Monday, 30 April 2012

Charles Rosen – The Classical Style

Charles Rosen – The Classical Style

Very good introduction to classical music. Lots of theories and ideas behind the music, that all make listening to the music more interesting and engaging.

 “Sonata aesthetic of tonic – dominant – distant key – tonic resolution.” (Rosen, 1997, p.xxvi).

By building successive triads in both ascending and descending directions we arrive at a structure which is symmetrical and yet unbalanced: “This entails enforcing an equal distance between the twelve notes arranged in stepwise or scale progression (which produces the chromatic scale), and it distorts their relation to the natural overtones: the system is called equal temperament. Modulating around the circle of fiths in either direction will now bring one back to the original starting point. (…) it did not become the theoretical basis for music until the eighteenth century.” (Rosen, 1997, p.25).

“the center of tonal work is not a single note, but a triad.” (Rosen, 1997, p.25). “A passage in tonal work that is outside the tonic is dissonant.” (Rosen, 1997, p.26).

“In any case, the ‘sonata’ is no a definite form like a minuet, a da capo aria, or a French overture; it is like a fugue, a way of writing, a feeling for proportion, direction, and texture rather than a pattern.” (Rosen, 1997, p.30).

The motor of Baroque is harmonic sequence: short melodic harmonic pattern, repeated on different scale steps. The motor of classical music is the periodic phrase: the phrase of music is divided into an open-ended phrase that requires a second phrase as response (antecendent /consequence).

 “The classical style (…) was characterized by its aptness for a dramatic style based on tonality.” (Rosen, 1997, p.57). “the most common Baroque form is one of simple and unified rhythmic texture. When a rhythm has been established, it is generally continued relentlessly until the end. (…) Once the piece is under way an impression of perpetuum mobile is not uncommon.” (Rosen, 1997, p.61). “For the classical composer the perpetuum mobile is only an added challenge to his desire to break up the rhythmic texture, and the tension adds dramatic force.” (Rosen, 1997, p.61). “Baroque dynamics provide a perfect analogy with Baroque rhythm. (…) In the same way a Baroque work may be played at a fairly constant level of sound, or to levels may be superimpose or juxtaposed without any use (at least structurally) of crescendo and diminuendo.” (Rosen, 1997, p.62).

Classical stye: “An articulate movement to the dominant (or its substitute is all that is required harmonically of a sonata exposition: how it is done is completely free, or, rather, bound only by the nature and material of each individual work. There is a movement toward the dominant in most Baroque music, too, even in early Baroque, but it is rarely made either articulate – that is, decisive – or dramatic.” (Rosen, 1997, p.69).

“Material presented outside the tonic must have created, in the eighteenth century, a feeling of instability which demanded to be resolved. (…) Today, our harmonic sensibilities have become coarsened by the tonal instability of music after the death of Beethoven, and the strength of this feeling is perhaps difficult to recapture.” (Rosen, 1997, p.73).

For classical work the drama is not necessarily in the material, but in the structure (Rosen, 1997, p.76). “the simplest way to summarize classical form is as the symmetrical resolution of opposing forces.” (Rosen, 1997, p.83). “it can be seen that sonata form is an immense melody, an expanded classical phrase, articulated, with its harmonic climax three-quarters of the way through and a symmetrical resolution that rounds it off in careful balance with the opening.” (Rosen, 1997, p.87).

“This relation of the individual detail to the large form even in apparently improvisational works, and the way the form is shaped freely in response to the smallest parts, gave us the first style in musical history where the organization is completely audible and where the form is never externally imposed.” (Rosen, 1997, p.93).

Sonata: “The movement begins by establishing a strict tempo and a tonic as frames of reference. The first section , or exposition, has two events, a  movement or modulation to the dominant, and a final cadence on the dominant.” (Rosen, 1997, p.99). “The second section also has two events, a return to the tonic, and a final cadence. Some form of symmetrical resolution (called recapitulation)of the harmonic tension is necessary.” (Rosen, 1997, p.99). “The return to the tonic is generally (but not always) clarified by playing the opening measures again, as they are most closely identified with the tonic. If the return to the tonic is long delayed to heighten its dramatic effect (by modulating to other keys or by sequential progression its dramatic effect (by modulating to other keys or by sequential progressions at the dominant), the the work has an extensive development section.” (Rosen, 1997, p.99).

