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Comment on the musical links between Mozarts Symphony 41 and Coplands El Salon Mexico. Despite the differences in the time and location of their composition, there are many features which are common to both works. Perhaps it is firstly important to note although Copland was composing in the 20 th Century he was heavily influenced for this work by the Neo Classical style as seen in the music of other 20 th century composers such as Stravinsky and Prokofiev. Neo Classicism didnt aim to recreate but rather reconnect with tradition. It combined musical elements from the Classical Period with the newer trends that were emerging early in the twentieth century. So what are the Classical/Neo Classical features which can be seen in both works? Firstly lets examine the texture. The work is scored (written) for full orchestra and yet the textures that Copland creates are usually quite transparent with the important musical material never being obscured by other parts despite the density of the instrumentation. In this way the music reflects the Classical approach, with Copland choosing not to use the as thick broken chord and arpeggio accompaniments, dramatic scales and instrumental effects such as tremolandos so popular with Romantic composers. In the Jupiter symphony the texture is also kept simple by only having two or three musical ideas happening at the same time, all of them vital – for example melody, counter melody and accompaniment. Texturally both pieces contain examples of homophonic texture and many more instances of melody plus accompaniment. The former can be seen in the Mozart opening of movement 1 and latter in the opening of movement 2, where the melody on first violin is accompanied by lower strings. In the Copland figures 12-14 are homophonic and five bars into figure 30, the melody on violin, clarinet, oboe and piccolo is accompanied by a lower string ostinato.
With regard to voice doubling and spacing, both composers also make use of unison voices and parts in thirds, octaves or other parallel intervals. In the Mozart two of the many examples of this include cellos, violins and bassoons at bar 227 to 234 (unison and thirds) and oboe and violin 1 (unison) in the trio section of movement 3.. In the Copland examples can be seen 7 bars before figure 24 where oboes 1 and 2 play in thirds. He also combines instruments to creates interesting timbres such as halfway through figure 38 where the violin and piccolo play in octaves and bars 40 – 59 where the bassoons and bass clarinet play in thirds. Next lets examine the use of tone colour and instrumental techniques. Both composers instruct certain instruments to be played con sordino at some point in each work. In the Mozart this applies to the vioins in movement two. This forms a strong contrast with the bright, fortissimo and fully scored end of movement 1. In ESM the trombones at figure 2 use their mutes in their syncopated accompanying role and from figure 27 – 30 the horns are muted for their accented off beat chords. At 23 the whole string family is muted and further colour added with the upper strings playing arco and the basses playing pizzicato. Halfway through 24 the trumpets are also muted for their statement in 3rds.
Both composers use instrumentation to enhance the articulation of the musical material. Both works heavily feature accented notes, sforzandos and punctuating chords which serve to emphasise both the rhythmic and melodic shape of the music. In ESM examples can be seen in the opening section. The accented cymbal in bars 1 and 2 highlights the syncopated rhythm of the trumpet, and the pizzicato strings in bar 26 emphasise the start of the clarinet cadenza like passage. A direct parallel can be seen in the opening four bars of the Mozart movement 2 and bars three and four of the Copland in which the final beats of the string material motifs are emphasised by accented woodwind chords (plus piano in the Copland) On occasion, both composers like to use the orchestral families in isolation. In the Mozart, there are several places in which the string family have 8 bar sections on their own such as movement 1 bars 72 – 79, movement 4 bar 36 – 52. In the Minuet, the descending chromatic figure is played solely by the woodwind family. Similarly in ESM we see that figure 4 to 7 is predominantly a woodwind passage with minimal accompaniment from basses, timpani and piano left hand. Then figure 7 to figure 8 is an exclusively passage.
Rhythmically it is obvious that ESM is the more rhythmically adventurous of the two, inspired by the rhythms of the Mexican folk tunes that Copland chose, but syncopation and cross rhythms feature in both pieces. In the Mozart, the most clear example of syncopation is in the second movement. The first begins in bar 19 where the violas and violins play syncopated quavers over the regular quavers in the cello. There is more intense syncopation at bar 51, giving the music a 2/4 feel which is further emphasised by the dynamics (fp). Both pieces also heavily feature triplets rhythms in melodic and accompanying roles. In the Mozart an ascending triplet is seen in the first bar of the first movement and reappears throughout the work. In ESM triplet patterns can be seen for example at Sometimes triplets are combined with duple rhythms on other instruments creating a cross rhythmic feel. Cross rhythms occur at Structure and Tonality As we would expect in a Classical Symphony, three of the four movements of the Mozart are in sonata form with the third in ternary form. Sonata form was the most popular of the time. It allowed the development of themes and material via the tonal movement from and to the tonic and dominant key. The tonality and form are therefore inextricably linked. In the first movement of the Mozart the first subject is in the tonic (C) the second subject in the dominant (G), there is modulation in the development section and in the recapitulation the first and second subjects appear in the tonic. The tonality is diatonic throughout with inevitable chromaticism at points of modulation. Large sections of the Copland are predominantly diatonic with more adventurous harmony for example major-minor combinations being explored others. Examples of purely diatonic passages include bar 1 to 18 and.34 to 102....... Whilst the Copland isnt sonata or ternary form – there is nonetheless a very clear 5 section structure which allows for the introduction and development of musical material.
Tonic pedals and tonic dominant alternations are heard in both works. In the Mozart it is usually the brass, timpani and bass strings who are given these roles as we can see in bars 225 – 243 (tonic pedal) and 291 to the end of movement 1. In the Copland we can see an example of pedal note on the 4 th horn which 29 bars from figure 8 to halfway through figure 10. Complete for homework!!
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