Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009 --Canon at the 6th

[I wrote this canon on Thursday but got home too late and tired to post -- here it is:]

Yesterday's canon proved to be easy because the imitation interval of a fifth facilitated circle of fifth progressions to the point of almost making them inevitable. Today I decided to explore another interval if imitation, namely the 6th and explore its relationship to another traditional element of contrapuntal/harmonic language.

My first thought was to try a chain of 7-6 suspensions -- which, of course, could be managed in any imitation interval, if the time interval is right. The 7-6 suspension chain is a contrapuntal cliché (I mean that in a good sense.) that harmonizes a descending scale.

[For the uninitiated: A suspension is a dissonance (in this case, a 7th) that is tied from the previous measure or beat, where it is consonant, and then resolves down by step to another consonance (in this case, a 6th). When the lower voice is descending stepwise through the scale, a chain of these suspensions is possible.]

The examples show the basic, unadorned 7-6 suspension in different imitation intervals and the time interval required to make it happen (for whole notes and tied half notes). As you can see, with the imitation interval of a sixth, the time interval is one half note or half a measure of 4/4 time

Also, in the examples, you'll see the underlying structure of today's canon.

(click on image to enlarge.)

I elaborated the suspensions with ornamental resolutions and fleshed out the rest with some simple passing tones to differentiate the voices.

As a further "control", I gradually moved from primarily quarter-note motion at the beginning to eighth-note motion at the end by carefully choosing my elaborations -- especially the ornamental resolutions of the suspensions.

(click on image to enlarge.)

Some of the things I am discovering about harmonic control and contrapuntal clichés in canon writing are informing my technique when improvising. This is not unexpected, but I am surprised at how soon it is manifesting.

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