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Monarcheon

Fall 2019 Competition: POOR FORM ANNOUNCEMENT

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1 hour ago, Quinn said:

I think you should have stated that in your original expectations. It rules out through-composition and by inference from the names you've quoted it looks like it'll be judged on the technical and analytical rather than the musical....so, I'll sit out for this one. One of the movements I completed is through-composed. 

 

??? It doesn't rule out anything. Through composition isn't absent of musical development. Twelve tone music is often through composed, despite being motivically transformative. Schubert's Erlkonig is famously through composed and people still find subtle variations to the strophic form. 
I think @Luis Hernández would agree as well.
And development of ideas is definitely mentioned in the original post. It mostly refers to a development of the shared material through various musical qualities that create cohesion with a given material. That is certainly not exclusive to this competition. 

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Hi

I agree with @Monarcheon

Development of music material has many faces and possibilities. I don't see why  through-composed parts should be penalised. On the contrary, a rich section of this kind, but coherent, would be a plus, in my opinion.

Wagner comes to my mind. His last operas are based on through composition and no one would deny their development, coherence, and quality.

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Ok. Your point accepted.

But then why say: "The minimum is added basically to ensure sufficient motivic development. It is difficult to do so with less than 45 seconds of new material, at least when you apply Forte or Perle's analytical systems (Schenker and Koch are bit more lenient)."

which seems to imply development of motifs according to the rubrics of the names mentioned and is a constraint. My theoretical education came a little before them and was limited to that basically taught by the ABRSM at Grade 8. (Edit: Although as a pre-teen I was taught CP from an organist using Kitson Parts 2 & 3. end edit) So I'm unfamiliar with much of what they have to offer. It threw me off a bit! Whether my music would stand up well if dissected by Forte or Schenker I haven't a clue. :)

Edited by Quinn

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@Quinn Well, those systems are models to explain (or understand) music. I am familiar with Forte's ideas, but I haven't studied Schenkerian analysis, and I'm not interested so far.

Models are different, but the music is the same. A triadic chord it's just that or it's a pitch class set, too, according to Forte. You can analise the music from one or another point of view, but what happens in the piece is the same. Of course, using several systems to explain the music is good...

 

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So many details, so many loopholes. The nitty is so gritty with this competition. I'm completely unfamiliar with this 'poor form' we're using and I think maybe I don't quite understand what is expected in terms of 'development' for the shared material. Or of development in general. I get it vaguely but I've never taken any kind of composition class so an exact definition of motivic development eludes me. I've tended to stay away from a lot of these seasonal competitions when the rules/expectations exceeded my abilities so it's never really come up for me.

I know we're not supposed to 'reprise' said material (except at the beginning of each movement), which I understand to mean we shouldn't just quote the exact same melody/pattern with the same orchestration/voicing/rhythm midway through the movement unless it's at the final movement. Also, the new material should sound different but be a natural progression from the shared material. So what exactly does that mean? Is that rule just there to keep us from quoting and re-quoting the same theme with meager adjustments or is there a standard for how much the 'development' should change the shared material?

Everyone else has such technical questions and I'm over here trying to figure out something that I'm sure most music majors already know. Still optimistic about my entry, but a little guidance on this one thing would go a long way!

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2 hours ago, KJthesleepdeprived said:

So many details, so many loopholes. The nitty is so gritty with this competition. I'm completely unfamiliar with this 'poor form' we're using and I think maybe I don't quite understand what is expected in terms of 'development' for the shared material. Or of development in general. I get it vaguely but I've never taken any kind of composition class so an exact definition of motivic development eludes me. I've tended to stay away from a lot of these seasonal competitions when the rules/expectations exceeded my abilities so it's never really come up for me.

I know we're not supposed to 'reprise' said material (except at the beginning of each movement), which I understand to mean we shouldn't just quote the exact same melody/pattern with the same orchestration/voicing/rhythm midway through the movement unless it's at the final movement. Also, the new material should sound different but be a natural progression from the shared material. So what exactly does that mean? Is that rule just there to keep us from quoting and re-quoting the same theme with meager adjustments or is there a standard for how much the 'development' should change the shared material?

Everyone else has such technical questions and I'm over here trying to figure out something that I'm sure most music majors already know. Still optimistic about my entry, but a little guidance on this one thing would go a long way!

