Symphonies and Buttons

Voice Card  -  Volume 4  -  Holly Card Number 2  -  Sun, Jan 8, 1989 4:24 PM

This is ONE OF 2 responses to volume 3, John Card Number 19 ("All About Programming")...

{See Vol 4 Holly 13}

Yes, I knew it was a big question. I also took the hint from your card in the last volume and have been working on symphony ideas even before this volume. I am going to answer you very simply on this card and in the meantime I am writing something which will appear later as an essay and maybe in installments.

Music based on aural traditions are usually horizontal (melodic). Music based on a written tradition is vertical (chordal).

Believe it or not you do know a lot about music theory or at least your ears do. You know that something is beautiful. You know when something is wrong. You usually know when a piece is finished (I do realize there are times when we aren't sure). You know all these things because your ears have been trained since you were a child, you are a product of western culture, therefore, you know about vertical music.

Do you mean symphonic form rather than symphony used as a generic term for music played by an orchestra? I assume so.

The first and fourth movements of a symphony is usually in sonata-allegro form. This form has three parts, the exposition, the development and the recapitulation.

The exposition presents the main themes, usually two of complimentary natures such as slow and fast or melodic and rhythmic. Another very important purpose of the exposition is the establishment of the tonic key (or the home key and this is something you know without realizing it).

In the development the composer plays havoc with his/her themes writing them in varying keys, rhythyms, harmonies, orchestration, etc.

In the recapitulation the composer restates the themes in their original forms and brings you back to tonic or the home key.

You compared mazes and symphonies. The connection may be in modulation which is moving from one key to another. The purpose of modulation is to maintain interest in the piece and its a good tool for producing beautiful music. There are several methods of modulation which include:

The Crash Bang Method: This method is when the composer modulates with no regard for his/her listener and leaves one with a feeling similar to the feeling felt after a bad elevator ride.

The Common Chord or Note Method: This is modulation using pivotal chords or notes in other words chords or notes common to both keys. This produces a smooth effect.

It is really more complicated than this and much more interesting. There are many interesting forms and music theory is interesting. More is on the way.