Analysis Of Prelude-Exploring The Modes Of Ode To Eternal Pine

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The mature period of Chou Wen-Chung’s compositional output was marked by the gradual formulation of his musical language from I Ching, or the Classic of Changes from the Western Zhou period (1000-750 BCE). The most documented aspect of Chou’s language was his system of pitch organization, which he named variable modes. It took Chou more than three decades to arrive at its final version, and it formed the backbones of his compositional structure. The theoretical foundation of this system is based on the I Ching trigrams. Two kinds of lines construct the trigrams; from the ontological theory of Yin and Yang dialectical monism, the unbroken line represents Yang, while the broken line represents Yin. Yin and Yang then combine to create the eight …show more content…
The first eight measures explore the two variable modes related by reflexion and . The first four measures shown on the figure above explore the mode starting on Eb (Eb-F-G-A-B-D). The first concert D played by the bass clarinet, augmented by the crescendo al niente as well as the change from non vibrato to vibrato, prepares the listener to focus on the arrival of Eb, the principle note of the mode. The modal establishment is solidified when bass clarinet, piano, and cello ground the vertical harmony in measure 4 with low Ebs in the …show more content…
In the piano part, Chou introduces the notes from the rest of the Modal Complex related by symmetry, i.e. remaining notes of the aggregate (E-C#-C-Bb-Ab-Gb). However, he leaves out the notes C, D, and F; F is not to be introduced until the second movement; C and D become important members of the pentatonic set G-A-C-D-F played by the alto flute in measures 5-6. One may wonder how does this pentatonic set fit into Chou’s variable modes system, for no single hexachordal set contains these pitches by themselves. Things become clearer upon analysis. It is visually clear that certain relationships exist between the pair of phrases played by the alto flute and bass clarinet in these four measures. The common tone F serves as a bridge between the two phrases is from this note that a nona-chord is formed from two identical trigrams in opposing directions. The two modes share the same core notes (F, A, Db) - the notes that form the spaces in which the lines of Yin and Yang are

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