One of the key words that I stumble upon writing these tutorials – and which I try to use synonyms for from time to time – is the great word notice.
One thing that is crucial to studying orchestration is noticing. One thing is to do reductions and analyzing, but the key is noticing and wondering. Why did they choose to do it this way?
The first three segments of this blog has been about forward motion, rhythmic division and different weights of orchestration, just to mention three things.
When you do once again look through the score to Mozart Symphony No 35 1. Allegro con spirito, try to go through it without audio. Look for these things I’ve covered in the beginning 3 pages and take a mental note of where they occur.
Then listen on repeat to those sections and start noticing these things you’ve found.
- Why are the horns playing half-notes in 26 when timpani and trumpets are not?
- How does the viola subdivide the phrase from 35 till 40?
- When are brass in octaves, double octaves or harmonized?
- When and why do the bassoons differ from cello and bass?
- When and why is it only one wind instrument? and how does he change that?
- Why do the winds on page 6 play shifted rhythms?
Check out this chart of finger positions for violin first position and try to see how he arranges his double and triple stops. For more on string positions, this little download can be very handy. I am in no way affiliated with the business.
A brief historic note: Before Mozart and the classical era we had baroque. Baroque was largely written in consorts of three players to a section. Classical music balanced it with two to each. Baroque music was bass heavy. Every instrument that could, played the bass line which was often a sort of walking bass outlining the harmony in a linear way. You will find Mozart doing this very often, but he breaks the pattern by assigning the melody to the bass section and breaking the ‘rhythm section‘ as described earlier.
This is the last segment on the first movement – I promise! But I hope I’ve given you enough to go searching for more clues to Mozart’s orchestration, so let this be the place for you to leave a comment on a section of the piece that you find intriguing! Please share any thoughts.
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Next post will be with and about the second movement of this symphony.
- Sir John Eliot Gardiner at the Philharmonic Society, Segerstrom Center, the 20th November (culturespectator.com)
- Top Five Terrible Puns in Classical Music (wqxr.org)