Tuesday, April 12, 2005

String Quartet 2, movement 6

Michael Nyman

The beginning is in a fast tempo, with eighths on do in the lower strings. This, combined with the loud dynamic and heavy metric accent on do of each set of eighths, establishes the energetic feel throughout the entire piece. The lower register sounds more aggressive, but not too harsh. The metric accents indicate a simple duple meter, and, combined with a slight crescendo, a four measure phrase that sets the symetric pattern of phrases for most of the rest of the piece. After two, four measure phrases of the eighths, a new texture is added in the violins, and then after another phrase the viola is added. The voices are added based on register, and the pattern at which they are added sounds very similar to a fugues. In the beginning of the piece, there is a two phrase statement of eights, similar to the length of a subject, and then the violins enter, the B voice, only this voice is not playing the same as the previous voice, and then the C voice enters, also with a different part. It especially seems fugue-ish because none of the voices standout from one another, they all are very similar in dynamic, tonality, meter, and symetry. The entrance of the viola is significant because it is the first prominant change in register the listener encounters. It signals the end of the introductory measures. The shape, tonality, and pulse have been established, and the density is at its highest with its entrance. The shape of the phrases, the cadences, especially in the lower voices, are characterized by a held accent on the third set of eighths in the last phrase of each period, and then no eighths on four. Because the third voice is in such a high register, it breaks the sound into two different themes. The rhthym of the higher voice is denser, using more rhythms with sixteenths. Because the actual melody is all quarters, this voice contrasts significantly, and over all sounds like a transistional function. The intervals in it seem to climb up by steps, and then before ending with a cadence it just stops and the other theme, which is first introduced in the violin part in the beginning, only with two eighths to each quarter, is restated. This theme is come back to because it is much more solid, the rhythm is quarters, and the interval jumps aren't out of place. There is especially emphasis on the contrast in themes because whenever one is being stated, the other either drops to a very low dynamic, or drops out completely. In the beginning, the actual expository theme, which is the more solid of the two, is played four times before it drops out completely, and the higher voices are introduced. The fourth voice, the viola, come in with the violin, and carries the expository function of the faster theme. As the piece progresses, the theme that feels more like a transistional function becomes longer and longer, and more and more developmental each time it is encountered. Gradually, it becomes more of the expository function. Because the viola carries the main melody of this theme, it sounds a little like a concerto. It ends very abruptly, after a huge build up through both themes. The ending cadence is a HC, it leaves that unfinished feeling. The terminative function is less dense, only on the one viola, and the chromatic intervals and syncopated and out of place rhythms make you feel as if it is still playing. I enjoyed the piece very much.

No comments: