String Quartet no.2 (in progress) and a reference to Vivaldi’s “Not The Seasons”

Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio Vivaldi

The ten methods of development (“change” is a less loaded word) chosen for the quick music of the first movement were not all used up:- 1/transposition 2/new register 3/inversion 4/retrograde 5/chromatic decorations 6/divisions into sixteenths 7/cantabile 8/double stops 9/pizzicato 10/hocket.

This list could have been carefully chosen, or randomly chosen or spontaneously chosen.

As far as texture is concerned, I spread the material (a fake folk dance) either in solo form or in duo form, in the following ways:- S./A./T./B./S.A./S.T./S.B./A.T./A.B./T.B. Of course, where these extensions coincide, they may even result in four-part textures. And you have solo moments, duos and trios.

I already alluded to the problem of formlessness [Sunday, May 20th] and it happened that I liked very much the first duo I wrote (bitonal in harmony, but polyphonically good, also). So I decided to make a ritornello from that.

This is not the only baroque reference. I had meanwhile taken the first of the sketches from the Poulenc model and changed my mind about what to do with it [Thursday, May 10th]. I have made it into a single mood, texturally constant slow movement, such as you can find in Vivaldi (his op.8 no.1 and 3 have slow movements like that). Incidentally, I intend to call Vivaldi’s
“Not The Seasons” just “op.8″ from now on. I hope others will follow suit.

That “single affection” kind of movement is the simplest thing you can do. So why choose it? Three reasons. 1/ It breaks the habit of trying to be difficult and complex in order to impress colleagues. 2/ It was the first thing that came into my mind and so the choice breaks with the habit of calling into question one’s imagination. 3/ Like a meal, a piece needs contrast, and simplicity contrasts well with complexity.

I like concerts that have varied “courses” too. Six grim dirges in a row are not very appetizing. But Satie’s flouting of such classical music conventions in the Gymnopédies is vastly entertaining. And in Vexations, even more so.

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