Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sketches for String Quartet: No. 2 - Passacaglia

Continuing with the series of sketches for string quartet, this is an odd little passacaglia in G minor... if it even really is a passacaglia. It is odd -- the ground bass pattern (in 3/4, as it should be) in the cello is 3 bars long rather than the more usual 4 or 8. At under a minute and a half, it's also little. The passacaglia part may be less certain, as it's not so much a series of variations over a ground bass as it is independent parts layered over it. The ground bass pattern is played a total of seven times: first, unaccompanied, then with the second violin joining in, then adding the viola, then the first violin. They all continue through the fifth time, and then the four parts come closer to playing together for the sixth, which -- the note values of the cello part being doubled -- is six bars rather than three. The seventh time through returns the voices to their previous independence, and then it wraps up with a brief coda.

So, even if this isn't a real passacaglia, I'm still calling it one, because that's what I meant for it to be. It came together the quickest of the three completed so far, all changes after the hour or so after starting it being mainly phrasing and dynamics, with just a minor change to the viola part in the coda later on. It's probably also my favorite of the three, although the soon to be posted #3 has been growing on me.

One final change that I decided not to make involves the very last chord. It's technically an inverted E-flat major chord, but is in effect G minor with an unresolved augmented fifth. I played with the idea of having the second violin move from its E-flat to D at the very end, but while it sounds nice, I decided that the unsettled feeling of holding the E-flat just fits the overall mood of the piece better.

No comments:

Post a Comment