamming section in this in which the back up to the theme is the low brass and timpani and drums all doing different syncopated eighth note patters. My favorite part is an accompaniment part that has a great flowing quality to it with the notes rising and then falling and having a big syncopation that goes over the downbeat of every other measure. The piece then makes it way towards the end with a very clear coda section that recalls a bit of the theme and then spends a lot of time fully establishing the tonic chord.

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