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The Beauty Of Sonata And Flute Performance Music Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2263 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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With the development of history, music as one of most important art forms also process very much. Cultures and politics are two necessary elements which influence music improve to more and more variable and international. Sonata, also called Sonatine in French, is one ordinary form of music was born in Classical period in Western Countries. Sonata grows very much in Romantic time with an effect from Patriotism, and 20th century with Minimalism, Impressionism, and Socialism influence. Although in the contemporary era, Sonata is different from the original, it is still the most popular genre of music for instrument soloist performance. Flute was born in the same time as Sonata. Many famous musicians have composed excellent Sonatas for Flute performance. From different music pieces we can clearly realize the changes of Flute playing skills and Sonatas. There are two famous Flute Sonatas which are individually composed by JC Bach and an outstanding French composer, Henri Dutilleux in 20th century here. The analysis and discuss of those two examples will show the beauty of Sonata and Flute performance based on music books, journals in University data base.

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Sonatas for Flute Performance in Different Periods

One of the most important genres of music is Sonata (from Latin and Italian Sonare), which means the music piece applied only for instruments playing together (James 450). At the beginning, sonata is produced for one or two instruments such as violin and basso continuo. It appeared in Classical period and then widely accepted (Benward and Saker 138-139). Later Sonata experienced a serious development through 18th Century to 20th Century. By many musicians’ hard working and research, in 19th Century, Sonata becomes to represent a principle of extensive instrumental work. Although sonata itself has been changing since the Classical Era, in 20th Century it continually uses the same structure and organization (Jacobson). In Baroque and Classical periods, sonata was completely composed for one single instrument or a group of instruments, the low frequency instruments mostly play continuo (Li 22). It is a new way for performers to play music. In Baroque period, composers wrote the lowest note and figures to demonstrate the chords. Originally, this new composing method is only applied for keyboard. Then, sonata is broadly played by a solo instrument such like a keyboard or by a solo instrument with a keyboard (Li 78).

Sonata Form Development and Music Examples for Flute Performance

At the very beginning, Arcangelo Corelli built two types of Sonata; they are Sonata da chiesa (church) and sonata da camera (chamber) (Kang). Church sonata was composed by counterpoint in one strict form. It has slow entrance, fugue allegro, mellow slow movement and a fast lively final; Sonata da camera (chamber) normally was compounded by a prelude and dance piece within a varied music form (Kang). In classical era, a majority of sonatas have three or four movements, the first movement is fast and composed by the sonata form: exposition (principal subject, second subject and close)-development-recapitulation-coda (Wang 52). The inclusion of three movements results in the name of trio sonata. Trio sonata is composed for two instruments cooperation, usually the solo instrument is playing with basso continuo (James 463). In romantic period, sonata continually used classical sonata form but music became long and large-scale. The creation is that some of the sonatas in 19th Century cite secular or dance music elements. In later romantic period, sonatas were also presented nationalism since the music at that time deeply expressed national hope for independence. In 20th Century, composition is extremely rigorous because of the huge development of industry and the emergency of new technology. Music, like other arts, would like to show thoughts and philosophical ideas as futurism, surrealism and socialism. With various ideas on composition, tonal and atonal are often used in combination in sonata. Here are two examples of sonatas which are both composed for flute with keyboard company: JS Bach – Flute Sonatas BWV 1031 E flat Major Sonata and Henri Dutilleux-Sonatine pour Flute et Piano. The second piece is actually a sonatine, in French, which is a simple short sonata.

JS Bach – Flute Sonatas BWV 1031 E Flat Major Sonata

The most necessary changes in the woodwind family were the gradual disappearance of the recorder and the emergence of the transverse flute. Between the 1720 and 1741, JS Bach composed his flute sonata BWV 1031 to celebrate Quartz, who had a powerful influence on developing the instrument and demonstrated the new flute throughout Europe in the early 1720s (Baker 50). He produced this piece when he was working in Leipzig, as the cantor of the St. Thomas’s Lutheran Church (James 428). Firstly, BWV 1031 structure and composing in technique are both indicate Baroque music specialty. This obligato sonata has three-movement: allegro moderato-siciliano-allegro. This form can be also called trio sonata(Haskins 216). Another element that accompanies with flute is cembalo, which is a representation for sonata instruments arrangement trait in Baroque period(Rice 137). The keyboard offers a supporting function for flute solo. What’s more, this whole sonata has a very tight and orderly texture but the colour is not too passionate or bright, just as church music. All of the traits above could indicate that this particular sonata is composed JS Bach. In this piece, Bach used many overlaps and large leaps. For example, in the first movement, the motif happened at No. 9 measure with the keyboard playing semiquaver, and then at No. 32 measure, the motif repeats then moves to B flat major. The repetition is only shown during 3 measures with the same keyboard company. Then the key changed to the original E flat and demonstrated the motif again. This overlap and repetition skill can often be found in Bach’s music.

