Symphony of Psalms

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Symphony of Psalms by Mind Map: Symphony of Psalms

1. Context

1.1. Igor Stravinsky - Russian C20th Composer

1.2. Influenced by Russian Orthodox

1.3. "It is not a symphony in which i have included psalms to be sung. On the contrary, it is singing of psalms that i am symphonising"

1.4. Moved away from extreme sophistication of rhythm and instrumentation towards economy and simplicity

1.5. Common use of repeated short melodic and rhythmic patterns

1.6. Symphony - Sounding together

1.7. Orchestra too large for church, more for concert platform

1.8. Inspiration - "A vision of Elijah's chariot climbing the heavens... never before had i written anything quite so literal as the triplets... to suggest horses and chariots."

1.9. Four part chorus and large orchestra as equal partners

2. Word Setting

2.1. Creates music with ideas rather than words

2.2. Individual phrases are often set with the syllables in the wrong place

2.3. More interested in sound of words than meaning

3. Dynamics

3.1. b31 - sforzando chord

3.2. b36-40 - crescendo to 'Laudate Dominum' rhythm

3.3. b48 - tutti loud chords

3.4. b50-52 - sopranos marked 'cantabile non forte'

4. Rhythm

4.1. b10 - 'In sanctis ejus' slow minim movement

4.2. b40-47 - triplet figures representing the rise of the chariot and horses to heaven

4.3. b65 - the rhythm of idea 2 is shifted forward a quaver to form the setting of the key words of the movement - 'Laudate Dominum' (praise the lord)

4.4. b65-98 - homorhythmic scales leading to a second climax at b98

4.5. b126-134 - triplets against quavers of 'Laudate Eum'

4.6. b146 - 3/2 - in response to the text 'choro' (dance) the minim beat becomes extremely slow from b150 (48bpm) so the dotted rhythms are solemn

5. Lyrics

5.1. Setting of Psalm 150

5.1.1. 1 - Alleluia! Praise God in his holy place, praise him in the heavenly vault of his power

5.1.2. 2 - Praise him for his mighty deeds, praise him for all his greatness

5.1.3. 3 - Praise him with fanfare of trumpet, praise him with harp and lyre

5.1.4. 4 - Praise him with tamborines and dancing, praise him with strings and pipes

5.1.5. 5 - Praise him with the clamour of cymbals, praise him with triumphant cymbals

5.1.6. 6 - Let everything that breathes praise Yahweh. Alleluia!

5.2. General

5.2.1. Music created with ideas rather than words

5.2.2. Phrases set with syllables in wrong place

5.2.3. More interested in sound of the words (phonology)

5.2.4. Crisp, distinctive rhythms with syllabic word setting and use of hockets

5.2.5. Minimal word-painting leads to unexpected treatment of text

5.2.5.1. Alleluia is 'quiet and reverent' instead of usual celebratory treatment

5.2.6. Instruments are not highlighted in the orchestration - music is mystical and hypnotic

5.2.6.1. b87-94 praise him sound of trumpets very much in the background

5.2.6.2. b152 mentions 'timpano' but no use of timpani

5.2.6.3. b165 - use of word 'cymbals' but no use of them

5.3. Bar Refences

5.3.1. b7 - the clashing chords (BITONALITY) resolve to Cmaj triad (the tonic of the movement) on latin word for God

5.3.2. b7-8 - stravisnky highlights the name of God 'Dominum' with simplicity of syllabic setting, choir sings hushed bare 8ves on C with an E added very high in the orchestra - yet again root and 3rd only

5.3.3. b65 - the rhythm of idea 2 is shifted forward a quaver to form the setting of the key words of the movement - 'Laudate Dominum' (praise the lord)

5.3.4. b65-71 - voice takes up the syncopated orchestral rhythms and melodic invention is reduced to a monotone to maximise the percussive impact of the word setting

