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  Tunes based on one note  MartinY at 16:29 on 07 May 2011

Why bother with modes and scales when you can have a tune on one note? The most famous common practice example is Mvt 2 of Rasumovsky One where Count Rasumovsky was expected to play a one note tune and they thought that Beethoven was having a joke and the real Mvt 2 would follow. He was not.

Other examples are the trumpet tunes in Biber's Table Sonatas but I see that William Lawes in what we might call the Signature Suite, (Set a6 in C-Major) also has a tune on one note in the 2nd Fantazy (sic).
(I call it the Signature Suite because at the end of the first movement the viols go William Lawes, William Lawes, William Lawes, William Lawes, William Lawes, William Lawes, William Lawes, William Lawes, William Lawes, just in case you were in any doubt that someone else wrote it.)

P.S. Mvt 1 of Rasumovsky One is well worth a look at because there are many wierd and wonderful things in that too.

  Re: Tunes based on one note  Misuc at 18:58 on 30 July 2011

A slight exaggeration, Martin. The one note bit lasts no more than 3 - 4 seconds in probably the longest [and most complex] string quartet ever written up to that time.

  Re: Tunes based on one note  MartinY at 07:54 on 31 July 2011

I mean a repeated note, so the tune is just a rhythm. Coincidentially earlier this week on Radio 3 there was broadcast a piano piece by Ligeti which is based on one repeated note. I am sure keyboard players out there have a score of it and can give more details.

  Re: Tunes based on one note  Misuc at 10:35 on 31 July 2011

yes, but it WAS a joke, martin - even if you didn't get it - and the movement did follow. The one note bit was a tiny component or building bloc from an immense and hard-to-fathom structure.

In this context, to say, as you do, that a composer can dispense with music-systems and just rely on one-note tunes is like telling a builder that if he uses bricks he doesn't need windows, doors, roofs,plaster, electric wiring, water pipes, furniture etc. etc.

  Re: Tunes based on one note  MartinY at 16:11 on 01 August 2011

All the pieces I mentioned are great pieces but I did post this partially as a joke to make the point that in so much of orthodox modernism all the familiar building blocks of music like melody, coherent rhythm, functional harmony etc. are regarded as things to be kept as far away as possible. This has been mentioned in several overviews of the contempoary music scene. I was making the point that in that case we may as well throw pitch out as well and just use one pitch.....

But seriously though I going to think about quite why these composers wrote their repeated note passages, (these passages are quite different from the repeated notes used in rococco / classical / classical music which is used to give some kind of motor to the accompanying harmony). In Lawes the passage is I think connected with speech, in Biber it highlights the technical difference between the fanfares of the natural trumpets and the sophistication, divisions and chromatic harmony of the 5 / 6 part strings in the table sonatas.

(Ultimate minimalist piece... just play an A for as long as you like on any instrument except the oboe then stop.)

  Re: Tunes based on one note  Saber at 03:58 on 27 December 2011

It is true that tuning on just one note is more easy than going for modes and scales. Howsoever, I personally feel that there are advantages for staying with modes and scales as well. One such advantage I have found myself is that it lets you the freedom to customize. It also lasts longer compared to one note.


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