Pheloung - Morse on the Case

Revision cards for Morse of the Case Music A2 set work 2012

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Taken from an episode of a police crime drama

The music is designed to be atmospheric and unobtrusive

Effects are created through:

- Limited resources: only strings, harp, piano, four horns and an oboe

- Limited rhythmic movement: a characteristic feature of Pheloungs style in Morse music, being lengthy with sustained notes

- Slowly evolving development: small mumber of motifs

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Rhythm and Metre

  • Notated in 4/4. However, metre is not detectable due to lengthy pulseless sounds and seemingly unpredictable placing of motifs within bars
  • On paper and aurally, it is near impossible to see irregular diminution of motifs
  • A silent bar at 60-61 intensifies the sense of lack of motion
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Short motifs

Main melodic features:

- Use of Aeolian mode, except for F sharp (bar 52 and elsewhere) and Ab (bar 92)

- Gradual unfolding of lines built of perfect 4ths, minor 3rds and major 2nds

Component intervals treated in various ways:

- Inverted

- Verticalised

- Rhythmically dimisnished

- Fragmented

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Harmony and Tonality

No sense of functional progression

Harmony consists of mainly verticalisations of component intervals

Mildy dissonant

Chromatic notes (Ab) produce stringent clashes, with Ab in oboe and A natural in viola at bars 93-94

Eventually moves to C major chord (bar 110)

F sharps (bars 105-108) suggest lydian mode

Final chord is ambiguous as it lacks the 3rd

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No discernable structure

Appears to be through composed to reflect on-screen events

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  • Pheloung avoids tutti passages, preferring to contrast densities of sound and timbre
  • Harp doesn't appear until bar 101
  • Upper strings play throughout, but cellos and bass don't appear until bar 99
  • Piano plays intermittently throughout, playing various single notes, two notes, parallel 9ths (bar 36) and four notes on one occasion (bar 98)
  • Four horns play together from bar 98
  • Piano has the most rhythmically active part
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