Yesterday I finished Adages with the completion of movement 6 "A rolling stone gathers no moss." When I first read this adage, the musical treatment I envisioned was a perpetual motion to represent the rolling stone. I selected the 6/8 meter because of its rolling rhythmic feel and began the piece with a chromatic eighth note idea in the violin. In the fifth measure, I bring the tuba in with a more diatonic, lilting melody for four measures which becomes the A theme of this rondo style movement. The violin continues its chromatic rolling against the tuba theme.
One of the challenges I faced during this movement was finding a way to allow each instrument some break from the continuous eighth note rhythm that creates the perpetual motion. This is more necessary for the tuba and the player needs time to breath, but I was also concerned with breaking up the pattern for the violinist as well. The section from measures 9-12 illustrates my solution. I alternate the chromatic pattern between the two instruments every beat (section B of the rondo).
Measures 13-16 is a return of the A idea but with a different tonal center followed by a return of section B also with a new tonal center. Towards the end of this B section, the idea gets extended to two, three and four beats, creating overlap between the instruments. This section, which I call C, concludes with four beats of chromatic scale for each instrument.
Measures 27-50 is ABABC but with the violin and tuba switching roles. Measures 51-54 is a harmonized version of the A theme. It is followed by a variation of B as the two instruments are are playing the one beat chromatic idea at the same time and silence is inserted followed by a syncopated low tuba note as if the rolling stone is now hitting some bumps along the way. With the meaning of the adage being if we keep active we won't wither, it is possible that we might hit some bumps in the road of life that will try to interfere, as the music does at this point.
Measures 62-69 is both a variation of A and B as the ideas are treated canonically. Measures 70 to the end use the original A and B with the tuba and violin exchanging roles followed by C with a little more overlapping and a strong ending that represents the stone arriving at its final destination.
After completing the movement, I felt good about it, but still felt something was missing, so I let it rest a bit and planned to come back to it later. The solution occurred to me in the afternoon as I was reading a book. The piece needed more dynamics. I added lots of crescendo and diminuendo to the phrases and all of a sudden, the movement gelled.
To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/adages_blog.html. You will be viewing a transposed score.
As always, your comments are appreciated.