Symphonie Fantastique

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  • Symphonie Fantastique - General Features
    • Dynamics
      • ff at climax of Witches' Sabbath
      • ff to represent guillotine/chopping of head
    • Articulation
      • Generally detailed throughout
      • Con sordini (with mute) in mvt 1
      • Tremolo in strings and timpani to represent thunder
      • Pizzicato to represent falling head
      • Col legno in mvt 5
    • Rhythm
      • Time signatures
        • 2/4 in mvt 1 also
        • 3/8 in mvt 2
        • 6/8 in mvt 3 and mvt 5
        • 4/4 in mvt 1 and intro of mvt 5
      • Idee fixe has an anacrusis
      • syncopation and cross rhythms
    • Context
      • 1: Sees woman and falls in love
      • 2: Is haunted by thought of woman
      • 3: Hears Shepards talking and feels lonely
      • 4: Takes opium and dreams about killing beloved and watches his own beheading
      • 5: Monsters etc come to his funeral and beloved appears as a witch
    • Texture
      • Frequent change of texture throughout
      • Polyphony
        • Use of countermelodies to create polyphony in mvt 1 and 2
        • mvt 4 and 5 also have polyphonic passages
      • Homophony
        • all movements have some homohony
      • Antiphony in mvt 3 to depict `Shepard's conversation
    • Structure
      • Movement 1: loose sonata form with introduction
      • Movement 2: ternary form with intro and coda
      • Movement 3: Ternary form  with coda
      • Movement 4: irregular. Intro, descending theme, march theme, transition, development, coda.
      • Movement 5: 4 sections - before funeral, dies irea, witches dance, chaos.
    • Melody
      • Idée fixe to represent love interest
      • Heavy use of counter-melodies
      • Broken chords used as accompanim-ent
      • Mostly disjunct
      • Wide tessitura
    • Instruments
      • Strings: standard as well as two harps
        • Both harps only used at the same time in mvt 2
        • Violins and violas split into 8 parts in mvt 5
      • Woodwind: flutes, piccolo, oboes, cor anglais, clarinets, Eb clarinet, bassoons
        • Oboe (offstage) and cor anglais for Shepard's convo in mvt 3
        • Eb clarinet plays distorted idee fixe in very high register in mvt 5
      • Brass: French horns, cornets, trumpets, trombones, tubas
        • Cornet solo in mvt 2
      • Percussion: timpani, assorted percussion, bells in C and G
        • Distant thunder at end of mvt 3 and start of mvt 4
    • Tempo
      • Movement 1: Largo and Molto Allegro
      • Movement 2: allegro non troppo
      • Movement 3: Adagio
      • Movement 4: allegretto non troppo
      • Movement 5: Largo and allegro
    • Harmony
      • Main Keys
        • 1: C minor
        • 2: A major
        • 3: F major
        • 4: G minor
        • 5: Eb major
      • Heavy use of chromaticism
      • Frequent changes between major and mionr in all movements

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