So now that you’re all hooked on the minuet and spent some time looking at forte, we’ll now look at the opposite site of the spectrum. We all know from childhood music lessons that forte means force and piano means soft. While we’re at it, take a look at the wikipedia page for dynamics.
While they spend a huge amount of space speaking about how many f‘s and p‘s some composers have used, the interesting thing about this Mozart symphony is, that he only uses f or p.
The key to Mozart’s effective orchestration lies with how he explores those dynamics, in a way we explored those 4 forte bars earlier and how he places the instruments.
For this examination of bars 5-8 be sure to have the score with you. You can find it here:
And for the sake of freshness have a listen to this recording:
First to notice is that he has taken off the forceful instruments – brass and timpani – and the oboe that with its nasal character more or less acts like ‘mini-trumpets’ in this minuet. We’ll look at what I mean in later segments of this minuet.
I’ve chosen to keep all the empty systems on the page for this exact overview.
So the string ensemble is playing with bassoons for balancing top and bottom a bit and keeping an orchestral feel.
The melody is then divided in the violins in octaves. Contrary to having them play unison the octave separation will split the forceful projection and make it for a softer p than a unison melody. Softer but ‘deeper’ when I see it in 3 dimensional space.
When listening to recordings of this keep an ear on how bar 7 works. Because the melody in 6 and 7 always have the suspension note on-beat resolving to the chordal note a 16th-note later, the accompanying chords on the downbeats have a tendency to fall a little late.
next page: Violas!