Assignment 4

This was a really enjoyable assignment, though quite a challenging one!  I followed the plan I prepared and created a piece in three sections.


The flute opening introduces the main motif of the piece, a three and a half bar melody. This theme is itself imitative in nature (bar two copies the last phrase from the previous bar a third higher) which sets the scene for the whole piece.

In the first section I used several imitative techniques.  The vibraphone first repeats the theme directly, with the last note also serving as the beginning of a new phrase and a sudden change in dynamic and mood.  In bar 12 the vibraphone plays an inverted form of the main theme, and in bar 19 the two voices echo each others’ short fragments.  In bar 7 the vibraphone also plays an augmented version of the flute line that started in the previous bar.  Towards the end of this section I built up to the climax with the two voices closely following each other on a repeated phrase based on the last bar of the main theme.

For section B I shifted down a gear or two to a more thoughtful mood.  As I wanted to keep some connection to the rest of the piece, I based it on a rhythm of two quavers followed by a longer note which is reminiscent of the main theme.  I introduced some pedalling on the vibraphone here to fill out the long bars and give it a dreamy feel.  The counterpoint is less intensive in this section but you can still hear the vibraphone imitating the flute patterns e.g. in the second half of bars 36 and 37.  I also used inversion again in bar 41 in the repeated semiquaver-semiquaver-quaver pattern.

In the final section we are back to the main theme, and this time the vibraphone plays it on the dominant.  In bar 61 the flute plays an augmented version of the theme; this is slightly modified to a straight minim – crotchet – crotchet rhythm which I thought sounded more deliberate and final, appropriate for the end of the piece.  Then there is another build up towards the final climax of the piece, with the voices closely following each other again.  I used some sudden changes in dynamics in the last few bars which I thought helped to intensify the ending.


I enjoyed writing for this combination of instruments and I think they sound good together.  I’m aware that the vibraphone can be used in much more demanding ways than I have done here but I thought writing a single line was the best way to focus on the counterpoint itself.  I also tried to be aware of the relative pitches of the two voices, to make sure they are well balanced throughout the piece.

I’ve marked vibraphone pedalling only in the second section where I explicitly wanted the notes to sound together; probably some pedal would be necessary to sustain the long notes in the rest of the piece but I have left this to the discretion of the performer who would best be able to judge this.

Structurally I think the plan for the piece worked out well enough; the middle section was a nice contrast, though I think there is a possibility that I slightly overdid the climax at the end of the first section, detracting a bit from the ending.  I again put quite a bit of effort into the dynamics and articulation, and I think the staccato, accents and sudden dynamic changes all help towards developing the energetic character I wanted to create.


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