John Cage Piano Sonata Notes 2015 Edexcel Music

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Cage ­ Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano
John Cage = 20th
3 sonatas
Written in 1949
Pushed boundaries in music
Wanted to show a variety in technique, mood & colour
For prepared piano
Was interested in creating flexibility on timbres
There are 4 ways a prepared piano can affect sound -> quietens,
changes timbre, splits into 2 or 3 sounds, shortens duration
Between every 4 sonatas is an interlude
Uses a subtle range of dynamics
Sonata I
Melodic repetition (bar 1 is repeated 2 bars later)
Short statements with specific shapes
Limited range of pitches, sometimes suggested pentatonicism
Melodic movement = often conjunct
Sonata II
Arch melodies (bar 1 & bar 4)
Conjunct movement
Use of embellishment (grace notes & rhythmic development =
bars 15 & 16)
Shapes are repeated
Sequenced idea (bars 10-13)
Sonata III
First RH melody is repeated (bars 2-5)
Part A = repeated (a percussive reference point)
Bar 13 = augmented from opening
Sequence in bars 14-15
Conjunct movement in scale at bar 18
Inversion in bar 27
Each sonata is given a number
Sonata I
Binary form
Form = concerned with proportions of duration
Micro-macrocosmic (overall form of each sonata is seen in
miniature within each smaller unit)
Number for S1 = 28

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A section from 1-7 = 4+1+3, 4+1+3, 4+2, 4+2 (makes up 28)
Quaver missing at bar 11
Sonata II
S2 number = 31
A = 6+6+9½+9½ (makes up 31)
Sonata III
S3 number = 34
1x34 from bars 1-8
Sonata I
Steady tempo with crotchets
Irregular groupings of rhythm
Rhythmic repetition close together
Variety of pattern eg sustained and static
Sonata II
Fast moving
Stresses are moved to unexpected points in the bar
Metre changes are direct reference to structure
Significant periods of silence…read more

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Makes use of right-hand moving parts over static or repetitive
left hand parts
Textures of S3 = very sparse
All sonatas are atonal
Sonata I
First chord = G7
Passages are repeated
Rhythmic cadences features rather than harmonic cadences
Avoids cadences by harmonic progression -> more like
Cage "dismissed harmony as a tool of Western commercialism"
Parallel chords at bar 20
Presence of note clusters
Sonata II
- Atonal
Sonata III
- Atonal…read more


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