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1-7 Putting it all Together

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"Aspiration to creativity must be encouraged, however naive and unpolished the results."
Kabalevsky

"Putting it all together" is a feature of each chapter of this book. Although you need to learn about the micro elements of music to be able to grasp the language, it is also helpful to reinforce those elements by introducing them within the context of real music.

The piece Variations on a Russian Folk Song is an example of theme and variations (see Figure 1-16 below). When composers write a piece of music, they often organize their ideas into various different specific frameworks called "forms." In a theme and variations piece, the composer either writes, or more often borrows, a main idea, called the "theme," and then manipulates the ideas from that theme in different ways to create the variations of the original theme.

We've listed the different terms and devices in the theme and portions of the variations of the theme. See how many you can identify and label before looking at the explanations in the "Terms and Devices" section. You may also want to listen to the theme and each of the variations. What ideas did the composer keep the same, and what ideas did he change? What elements are used in one variation that don't occur in another?

Terms and Devices used in Figure 1-16

  • treble clef
    The pitch G is on the second line from the bottom.
  • bass clef
    The pitch F is on the line between the top and bottom of the colon (:).
  • meter
    The meter signature 2/4 specifies the basic meter of this composition.
  • tempo
    Allegro is a performance indication meaning fast.
  • mezzo forte
    The dynamic marking "F" means medium loud.
  • bar line
    A bar line is used to mark off measures in music.
  • measures
    The space in between two bar lines is called a measure.
  • half rest
    A rest is used to designate silence in music. This symbol is called a half rest.
  • eighth rest
    A rest is used to designate silence in music. This symbol is called an eighth rest.
  • flag
    The flag is used on the right side of a stem to indicate an eighth note.
  • beam
    The beam is a thick line that links together two or more eighth notes or notes of shorter duration.
  • double bar line
    A double bar line with lines of equal width is used to mark the end of a section within a piece of music.
  • accent
    The accent symbol means that the player should emphasize this particular pitch.
  • staccato
    The staccato symbol indicates that these pitches should be performed in a short, detached manner.
  • ledger line
    A ledger line is used to write notes that occur either above or below the staff.
  • slur
    The slur indicates that the pitches should be performed in a smooth, legato manner.
  • tie
    A tie is different from a slur. The tie connects pitches of the same name together and signifies that the pitch should be held through that number of counts. We'll discuss this topic more fully in the Chapter 2.
  • quarter rest
    A rest is used to designate silence in music. This symbol is called a quarter rest.
  • quarter note
    A note is used to designate sound in music. This symbol is called a quarter note.
  • eighth note
    A note is used to designate sound in music. This symbol is called an eighth note.
  • half note
    A note is used to designate sound in music. This symbol is called a half note.
  • flat
    The flat symbol lowers the pitch, in this case from D to Db.
  • sharp
    The sharp symbol raises the pitch, in this case from G to G#.
  • natural
    The natural sign cancels a previous sharp or flat, or cancels a sharp or flat in the key signature. The natural in Figure 1-11 (bottom of page) cancels the Bb found in the key signature at the start of the piece.

Figure 1.16. Variations on a Russian Folk Song - Dimitri Kabalesky. An example showing many of the concepts described in this chapter

A music piece

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