 

It's okay! We're all making stuff up as we go.
Regarding your second paragraph sentence to sentence:
1. Correct.
2. Correct.
3. This means that if your shared material was the A section of Twinkle, Twinkle, for example (C C G G A A G F F E E D D C), then the following material would sound different from all of your other movements, but sound as though the way you wrote it in this movement was the way it was intended all along. Imagine each movement being a cohesive unit, all using the same starting material, but with each sounding like it was the way you wanted to take that shared material all along.
4. Sort of, but more than that it's meant to show that you can see material as not functionally fixated; that is to say, what's written and heard is malleable and can be used in many different ways. I just want you to show me those ways 🙂

Feel free to ask more questions if you have them. I believe I have the information to provide sufficient answers.

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7 hours ago, Quinn said:

But then why say: "The minimum is added basically to ensure sufficient motivic development. It is difficult to do so with less than 45 seconds of new material, at least when you apply Forte or Perle's analytical systems (Schenker and Koch are bit more lenient)."

which seems to imply development of motifs according to the rubrics of the names mentioned and is a constraint. My theoretical education came a little before them and was limited to that basically taught by the ABRSM at Grade 8. (Edit: Although as a pre-teen I was taught CP from an organist using Kitson Parts 2 & 3. end edit) So I'm unfamiliar with much of what they have to offer. It threw me off a bit! Whether my music would stand up well if dissected by Forte or Schenker I haven't a clue. 🙂

Sorry, perhaps it should have been clear that those were but examples of analytical styles. If a contestant gave me a piece in a chorale style, there's no reason I would want to use, say, Friedmann's contour analysis styles– I'd want to stick with Rameau's theories. If someone submitted a piece in pointalist counterpoint, maybe Forte would be helpful, but also maybe Hyde and her secondary dimensions. 
I feel as though judging compositions shouldn't just be about what I like, because I feel as though that's less fair than if I were to have specific referential points. And this is more what I mean when I use "analysis": it's to be able to hear specific things I find troubling or dramatic or tight, or subversive and say why those things are attractive. For me personally (as a judge of quality, which is my job in this instance), "it's cool" is not a sufficient response. 

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Another issue that comes up is: what are we to name the work as a whole and the individual movements? Are we free in that regard? Can I name the individual movements "Sententia", a name I have given to many short pieces of mine? And should I do so, would I be allowed to add a title page including a definition of "sententia" as I usually do with my other examples of sententiae posted in YC? These are some additional questions that occurred to me and regarding which I would appreciate clarifications.

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4 hours ago, luderart said:

Another issue that comes up is: what are we to name the work as a whole and the individual movements? Are we free in that regard? Can I name the individual movements "Sententia", a name I have given to many short pieces of mine? And should I do so, would I be allowed to add a title page including a definition of "sententia" as I usually do with my other examples of sententiae posted in YC? These are some additional questions that occurred to me and regarding which I would appreciate clarifications.

 

I don't think I have any particular preference about the naming convention. Seems like a somewhat unnecessary criteria to judge in this particular case so go wild, I guess. My only concern would be to make sure the movements are not their own individual pieces, since the last movement's amalgamation status requires a bit of formal cohesion.

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When I was thinking about applying I wrote the last movement first so I could sort out this shared material then write enough that I could pick bits and pieces from it for the earlier movements. The issue of amalgamation was answered therefore. 

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On 10/23/2019 at 12:08 AM, Quinn said:

When I was thinking about applying I wrote the last movement first so I could sort out this shared material then write enough that I could pick bits and pieces from it for the earlier movements. The issue of amalgamation was answered therefore. 

 

That last movement is also my main worry and would be the the main reason if in the end I decided not to participate in this competition.

I just feel it is too artificial and artistically restrictive to have to combine all the preceding movements' "branching processes". Besides how is "in some way" to be interpreted in the phrase "in some way combining the branching processes of the other movements", not to mention "branching processes"?

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I 'm sure there is not a unique way to work on this challenge.

The way I see it is that we have to focus not primarily in the raw material but in the process of transforming or developing it.

That is why exact repetitions or putting one part after another or a sort of "pastiche" is not expected. Instead, having a specific and short/simple musical material (a single melodic line was suggested), a series of pieces should be written by processing that. How? There are many ways: motivic transformation, changing harmony, rhythm, color, modes, ... So, taking the same material as a starting point we can arrive to many different places in each part of the work. The final movement, following this idea, would take those processes ("branching processes") and use them in combination to resume the work.

I other words, I would approach to this as a work of processing or development.

