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Topic: Musical ideas - what makes them "weighty"?

  1. #1

    Musical ideas - what makes them "weighty"?

    I'm not sure how much discussion this will spawn and the direction of conversation could go several ways I suppose as the question is somewhat open-ended.

    I've been doing alot of personal study and reading about some of the classic composers (not classical era) and come across the phrase or the idea of their thematic or motivic material having enough weight to be usable in longer forms.

    Brahms for example purposely didn't write a symphony until he was in his forties because he didn't consider himself ready. Then when he had sketches for what he thought would be his first symphony he didn't think they had enough merit to be developed into a symphony and I think it turned into a sonata or concerto.

    Even on our forum a recent post by etLux had a comment about a recent composition possibly being part of a symphony but that he didn't know if the two sister pieces had merit to become such a long form.

    So this got me thinking what are the elements that make musical ideas worthy of a longer form? Some composers have a germ of 3 or 4 notes while some have entire themes consisting of maybe 4-8 measures. So it must not be the length of the initial material. But what exactly is is eludes me.

    Any thoughts? I'm sure there are some out there.
    Steve Winkler GPO4 JAAB3 Finale 2012 Reaper Windows 7 Pro 64-bit VSL SE+

  2. #2

    Re: Musical ideas - what makes them "weighty"?

    How well the material can be handled.

    ie: how much modification can the thematic material survive, how "inventive" can this modification get. the more different uses you can get out of material, the more you can modify it and stretch it and change it, the better it is for a "long form".

    Mind you, I say this and my 1st symphony is monothematic! however, the theme itself takes two pages in the score to be stated in its entirety.

    One could, for example, look at whether there are specific cells within the longer thematic material that can be extracted and which will be suitable as the basis for development. Will using these cells always necessarily harken back to the original theme? Or do they have enough individuality in contour to give them a unique flavour?

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