Cage - Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano: Sonatas I-III

  • Created by: HRM_1999
  • Created on: 17-06-17 12:54

Background

-Influenced heavily by Schoenberg

-Avant Garde music

-Sonatas influenced by Scarlatti

-Cowell's techniques e.g plucking and thumping strings, = extended by Cage to include placing bolts and screws between the strings

-Lobo introduced paper between strings in 1925

-Cage = interested in exploring percussive based music & non-western sounds

-Depicting the spiritual and emotional states described in Coomaraswamy's work

-Cage had an interest in Zen philosophy; he said sounds cannot and should not be posessed

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Performing Forces and their handling

-Cage created a percussion ensemble with development of the prepared piano, with the piano being performed by one player

-1949, Cage outlined four ways in which preparing the piano affects the sound

-Also emphasised that the alteration to the sound must be complete

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Texture

-'intimate' instrument which demands music that is introspective (self-analysing) and sensitive

-In this piece, Cage explored a sonority in which space played a vital part (b.14, b.15, b.19 in Sonata I)

-Homophonic chords in sonata I b.1

-Monophonic - sonata II b.1

-Treble mvt over static accompaniment such as ostinato or pedal note (Sonata II b.17, Sonata III b.1)

-Layered textures (Sonata II b.30-34)

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Rhythm & Metre

-Rhythmic ideas may repeat immediately but are not recapitulated as the music progresses (b.1 material repeated in b.10 but longer note values)

-Patterns are placed unpredictably against the metre/off-beat rhythm (b.17-19 Sonata I, b.7 & 8 Sonata II)

-Off-beat rhythm b.4 Sonata II

-Irregular grouping of rhythm are common and sometimes obscure the natural pulse

-Each sonata there is a variety of types of rhythmic pattern, from sustained or static to fast-moving and decorative (chord groupings)

-Expected stresses are often displaced, causing strong beats to be unclear and the metre to be vague. However, Sonata II uses a more regular pulse

-Metre changes frequently; Sonata I - b.7,8,9,11

-Signficant periods of silence punctuate each sonata - b.1 Sonata III, b.14 Sonata I

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Structure

-Twenty movements in total; organised symmetrically (every group of four sonatas is separated by an interlude, with the centre marked by two interludes) - each term 'sonata' refers to Baroque sonatas (influence of Scarlatti)

-Sonatas are in binary form (I-III)

-Micro-macrocosmic rhythmic structure -

>Sonata I - length of each component adds to 7, sonata uses seven crotchet units in multiple of 4 1 3, 4 1  3, 4 2 , 4 2. Internal structure = b.1-7 (4x7 crotchets), b.8 (1x7 crotchets), b.9-12 (3x7 crotchets), b.13-18 (4x7 crotchets. repeated), b.20-26 (2x7 crotchets), overall structure = binary

>Sonata II - length of each component relates to 31, uses 31 crotchet units in multiples of 4 2 4 2, 9 1/2, 9 1/2

>Sonata III - length of each component relates to 43; 1 1, 3 1/4, 3 1/4

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Tonality

-Major result of preparation is that the tonal relationships of scale or key are absent

-Any preconceived notions of tonality = formed on the basis of the notation alone are destroyed by the actual sounds produced

-No contrasts of key and modulation nor ability to identify tonal centre

-No real cadence points

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Harmony

-Cage dismissed harmony in 1946 and described it as 'a tool of western commercialism'

-non-functional, not diatonic

-Some 'harmonic moments in Sonata I: G7 chords of opening, parallel chords b.20, E major chord b.21

-Pedal notes in sonata III (A in the bass)

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Melody

-one of the most significant features

-some immediate repition of patterns but not recapitulated later

-short statements with defined shapes and phrases separated by rests

-arch-shaped melodies are common; Sonata I b.15-16, Sonata II b.1-2

-Limited number of pitches, sometimes suggessting pentatonicism; Sonata II, b.1-8

Some chromatic mvt in Sonata II b.18

-Decorative use of grace notes and rhythmic embellishment

-Sonata III particular motifs are treated with familiar melodic devices such as repetition, sequence (b.14-15), inversion and augmentation

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