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Duo Sonata for Two Bassoons by Sophia Gubaidulina


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Duo Sonate - For Two Bassoons

Composer: Sophia Gubaidulina

I first heard the work of Gubaidulina late one night while perusing concerti on YouTube.

The piece that caught my eye was her Viola Concerto. I wasn't necessarily familiar with her music, but was very familiar with the violist performing it. The music left me breathless. The structure, the pacing, the harmonic language, the orchestration, and the treatment of the solo line all were very well done. It was from this piece that my deep love of her music grew immensely. When asked to research composer's works for the composition lesson, I quickly chose Gubaidulina. The work I chose, sadly, wasn't the viola concerto but instead a smaller chamber work:

. In this analysis, I will look at the structure of the piece.

In looking at the score in depth, I was quite surprised to find that the form is quite

traditional: sonata form. The reason for the surprise comes in the techniques used in the

bassoons: flautando, multiphonics, harmonics, and microtones. Granted, these shouldn't

immediately dismiss the possibility of a traditional form being used to structure a piece.

The formal sections are:

-the introduction lasts from the opening to rehearsal mark 2.

-the exposition from rehearsal mark two to the Grand Pause that precedes rehearsal mark 13.

-the development from rehearsal mark 13 to the grand pause that precedes rehearsal mark 31.

-the recapitulation from from rehearsal mark 31 to roughly rehearsal mark 35.

-the coda from rehearsal mark 35 to the end.

The exposition breaks into roughly 5 subsections of interest. The first is from rehearsal

mark 2 through rehearsal mark 5. This subsection is the first theme of the work. The second is from rehearsal mark 5 through rehearsal mark 6. This short passage, at first, appeared to be inconsequential or transitional in nature. It wasn't until the development section that I realized this was actually a second theme. The next subsection is a return to an altered version of the first theme.This starts at rehearsal mark 6 and lasts through rehearsal mark 9. At rehearsal mark 9, a variation of the overall texture acts as a transition and build up to the final subsection which starts at rehearsal mark 12. This final subsection lasts up till the grand pause right before rehearsal mark 13.

In classic sonata form, the development starts with a restatement of the themes

presented in the exposition. The first theme is stated at rehearsal mark 13. After the restatement, the development quickly begins. The development occurs in three subsections. The first subsection starts at rehearsal mark 14 and lasts through rehearsal mark 15. In this section the second theme is developed. Underneath the first theme is broken up and used as support. The second subsection is from rehearsal mark 15 through rehearsal mark 22. In this section the development of the first theme occurs. Interwoven in this, for means of temporal movement, is the introductory scalar material in inversion. The final subsection starts at rehearsal mark 22 and lasts until the grand pause right before rehearsal mark 31. In this section the second theme

is absorbed into the scalar material and expanded to present a long scale that rises slow at first and faster until it reaches the grand pause.

The recap and coda follow the second grand pause. The recapitulation starts at

rehearsal mark 31 and lasts through rehearsal mark 35. Here though the first theme is the only one restated, albeit in an altered version. The coda starts at around rehearsal mark 35 and lasts until the end of the piece. The material treated here is the scalar material from the introduction. The material is treated with several developmental techniques. Most notable is diminution and augmentation of the note values.

Overall, I learned a great deal in analyzing the work in this way. I've greatly admired

nearly every piece I've heard by Gubaidulina. This piece showed me a great genius behind her compositions and showed me several new things that I previously did not know that bassoonists could do (multiphonics and harmonics). I look forward now to breaking apart more of her works.

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You seem to be very fond of avant-garde music. That's something I have never been able to :headwall: . I've been making some strides into it lately (mostly out of a certain intrigue), but to very little avail. I have come to respect some of its proponents - but have never felt like it's a sacred duty for me to compose this way or be called names :angry: .

So far I've heard not a single work by Gubaidulina, although I actually have heard a lot about her. It's good that she actually blends the traditional forms into her music. Now I'm wondering how does she achieve microtones in a basoon. That must be very demanding from a player.

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Austenite - Being that the bassoon is a double reed instrument it's probably not difficult to produce multiphonics, rather the difficult probably lies in playing a specefic multiphonic well. Think of the Oboe, it is very easy to produce multiphonics, but playing them well is a different story.

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I agree with the instrument being capable of producing these kind of sounds (or Gubaidulina would never have chosen them for it). But I'd still like to know who did she notates that into a score (perhaps my lack of knowledge about this has hampered any desire in me of trying these techniques)...

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