Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sonata in E Minor

This wasn't exactly easy to write, but it went much quicker than most of my pieces. It's a straightforward sonata in E minor with a very traditional harmonic language, the distinguishing feature being its time signature (11/8), which along with the tempo remains constant throughout, the apparent slowdowns being accomplished by the use of consecutive dotted eighth notes.

Why 11? For one thing, I like prime numbers. Second, I have some still unfinished pieces in 5 and 7, so 11 is the next step in that progression. Finally, I saw it as a challenge: to write something coherent in such an inherently unstable time signature. Complex time signatures can generally be broken into subgroupings of 2's and 3's -- 5 is either 2:3 or 3:2; 7 is 2:2:3,2:3:2, or 3:2:2; 11 bumps the possible combinations up to nine. I finished this one before the 5 and 7 pieces even though I started it much later; the decision early on to use the sonata form for this piece helped push it along. I still think the little fugue section in the development could be longer, but I like the transition out of it and don't want to mess with that.

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