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The sarabandes of J.S. Bach: freedom of ornamentation and melodic manipulation

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This document is intended to show the various kinds of stylistically appropriate melodic and rhythmic ornamentation that can be used in the improvisation of the Sarabandes by J.S. Bach. Traditional

This document is intended to show the various kinds of stylistically appropriate melodic and rhythmic ornamentation that can be used in the improvisation of the Sarabandes by J.S. Bach. Traditional editions of Bach's and other Baroque-era keyboard works have reflected evolving historical trends. The historical performance movement and other attempts to "clean up" pre-1950s romanticized performances have greatly limited the freedom and experimentation that was the original intention of these dances. Prior to this study, few ornamented editions of these works have been published. Although traditional practices do not necessarily encourage classical improvisation in performance I argue that manipulation of the melodic and rhythmic layers over the established harmonic progressions will not only provide diversity within the individual dance movements, but also further engage the ears of the performer and listener which encourages further creative exploration. I will focus this study on the ornamentation of all six Sarabandes from J.S. Bach's French Suites and show how various types of melodic and rhythmic variation can provide aurally pleasing alternatives to the composed score without disrupting the harmonic fluency. The author intends this document to be used as a pedagogical tool and the fully ornamented Sarabandes from J.S. Bach's French Suites are included with this document.

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  • 2013

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Beyond Debussy and Ravel: impressionism in the early advanced short piano works of selected European and American composers

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Musical Impressionism has been most significantly reflected through the works of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). These two key figures exhibit the essence of this art and their

Musical Impressionism has been most significantly reflected through the works of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). These two key figures exhibit the essence of this art and their piano music remains substantial, influential, and frequently assigned and played today. Nevertheless, from a pedagogical perspective, important factors required in achieving a successful performance of Debussy and Ravel's piano music--delicate tone production, independent voicing, complicated rhythm, sensitive pedaling, and a knowledgeable view of Impressionism--are musically and technically beyond the limit of early advanced students. This study provides a collection of short piano pieces by nine lesser-known European and American composers--Edward MacDowell (1861-1908), Charles Griffes (1884-1920), Marion Bauer (1887-1955), Cyril Scott (1879-1970), Arnold Bax (1883-1953), Selim Palmgren (1878-1951), Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), Jacques Ibert (1890-1962) and Federico Mompou (1893-1987). They were influenced by impressionistic aesthetics or composed at one time in an impressionistic manner over a span of their lifetimes and their music provides a bridge to the more advanced impressionistic pieces of Debussy and Ravel for early advanced students. These composers' selected short piano pieces display richly colored sonority through the use of impressionistic techniques such as non-functional harmony (parallel chords and free modulation), exotic setting (e.g. modality, pentatonic and whole-tone scales), ostinato figures, bell-sound imitation, and extended texture. Moreover, personal interpretive elements, such as poetic and folklore references, were incorporated in some piano works of MacDowell, Griffes, Bauer, Scott, and Bax; among them MacDowell and Bax were particularly inspired by Celtic and Nordic materials. Mompou infused Spanish folklores in his individual naïve style. Most importantly, these selected short piano pieces are approachable and attractive to early advanced pianists. These works, as well as other largely undiscovered impressionistic piano character pieces, ought to be a great source of preliminary repertoire as preparation for the music of Debussy and Ravel.

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  • 2011

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An overview of Bohuslav Martinù's piano style with a guide to analysis and interpretation of the Fantasie et Toccata, H. 281

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Bohuslav Martinù (1890-1959) was a prolific composer who wrote nearly 100 works for piano. His highly imaginative and eclectic style blends elements of the Baroque, Impressionism, Twentieth-century idioms and Czech

Bohuslav Martinù (1890-1959) was a prolific composer who wrote nearly 100 works for piano. His highly imaginative and eclectic style blends elements of the Baroque, Impressionism, Twentieth-century idioms and Czech folk music. His music is fresh and appealing to the listener, yet it remains intriguing as to how all the elements are combined in a cohesive manner. Martinù himself provides clues to his compositional process. He believed in pure musical expression and the intensity of the musical idea, without the need for extra-musical or programmatic connotations. He espoused holistic and organic views toward musical perception and composition, at times referring to a work as an "organism." This study examines Martinù's piano style in light of his many diverse influences and personal philosophy. The first portion of this paper discusses Martinù's overall style through several piano miniatures written throughout his career. It takes into consideration the composer's personal background, musical influences and aesthetic convictions. The second portion focuses specifically on Martinù's first large-scale work for piano, the Fantasie et Toccata, H. 281. Written during a time in which Martinù was black-listed by the Nazis and forced to flee Europe, this piece bears witness to the chaotic events of WWII through its complexity and intensity of character. The discussion and analysis of the Fantasie et Toccata intends to serve as a guide to interpretation for the performer or listener and also seeks to promote the piano music of Bohuslav Martinù to a wider audience.

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  • 2011