Monday, April 11, 2005

String Quartet No.2, 1

Michael Nyman

The beginning establishes the simple duple time signature in one with metric accents on the first note. The phrase is shaped on two notes, mi and sol. The rhythm is dotted quarter eighth, two quarters. The jump from mi to sol adds a lift that gives it a very energetic sound, combined with a fast tempo. The first phrase is repeated a total of four times, and the next phrase is repeated once, but it is symetrical with the beginning so it establishes the very squared structure of the A section. The repetitions make it pulse, combined with the metric accents. After a total of six developmental phrases, A returns to the theme, which is the third period, signaling a transistional function. The A section is closed. The transistional function continues, and becomes its own B section in rounded binary form, making the whole piece composite ternary. The new section is signaled especially by the lack of metric accent on 1 and 2. The theme of B as a whole sounds transistional, there are more notes in the upper voices, which carry the expository functions, so it sounds denser. There is also a metric accent on one through the upper voices, the bass is much quieter than in A. The transistional function of the first section of B is signaled by a change in the repetition pattern. Overall, the pattern is signaled by landing on the same note every two measures, with sixteenths inbetween, the first note of each measure emphasized to create the pattern. When that pattern changes, combined with the addition to the expository function in the bass, the transistional function begins to the second section of B. The second section is brief, just a few measure. The transistion function material turns into the expository of the new section (I don't think any of the sections have much of a transistional function seperate from the next expository function, the piece moves to fast and it would take away from the squared structure). The characteristics of this section are the different bass of all sixteenths, giving it a higher density. The expository function also changes rhythm at one point to quarter, two eighths. This section ends on a HC, and goes directly into the expository function of the first section of B. B ends on a HC after the statement of the expository fuction and some developmental activity. The terminative function of the entire piece is signaled by, in addition to the HC, the drop from voices. The lower voice signaled that it is building up, and the terminating feel is reinforced when the first theme of B, and then A, is restated. It ends on a HC. I think there were a lot of HC in this piece. A lot of how is was shaped depended on other aspects like repetition, density, and rhythm to signal cadences. The piece has such a beautiful flow to it, any heavy V-I cadence would disrupt that. I really liked this piece, it made me wish I played a string instrument.

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