Webern String Quartet

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Melody

  • Wide angular intervals
  • Fragmented melody lines
  • Interval of tritone between 10th and 11th notes of series
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Rhythm and Metre

  • Rhythm is enhanced by tenuto and staccato markings
  • Frequent rests add to fragmented sound
  • Sounds more continuous as it reaches the climax (bar 20)
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T. For Texture

  • Mostly polyphonic due to the 5 part but is often monophonic
  • Thin at the climax even though all 5 parts play
  • Usually rests prevent more than 3 parts playing at the same time
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Structure

  • Surprisingly the piece is in sonata form, Webern makes efforts to combine classical with serialism
  • Intro - bar 1-5 using mirror canon
  • Exposition-6-15 uses the prime row and repeats it to establish
  • Development - 16-23 includes the climax at bar 22 leading to the retrograde inversion of the prime row
  • Link: 24-27
  • Recapitulation is bar 29-39, notes move around parts
  • Coda is 39-43, a reverse of the introduction
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Harmony

  • Notes occur individually so mostly no harmony
  • Two or more notes occuring together are usually a dissonance
  • Non functional harmony
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Instruments

  • Uses a quartet of violin, clarinet, saxophone and piano
  • Does this to have the widest range over the smallest number of players
  • Range is high, violin plays a top c in bar 22
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Tonality

  • Atonal and serial
  • Each 4 versions can be transposed up or down by 11 semitones, giving rise to 48 different versions of the row
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