C.90 - "A Day in the Life of a Mode (Sunday)"

Composed: 17th to 22nd December 2015

      This is the ‘bell’ motif that persists throughout the entire piece, and is slowly expanded into a dense blend of chord tones from C-ionian (figure 12):

Figure 12:

       The vast majority of melodies that coincide with this underlying motif have also been constructed from it (figure 13):

Figure 13:

       But I eventually found this consistency far too difficult to maintain, so I took some transcriptions of bell-ringing and implemented adjusted versions of those within the piece (figure 14):

Figure 14:

      Further, as bell-ringing cannot truly modulate, I held back from modulating out of C-ionian until the climax, where the motifs all shift up a sequence of minor 3rds until an octave is reached (figure 15):

Figure 15:

       Similarly, with each modulation comes the return of a previous motif, now as a modified variation (figure 16):

Figure 16:

     And continuing straight from "C.89", here is the portion of the commentary that discusses "C.90":

 

Composition 2A – CW2 – Commentary

[..."Monday" discussion...]

Analysis (‘Sunday’)

     ‘Sunday’ was vastly different to ‘Monday’. Here, the influence was strictly from bell-ringing, insofar as even the tempo marking being a reference to a psalm. Not only did I try to use ionian for the entire piece, but I also attempted to constrain myself to construct everything from a single motif (figure 11):

Figure 11:

      Finally, in an attempt to emulate the decay of a bell and the numerous harmonics that are produced as a result of the blurring tones, the sustain pedal is depressed for the entirety of the piece. This hopefully also helped emphasise ionian by blending the notes together.

Reflection

      Looking back, ionian was far more challenging to work with than locrian – it was very difficult to restrain myself to a single motif in one mode. Ultimately, I think I strayed away from ionian and into the typical major scale far too often, particularly with the transcribed phrases which heavily emphasised the resolution of the 4th – 3rd, which is not characteristic of ionian at all.

      Similarly, I think I picked the worst modes to possibly experiment with, as neither truly have obvious character tones making it very difficult to show that I am using these modes. Thus, I don’t think I was very successful in my use of modes.

       With regards to melody and motif, I feel I was successful in using them, but not with respect to the lecture concepts, particularly with nonchord tones as I wanted to adhere strictly to the modes. Regardless, I think the use of variation in the motifs was also successful, as was the euclidean rhythm in ‘Monday’ (although a little monotonous, though, so too are my Monday’s).

 

Appendix A – Other Information

  • The final word count for this commentary is 980.

    • This excludes the main title, all text in the appendices and all italicized text within a graphic/figure.

    • This includes all other text within the essay, including subtitles and figure numberings.

 

Appendix B – Discography

  • Holst, G. (1874 – 1934) ‘Mercury, the Winged Messenger’ (1916), The Planets Suite

 

      That commentary sums it up quite succinctly. This was one of my favourite projects that I had yet worked on, and I actually planned out what each of the seven days were going to be:

 

  1. Monday – Locrian – Commuting Chaos

  2. Tuesday – [Aeolian] – [Duet]

  3. Wednesday – [Lydian] – [Rain and Wind/Storm]

  4. Thursday – Phrygian – [Funeral]

  5. Friday – [Mixolydian] – [Partying/Clubbing]

  6. Saturday – [Dorian] – [Hiking/Adventure]

  7. Sunday – Ionian – Tolling of the Bells

 

      The bracketed words are those I was not yet completely certain of. But from what I had planned, there is actually an underlying narrative that progresses through each day, which I won’t spoil here so you can figure it out for yourselves! So far, two other movement have been written: "C.95 - A Day in the Life of a Mode (Thursday)" and "C.103 - A Day in the Life of a Mode (Friday)", which I shall discuss later!

      Nonetheless, the overall mark that these two compositions received was 75%.

Reminiscence written on 22nd July 2016

Last updated: 20th October 2018

© 2019 Jonathan Shaw