5.3.5. b146 - 3/2 - in response to the text 'choro' (dance) the minim beat becomes extremely slow from b150 (48bpm) so the dotted rhythms are solemn

6. Structure

6.1. 3rd and last movement of the symphony

6.2. Each section corresponds with the setting of a phrase or sentence of the psalm

6.3. An orchestral interlude may appear between choral passages. These are based on similar melodic or rhythmic patterns

6.4. b144-146 - Climax

6.5. b2, 102, 205 - Three statements of acclamation 'Alleluia' marks the start and end of sections in the movement

6.6. b23-52 - first orchestral interlude

6.7. b99-149 - varied repeats of earlier material

6.8. Orchestral Interludes

6.8.1. b23-52

6.8.2. b116-120

6.8.3. b129-131

6.8.4. b134-149

6.8.5. b199-205

7. Melody/Motifs

7.1. Six Key Motifs

7.1.1. A

7.1.1.1. Homophonic setting of Alleluia

7.1.1.2. Serves as a very simple refrain

7.1.1.3. b2-3

7.1.2. B

7.1.2.1. Hypnotically repeating melodic ostinato

7.1.2.2. D-Eb-Bb, ending on repeated C

7.1.2.3. Narrow range and repetitive patterns are like those of Russian folk songs

7.1.2.4. b4 Tenors/Bass

7.1.3. C

7.1.3.1. Alternation between two notes of a minor third

7.1.3.2. b9-11 Sopranos

7.1.4. D

7.1.4.1. Simple chant like melody consisting of 2 notes semitone apart

7.1.4.2. b14-19 Horns

7.1.5. E

7.1.5.1. Six-note quaver rhythm

7.1.5.2. Often metrically displaced

7.1.5.3. b24 Bassoons/Horns

7.1.6. F

7.1.6.1. Triplet rhythms

7.1.6.2. Take place in triadic and semitonal/chromatic figures

7.1.6.3. b40-45

7.1.6.3.1. b40-43 (triadic)

7.1.6.3.2. b44-45 (semitonal/chromatic)

7.2. Two Main Ideas

7.2.1. First Idea

7.2.1.1. Two linked thirds (minor and major)

7.2.1.2. Recurs at different piches and on different instruments

7.2.1.3. Notes can also be reorded

7.2.1.4. b4-11 D to Bb, C to Eb (laudate)

7.2.1.4.1. This melody suggests Eb Major but accompanied by C Major triads in bass part - BITONALITY

7.2.1.4.2. Clashing 3rds resolve onto a pure major third on C in b7 - significantly on capitalized Latin name for God

7.2.2. Second Idea

7.2.2.1. Six note rhythm

7.2.2.2. Used to generate excitement

7.2.2.3. First heard b24

7.2.2.4. Elijahs chariot climbing the heavens - suggesting horses and chariots

7.3. Slowly revolving melodies are reminiscent of cells of Russian folk music and orthodox chant

7.4. Constant thread of slowly revolving ostinato patterns - hypnotic effect

7.5. b205 - alleluia returns once, followed by complete resolution of all tonal tension with simple C major triad with which symphony ends

