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So I decided that since it might be a while before I get any further progress on it, that I would post what I have so far of my bagatelle.

I am composing a bagatelle and it is turning out to be sort of a hybrid between your typical bagatelle and a sonata. However, even once the piece is finished, it would be too short for me to put Sonata in the title(5 minutes at most, that isn't long enough for an entire sonata). I mean, I guess I could call it the Sonata Bagatelle but then the title would be confusing.

Here is how I was planning things out.

I was planning to do it in rondo form. At first I thought of sticking to ABACA such as in Fur Elise. But the rondo form quickly expanded to be ABACABA, the typical form of a rondo in a sonata. But I was still planning on having 2 sections in the tonic. That is, until my melodic improvisation lead me somewhere else. This is really when the hybridization of the typical bagatelle and the sonata started happening. And it is why I am asking this question relating to bagatelles and sonata form.

I will show both the general terms and the Sonata Form terms here.

Here is the First Theme/A section of my bagatelle:

Post image

And here is its motive division:

Post image

As you can see, I have a lot of motives here. This means that I can have an extensive development without it being boring or completely unrelated sounding. Here are the motives:

  • Red - Starting motive and its inversion

  • Green - Second motive

  • Blue - Triplet motive

  • Purple - Dominant motive

  • Orange - Scale motive

  • Dark red - Cadential motive

Here is my Second Theme/B section:

Post image

And here is its motive division:

Post image

As you can see, I have a single motive here, a scale step that descends through the theme. This means that the Second Theme/B section can't contribute as much to the Development/C section as the First Theme/A section can, but it is pretty typical for 1 theme to have more motives than another theme in a sonata form piece.

With this, my bagatelle "Exposition" is in this form:

ABA

The C section, I am planning on having be in the parallel minor. So since I am in C major here, the C section would be in C minor.

I have been told that my piece is getting too motivic to be called a bagatelle. But I thought bagatelles could very much be motivic. For example Bagatelle in C minor by Beethoven has a motive that has just 1 note extra but otherwise is almost exactly the Fate Motive. So I'm keeping bagatelle in the title of my piece, for now at least. I might change it to Sonatina if I think it is better suited as such after composing it. But here is what I have so far, the Exposition in ABA form and a short transition into the development. What do you think of it? Should I flush out my syncopated sounding bass line(I'm saying syncopated sounding because it isn't in the truest sense of the word, syncopated, but it sounds like it is) from simple arpeggiation to full blown chords? What about those left hand triplets in the B section/Second Theme? Should I continue those triplets instead of alternating triplets with rests? And is there a better way for me to transition to C minor than the fourth to fifth motion I have right now?

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Are you writing to write in the Classical style with this piece? You seem to favor it so there are some notable things:
1. Sonatina seems like an acceptable word if you want to retain its form and length, though Rondo isn't bad either if that's what it is.
2. There's a lack of inner voice play which is very common in the the Classical era. It's very bass/soprano at the moment, and the piece shifts between forward and static momentum when you have the RH/LH play both different and same rhythms, respectively. A little bit period-inappropriate but you could take the mazurka route and add a high chord on the weak beat of a measure to keep this.
3. The section on the subdominant: I'm not sure if this is just because it's not done, but I would suggest adding a three note figure in the left hand after every 16th note triplet arpeggio/measure, since the right hand doesn't have any momentum, and the left hand figure stops abruptly: i.e. F C A downwards in eighth notes.
4. Breaks some melodic rules: In sentence form, you want those first four measures to elaborate the tonic. When you end the half-phrase on B, in implies the dominant. B is a harsh note to pick there because it can't be the dominant because a V - IV progression is illegal in this period, and emphasizing a non-chord tone on a tonic chord is even stranger. Make sure you're staying careful about those kinds of things.
5. When you end in C minor the A-flat makes it sound like you made a tertian leap down to A-flat major rather than a parallel cadence.

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23 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

Are you writing to write in the Classical style with this piece? You seem to favor it so there are some notable things:

Yes, I am aiming for the Classical style.

