In reference to dynamics, this piece starts off with Piano as we are introduced to the theme. Sforzando can be seen marked throughout the piece and emphasises strong beats in phrases. Crescendos and Diminuendo’s can be seen, for example in bar 96, time ‘2.15’ there is a crescendo building frim piano. The Adagio at ‘3.13’, bar 149 starts with a strong forte with quick diminuendo to piano while the joke ends on pianissimo. Throughout the melody we can see articulation with use of short slurs and use of staccato.
In this case, John Adams uses quarter-tones among three violin parts from measures 85-104—see figures 2.1-2.3. The intention behind these quartertones is to create a rich dissonance. These quartertones are introduced as the chorus transitions from singing text to singing “ooo’s” as if to allow the orchestra to continue the story. This technique creates a unique quality of sound that further constitutes the sensation of loss. The aural score to “On The Transmigration of Souls by John Adams, describes the excerpt from 5:30 to 9:10 in the piece.
The first movement, Allegro ma non troppo, is very fiery and powerful. After an initial flourish of piano solo, the violin brings forth the main theme, a romantic, almost heroic melody. As the theme is developed fast passages create a sense of urgent drama. The middle movement is very unique because of its title Improvisation: Andante cantabile. The tranquil violin passages give the impression of improvisational material.
Section B is faster than Section A. It has faster rhythmic and harmonic motion. The clarinet plays a slurred descending line similar to the beginning accompanied by sixteenth notes in the piano. The sixteenth notes switch to the clarinet before the key changes to E Major. Section A melody line returns in the piano in E Major, which changes to C Major, and then back to A-Flat Major.
Lastly they pored ping pong balls on the piano string. this caused the ball to move as the pianist played giving it a different sound. These changes were exciting and intriguing, I loved this twist. The last act was an Opera Buffa, a comic opera, called Prix Fixe, composed by Kevin Wilt. This opera was beautiful and simple with one mezzo-soprano soloist and a concerto accompaniment.
The first song performed was a rendition of Herbie Hancock’s Tell Me a Bedtime Story. In this particular song, Matt Clark played a upright piano and Aaron Germain played a guitar. I would describe Tell me a Bedtime Story as a low, slow, snazzy tune. The drums were played softly. Tell me a bedtime story was the longest piece of the section.
Exceptionally melodic the primary theme of the movement start with an authoritative leap of an octave in the violins. This is then followed by a sing-song like eight-note figure that features a pointed forward momentum. The rhythmic building blocks of the theme is constructed in two bar phrases which then sequences upward by step (Example 1). The accompaniment to the theme is sustained half notes played by the second violins, Violas, and Cellos The home key and the harmonic content of the exposition is also very clear in its presentation. The opening of the movement is in A major and remains primarily diatonic in its harmonic content, with only the occasional passing tone.
In stark contrast, the B and C sections were much darker and developmental. These sections were also played forte, as compared to the A section being played at piano. The tempo varied between each section, but not by much; all sections were played at Moderato. However, Graff also used tempo rubato frequently throughout this piece, and most others as well. The melody was consistently on the treble clef, with arpeggios and chords in the bass.
There were many musical elements heard throughout these pieces and it was interesting to hear how they varied in each song and suite. In Intermezzo, it began with a quieter violin solo melody creating a monophonic texture. Soon after, it became accompanied by the other violins and cellos, then the full ensemble came in creating a moderate, flowing melody at about mezzo forte and switching to a polyphonic texture. Next, there was a harp solo at forte with many crescendos and decrescendos. The full ensemble enters again raising the dynamics to forte before decrescendoing and slowing down to end with a held note and final tone.
My hands glide up the keyboard; my feet dance on the pedals. I tame the boisterous, three manual instrument that overwhelms the sanctuary. The pipe organ is magical and soothing. It calms me and provides contentment. For seven years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to learn to play an instrument that, in essence, is a quadruple piano.