Tristan und Isolde - general Analysis

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Tristan und Isolde - general Analysis
Wagner -­‐ Prelude to Tristan und Isolde
Set Works 2013/14 - The Grange School & Sports College
Wagner: Q 1 & 2 -­‐
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“Tristan und Isolde” is a Gesamtkunst -­‐ werk (a work that aims to being all the arts together). Wagner himself was responsible for almost every element of the opera: words, music, produc9on, set etc.
The outline of the story involves Tristan (Medieval Knight) who travels from Cornwall to Ireland in order to bring back Isolde in order to marry King Mark. The pair fall in love & betray the trust of the King which has disastrous consequences. Revision Q3 -­‐ ✤
The Prelude is scored for a large orchestra, including the following transposing instruments (i.e. not concert pitch):
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Cor Anglais (sounding a perfect 5th lower than printed)
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Clarinet & Bass Clarinet in A (sounding a minor 3rd lower than printed)
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Two horns in F (sounding a perfect 5th lower than printed)
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Two horns in E (sounding a minor 6th lower than printed)
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Two trumpets in F (sounding a perfect 4th above the printed pitch)
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Double Bass (sounding an octave lower than wriKen)
Revision Q4 -­‐ Rising minor 6th (8 semi tones) represent yearning
Grief -­‐ cellos Bar 1 and 2. Used to form part of the Tristan Chord as it overlaps:
Revision Q5 -­‐ Desire
Love Potion
Glance
Revision Q6 -­‐ ✤
Wagner creates deliberate tonal ambiguity through use of sustained, lingering & oJen unresolved dissonances. The first chord, which is closely linked to the rest of the opera, is known as the Tristan chord. During the mid 19th century this chord was revoluLonary & uses the “Grief and Desire” leitmoLf which are a key symbol of the tragic themes which underpin the opera:
“Grief”
“Desire”
F -­‐ B -­‐ D# -­‐ G#
(half diminished 7th chord -­‐ diminished triad (F -­‐G# -­‐ B) & minor 7th (D#) ChromaSc accent which resolves by rising to the B
Revision Q7 -­‐ ✤
Significantly the V7 in A minor which follows the ‘Tristan’ chord in Bar 3 does not resolve (i.e. to the tonic as you would normally expect). Instead the chord is followed by silence.
Wagner -­‐ Structure: rhythm, tonality & texture
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The prelude makes no use of convenLonal structure
The determining features of the structure and shape of the music are repeLLon, melodic sequence and diminuLon.
Analyse your given secSon of the Prelude & use your worksheet to make notes
SecLon
Notes:
Bars 0-­‐24
Fred and Liz
Bars 246 -­‐ 65
Bars 66 -­‐ 83
Anna& Ben
Bars 84 -­‐ 111
Wagner: Texture
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Can you find examples of the following?
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Monophony ✤
Single line in octaves
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Broken Chords
Wagner: Texture
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The underlying texture is oJen melody -­‐ dominated homophony (harmonic progress that moves in step with a prevailing melody) The end of one phrase oJen overlaps with the start of another however the shape of the texture can oJen be influenced by the principal melody (e.g. bars 48 -­‐ 51)
Monophony -­‐ Bar 1
Single line in octaves (bars 14 -­‐ 15)
4 -­‐ Part wriSng with undoubled lines (bar 36)
RomanSc orchestraSons (e.g. broken chords in strings -­‐ bar 67)
Doubling of parts at 2 or 3 octaves (e.g. bar 53)
Wagner: Tonality
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Perfect cadences (which would normally confirm or reinforce our sense of key) are rarely heard in the Prelude which creates tonal ambiguity.
The use of chromaLcism allows Wagner to create a sense of conSnuous suspense by sliding from dominant to dominant.
Can you idenSfy the key suggested by cadences at the following points?
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Bar 24
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Bar 35 -­‐ 36
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Bar 62 -­‐ 63
Wagner: Tonality
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Bar 16 -­‐ 17 (interrupted cadence in A minor)
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Bar 63 -­‐ Dominant pedal
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Bar 35 -­‐ 36 -­‐ Perfect Cadence in D Minor
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Bar 62 -­‐ 63 -­‐ Imperfect Cadence in A Major
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The opening is based around A Minor (imperfect cadence in Bar 3) then moving to C Major (Bar 7)and E Major (Bar 11). Wagner: Instrument techniques
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The score is marked with great detail in a mixture of Italian and German. Describe the instrumental techniques (e.g. tremolo) found in:
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Bar 16
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Bar 36
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Bar 22 -­‐ 23
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Bar 83
Wagner: Instrument techniques
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Bar 16: Pizzicato (accent & thicken texture) Arco (Bar 17)
Bar 36: Divided parts (German -­‐ geteilt “get.”)
Bar 22 -­‐ 23: ‘Sul G’ play on the G string. ParScular use of tonal colour
Bar 83: Tremelo (Double Basses)
Wagner: Rhythm & Metre
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Wagner takes a very flexible approach to rhythm, accent and phrase-­‐structure
The prelude is in slow compound 6/8 Lme
Ties over the bar, pauses and silences mean that the pulse is not always easy to discern
As the music moves towards the main climax note lengths become shorter (e.g.triplet demi semi quavers that reinforce surgin figures in 63 -­‐ 73).
Dobed rhythms frequently occur
Still to come: Harmony, Performing forces
Wagner: Harmony
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Chord ii7b (an inversion of a half diminished chord -­‐ minor 3rd, diminished 5th and minor 7th)
The Neapolitan sixth chord -­‐ (bII) first inversion of the major triad built on the flabened 2nd degree of the scale
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The Tristan Chord
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Diminished 7th chord e.g. bar 29
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Bars 16 -­‐ 22 explore a wide variety of chords (see next slide)
Wagner: Harmony
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Add the harmonic devices above to your set work score
Wagner: Rhythm & Metre
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The compound Lme signature allows a wide variety of internal (subdivided) rhythms to be place between the principal beats
The short long appoggiatura rhythm of bar 3 reoccurs, as does the rhythm first hear in bar 17 (3 quaver group with a doeed rhythm on the second and third quavers)
A melody note beginning on a weak quaver is oJen Sed across the main beats which suggests a “hint” of syncopaSon (e.g. Bar 3 -­‐ oboe B held across quavers 2, 3 and 4).
Adjacent notes are typically at different lengths, parScularly in the melody
The bass line at bars 33 -­‐ 34 and again at 58 -­‐ 62 moves steadily by half -­‐ bars to increase tension
Wagner: Performing Forces
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The Lmbres of the oboe and cor anglais are used carefully for specific orchestral colouring (e.g. the solo parts between 100 -­‐ 105).
Double woodwinds feature throughout and Wagner is very specific with his indicaSons. OJen the bass clarinets and bassoons are scored with the doubles basses This adds colour and strengthens the bass line
The full brass secSon is used with subtlety and restraint (the poor trombones and tuba only play for 18 bars!)
This subtlety creates climaLc climax (E.g. trumpets bar 81 -­‐ 83)
Like the brass tuned percussion is used only to reinforce the climax or to fill silences with a sinister undertone
Homework -­‐ DUE Thursday 24th ✤
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Finishing adding the notes about structure, harmony, rhythm & performing forces to your notes & score (I will add these to the blog)
Listen to each set work that we have studied (Debussy, Webern, YellowBird, Duke Ellington, Taverner, Wagner & Sweenlick) with your score & revise or add to your notes
Revise all of the set works above ahead of a test on the 24th October 

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