 “This sense that the movement, the development, and the dramatic course of a work all can be found latent in the (G: melodic) material, that the material can be made to release its charged force so that the music no longer unfolds, as in the Baroque, but is literally impelled from within – this sense was Haydn’s greatest contribution to the history of music.” (Rosen, 1997, p.119).

“The two principal sources of musical energy are dissonance and sequence – the first because it demands resolution, the second because it implies continuation. The classical style immeasurable increased the power of dissonance, raising it from an unresolved interval to an unresolved chord and then to an unresolved key.” (Rosen, 1997, p.119). “to speak of any of Haydn’s structures without reference to their material is nonsense.” (Rosen, 1997, p.129).

“The unsurpassed stability of Mozart’s handling of tonal relations paradoxically contributes to his greatness as a dramatic composer. It enabled him to treat a tonality as a mass, a large area of energy, which can encompass and resolve the most contradictory opposing forces. It also allowed him to slow down the purely formal harmonic scheme of his music so that it would not outstrip the action on stage.” (Rosen, 1997, p.186).

KV 428: “The opening measure is an example of Mozart’s sublime economy. It sets the tonality by a single octave leap (the most tonal of intervals), framing the three chromatic measures that follows.” (Rosen, 1997, p.186).

Concertos: “once it is accepted that the soloist’s role is to be a dramatic one, the ritornello poses a problem, simply (as I said) that the audience is waiting for the soloist to enter. (…).” (Rosen, 1997, p.197). “To drop the opening ritornello altogether and to have the material presented by soloist and orchestra as almost equal partners (…) is to renounce the classical delight in large-scale effects, to make the contrast between solo and orchestra one of short alternations, losing the breadth of the long sections. On the other hand, to make the opening ritornello overdramatic in an attempt to raise its importance and seize the audience’s attention would be to undercut the dramatic effect of the soloist’s role and to destroy one of the principal advantages of the concerto form.” (Rosen, 1997, p.198).

Mozart K. 271 “the piano participates  - as a soloist – in the first six measures, and is then silent for the rest of the orchestral exposition.” (Rosen, 1997, p.198).  “it is the most crucial misunderstanding of Mozart to think, in this concerto, of his repeating a pattern and adding colour, drama and variety to the individual elements: the entire pattern is what Mozart is dramatizing – the real material is not the individual themes but their succession – and the second exposition is not a repeat but a transformation.” (Rosen, 1997, p.203).

 “there are no more brutal modulations than the ones in the finale of the G minor Symphony or the first movement of the last piano concerto. But their very brutality is a sign of the economy with which they are used, and of their dramatic purpose.” (Rosen, 1997, p.254).

“In expanding that small but resilient symmetrical structure derived from the dance that was later called ‘sonata form’, the problem was always how and where to add weight without undoing the proportions and wrecking the unity. The simplest solution was the addition of a long, slow introduction.” (Rosen, 1997, p.269). An additive concept: “To increase the length of the first half is both difficult and dangerous: the exposition of a sonata is based only on one action, the establishment of one polarity; to delay its arrival too long is to diffuse all the energy, to risk chaos.” (Rosen, 1997, p.269).

“The problem of the Finale is naturally one of weight, of sufficient seriousness and dignity to balance the opening movement, but there would be no problem at all if it were not for the classical conception of the finale as a resolution of the entire work.” (Rosen, 1997, p.275). “But in any case, the thematic material of a finale is always rhythmically squarer than that of a first movement, the cadences heavily emphasized, the phrases well-defined, and the first theme completely rounded off before any movement can take place.” (Rosen, 1997, p.275). “The only exception to this squareness is the contrapuntal finale. (…).” (Rosen, 1997, p.275).

 “an introduction acts as an extended dominant chord within the tonic area.” (Rosen, 1997, p.282). “In fact, no description of sonata form can be given that will fit the Haydn quartets but not the majority of forms in  Mozart opera.” (Rosen, 1997, p.296). “There are no fixed rules, (…) It is a work itself (once its language is understood) that provides its own expectations, disappoints and finally fulfils them” (Rosen, 1997, p.296).

 “A finale is an opera in miniature: the same tonl unity that reigns there may be found more loosely understood as is appropriate to its greater length – within the opera as a whole.” (Rosen, 1997, p.304). “only after the age of twenty did Mozart invariably finish an opera in the key of the overture.” (Rosen, 1997, p.304). “The most highly organized and the most highly brilliant of the finales is never the last (or second of the two large ones) but the first: it is, like a development section, the extreme point of tension within the work. It is also placed harmonically as far away from the tonic of the whole opera as Mozart could go.” (Rosen, 1997, p.304). “In every one of the opera finales, without exception, the last number does not modulate, but remains firmly fixed on the tonic. It serves as a cadence to the finale.” (Rosen, 1997, p.304).

