Apparently I haven’t written a blog in almost a month. “Why is that?” you ask. Just after I wrote the last blog, I began doing my analyses and research for two theory papers. These papers were to serve as my portfolio in my application packet to the MMus program at UNM. Keep in mind that I haven’t actually analyzed any music in almost eight years, so this task proved to be somewhat of a stretch for me. Difficult? Not really. But let’s just say that my brain spent a fair amount of time sweating during this mental workout. I think it is also fair to say that when presented with a handful of augmented sixth chords in the Beethoven piece, I spent more time banging my head against the wall than actually figuring out the function of the chords.
Let me begin by saying that I’ve never written papers like these before (and was told by a friend that these type of papers aren’t normally written in undergraduate programs, so there was no reason for me to have experience writing them), so the whole concept of a theory paper was somewhat foreign to me. The Beethoven paper was straightforward as far as information goes. I chose the first movement of the Op. 10 No. 3. So…write some background on sonata form, write some background on the piece, examine any noteworthy sections based on analysis, write a conclusion. Done. The Marrolli piece, however, was a different animal all unto itself.
At first glance, the Marrolli piece looks simple–and strictly speaking of the notes, it is. That being said, it starts with a spoken section (that after a few measures has voices in different time signatures) where voice parts are pitted against each other. After a handful of bars, a drone enters that stabilizes a simple melody in the upper voices. This is the end of the normality of the piece. In comes people singing the melody whenever they want at basically whatever speed they want. That section was the easiest to analyze, as the whole section is one giant D-minor chord. Here comes the fun part: the last section of the piece has eight chords. No, not eight chords over and over…just eight chords. People sing one word throughout the entire section, and similar to previously, sing it at whatever tempo they want. The whole section creates this support system for the mezzo solo that is floating above. Okay, so there is the whole run-down in a tiny, tiny nutshell. This is the analysis that proved to be the most difficult for me because the majority of the analysis was over the programmatic aspect of the piece. It is really simple to listen to a story, hear a piece that is telling that story, and then say, “oh yeah, I totally hear all of that.” It’s a whole other thing to sit down and make a bunch of inferences about what you think is going on. But…the papers are written, so that’s all that matters!
Hopefully I wrote something similar to what the selection committee is expecting. Who knows, maybe it’s exactly what they want…or maybe it’s nothing like what they’re expecting. In a perfect world, they will look at it and say, “we MUST have her in our program!” (especially because I wrote a paper about a lesser-known composer, right?) Because of this whole starting-a-PhD-that-I-found-out-that-I-hate-and-now-trying-to-switch-programs-to-music-theory thing, I’ve been quite discombobulated (and I use that word in homage to a recent conversation). Does that mean that I have ignored my blog writing? No, but it does mean that I have gone through writing two papers and covering the material in three semesters worth of music history as well as four semesters worth of music theory in the last three weeks. My brain is fried, yet I can’t get enough. The more I read, the more I want to know. Most people in my life know that this is just a part of who I am.
Now it’s just all about playing the “waiting” game.