Another literary lesson for writing music

Forgot one in my earlier post on this topic:

One of the best ways of structuring a piece of music that I’ve found so far is the five-paragraph essay. The basic description of a five-paragraph essay is that one makes an assertion that’s composed of a few pieces, examines each piece individually, and then reassembles the pieces in a new way with the benefit of whatever one may have learned from the examinations. So:

1st paragraph: An assertion of some kind that’s got three parts to it.
2nd paragraph: Examine and develop the first part.
3rd paragraph: Examine and develop the second part.
4th paragraph: Examine and develop the third part.
5th paragraph: Reassemble the (developed) parts and see if it leads you to a new understanding of the original assertion.

Just in general, I found this to be one of the most fruitful ways of structuring a piece of music — and it’s yet another literary analogy. There really is a lot to be gained by regarding the 88-key keyboard and the 101-key keyboard in the same way. This would translate to a piece that has the following sections:

1st section: A cute 8-measure bit, maybe repeated, maybe longer than 8 measures, with a couple “gimmicks” to it, a couple handles. A dotted-eighth rhythm, triplets, runs up or down, something.
2nd section: Develop one of those gimmicks.
3rd section: Develop the next one.
4th section: And the next. Then,
5th section: Put them back together somehow and see if you can’t illuminate the 1st section in a new way.

Each of these sections of course may have bridges or little transitional bits to stick them together. It’s a nice way to approach the whole issue.

It’s also part of why I don’t want to learn too much about the overall structure of large musical pieces. I don’t want to write something in a formulaic style: “In order to write an X-form piece, one must recapitulate the main theme in the dominant key, etc. etc. etc.” or any of that junk. There are times when I’ve listened even to Brahms and thought to myself, “We’ve heard that already, moving on now … ” Or at least, if I do want to write in a formulaic style, I’d like it to be a formula that I made, through analogy to another form of expression. I like that idea.

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