 “Beethoven transformed the musical tradition he was born into, but he never challenged its validity.” (Rosen, 1997, p.380). ”For example, in his frequent evasion of strict dominant-tonic relations within a single movement, Beethoven may seem to be closer to Schuhmann, Chopin, and Liszt in their most successful, least academic forms than to Haydn and Mozart. (…) Haydn and Mozart: (…) an increase of tension at the opening almost always implies the imminent establishment of the dominant as a secondary tonality; the more remote harmonies are played, not only against the tonic, but against the polarity of tonic-dominant as a continual area of reference; resolution always goes to the tonic through the dominant. This polarity has a much less fundamental role in the work of the first generation of Romantic composers, and sometimes disappears completely.” (Rosen, 1997, p.382).

“Almost from the beginning of his career as a composer, Beethoven attempted to find substitutes for the dominant in the classical tonic-dominant polar relation.” (Rosen, 1997, p.382). “After the Waldstein sonata, Beethoven is almost as likely to use the more remote median and submediant keys to employ a straightforward dominant. (…) only chromaticism could further enlarge the field.” (Rosen, 1997, p.382). “His expansion of the large-scale harmonic range took place within the limits of the classical language, and never infringed on the tonic-dominant polarity or the classical movement towards a greater tension away from the tonic. These secondary tonalities to his work, mediants and submediants, function within the large structure as true dominants. They create a long-range dissonance against the tonic and so provide the necessary tension for a move towards a central climax.” (Rosen, 1997, p.383).

“Beethoven: “He started with a late and diluted version of classicism and gradually returned to the stricter and more concise form of Haydn and Mozart.” (Rosen, 1997, p.385).

“The use of the simplest elements of the tonal system as themes lay at the heart of Beethoven’s personal style from the beginning. It was only little by little, however, that he realized its implications.” (Rosen, 1997, p.389).

“It is clear that such an increase in size without altering the fundamental classical proportions (the placing of the climax, the ratio of harmonic tension to resolution) could not start from the long, regular and complete melodies of Mozart but had to base itself on Haydn’s treatment of tiny motifs.” (Rosen, 1997, p.394).

“the repeat during the Baroque period is a way of accenting the regularity of a dance form. (…) In the third quarter of the eighteenth century, the repeat was above all the opportunity for expressive ornamentation.” (Rosen, 1997, p.395). “It is largely in the music of Haydn nd Mozart after 1775 that structure replaced ornamentation as the principal vehicle of expression.” (Rosen, 1997, p.395).

“Thoughout his life, Beethoven increasingly relied directly upon the fundamental tonal relationships for material. His continuous attempt to strip away, at some point in each large work, all decorative and even expressive elements from the musical material – so that part of the structure of tonality is made to appear for a moment naked and immediate.” (Rosen, 1997, p.435).

“Bach’s method is to isolate one element of the original theme, the bass, and build upon that. Beethoven’s system is to make an abstract of the total shape of the theme; the form implied by his first variation, a form which supports the variation and relates to what follows, is not the melodic shape alone (…) nor the bass alone, but a representation of the theme s a whole.” (Rosen, 1997, p.436).

 “The fourth variation reaches almost undifferentiated pulsation, enforced by the continuous pianissimo and by the omission of the melody note from the opening of every beat. The trill represents the complete dissolution of even this rhythmic articulation: the movement reaches the extremes of rapidity and immobility (Rosen, 1997, p.448).“It is in this way that the most typical ornamental device is turned into an essential element of large scale structure.” (Rosen, 1997, p.448).

Yet: “To the end of his life he continued to employ and even revive many musical procedures that he had known as a child in the 1770s and that younger contemporaries, like Weber, Schubert, and Mendelssohn, had abandoned as banal and old fashioned.” (Rosen, 1997, p.449). “In general one may say that Beethoven’s originality reveals itself most often not by frustrating the conventions tht he learned as a child but by magnifying them beyond the experience or expectation of any of his contemporaries.” (Rosen, 1997, p.460).

“One of the most basic relationships of triadic tonality is that the tonic is the dominant of the subdominant – in other words, a move fom tonic to dominant in the first half of a piece can be reproduced by going from subdominant to tonic without any other change. A simple transposition of the second half of the exposition up a fourth will give us the rest of the recapitulation without the necessity of any further thought or invention.” (Rosen, 1997, p.463).

