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Topic: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

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  1. #1
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    Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Perhaps the most memorable scene in the whole play is Hamlet’s return to Denmark.

    He meets his friend, Horatio, in a graveyard as a “clown” digs a new grave.
    Contemplating Yorick’s skull, Hamlet thinks about the final destiny of every person’s physical body – from the dirt we came and to the dirt we return. The great and small are all equal in the end, Alexander the Great’s body stunk just as much as that of the lowest peasant.

    While contemplating such happy thoughts, Ophelia’s funeral procession shows up – a minimal ensemble, trying to hide the shame of a believed suicide.

    Overcome by love, guilt and sadness, Hamlet jumps into the grave with the body. Leartes, not wanting to be outdone by his father’s murder, whom he also blamed for his sister’s death, also jumps into the grave. This is, of course, the set up for the final scene of death and destruction.

    I had originally planned just a quick transition between the fourth and sixth movement, but I decided to call it a movement on its own, giving it themes heard only here. And actually, the general idea of this movement changed greatly over time. I rewrote half of it in one sitting, totally changing the whole conception. (One note – I originally wrote this description as I was planning the movement. Since the movement changed later, I had to rewrite the description. Some of the “old movement” that no longer exists might show through here or there.)

    Although this is as programic as anything in this symphony, I did not want to follow the play exactly – this is music, not theatre.

    We begin with the flowing river of the last movement (these two movements should flow together uninterrupted). An asymmetric funeral march comes in. It is ended by a longing for Ophelia, which then breaks down into a “soliloquy” about death given by a solo cello. The funeral march returns, but changed. In the final playing of the march theme in the strings, it is treated almost like a choral. As the march seems to die away we are suddenly hit by a very dark version of the country dance heard in the fourth movement.

    After finishing this movement I have thought that maybe it really does belong as part of the fourth movement, maybe as a long coda. However, I think there is enough new material to call this a stand alone movement.

    Hamlet Symphony I: Introduction – The Midnight watch
    Hamlet Symphony II: Hamlet – To Be or Not To Be
    Hamlet Symphony III: Mad North by Northwest
    Hamlet Symphony IV: Remembering Ophelia
    Hamlet Symphony V: At the Gravesite
    Trent P. McDonald

  2. #2

    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Nice work on V., Trent -- very evocative of the
    graveyard scene. This is one of the most interesting
    of the movements to me, regardless of its thematic
    independence.

    My best,



    David
    -----
    David Sosnowski
    www.DavidSosnowski.com

  3. #3
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    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Thanks David.

    I wasn't really sure how this would go over, particularly since it's cut off from its context. On the other hand, if anyone thought this symphony up to this point wasn't dark enough, given the inspiration, they need look no farther than this movement....

    Thanks again for listening and for your comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  4. #4

    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Interesting,
    I enjoyed the rhythmic play. Your fast paced winds coupled with the snare rolls and "sulking" melody was a very creative way to begin. Almost an overlapping of scenes. A gradation of moods. Later on I found the singular wind lines and lush string section to be very effective. Bringing the snare back adds much melancholy and strongly reinforces this movement. The end was a bit abrupt. Almost sounded comical for a second. A nice shock. Very well done Trent!

    M
    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music
    http://www.miserymadebeautiful.com

  5. #5
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    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Hi Michael. Thanks for your kind words.

    "Almost an overlapping of scenes" - actually, that is exactly it. This movement is, what is the word - attacca? - it follows the previous movement without a pause. I wanted a transition between the two ideas and so did the little time shift - I changed the fast notes from sixteenth to triplets and slowed it down. I'm glad you liked the effect.

    I can see how the end could be almost comical - it is such a big change. I think it sounds better when this flows out of the last movement. This same section of music is heard twice before with different instrumentation. And different intensity - it is almost angry by this, the third, playing.

    Thanks again for listening and for your comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  6. #6

    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    I got comfy, closed my eyes, and sat back to be taken again to Hamlet's dark world.

    I emerge blinking, the sunshine today seems out of place after this mist shrouded funeral, intruding dangers and plaintive, conflicted musings of the prince as spoken by the Cello.

    I'm with David, Trent - this could be the most musically interesting of the very full hand you're laying down for us.

    Again, reeling in amazement over the enormity of your work on this. Thanks again for your atmospheric medieval Denmark, Trent.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Trent

    This works well for a graveyard scene.

    Often times composers run movements together with out any break, so calling it the V movement is fine IMO.

    Nice work.

    Ron
    "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein

    http://composersforum.ning.com/profile/RonaldFerguson

  8. #8
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    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Hi Randy,

    Thought you'd be taking a short trip to Denmark soon. And a much darker Denmark here...

    As I wrote to David, I was a little more worried with this one. It is a little different from the others, from a musical stand point. Yes, it has all of the same themes, the funeral march being the only new part, but treated very differently. That being said, I felt as I was writing that each movement got a little better.

    Thanks for listening and for your comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  9. #9
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    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Hi Ron. You must be taking a break from your busy schedule. Thanks for spending some of that break listening to Hamlet.

    My main concern with calling it a different movement would be if it sounds like when when heard as part of a performance. I guess since it seems to be successful as a stand alone I shouldn't worry about it.

    Thanks for listening and for your comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  10. #10
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    Re: Hamlet Symphony Movement V - At the Gravesite

    Woe! I've been away too long! There's not much I could say that hasn't already been said. I will add (nontechnical) hit the nail on the head!

    Unbelievable talented work!

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