[Pt. V Proj.2] – The Classical Era- Project 2- String Quartets ~ Exercise 5.1:B – Textural surprises and integrated compositional technique.

[Pt. V Proj. 2]String Quartets ~ Exercise 5.1:B – Textural surprises and integrated compositional technique. Let’s take a moment to examine some of the ways in which Haydn uses the quartet in the Emperor. Look at the example below, of the first page of the quartet. Ignoring the colours for the moment, how many different kinds of texture can we see? There are at least five kinds of texture:

Homophony – bar 1.

3 part counterpoint – bar 3

2 part counterpoint – bar 5 (the viola and cello act as one part)

4 part counterpoint – bar 7

2 part counterpoint/melody and accompaniment – bar 8.

Take some time to look at these different textures and mark them on your score. 

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The colours in the example are used to highlight the highly integrated nature of this composition by Haydn. This means that there is a consistent and often quite intense combination of a restricted number of musical ideas – our themes and motifs. In the example, each colour is a theme or motif. 

Try following one colour at a time spotting where and how it occurs. Write a paragraph in your learning log about this kind of integrated compositional approach. What do you think of it?

I find the integrated approach of composing very clever… like creating little lego building blocks out of which pretty much any shape can be constructed. I love the modular aspect of it and how the themes are usable in many different combinations and layered on top of each other. I also think it helps with the cohesiveness of the piece. The ear can pick up a relatedness in the themes even as they are transposed to different keys or performed in other registers or sequenced and layers. It still sounds like they belong together. It makes the movement sound unified, consistent and purposeful.

It is remarkable how well the motifs fit together isn’t it? Many composers carefully design their themes and motifs so that they may be used in an integrated way. 

Spend some time looking at the rest of the movement to develop an impression of how the quartet is employed throughout. Is the usage consistent? Are there any textural surprises? Summarise your findings in 100 words in your learning log.

I find Haydn’s usage incredibly consistent in that he utilises the above mentioned textures throughout the composition, in the different sections and keys. There is one section with a slow canonical section at bars 16-20 and 32-36 and then again towards the end of the recapitulation at bars 112-116. which surprises me because of it’s lyricism and singable quality amongst a sea of more dense and staccato type themes. The bars leading up to the end of the movement also have a few ‘one off’ runs by the violins, pretty much ‘soloing’ on top of the rest of the quartet. This is something Haydn clearly reserved for the climax and it is not a repeat of anything from an earlier section.