Moreover, in BWV 1031, Bach produced many imitations between flute and keyboard. For instance, in the third movement, flute start with a melody which is played repeatedly by keyboard after it finished. Then, flute 31-35 measures are the same as the piano 36-42 measures. It sounds like that the solo instrument is talking with the company. The composing technology is usually used in Baroque period music. In the whole piece, flute need play many semiquavers. However, Bach does not regulate how to play those short notes; players can use double-tonguing, single-tonguing or play by ligature. Between different movements, Bach used different keys to describe every movement expression. The first one set in E flat major and the second go through by g minor and the last movement is back to E flat major. The music accompanies with the key travelling by bright – smooth – even brighter and lively. Bach prefers to heighten keyboard high voice same pitch with flute, so keyboard not only produces the harmony to support the soloist but also improves its own function in chamber music. Furthermore, when people are playing this sonata, the key knows how to control the timbre of flute. In baroque time, the flute is made of wood, not metal. But current flute are all made of metal, so nowadays, flute has a wider sound range than ever before. Players nowadays need to control the sound color to be more smooth and mellow to imitate the original flute sound. The figure skill and how to keep sound smooth is not the key to handle Bach’s music, but the understanding of his music and the comprehension of baroque music are significant to play BWV 1031 successfully. In Bach’s music pieces, there is almost no pp to ff, so we players need to balance the melody moving very spontaneously and placidly.

Henri Dutilleux-Sonatine pour Flute et Piano

One sonatine, a little sonata composed by Henri Dutilleux is another famous piece for flute playing. Henri Dutilleux is a French composer in 20th Century, although he did not compose too many pieces as Bach or Haydn, he is still one of the most important French composer in later 20th Century. Henri Dutilleux prefers to composing instrumental music such as String Quartet Ainsi la Nuit and ous les Chemins. Before he became a composer, he was in charge of the musical illustrations service of the Radiodiffusion Television Françoise. Then he taught music in Paris Conservatory (Potter 51-58). Henri Detilleux is a full, independent composer who was influenced evidently by Impression music. While, he does not compose just like Debussy and Ravel, he would like to express vague image by using gentle tone color, he also put passionate intense movement into his music (Hanudel 199).

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He hesitates to compose music by serialism, even if it is very popular in 20th Century (Lochhead 678). Many differences exist between Bach’s sonata and Detilleux’s sonatine, although both of the two pieces are composed for flute and keyboard company. This sonatine was composed in 1943, Paris (Detilleux), totally atonal. Most of Dutilleux’s works are composed by atonal rather than tonal, atonality represents modren music obviously. There are three sections inside this sonatine, just like the original sonata form. However, different from Bach’s pieces, the three movements actually belong to one single paragraph, since no stop between different movements. Technically, players need to finish the whole sonatine from the beginning to the ending without pauses. Furthermore, unlike Bach’s pieces, Dutilleux’s sonatine has very complex meters, this dynamic music style reflects that Dutilleux’s music idea was significantly influenced by Bartok and Stravinsky.

Inside this sonatine, the first movement is allegretto. A describing and smoothed motif is showing at the beginning by piano, one octave between right hand and left hand. Then, the flute repeats the motif again with a slow and gradual strong prelude. The relationship between piano and flute is like a company, they are moving and intimating together. After two repetition of the motif, the music starts to change direction to a lively and bright movement. However, the bright section is very short, so the music is changed to the motif repetition again with the same arrangement. The short bright section indicates that Dutilleux get influence from impressionistic music. The motif in the first movement is gradual presented which is a technique that Dutilleux prefers. Then, in the second movement, music turns to be a very slow and expressive andante. The meters change from 7/8 and 6/8 to 3/4 and 2/4. At the beginning, melody is quite and weak, with the melody moving, music becomes bright and strong. Dutilleux marks pp in the middle of the second movement, but at the end he changes it to ff. In the third movement, music gets enthusiasm and passion thoroughly. It is easy to notice the dynamic changes in melody obviously. Just like the first movement, flute and piano get imitation which is like talking. Many repetitions happened in the third movement, but only repeat very short section as a motive. Cadences are produced in the first and third movement, the similarity is that both of them are moving from very slow and pp to very fast and ff. This sonatine is difficult but interesting for players to practise. Most of the melody is lyric and descriptive, which clearly indicate that Dutilleux get much influence from Debussy. In this sonatine, flute and piano played dynamically together, so how to keep flute as the primate role throughout the whole piece deserve players’ attention. Figure breath skills are much harder than both of them for playing Bach’s piece. The cadenza has a strong contraction, the sound moving from low frequency to high frequency, the melody travelling from slow and pp to fast and ff. All elements not only build this sonatine colourful but also improve 20th Century music’s variations and expression.

Conclusion and Sonata Nowadays

With the development of flute, composers create a lot of brilliant music pieces for this instrument. To compare with different periods, it is clear to overview and realize what philosophic thinking or historical events influent music. Both of the two pieces here is representing Baroque and Modern music individually. JC Bach produces music so tight and integrated, and Mr. Dutilleux describes expression in music so picturesque. Nowadays, Sonata is also an important genre in music world. Since Piano has the most of Sonata music works, contemporary pianists and musicians revise the old pieces of Sonatas and put popular music essences in, then Sonata is still loved generally. Electronically music is the mark of pop music. Kyma, as ordinary composition software generally used in conservatory of music, can directly support composers to create new Sonatas. Science and Technological ideas are widely used in music. The easiest way is to change the sound frequency and tone color. Moreover, instruments now are not the only method to provide sound for composition. All sounds can be the tone we use to make music, such as noise from cars, sounds from kitchens and voice form phones, then modern software transform and combine all kinds of sound together to give new Sonatas. Music is colorful and variable, it reflect history events, culture development and progress of society and technology.


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