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How to write a piano sonata?

Posted By: dlee1001

How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 01:21 AM

Hi, I'm wondering about how to write a classical piano sonata. I want to write one so that I might be inspired to create more.

All the classical piano pieces that I know and/or play are not suitable for playing at churches when people are praying (as in, people praying in unison with music playing in the background) or before a service starts. For this reason, I want to compose something, in the form of a piano sonata, that is suitable for the church atmosphere. But before I do so, I need some idea of how to write a piano sonata.

Any help is welcome. smile
Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 01:32 AM

Sonata form is this ... Exposition - Development - Recapitulation. Or that's the pompous way most books describe it.

Writing one of these is pretty hard and requires a lot (and I mean a lot) in the way of technical know how.

Why not just write a simple ABA form or better yet, just improvise. Yeah ... kind of like what Bach did. smile
Posted By: beet31425

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 02:00 AM

Originally Posted by eweiss
Sonata form is this ... Exposition - Development - Recapitulation. Or that's the pompous way most books describe it.
I don't get it... do you have a less "pompous" way of describing sonata form? (And fwiw there's more to it than that! smile )


Anyway, dlee1001, my advice is to get very familiar with lots of classical sonatas. How many sonatas by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert do you know? As in, really know? Immerse yourself in their work, and you'll see what makes a classical sonata tick.

-J

Posted By: dlee1001

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 02:01 AM

Originally Posted by eweiss
Sonata form is this ... Exposition - Development - Recapitulation. Or that's the pompous way most books describe it.

Writing one of these is pretty hard and requires a lot (and I mean a lot) in the way of technical know how.

Why not just write a simple ABA form or better yet, just improvise. Yeah ... kind of like what Bach did. smile


I'm a high school student taking AP Music Theory. Is this sufficient to help me write sonatas?

I do have some background knowledge about the sonata form, but what exactly are those three parts that you mentioned (i.e. what do they mean and how do I utilize them)?
Posted By: Leland

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 02:23 AM

Wikipedia has some good info on sonata form
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonata_form#Outline_of_sonata_form
Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 02:27 AM

Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by eweiss
Sonata form is this ... Exposition - Development - Recapitulation. Or that's the pompous way most books describe it.
I don't get it... do you have a less "pompous" way of describing sonata form? (And fwiw there's more to it than that! smile )

Of course I do. But that's how most text books describe it. Here's how I would describe it - Initial idea - develop the idea - rinse and repeat.

BTW, this sonata form is considered 'dramatic,' that is, if you want people at your church to lean on the edge of the pews, that's the way to go. Why not just keep it simple and improvise in either a major key or a modal one? Much more 'meditative.'
Posted By: ll

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 02:28 AM

AP Music Theory doesn't teach *how* to write a sonata. Nor does it really teach much more than rudiments and basic harmony. And really, you shouldn't go into composition with the idea of "I'm going to write a __________."

It sounds like you don't even have an idea yet. Start with that. While I think most of eweiss's post is incredibly unhelpful, there is some merit in "improvise."

Get a musical idea, then see what you can do with it - not the other way around. And start small. No need to tackle something huge and never accomplish it. I don't think 'ABA' really gives any guidance either.

Do you have a private teacher? If you're in AP Music Theory, I'm assuming you do have one, and are at an intermediate minimum playing level. Try talking to your teacher and beginning some compositions in your lessons.
Posted By: dlee1001

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 02:42 AM

Originally Posted by ll
AP Music Theory doesn't teach *how* to write a sonata. Nor does it really teach much more than rudiments and basic harmony. And really, you shouldn't go into composition with the idea of "I'm going to write a __________."

It sounds like you don't even have an idea yet. Start with that. While I think most of eweiss's post is incredibly unhelpful, there is some merit in "improvise."

Get a musical idea, then see what you can do with it - not the other way around. And start small. No need to tackle something huge and never accomplish it. I don't think 'ABA' really gives any guidance either.

Do you have a private teacher? If you're in AP Music Theory, I'm assuming you do have one, and are at an intermediate minimum playing level. Try talking to your teacher and beginning some compositions in your lessons.


I do not have a private teacher, but my high school music teacher is an awesome teacher. She is my AP Music Theory teacher.

I also took a piano class in the first semester, and we were to write an original composition. This inspired me to write more music. I added a second and third movement to my composition, which is classical-style. And I titled the work as a whole "Romance-erzo: A Romance and Scherzo, Op. 1." The links below provide the compositions.

1st movement: http://musescore.com/score/2156 (this was what I made in my piano class)
2nd movement: http://musescore.com/score/2534
3rd movement: http://musescore.com/score/3443

The second and third movement were the inspired compositions. Please listen to each of these and give me feedback. What do you notice about the structure of each movement? What do each have in common?
Posted By: Kreisler

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 04:20 AM

Okay, I'll chime in with some real advice. wink

One of the best compositional exercises you can do is to take a sonata you like, analyze it, and "rewrite" it using your own themes and textures.

