Thursday, February 05, 2004

I'm not exactly well-versed in classical music structures, beyond knowing very basic facts like the parts of a sonata. However, I've always been fascinated by a group of practice pieces that J.S. Bach wrote for his students called "Inventions and Sinfonia." Not only do I enjoy playing the hell out of them (on the rare occasion when I get to practice), but I enjoy their brevity-compared to other baroque pieces- and the amazing structure governing such short pieces.
It basically breaks down like this (and this is a very rudimentary explanation): the right hand begins playing the melody which serves as the motif for the "invention." Several measures later the left hand repeats the exact same melody in the bass scale, whereas the treble is still continuing to play (think a "row row row your boat" round for the piano). They are written such that the treble and bass rarely sound discordant, and when they are discordant it still sounds brilliant. Many of them move through inversion and repetition phases still employing the same technique. "Sinfonias" are slightly different from "Inventions" in that (among other technical aspects I'm not going to delve into) instead of repeating the treble, the bass line acts almost as a musical counterpoint- same pattern as treble but different key. Sometimes they fuse two extremely dissonant keys- but it makes sense and sounds amazing. And there are fifteen of them, each with their own special set of rules. If you play piano and haven't given these a try yet I definitely recommend them.

Where am I going with all this? Somewhere. And fast!

I think I'm going to try applying this technique to a short story, in an obtuse sort of way.
Something along the lines of: starting a story, having the next paragraph being that same story had it started several minutes later, maybe having the two stories crash into each other and then divide doesn't even really make sense in my head yet so I'm having trouble explaining it here.

Has anyone tried to apply the classical sonata form to writing? I'm sure someone has...development (exposition), inversion (plot twists), but then the tricky "repetition," which in literature would mean the author is simply repeating the exposition with slightly different circumstances...hmmm...

I think I'm going to research some Brecht while my art director battles the printer. See where that takes me.