“It has been said about certain sculptors (most often probably Michelangelo) that they do not so much invent forms as reveal those hidden within the stone. In a similar way, Beethoven seems to discover the meanings and emotions buried within the musical language.” (Rosen, 1997, p.483).

“The techniques of inversion, augmentation, and diminuition are among the most traditional in writing fugues: Beethoven gives them a totally new significance. Inverting the upward-moving theme became a symbol of exhaustion, the meaning enforced by texture and dynamics. Transforming the theme played at half tempo back to the original tempo renders the experience of a return of energy, and the diminuition at triple tempo beginning softly represents the source of new life. For the first time in history of music these commonplace elements of fugue take on a narrative content.” (Rosen, 1997, p.505).

“he rejected no part of the eighteenth-century tradition. He continued to employ the contrast within a theme (…) the fundamental force of the dominant (…) while his younger contemporaries preferred chromatic shifts. To the end of his life, he preserved the classical balance of dominant and subdominant. (…) He never abandoned the long final section in the tonic and the insistence on final resolutions. His greatest innovation – and they cannot be overestimated – lay in the unprecedented expansion of the style.” (Rosen, 1997, p.508).

 “In harmony and rhythm, as well as formal outline, there is a return to the principles of Baroque.” (Rosen, 1997, p.515).  “Like the homogeneous rhythmic texture of the Baroque, the rhythmic forms of the first generation of the Romantics are not syntactical (i.e. they do not depend on balance and ordering) but cumulative in their effect.” (Rosen, 1997, p.515). “The impulsive energy of the Romantic work is no longer a polarized dissonance and an articulated rhythm, but the familiar Baroque sequence, and the structures are no longer synthetic but additive. The music of Schuhmann in oarticular (…) comes in a series of waves, and the climax is generally reserved for the moment before exhaustion.” (Rosen, 1997, p.515).

“There are phrases by Beethoven, particularly in the Diabelli Variations and in the late quartets, which display a chromaticism as radical as anything outside Gesualdo, but they all imply a firm diatonic structure as a background. With Chpin it is the background that shifts chromatically as well.” (Rosen, 1997, p.516).

 “post classical style, in which the melodic flow is essentially more important than the dramatic structure. (…) the very looseness of organization prevented the dramatic concision, the close correspondence of part to whole and the consequent richness of allusion f the classical style.” (Rosen, 1997, p.517).

Monday, 9 April 2012

Ernest Hemmingway – The old man and the sea

The old man and the biggest fish of his ilfe are connected by the fishing line – for many days. Besides the physical connection there is also a stronger connection.
This strange relationship, where one is trying to kill the other, yet they both need each other to exist is what is at the heart of the book. It is described as a noble existence. Everything else, is ‘slave work’.

“’Fish,’ he said softly, aloud, ‘I’ll stay with you until I am dead.’ He’ll stay with me too, I suppose, the old man thought and he waited for it to be light.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.38).

“’You’re feeling it now, fish,’ he said, ‘And so, God knows, am I.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.41).

“Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought. The moon runs away. Bu imagine if a man each day should try to kill the sun? We were born lucky, he thought. Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. How many people will he feed, he thought. But are they worthy to eat him? No, of ourse not, there is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behaviour and his great dignity. I do not understand these hings, he thought. But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brother.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.57).

“The punishment of the hook is nothing. The punishment of hunger, and that he is against something that he does not comprehend, is everything.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.58).

“How simple it would be if I could make the line fast, he thought. But with one small lurch he could break it. I must cushin the pull of the line with my body and at all times be ready to give line with both hands.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.58).

“You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother, come one and kill me I do not care who kills who. Now you are getting confused in the head, he thought. You must keep your head clear. Keep your head clear and know how to suffer like a man. Or a fish, he thought.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.71).

“’There is very much slave work to be done now that the fight is over.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.73).

“Then his head started to become a little unclear and he thought, is he bringing me in or am I bringing him in? (…) But they were sailing together lashed side by side and the old man thought, let him bring me in if it pleases him. I m only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.76).

Then they got hit by sharks, who eat the dead marlin. “He did not look at the fish any more since he had been mutilated. Whenthe fish had been hit it was as though he himself were hit. But I killed the shark tht hit the fish, he thought.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.79).

“You were born to be a fisherman as the fish was bron to be a fish.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.81).

“You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you re a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.81).

