How strange?????????!!!!!!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Masterblaster jnr, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. Masterblaster jnr

    Masterblaster jnr Active Member

    Tonight at my band we played 'Prelude for an Occasion' by Edward gregson and i had noticed that the final chord, wasn't a standard tonic triad C Major chord, (i looked at the key and we (horns) were in C Major).

    I thought nothing of it until i looked at the rep & flugel part next to me, and noticed, that the Bb rep and flugel part was also in C Major. Now i haven't done music theory yet, but from my sibelius use i know that if horns are in C Major, Bb instruments are in 1 flat (F Major) and if cornets are in C Major, then Eb Horns are in G Major (1 sharp).

    Can anyone explain why, or how, or whether i'm just getting confused :-?.

    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
  2. You really do need to get out more!! :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
  3. Masterblaster jnr

    Masterblaster jnr Active Member

    Tell me about it :rolleyes:.

    It takes work to be a proffessional band geek you know. it takes hard work and dedication to have over 30 test pieces on your ipod :biggrin:
  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Do you mean the key signature was C Major? If so, it's probably because a lot of contemporary composers write in "open key", meaning they don't actually write key signatures, but just put accidentals in as and when they're needed. From memory, there are no hideous clashes at the end of Prelude, so I assume this is the explanation.

    Key signatures got to be "unfashionable" because most composers don't write strictly in keys, in the way that Schubert of Mendelssohn might. There are often "tonal centres" which is why that big major chord at the end sounds so final, but 20th century British music in particular uses modes more than keys, so a key signature might actually be a bit misleading.

    If that doesn't make sense, I've been on the wine. It's OK, brassneck will be along in a mo to explain it properly ;)
  5. scotchgirl

    scotchgirl Active Member

    Instead of putting key signatures in all the parts, the composer has written it using accidentals - there. lol!
  6. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Sometimes simple questions can create a path for tortuous answers ... but I'll try!

    The most common form of music in Western culture is tonal, i.e., drawn towards certain root chords that are either minor of major. The tonal centres usually are identified in score and parts by examining the key signature and locating them. Early music (including folk and Eastern styles) relied on a modal structure with a few accidentals that drew the harmonies to tonal centres. If you can imagine playing scales on just the white piano keys you can capture an idea what I'm on about. With the development of chromaticism and instruments to play these notes, rules were established with the creation of key signatures to act as templates for composers and players alike to formalise harmonic movement. The success of this lead to centuries of imaginative writing and still is extensively used today.

    Not everyone was happy with this set up though and wanted to explore new harmonic territory so new scales and ideas were experimented with. Whole tone, blues, 12 note scales, quadratic harmony (as opposed to the standard triadic), bi and polytonal keys (using more than one key at the same time) and various other non-Western styles are just a few examples. Key signatures had less importance as the tonal centres could freely change to reflect the writer's concepts of colour, texture and rhythm. Whenever key signatures were used, it was more for the convenience of players & conductors reading parts & scores without the duplication of accidentals. The music then is usually described as atonal.

    Not a great explanation, but at least it was an attempt!
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  7. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    That was a great attempt, Brassneck! Text book stuff, I'd say. If my memory serves me coreectly, that probably is the case with Gregson's compositional technique. Tonal centres or chordal centres.
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I would say Edward Gregson's early music was more based on quadratics (chords based on intervals of 4ths, not 3rds) similar to Paul Hindemith's usage, thus reducing the need for key signatures.
  9. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    As I havn't seen any of Gregson's more recent work, ie, Trumpets of the Angels, Rococo Variations, what compositonal technique would he have used?
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    He's been using various methods. I even have a recording of an orchestral work by him where he has dabbled with Minimalist techniques. Composers tend to have an identity or niche that keeps them recognisable when heard ... the Holy Grail of music writing in my opinion. Unfortunately, this path can have limitations and new, developed ideas (of similar means) may get exhausted or saturated over time.
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I always thought that the word was 'quartal' or 'quartic' in relation to harmony based on 4ths. The word 'quadratic' is related to the word for four, but comes via the Latin word for 'square' - hence a quadratic equation being one of second degree. If both are allowed, I think I prefer 'quartal' for clarity and consistency.
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    To tell you the truth, I don't think the term has been used for years. Difficult enough trying to get the definition online. I was introduced to it as quadratic by (I think) Michael Tippett when I was privileged to be invited to have a chat with him when he had one of his regular holidays in Edinburgh when I was in my late teens.
  13. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Quartel Harmony is the correct usage of the method. Thanks for correcting me Dave.
  14. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    I was right with you until the last sentence! The music which we normally describe as atonal is, strictly speaking, music which lacks any sense of tonal centre, such as the music Schoenberg composed after his second quartet or the serial works of Webern.

    In the case of the Gregson the tonal centres are clear although if my memory of the piece is correct the tonality is more wide ranging than most band music of that time but still quite firmly rooted in F (concert pitch); the lack of a key signature would seem to indicate that tonal flexibility but in no sense is the music atonal. (I've a feeling too that a lot of composers of that time jumped on the 'look at me - no key signature' bandwagon to make their music appear more modern than it really was)!

  15. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    "BAND" Wagon? boom boom!

    Sorry! It was all very deep stuff!
  16. TubaGeek

    TubaGeek Member

    The whole piece is probably atonal. Amongst those thirty test pieces on your iPod, one of them must be "fantasy for brass band"? That's a good example of an atonal piece. Accidentals are just written as needed.
  17. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Hi Dave, I was just trying to summarise as best as I could about change in harmonic structures. I jumped ahead of myself there. Atonality is the avoidance of tonal centres and keys. Ouch, two errors in one day! :oops: I'll stand facing the corner!
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    No, as Straightmute and brassneck just pointed out, "atonal" doesn't mean "written without a key signature", it means "written without a discernable preference to be in any particular key". Arnold's "Fantasy for Brass Band" isn't atonal; it always has a clear idea of where the tonic is, even though it shifts quite often. Very few brass band pieces are strictly atonal. Bingham's "Prague", maybe?

    I don't quite know what the word is for a piece that is tonal but written without a key signature - "McFadyenesque", maybe?
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  19. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    One more and your out Tom!
    Come on get your act together or that boffin award may have to go to BBM Perks esq. :wink:
  20. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    It's been one of those days, sigh! :-?

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