A Level Music: Quartet Op. 22: Movement 1 by Webern

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When was this piece composed?
1930
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What does this piece require?
Highly skilled players
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Name the resources
Quartet: violin, clarinet, saxophone (non-jazzy) and piano
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What did Webern expect from his resources in terms of range?
The widest range from a small number of players, e.g. violin top C: bar 22
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What did the players need in order to achieve a maximum variation of tone colours?
Wide variety of techniques
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Is the dynamic range wide or limited?
Wide: most of the music is quiet apart from random 'f's, e.g. 'ff' at bar 22
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Name some of the techniques used by the violin
Mit dampfer: with mute: bars 1-17, arco, pizz, and both: bars 22-23
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What is the structure of this piece?
Sontata Form: yet it is difficult to hear this. Webern wanted to combine classical with serialism.
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Describe in depth the structure (1)
Intro: bars 1-5, mirror canons. Exposition: bars 6-15, main serial theme (prime row). Repeated. Development: bars 16-23, climax at bar 22 (top C), leading to retrograde version of music immediately preceding it: palindrome. Link: bars 24-27.
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Describe in depth the structure (2)
Recap: bars 28-39, row appears in Blangfarbenmelodie: notes moving around the instrumental parts. CODA: bars 39-43: introduction but reversed.
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What is the tonality of this piece?
Atonal and serial
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What is serialism?
An arrangement of a series of notes in a fixed order. The order remains the same, yet the series can be inverted, retrograded or retrograde inversion. Each of the 4 versions of the series could be transposed up or down by 11 semitones: 48 versions!
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Talk about the harmony
Notes occur indidually, so frequently there is no harmony. Two or notes together creates dissonance, e.g. the first 'chord' at the beginning of 2nd bar produces a clashing major 2nd interval.
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What is the metre of this piece?
Mostly in triple time: no sense of metre at time signature changes frequently to quintuple and quadruple metre.
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What is the tempo?
Slow speed: 'sehr massig' (very moderate). There are frequent changes in tempo also, 'ritardando', 'a tempo', and Calendo (quieter and slower) towards the end.
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Discuss the rhythm
Frequent rests (fragmentary sound), sounds more continuous as it reaches the climax: bar 22. The rhythm is enhanced by tenuto and staccato markings, Pause mark just before the recap.
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Is the rhythm precisely notated?
Yes, this is part of the tone colour melody idea
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How many rhythmic groupings are there?
3
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Describe these:
1) semiquaver-quaver-semiquaver-rest-quaver (first 3 sax notes) 2) semiquavers in piano: bar 3, 3) 2 semiquavers in violin: bars 3-4.
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What is the texture?
Thin, even at the climax with all 5 lines playing. Fundamentally polyphonic (there are 5 parts) but it is often monophonic. Only occasionally do 2 parts sound together in 5 part intro. Rests prevent more than 3 parts playing at same time
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What is a mirror canon and where are these found in the piece?
The standard version of a phrase is imitated by inversion (upside down version) of the same music. At the beginning.
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Discuss the melody
Wide angular intervals, melodic lines are fragmentary, based on a tone row: interval of trione (dim 5th/aug 4th) occurs between 10th/11th notes of series which detracts from sense of key
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What is a klangfarbenmelodie?
Dividing notes between instruments and using a wide variety of instrumental techniques
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Card 2

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What does this piece require?

Back

Highly skilled players

Card 3

Front

Name the resources

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What did Webern expect from his resources in terms of range?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What did the players need in order to achieve a maximum variation of tone colours?

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