Joel Strait

Winter Storm

Program Notes

  I wrote and arranged a piece for violin and piano using Noteworthy Composer 1.50 for Windows. I then compiled my piece into a MIDI file.

This piece contains elements of several styles. For example, it is in waltz form, which is a 19th century device, while the melody contains chromatic steps reminiscent of the music of 20th century composers such as Stravinsky or Strauss. However, although it contains elements of many different styles, I feel that it most strongly resembles a piece from the late 20th century. The application of post-World War II technological and scientific discoveries was undoubtedly one of the most influential influences on musical creativity in this style. For example, music was now more readily available than ever before, thanks to inexpensive mediums such as compact discs, cassette tapes, and the radio. As a result, 20th century composers realized that they had the greatest opportunity of reaching the largest audience through recorded music. Due to improvements in communications, musical tastes were also more similar than ever before in this style. For example, Indian music was an influence for the music of the Beatles, and the Beatles were a heavy influence on American music. One side effect of the technological advances in this style is that the decibel level in this style was higher than ever before, due to advances in the field of amplification.

The song belongs to one of the oldest and most common genres. The are usually in binary or ternary form, and resemble small arias. They also usually have instrumental accompaniment, and can contain lyrics that are treasured for the rich quality of their poetry. Also, many song types are associated with specific style periods. For example, the English lute song is associated with the Renaissance.

In the writing of "Winter Storm," I noticed several things about the structure of it. First, it contains homophonic texture. This means that it contains a melody harmonized by block chords. I also noticed that throughout the entire piece, the motive 2:1 appears. For example, almost all of the "A" section and most of the "B" section contains this motive, while the piano part features the motive in retrograde (in terms of the hand being played). Also, the key changes from B harmonic minor to B natural minor at measure 17, and then changes back to B harmonic minor at measure 32 and stays in that key for the duration of the song. The phrase from measures 17-33 features a chord progression of i-VI-III-VII, which repeats four times.

In general I am very happy with the results of this peice. I think it has a strong melody and a hypnotic feel. However, it took me several attempts before I acheived the arrangement that I have now settled upon. In the end, it was just a matter of simplification. I had had several complex arrangements, but I found out that simpler was better.