Concerto for Double String Orchestra - Tippett

Revision cards for Tippett set work 2011 - Music AS



  • Characteristic work of Tippett's early period
  • Origins relflect his social concerns
  • First performed by the South London Orchestraat Morely College (Tippett was a musical director there)
  • Reflects Tippett's interest in English madrigals (freely combing rhythmic patterns) and Neoclassicism, a movement associated with Stravinsky 
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Rhythm and Metre

  • Notated in 8/8, with occaisional changes to 6/8 and 4/8

-Use of quavers permits additive rhythms

  • Syncopation is frequent, with dynamics patterns extending over the barline
  • Bar 95 the music sets into a "regular" crotchet pulse

 - Rhythmic augmentation i.e. the motif opening with crotchets in violin 1, orchestra 1 is doubled in length at barr 99 (cellos, orchestra 1) and doubled again at bar 103 (viola ad Cellos of orchestra 2, where the initial pitch plus rests takes up a whole bar 

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Structure 2

  • Regular appearance of the opening motif is reminiscent of the ritornello of the Baroque concerto grosso
  • Overall structure - Sonata Form
  • Two clearly defined subjects - (bar 1 and 39) linked by a trasition (bar 21)
  • The Development (bar 68) passes through more remote tonal areas
  • The opening material reappears in a recapitualtion (bar 129) with the second subject in the home tonality of A as opposed to the original G
  • There is an extended coda (bar 194)
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  • Exposition (bars 1-67) - first subject (bars 1-20). Tonal Centre A. Transition (bars 21-32). Aeolian on A and Lydian on C leading to - Second subject (bars 33-67). Tonal centre G
  • Development (bars 68-128). Unrelated tonal centres such as A (bars 68-75). C# major (bars 80-89) and Ab major (bars 107-112)
  • Recapitulation (bars 129-193). First Subject (bars 129-146) tonal centre A. Transition (bars-147-158) modified to maintain A as the cheif tonal Centre. Second subject (bars 159-193) tonal centre A
  • Coda (bars 194-232) more unrelated tonal centres but ending with a cadence that features the two chief tonal centres: G (now lydian in bars 228-231) and A (with a bare-5th chord in the last bar)
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  • Opening motif characterised by repeated step movement before broadening out by leaps of 4th and 3rd
  • Melody extended by sequence(bar 8)
  • Melody here is also inverted in lower parts
  • Transition material marked by a more cantabile approach, with longer note-lengths and appearance of trills
  • Prominent broken-chord motif in bass at bar 112
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  • Non-functional
  • Harmonic progressions are difficult to discern due to lean contrapuntal textures
  • Counterpoint leads to dissonant collisions
  • The more obvious harmonic events include:

- Phrygian cadence at bars 20-21

- Common chord progression at bar s 39-40

- Ambigious progression from bar 119with augmented/whole-tone structures heard in passing

- Final mode cadence of G to A, or tonic proceded by flattened seventh

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  • On A
  • Non-functional, with modal elements
  • Bars 1-4 of melody use pentatonic scale, but accidentals in otehr parts make it difficult to be certain of which mode predominates
  • Tippett shifts the music to various tonal areas:

- G (bars 39-67)

- E (bar 68)

- C# (bar 86)

- Ab (bar 107)

- A (bar 129)

  •  The movement closes with an open 5th chord
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Resources and Texture

  • Concerto plays two equal forces off agains each other, rather than a single soloist or group of soloists against larger accompanying group
  • Tippett frequently uses two-part counterpoint, as in the main theme, but each part is doubled at three octaves
  • he also uses occaisional homophony and monophony, as well as antiphony
  • In the more lyrical sections, the accompaniment sometimes takes the form of broken chords
  • There are no conventional playing techniques, but - "sul tasto" (bow over fretboard) at bar 107
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