23 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

5. When you end in C minor the A-flat makes it sound like you made a tertian leap down to A-flat major rather than a parallel cadence.

 

Why does the Ab make the transition to C minor sound odd? Oh wait, is it because while the melody goes C Bb Ab G, the bass simultaneously goes C Eb C? Because the continued descent to G is pretty simple to explain. I already transitioned to F by descending to Bb. So when I transitioned to C minor, I extended the melodic descent to G. As for the C Eb C in the bass, I was trying to emphasize C minor while staying consonant with the melody since a diminished 7th in a 2 voice texture is just awful sounding, much more so than the full chord is, and stepwise motion would have accented the diminished 7th. So I had to leap somewhere. Leaping to F would have weakened the movement because it would have been a plagal cadence in minor. G just wasn't an option. So leaping to Eb seemed to be the only solution there.

23 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

1. Sonatina seems like an acceptable word if you want to retain its form and length, though Rondo isn't bad either if that's what it is.

Okay, so I can just retitle it Sonatina in C and nobody will then say that it is too motivically based for a bagatelle.

25 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

2. There's a lack of inner voice play which is very common in the the Classical era. It's very bass/soprano at the moment, and the piece shifts between forward and static momentum when you have the RH/LH play both different and same rhythms, respectively. A little bit period-inappropriate but you could take the mazurka route and add a high chord on the weak beat of a measure to keep this.

Yes, I know, that's why I was asking if I should flush out the bass line to full chords instead of the arpeggiation it is right now. It seems to me that you aren't necessarily wanting me to flush out the bass line to full chords, but rather, adding a countermelody to the bass line with the countermelody sometimes collapsing into full chords so that the momentum keeps going and I have more than just 2 voices in the texture.

30 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

3. The section on the subdominant: I'm not sure if this is just because it's not done, but I would suggest adding a three note figure in the left hand after every 16th note triplet arpeggio/measure, since the right hand doesn't have any momentum, and the left hand figure stops abruptly: i.e. F C A downwards in eighth notes.

Yeah, I thought it ended abruptly, but I wasn't sure if I should continue the triplets or do something else, so thanks for the suggestion of alternating sixteenth note triplet arpeggios with eighth note arpeggios.

32 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

4. Breaks some melodic rules: In sentence form, you want those first four measures to elaborate the tonic. When you end the half-phrase on B, in implies the dominant. B is a harsh note to pick there because it can't be the dominant because a V - IV progression is illegal in this period, and emphasizing a non-chord tone on a tonic chord is even stranger. Make sure you're staying careful about those kinds of things.

I was actually intending for the first 20 bars to be a period structure, thus the dominant emphasis in bars 7-8. Oh, wait a minute, you're talking about bar 4, right before the triplet motive. Well, it could be iii - IV, E minor moving to F via the triplet motive, E minor would still have tonic function because it is the mediant of C major and thus wouldn't be breaking any harmonic rules, right? Plus the 1 scale step motion between E minor and F would further emphasize the tonic function. Or would iii - IV still be breaking the harmonic rules? I tried to stay consonant with the bass and have any dissonances with the bass resolve.

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12 minutes ago, caters said:

Oh wait, is it because while the melody goes C Bb Ab G, the bass simultaneously goes C Eb C?

If you mean for the A-flat to be something of a vii˚7/i, then you've extended your period to 9 bars. A diminished chord wouldn't sound bad if it was fleshed out in the aforementioned inner voices.

14 minutes ago, caters said:

Well, it could be iii - IV, E minor moving to F via the triplet motive, E minor would still have tonic function because it is the mediant of C major and thus wouldn't be breaking any harmonic rules, right? Plus the 1 scale step motion between E minor and F would further emphasize the tonic function. Or would iii - IV still be breaking the harmonic rules? I tried to stay consonant with the bass and have any dissonances with the bass resolve.

