C.72 - "Allegro in D"

Composed: 5th to 11th January 2015

       In response, I used several motifs and repeated them throughout the piece, interchanging them between instruments:

    The first of my large university works whilst I was studying at Surrey. This was a composition I wrote for a module entitled ‘Harmony and Analysis A’ which introduced us to species counterpoint from Johann Fux. The final coursework required students to write a pastiche in the classical style (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical or Romantic). The style I chose was Baroque, and I am sure you could guess the culprit – J.S.Bach.

     The particular work I would pastiche was his "Brandenburg Concerto No.1 mvt.1", as if that wasn't already immediately clear from the opening. I literally followed the original work bar by bar, but adjusted some of the melodies and harmonies – it is plagiarism at its best, I assure you, as much as I hate to admit it. Thus, for my first pastiche I obviously drew too close to the original.

 

     Accompanying the pastiche was a write up, which I attach here in its original form (I finished the write-up on 16th January 2015):

 

Harmony and Analysis A – CW3 Pastíche

 

    I decided on using J.S.Bach’s ‘Brandenburg Concerto No.2 mvt.1’ as a basis for creating a pastíche as I was already very familiar with the movement and its style. Baroque music can also be relatively easy to follow with regard to structure and harmonic progression, making it simpler to compose a piece within the style of this period, and as such, I retained as much of the original structure as possible in order to convey a familiar progression from start to finish. I have also used similar harmonic progression throughout, as it is crucial to keep close to related keys for music from this period, otherwise the style would begin to sound more fitted towards a classical or romantic piece should unrelated keys begin to appear too often.

     One of the most prominent techniques used in the movement is ‘fortspinnung’, seen here as Bach repeats a series of motifs through several different instruments throughout the movement:

       I also used this motif seen to the left [middle row, on the left], which is identical to one of the motifs found in the Brandenburg concerto; I decided to use this motif as the ‘tromba’ instrument Bach used for this movement would have been restricted to only playing notes from the harmonic series in its lower registers, and this motif reflects that stylistic limitation from that period.

      In order to create the pastíche, I foremost acquired a copy of the original manuscript of the movement and analysed its structure and harmonic progressions, allowing me to see the general layout that the pastíche should follow. I then noted down the significant motifs that Bach used for the movement and devised motifs that followed similarly to Bach’s motifs, and in particular, how they resolved around the triad. I also decided on using the tonic key of D major rather than the original key of F major, mainly as the key of D major was commonly used during the Baroque period and was seen as ‘the key of triumph’ (Steblin, 1996, pp. 124).

 

       Originally, I kept the instrumentation exactly the same, but eventually I had to switch the recorder to a flute instrument, the reason of which is given below. Additionally, it is disputed which exact brass instrument Bach had intended to play the part listed as a ‘tromba’, but I decided upon using a trumpet in D mainly as it was more suited to playing in the key of D major. When I started scoring the pastíche, I followed alongside the original manuscript and crafted up different melodies and rhythms whilst changing a couple of the harmonic progressions, but I did not vastly change the harmonies in order to remain in closely related keys and retain the style. I further noted that Bach often composes for the ripieno to double the concertino parts, so I use this technique within the pastíche and have the tutti doubling the soloists after each episodic solo section.

       I produced a score of the pastíche using the Sibelius software and then used the Cubase software to create a sound recording using sound samples from the EastWest library.

     There were a couple of issues with the instrumentation; one of which was that I had no higher-quality recorder sounds to perform the recorder part of the pastíche, resulting in my decision to change the recorder part for a flute part after failing to produce a recorder sound that blended effectively with the other instruments without sounding overly digitalized. There was a further issue with the continuo part; the original manuscript contained a continuo part for the cello and harpsichord, with the harpsichordist improvising an accompaniment in his right hand by following the harmonic progressions. As a result, I had to create a harpsichord part that sounded as if it were being improvised. Ultimately I did write out a harpsichord part in order to produce the sounds needed for the recording, but I feel that I was not able to re-create the sense that the part was being entirely improvised. However, I did ensure that the lower part of the harpsichord was identical to the notes being played on the cello, in order to produce a continuo part as it would have been performed during the Baroque period; with one keyboard instrument and one or more lower string instruments.

       As an outcome, I feel that by remaining close to the instrumentation, harmonic progression and structure, the pastíche remains true to the style of Baroque music, although I am still considering whether or not I should have taken the opportunity to alter the harmonic progressions more than I ultimately did, as currently the pastíche resembles the original movement a little too much.

 

Notes on submissions:

  • A recording of the Brandenburg Concerto No.2 mvt.1 can be heard in the file ‘J.S.Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No.2a’ as a .mp3 file

    • The extract is from a DVD; ‘J.S.Bach Brandenburg Concertos, Freiburger Barockorchester, Gottfried von der Goltz’ and is used solely for educational purposes [This file is excluded from this remeniscence]

  • A recording of the pastíche can be heard in the file named ‘Pastiche Recording’ as a .wav file

  • Although it is not needed, a copy of the pastíche score has also been submitted, in the file named ‘Pastiche – Score’

  • Word Count: 907

 

Bibliography:

  • Steblin, R. (1996) A History of Key Characteristics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries, Rochester: University of Rochester Press, pp. 124

 

 

      I do believe this was one of the first recordings I made using the EastWest samples which I had recently purchased in December of 2014. Somehow, the piece managed to get a score of 78%.

      One other interesting thing I found while tracking back through my old folders is a score for "Beethoven’s 5th" in the same folder as the pastiche folder. Perhaps I had the idea of pastiche’ing that monumental piece at some point? Thank God I didn’t!

Reminiscence written on 19th July 2016

Last updated: 20th October 2018

© 2019 Jonathan Shaw