An example. I can take as a starting point a phrase made of a Pitch Class Set. This first part could be done using only this set. A second part would start in the same way, and I would try to transform this set into harmony by fourths/fiths, it's possible, that's a branching process. In the next part, I would try to transform the set into triadic extendend harmony. I the next, in polychords.... In each part, my challenge would be to make it coherent, to make the transitions fluent. And in a final movement, I would take all those processes and try to make something new, but related by means of the processes themselves.

Well, many of you know I'm very fond of contemporary issues. But this can be applied to classic languages. If not, how did Bach manage to write a series of canon and counterpoint pieces starting with the same phrase in the Musical Offering? He used a different process in each piece. And finally he wrote a monumental Ricercar combining many of the things he had used.

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21 minutes ago, Luis Hernández said:

I 'm sure there is not a unique way to work on this challenge.

The way I see it is that we have to focus not primarily in the raw material but in the process of transforming or developing it.

That is why exact repetitions or putting one part after another or a sort of "pastiche" is not expected. Instead, having a specific and short/simple musical material (a single melodic line was suggested), a series of pieces should be written by processing that. How? There are many ways: motivic transformation, changing harmony, rhythm, color, modes, ... So, taking the same material as a starting point we can arrive to many different places in each part of the work. The final movement, following this idea, would take those processes ("branching processes") and use them in combination to resume the work.

I other words, I would approach to this as a work of processing or development.

An example. I can take as a starting point a phrase made of a Pitch Class Set. This first part could be done using only this set. A second part would start in the same way, and I would try to transform this set into harmony by fourths/fiths, it's possible, that's a branching process. In the next part, I would try to transform the set into triadic extendend harmony. I the next, in polychords.... In each part, my challenge would be to make it coherent, to make the transitions fluent. And in a final movement, I would take all those processes and try to make something new, but related by means of the processes themselves.

Well, many of you know I'm very fond of contemporary issues. But this can be applied to classic languages. If not, how did Bach managed to write a series of canon and counterpoint pieces starting with the same phrase in the Musical Offering? He used a different process in each piece. And finally he wrote a monumental Ricercar combining many of the things he had used.

 

Thanks for the explanations!

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Count me in as a participant, hoping that I will be able to finish my piece within the next 16 days!

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@isuckatcomposing @Noah Brode @Gustav Johnson @Luis Hernández @Tónskáld @bkho @KJthesleepdeprived @J.Santos @HoYin Cheung @luderart

 

The submissions link for your compositions has opened. Luis and I will moderate the post, but will not observe entrant submissions until the deadline, Nov. 15. 
@isuckatcomposing, I will add your entry to the list in 24 hours unless you do it first, as you kindly let me know ahead of time. 

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I know it's a little late to be asking this kind of question (I'm still in the middle of writing mine) but I didn't think to ask until now because I was taking the answer for granted. Are we expected avoid restating the main theme (shared material) within an individual movement completely or are we allowed to restate it in new ways as part of the development? Like a melody with different harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment. Or are we going for a higher standard of transformation? It should still be recognizable of course, but is there such a thing as too recognizable? Or am I just overthinking it? Should I be thinking along the lines of deconstructing it into fragments and repurposing it instead of repeating it?

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On 9/9/2019 at 8:45 PM, Monarcheon said:
  • Shared material must be found at the beginning of each movement, and should not reprise mid-movement, with exception of perhaps the final movement.
  • Shared material and new material must sound different, while still sounding appropriate. New material must feel like a natural progression from shared material. The intent is to show composer inventiveness and skill in developing themes and ideas.

In my opinion, exact repetition of the beginning (shared material) should no be present in the rest of the movement. However, by means of any transformations that make it sound different is OK.

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8 hours ago, Luis Hernández said:

In my opinion, exact repetition of the beginning (shared material) should no be present in the rest of the movement. However, by means of any transformations that make it sound different is OK.

 

Agreed! That's the spirit of development.

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@KJthesleepdeprived  Yes. As Monarcheon said, this is dealing with development and transformation.

All the great works of the great composers have this mechanisms and tools inside. The spirit of this challenge it working with these processes in a strict or fixed way, with two goals: make it a challenge, and learn (all of us, because I'am, too) how to develop material.

If we let our imagination fly there are many ways to work with material, according to the style you use. Baroque has it's tools based on counterpoint and motivic transformation. Late romanticism focus on harmony, many times the melody is fixed but the harmony changes from one part to another. In contermporary music development touches color, changes of modes, textures, mosaics.... Atonality relies also in transformation of series, etc....

 

Well that's how I see this challenge.