You're right it could be iii - IV, but note how the first note you land on in m. 4 is functionally a G major triad with no fifth. This is because the previous measure seems like an arpeggiation, and thus a G in the bass would sound more functionally correct as a V chord. Without any sense of inversion, it sounds like the E in the bass in that measure is a appoggiatura to the IV chord. It's not helped by the fact the A in the triplet figure is a 4th against it, confusing the tonality even more. For this reason and many others in your piece, working with inner voices and constant motion/Alberti style accompaniment will immensely help the sound you want to go for. 

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@caters You are a much more serious student of music than I ever was (and may ever be, honestly). I know very little about musical forms or what certain chord progressions are called—I just know when something "sounds" right, and I've learned this through experience, not from books. Well, not entirely from books. When I sit down to write a piece of music, I couldn't care less what keys my different sections are going to be in, whether the leadup to my cadence is going to be iii-IV-V-vii7º/i, or whether it's going to be too motivic for a bagatelle. I care almost exclusively about one thing: does it sound right? If it doesn't, then I might dig deeper into music theory to figure out what I've done wrong, or how it might be improved.

When we reduce music to just a formula, it may be structurally okay and fit all the paradigms we're trying to squeeze it into... but it won't sound right. I feel like that's what you've done here. You have designed all these wonderful-sounding motifs in seeming total isolation of each other and then tried to combine them by applying music theory. The problem isn't that you don't know enough music theory. The problem is that, in my opinion, every note you've written has come from your head and not your heart.

If you were my music student, I would tell you to take everything you've learned and throw it out the proverbial window. I would tell you to just sit down at the piano and play what you feel. No analyzing it, no categorizing it... just let it flow. Sure, it might sound like complete gibberish, but somewhere in that gibberish is a diamond in the rough. The longer you play, the more it solidifies. And before you know it, voilà! you have yourself a motif or maybe even a full-fledged theme. Then you can go outside, pick up the music theory you tossed out the window, and work on making it better. But if at any point the music doesn't sound right—regardless of whether you're obeying the rules of harmony—stop and rewrite something. Play it over and over; trust your ear and your heart, not your head. And keep doing this until the piece is finished.

I know you have it in you. You're just too passionate about music not to have that inner flame. But, hey, if this method doesn't work for you, you can always say you tried, eh?

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3 minutes ago, Tónskáld said:

@caters You are a much more serious student of music than I ever was (and may ever be, honestly). I know very little about musical forms or what certain chord progressions are called—I just know when something "sounds" right, and I've learned this through experience, not from books. Well, not entirely from books. When I sit down to write a piece of music, I couldn't care less what keys my different sections are going to be in, whether the leadup to my cadence is going to be iii-IV-V-vii7º/i, or whether it's going to be too motivic for a bagatelle. I care almost exclusively about one thing: does it sound right? If it doesn't, then I might dig deeper into music theory to figure out what I've done wrong, or how it might be improved.

When we reduce music to just a formula, it may be structurally okay and fit all the paradigms we're trying to squeeze it into... but it won't sound right. I feel like that's what you've done here. You have designed all these wonderful-sounding motifs in seeming total isolation of each other and then tried to combine them by applying music theory. The problem isn't that you don't know enough music theory. The problem is that, in my opinion, every note you've written has come from your head and not your heart.

If you were my music student, I would tell you to take everything you've learned and throw it out the proverbial window. I would tell you to just sit down at the piano and play what you feel. No analyzing it, no categorizing it... just let it flow. Sure, it might sound like complete gibberish, but somewhere in that gibberish is a diamond in the rough. The longer you play, the more it solidifies. And before you know it, voilà! you have yourself a motif or maybe even a full-fledged theme. Then you can go outside, pick up the music theory you tossed out the window, and work on making it better. But if at any point the music doesn't sound right—regardless of whether you're obeying the rules of harmony—stop and rewrite something. Play it over and over; trust your ear and your heart, not your head. And keep doing this until the piece is finished.

I know you have it in you. You're just too passionate about music not to have that inner flame. But, hey, if this method doesn't work for you, you can always say you tried, eh?

 

Well, that is a bit ironic because I wrote the melody and bass with the mindset of improvisation and it just happened to end up being easy to break down into motives.

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