334-336: Four Note Sonatas

June 2, 2008

This form needs a little explaining – it’s a solo version of a form I am warming up for an upcoming improvisation concert, in which the audience calls out four notes and I improvise a sonata using the four notes as a theme.

In this case, the first thing you will hear is me closing my eyes and letting my hand drop on four random places on the piano, generating four random notes. Then I play them in the middle of the piano, so you hear how they come together as a motive. Then, after thinking for about two seconds, I plunge in and improvise a sonata movement.

A couple of procedures have emerged from working with this form. One, the “closing theme” area of the exposition is usually some sort of expanded or altered recap of the opening motive and theme. Otherwise things seem to float away from the opening idea too quickly. The opening idea also tends to take part in the coda – I guess you could say this form is more cyclical than the classical sonata.

The other is that by the time the development rolls around, there’s a need to change things up and slow them down. So, the development is kind of sounding like a new, third theme, albeit it tends to modulate and shape-shift. That’s where the form’s at right now anyway. These are from the last two weeks.





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