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On 9/9/2019 at 1:45 PM, Monarcheon said:
  • The shared material between all movement must be at least 5% of your movement in terms of performance time. For example, a movement of 2 minutes, must have at least 6 seconds of shared material.
  • Shared material need not be at the same tempo between movements.
  • Shared material must be identical in most ways; it is up to composer discretion what this means, but a hard rule is that not only the melody/theme can be used each movement. The closer the shared material is to being identical between movements, the better.  
    1. Entries for solo monophonic instrument (i.e. not harp, piano, organ) are extra-encouraged to have shared material be identical. 
  • Shared material must be found at the beginning of each movement, and should not reprise mid-movement, with exception of perhaps the final movement.
  • Shared material and new material must sound different, while still sounding appropriate. New material must feel like a natural progression from shared material. The intent is to show composer inventiveness and skill in developing themes and ideas.

Sorry, guys, now I'm thoroughly confused...

Based on the highlighted competition criteria above, I interpreted that to mean that shared material—in any of its variations—could not reprise except at the beginning of each movement and maybe during the final movement. From the comments I've been reading, it seems like the whole thing was supposed to be an exercise in varying that original theme. I'm deep into this project and I'm afraid I haven't observed this directive in the least. In fact, I completely avoided reprising the original theme mid-movement at all, since I thought this was strictly forbidden—in other words, none of my completed movements thus far have varied the shared material. Instead I've relied on varying new themes introduced immediately after the shared material.

With the deadline less than 2 weeks away, I won't have time to redo the movements I've already completed. Not to mention the entire idea I had was constructed around not being able to vary the original theme. So I have two options: either submit the work as I originally planned it, or withdraw from the competition.

@Luis Hernández and @Monarcheon, what do you recommend I do? I don't want to waste your time (and mine) continuing on with this project if it's not in the spirit of the competition.

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3 minutes ago, Tónskáld said:

Sorry, guys, now I'm thoroughly confused...

Based on the highlighted competition criteria above, I interpreted that to mean that shared material—in any of its variations—could not reprise except at the beginning of each movement and maybe during the final movement. From the comments I've been reading, it seems like the whole thing was supposed to be an exercise in varying that original theme. I'm deep into this project and I'm afraid I haven't observed this directive in the least. In fact, I completely avoided reprising the original theme mid-movement at all, since I thought this was strictly forbidden—in other words, none of my completed movements thus far have varied the shared material. Instead I've relied on varying new themes introduced immediately after the shared material.

With the deadline less than 2 weeks away, I won't have time to redo the movements I've already completed. Not to mention the entire idea I had was constructed around not being able to vary the original theme. So I have two options: either submit the work as I originally planned it, or withdraw from the competition.

@Luis Hernández and @Monarcheon, what do you recommend I do? I don't want to waste your time (and mine) continuing on with this project if it's not in the spirit of the competition.

 

Maybe that should have been more clear. I meant the literal exact repetition (orchestration, rhythm, etc.) should always be at the front of the movements, but thematic development (i.e. sentence form) are okay for the movement's development. However, this is not the only way to develop a theme, so you should still be just fine. 🙂 This is a weird competition, so we'll be a little lax as long as we can tell development was thought about.

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@Monarcheon, thanks for the quick response! I did repeat the original theme at the beginning of each movement—that was pretty clear—but nothing else is derived from that, other than perhaps the mood of the piece. I'll see what revisions I can make to redeem it a little bit. I enjoy a good challenge and am not doing this to win, I just don't want to waste anyone's valuable time.

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@Tónskáld @Monarcheon

Agree.

In fact, from my point of view it's a good point that what comes after the shared initial part be related to it. Transformation/development is a blurred frontier. Also, the material can be inspired in the style, for example, of the initial part, and in this case, smooth and natural transition should be in mind.

Perhaps a graphic representation is the branches of a tree where the trunk is the shared material and the main branches are the parts, and the little branches internal development. In some way everything is related to the trunk.

(Off topic: tree branches follow the fibonacci series pattern, often used in contermporary and even in previous periods of music. But that's another story.)

Captura de pantalla 2019-11-02 a las 20.06.43.png

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2 hours ago, Tónskáld said:

I'll see what revisions I can make to redeem it a little bit. I enjoy a good challenge and am not doing this to win, I just don't want to waste anyone's valuable time.

That's fine, but again, no need to stress about it. Sentence structure may involve repeated segments, but other development forms definitely don't. Like I told KJ, I'm far more interested to see what you can do with material; that is virtually infinite. 

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