8. Metre

8.1. Constantly changing

8.1.1. b1 - 4/4

8.1.2. b10 - 3/2

8.1.3. b11 - 4/4

8.1.4. b52 - 2/2

8.1.5. b71 - 3/2

8.1.6. b72 - 2/2

8.1.7. b76 - 3/2

8.1.8. b77 - 2/2

8.1.9. b82 - 3/2

8.1.10. b83 - 2/2

8.1.11. b99 - 4/4

8.1.12. b106 - 3/4

8.1.13. b107 - 4/4

8.1.14. b112 - 3/2

8.1.15. b113 - 4/4

8.1.16. b139 - 2/4

8.1.17. b140 - 3/4

8.1.18. b141 - 4/4

8.1.19. b146 - 3/2

8.1.19.1. In response to the text 'choro' (dance)

8.1.19.2. The minim beat becomes extremely slow from b150 (48bpm) so the dotted rhythms are solemn

8.1.20. b163 - 4/2 against 3/2

8.1.20.1. Cross metre effect of 3/2 against the 4/2 feel of the four note ostinato

8.1.21. b205 - 4/4

9. Instruments/Timbre

9.1. Forces

9.1.1. woodwind

9.1.1.1. 5 flutes and piccolo

9.1.1.2. 4 oboes

9.1.1.3. 3 bassoons

9.1.1.4. double bassoon

9.1.2. brass

9.1.2.1. cor anglais

9.1.2.2. 5 trumpets

9.1.2.2.1. 1 trumpet in D

9.1.2.3. 4 french horns

9.1.2.3.1. sound perf 5th lower

9.1.2.4. 2 trombones

9.1.2.5. bass trombone

9.1.2.6. tuba

9.1.3. strings

9.1.3.1. cellos

9.1.3.2. double bass

9.1.3.2.1. sounds 8ve lower

9.1.4. percussion

9.1.4.1. bass drum

9.1.4.2. timpani

9.1.5. other

9.1.5.1. SATB male choir

9.1.5.2. 2 pianos

9.1.5.3. harp

9.2. Ensemble consists of a choral and instrumental section, each treated independently and equally

9.3. No upper strings - too much vibrato

9.4. Stravinsky preferred clear tone of trebles to sopranos for their 'coolness of timbre'

9.5. No organ/clarinets - timbre too warm

9.6. Wind and brass sections enlargened

9.7. Unique orchestra

9.7.1. without romantic timbres of violin, viola and clarinet

9.7.2. enabled stravinsky to create hard-edged timbres and a variety of clear textures - vital to stravinskys concept as much as notes themselves

9.8. Although text refers to cymbals, none present

9.9. Two pianos add percussive incisiveness

9.10. Stravinsky displays innovative handling of natural harmonics which produce different timbres

10. Texture

10.1. Textures dominated by ostinati

10.2. Hard-edged clarity is a hallmark of Stravinsky's style

10.3. Layered textures and sudden textural changes maybe reflect his knowledge of late renaissance and early baroque music

10.4. Bar References

10.4.1. b1-2 - widely spaced wind chords

10.4.2. b2-3 - choral homophony (unaccompanied apart from strings tonic and dominant notes)

10.4.3. b4-6 - chorus ostinato plus harp/piano ostinato both in 8ves

10.4.4. b7-9 - tutti chord over 5 8ves

10.4.4.1. 5th omitted

10.4.4.2. doubling of 3rd at top

10.4.4.3. cello/bass ostinato begins

10.4.5. b9-11 - outer chorus parts in 8ves, inner parts swap between major and minor 3rds of C major chord outlined by continuing bass ostinato

10.4.6. b12-20 (as 4-6) - plus sop and alto parts in 3rds, a two note horn ostinato (filling out texture) and doubling of bass ostinato by 5 flutes

10.4.6.1. Typical example of Stravinsky's layered textures

10.4.7. b21-23 - tutti chord as b7-8 but with Bb (flattened 7th) in 2nd cello

10.4.8. b24-39 - rapidly repeated bassoon and horn chords alternate w/ostinato strings overlaid w/2nd ostinato

10.4.9. b40-52 - new diatonic versions of bass ostinato plus motif of repeated chords overlaid w/woodwind triplet figures

10.4.9.1. Build to homophonic climax b48-49

10.4.9.2. Followed by loud tonic chord of Cmaj b51

10.4.10. b53-64 - two ostinati plus soprano chant with alto countermelody

10.4.11. b65-98 - repeated chords of b24-39 above ostinato, then cantabile choral melodies with repeated chords and homorhythmic scales leading to a second climax b98

10.4.12. b73-99 - smooth choral writing (bass only) accompanied by angular orchestral sounds

