John Cage, Sonatas and Interludes

Main points of John Cage

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Melody

  • Pitches are distorted
  • Some motifs are repeated (e.g. bar 1 and bar 3)
  • Chromatic passages (e.g. bar 5-6)
  • Arch-shaped 'melodies' - 15-16
  • Some phrases have a pentatonic feel
  • Contrasting dynamics
  • Phrases don't always sound like they look due to preparation
  • Short statements are used to create shapes and phrases
  • Augmentation in Sonata 3
  • Sequence in Sonata 3
  • Conjunct movement
  • Retrograde repetition features in Sonata 3
  • Grace notes
  • Inversion
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Harmony and Tonality

  • Traditional harmony and tonality is impossible due to preparation
  • No cadences
  • 7th chord at the opening
  • Parallel chords feature at 20
  • At 23 (Sonata 3) the melody lags a beat, creating minor 9ths
  • Repetitions emphasise pitch
  • At the opening of Sonata 3 there is a pedal which acts as a tonal function
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Texture

  • Homophony at the opening
  • Monophony at opening of Sonata 2
  • 2 part homorhythm at bar 10 (S2)
  • Ostinato accompaniment at 18 (S2)
  • Layered textures at 30
  • Melody and pedal at opening of S3
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Rhythm

  • Structure is based upon rhythmic units
  • Triplets - bar 9
  • Off beat effects
  • Metrical displacement, making strong beats unclear
  • Syncopation
  • Bar of silence
  • Irregular note groupings
  • Frequent change of time signatures
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Structure

Sonatas are in binary form
Micromacrocosmic structure:

Sonata 1

  • 4 x 7 crotchets
    1 x 7
    3 x 7
  • 4 x 7
    2 x 7

Sonata 2

  • 1.5 x 31 crotchets
  • 2 3/8 x 31

Sonata 3

  • 1 x 34 crotchets
  • 3 1/4 x 34
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