“Besides, he thought. Everything kills everhing else in some way. Fishing kills me exactly as it keeps me alive.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.82).

then the sharks come in groups and he knows there is no chance to bring the fish into the harbour: “’Ay,’ he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.83).

“He could not talk to the fish any more because the fish had been ruined too badly. Then something came to his head. ‘Half-fish,’ he said. ‘Fish that you were. I am sorry that I went too far out. I ruined us both. But we have killed many sharks, you and I, and ruined many others. How many did you ever kill, old fish? You do not have that spear on your heal for nothing.’” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.89).

“It is easy when you are beaten, he thought. I never knew how easy it was. And what beat you, he thought. ‘Nothing,’ h said aloud. ‘I went out too far.’” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.3).

“’They beat me, Manolin,’ he said. ‘They truly beat me.’ ‘He didn’t beat you. Not the fish.’ ‘No. Truly. It was afterwards.’” (Hemmingway, 1952, p.96).

Shakespeare - Henry V:

The central theme of the book seems to be whether Henry is a good heroic king or just pretending to be good, in order to achieve his goals. Just as in life, the question remains unanswered, but this makes the reading of Henry more interesting. There are a couple of themes that illuminate this question: the morality of the war, Henry’s cruelty, and how Henry addresses his subjects.

The moral grounds of the war against France are extremely shaky: Henry’s claim to the crown of France are solely based on the judgement of an archbishop. This archbishop tries to engage Henry in his war, so he can’t introduce a tax on church income – as the bishop openly admits in the beginning of the play. Thus the morality of everything that follows, the whole war and whether Henry is behaving like a good king or not, is put in doubt right form the beginning. Henry does not acknowledge that: he demands complete obedience, no matter whether the cause of war is right or wrong:
King (disguise as a common soldier): “Methinks I / could not die anywhere so contented as in the king’s company, / his cause being just and his quarrel honourable.
Williams: “That’s more than we know.
Bates: (…) If his cause be wrong our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.
Williams: But if the cause be not good the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads chopped off in a battle shall join together at the latter day and cry all ‘We died at such a place’ (…)
King: So if a son that is by his father sent about merchandise d sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the imputation of his wickedness, by your rule, should be imposed upon his father that sent him. Or if a servant, under his master’s command transporting a sum of money, be assailed by robbers and die in many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the business of the master the author of the servant’s damnation. Bu this is not so. The king is not bound to answer the particular endings of his soldiers, the father of his son, nor the master of his servant, for they purpose not their death when they purpose their services.” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.163).

Moreover, Henry behaves extremely cruel: “And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his / Hath turned his balls to gun-stones, and his soul / Shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance / That shall fly with them; for many a thousand widows / Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands, / Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down, / And some are yet ungotten and unborn / That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin’s scorn.” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.96).

Henry to the Governor of besieged Harfleur: “If not, why, in a moment look to see / The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand / defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking aughters, / Your fathers taken by the silver beards, / And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls, / Your naked infants spitted upn pikes / Whiles the mad mothers with heir howls confused / Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry / At Herod’s bloody-hunting slaughtermen. / What say you? Will you yield, and this avoid? / Or guilty in defence be thus destroyed?” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.135).

And this cruelty doesn’t stop, when it comes to his own people (i.e. luggage):
King, still unsure whether the battle is won: “But hark, what new alarm is this same? / The French have reinforced heir scattered men. / Then every soldier kill his prisoners. / Give the word through.
Llewellyn: Kill the poys and the luggage! ‘Tis expressly against the law of arms.” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.185).

And Henry clearly calls his subjects brothers when he needs them, but sops doing so, once the battle is won: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more / Or close the wall up with our English dead!” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.125).

Chorus: “O now, who will behold / The royal captain of this ruined band / Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent? / Let him cry ‘Praise and glory on his head!’ / For forth he goes and visits all his host, / Bids them good morrow with a modest smile, / And calls them brothers, friends and countrymen.” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.156).

King: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers - / For he today that sheds his blood with me / Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile / This day shall gentle his condition.” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.176).

When counting the dead he makes a clear difference between those of name and the rest. (p.196).
French Montjoy (ambassador): “To sort our nobles from our common men, / For many of our princes – woe the whie - / Lie drowned and soaked in mercenary blood, / So do our vulgar drench their peasant limbs / In blood of princes, while the wounded steeds / Fret fetlock deep in gore, and with wild rage / Yerk out their armed heels at their dead masters, / Killing them twice.” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.188).

King: “For I am Welch, you know, good countryman.” (Shakespeare, 1992, p.189).