10.4.13. b80-86 - vocal duet accompanied by complex instrumental texture

10.4.14. b100-104 - 'moment of repose' woodwind and brass gurgle

10.4.15. b150 - canon - soprano/bass above simple triadic ostinato for dble bassoon and b.trombone

10.4.16. b150-156 - canonic passage involving instruments and voices

10.4.17. b156 - choral parts are imitative but not canonic

10.4.18. b150-160 - imitative counterpoint, but effect is restrained. homophonic alleluias

10.4.19. b161-162 - massive tutti chordal passage

10.4.20. b163-198 - new version of choral chant accompanied by four-note ostinato stated 31 times

10.4.20.1. cuts across barlines

10.4.20.2. 3 statements of ostinato to four bars choral chant

10.4.21. b187-198 - ten independent contrapuntal strands w/many dissonances - but you only hear bass ostinato and homophonic voices wreather in aura of high pitched sound

11. Tonality

11.1. Stravinsky's treatment of tonality described to be 'an escape from the excesses of late Romantic chromaticism'

11.2. Use of bitonality

11.2.1. melody suggests Eb major but is accompanied by a bass part outlining a c major triad = BITONALITY, frequently used by Stravinsky

11.2.2. b4-11

11.3. Many factors contributing to the cacophony of dissonance to be heard during parts of the movement

11.4. Bar References

11.4.1. b4-11 - the melody suggests Eb major but is accompanied by a bass part outlining a c major triad = BITONALITY, frequently used by Stravinsky

11.4.2. b53-64 - C major tonality with Bbs

11.4.3. b65-72 - E minor tonality

11.4.4. b104 - Eb major

11.4.5. b115-121 - in recapitulation the rhythm of idea 2 is sung to a series of chords that rise from C major

11.4.6. b126-128 - E major

11.4.7. b132 - Bb major

11.4.8. b150 - D major but tonality constantly undermined eg b154 - F naturals

11.4.9. b205 onwards - complete resolution of all tonal tension with a final C major triad ending the movement

12. Harmony

12.1. b1-3 - Voice parts slide around chromatically leading to a cadence into C minor

12.2. b4-11 - Clashing chords (BITONALITY) resolve to C major triad (tonic) in b7 on latin word for God

12.3. b6(3) - Shock E natural in bass part. FALSE RELATION between Eb in the voices and E natural in instrumental parts (bass and timp)

12.4. b7-8 - Tutti chord over 5 8ves

12.4.1. 5th omitted

12.4.2. Doubling of 3rd at top

12.5. b10 - 'In Sanctis Ejus' - slow minim movement, Eb voice clash with E natural bass

12.6. b10-11 - FALSE RELATION in soprano and alto parts, E nat and Eb

12.7. b21-22 - 'Laudate Dominum' quiet C major chord almost tutti. 1st section ends with TIERCE DE PICARDIE

12.8. b23-24 - Drops to just dble bass and cellos who have flattened 7th Bb which is a v.modern sound, no 5th in chord

12.9. b32-43 - chords used to generate excitement as it steps up in the horns from C major triad to a D major triad (secondary dominant' then an E major triad (secondary dominant of D)

12.10. b40-47 - triplet figures culminate in massive D major chords with bass G#

12.11. b51(4) - loud tonic chord C major

12.12. b144-146 - massive E major chords with A# bass

12.13. b149 - F# major triad

12.14. b150-156 - G major arpeggio in bass trombone and dble bassoon heard against different arpeggiated chords in voices

12.14.1. b150 - Dmaj

12.14.2. b151 - Gmaj

12.14.3. b152 - Emin

12.14.4. b153 - Cmaj

12.14.5. b154 - Dmin

12.14.6. b155 - Gmin

12.14.7. b156 - Dmaj

12.15. b155 - FALSE RELATION bass trombone and dble bassoon Bb against B natural

12.16. b205 onwards - Complete resolution of all tonal tension with final tonic C major triad ending the movement. Only root and 3rd (accentuates major)