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Divertimento and Variations for String Quartet


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So this is a variations piece (once again) that I wrote based on my own original theme meant to explore cross-relations in a poly-tonal context.  I have to take exception to the idea that the minor 9th is the most dissonant interval.  I once walked into a bookstores music theory section and opened a random 20th century harmony textbook to a random page and read that the farther apart a dissonant interval is voiced the less dissonant it becomes.  You'll have to judge for yourself whether that is true or not in this piece.

The theme is a Divertimento although I guess only sarcastically so since I've been told that the piece raises tension rather than providing an entertaining atmosphere (usually divertimenti were meant to be played at social occasions/parties while the appetizers were being served etc.)  The theme is in 3/4 and there are a total of five variations.  Variation I is in 6/8.  Variation II is a fast 2/4 version of the theme.  Variation III is a slow 3/4 version.  Variation IV uses frequent meter changes and irregular meters and passes the theme throughout the quartet.   Variation V is the finale and interrupts the theme with competing motives from the introduction.  On the whole I feel like the variations might not be different enough from each other but let me know what you think.

Unfortunately MuseScore 3 kept crashing on start-up after receiving a new update so I had to reinstall it.  As a result, this recording was made with the default MuseScore 3 soundfonts.

For some who may be wondering why I write so many variations pieces - I tend to resort to writing variations when I have a musical idea that is too short to stand on its own.  The format allows me to develop and explore the idea by making little changes to each progressive repetition of the theme.  I guess I should also keep in mind other forms though - maybe I'm using my familiarity with the variations process as a crutch?  Let me know what you think if you feel like commenting and thanks for listening!

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Well, a very nice piece indeed. Modern, energetic and something to re-listen to again and again not just because the contrast in the variations sustains interest but the contrapuntal interleaving of parts suggests a listener will derive new experiences with each audition - like, notice new things.

 I liked the 'differential dynamics, example bar 15 and on where you're crossfading parts, dimming down one while crescendoing another. The phrasing seems excellent. Are you a string player?

The vertical (spatial) layout gives the piece room to breath properly if that makes sense, no muddiness, entries are clean and clear.

Can only say "congrats".

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1 hour ago, Quinn said:

Well, a very nice piece indeed. Modern, energetic and something to re-listen to again and again not just because the contrast in the variations sustains interest but the contrapuntal interleaving of parts suggests a listener will derive new experiences with each audition - like, notice new things.

Thank you!  So it didn't sound too repetitive I guess?  I thought I did a better job  developing the theme in new and unexplored ways in my competition piece "Medley on a Theme by Yoshimatsu" but that piece is much more tonal and uses very traditional harmony.

1 hour ago, Quinn said:

I liked the 'differential dynamics, example bar 15 and on where you're crossfading parts, dimming down one while crescendoing another. The phrasing seems excellent. Are you a string player?

LoL - No I am not a string player.  Actually, I was going to ask if any string players might have any ideas about which phrases would be good to be played sul ponticello or sul tasto.  I am glad that you noticed the dynamics - I took great care in creating the right balance between the parts and making it clear about which were the most important lines.  I feel like I do need to have more control over the dynamics though than MuseScore 3 allows which I can probably only get by getting a DAW and/or better soundfonts.

1 hour ago, Quinn said:

Can only say "congrats".

Thank you for your time and your review!  I really appreciate it especially with this piece since I don't think it's harmonic language will inspire very much attention.🤐

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