Generally speaking, a sonata form has three parts - exposition, development, and recapitulation.

The terms aren't pompous at all. They just have lots of syllables. Their meanings are simple enough, though:

Exposition - Like the exposition of a novel, the exposition of a sonata introduces a protagonist and an antagonist. The first is a theme in the tonic key. The second is a theme in the dominant key. (In a minor key sonata, the 2nd theme is usually in the relative major.) There is transitional material between the two and closing material after the last, and some composers like to add extra themes (supporting characters) in as well, but the basic idea is the same.

Development - Stuff happens to our characters. They pop up in different shapes and sizes, usually in different keys (or wrung through different chord progressions which may not necessarily be in a clearly defined key.) Occasionally, new ideas creep in, but finally, the section ends with a preparation for the recap.

Recapitulation - Our protagonist and antagonist return, but this time they've resolved their differences and are in the same key. This is accomplished by rewriting the transitional material so that it no longer modulates.

And that's pretty much it. Obviously, sonatas vary greatly. There are some interesting variants that composers use. (I can think of examples where the recap is in the subdominant/tonic instead of tonic/tonic, where introductions and codas are added, where composers "trick" you with false recapitulations, or where the same theme is used as both the protagonist and antagonist, albeit in the usual tonic and dominant.)

Posted By: Orange Soda King

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 04:27 AM

I love you Kreisler.
Posted By: BruceD

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 04:30 AM

If the composition is background to church prayer and meditation, a Sonata may not necessarily be the form most appropriate for the occasion. As others have suggested, start with a simple musical idea, melody or concept with the idea of the purpose the music is to serve in mind, and go from there. A simple meditative, reflective piece would seem more appropriate than a Sonata.

Regards,
Posted By: Lingyis

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 05:33 AM

kreisler--that was such a good explanation.

is there a "rule" to making 3 movements (or 4) of a sonata sound coherent? because beethoven's sure sound more consistent than, oh, i don't know, mozart's, say.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 03:47 PM

There are thousands of classical pieces that are perfect to play before or during a church service. A few examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KQW2YnCUrE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITbcJMKVmts
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jjjMGCl030
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu06WnXlPCY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu06WnXlPCY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtqQAfoNCeI

There are also many books with original composition or arrangements meant specifically for the purpose mentioned in the OP.
Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 03:58 PM

I just have to say ... writing a 'piano sonata' as it was written over a hundred plus years ago seems strange to me. I mean, it's like presenting a painting in the style of Monet to a group of people and saying - look what I created. But it's more like copying just to get an effect.

If that's what you want to do, more power to you.

But why not just improvise at your church service? Bach himself would approve. smile
Posted By: Tim Adrianson

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 04:13 PM

I agree with eweiss -- nobody does this type of thing anymore, really in any sense other than purely academic -- far better IMO to explore the pop, New Age, and jazz stylings of contemporary Christian music. There's been a huge build-up of literature in that area over the past 20 - 30 years.

If you feel the church is more conservative than that, then I would pursue the Classical repertoire selections cited above -- but my own experience is that the "audience" tends to gravitate more to the contemporary musical expressions. I served as church pianist/organist for roughly 30 years, and so I know whereof I speak.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 04:14 PM

Originally Posted by eweiss
I just have to say ... writing a 'piano sonata' as it was written over a hundred plus years ago seems strange to me. I mean, it's like presenting a painting in the style of Monet to a group of people and saying - look what I created. But it's more like copying just to get an effect.

If that's what you want to do, more power to you.

But why not just improvise at your church service? Bach himself would approve. smile
Using your argument one could ask "Why improvise if that was something that was done hundreds of year ago?"

With your painting analogy I would say that it's more like presenting a painting using water colors or oils or acrylics... simply using a very basic form that composers have used successfully for several hundred years and up until the present day.

Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 04:25 PM

I agree PL. What I'm saying is why recreate something in a style that's dead - like a classical piano sonata based on Mozart?
Posted By: BruceD

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 04:45 PM

Originally Posted by eweiss
I agree PL. What I'm saying is why recreate something in a style that's dead - like a classical piano sonata based on Mozart?


I also agree that the form should not dictate the content. On the other hand, I would add that if a composer had a true musical inspiration that was best expressed in the format of the classical Sonata, then I wouldn't say that the composer should avoid that form just because it is not commonly observed by contemporary composers.

Regards,
Posted By: pjang23

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 06:27 PM

Originally Posted by eweiss
I agree PL. What I'm saying is why recreate something in a style that's dead - like a classical piano sonata based on Mozart?


i.e. "You can't do this because it's old and therefore is plagiarism."

No reason or justification is needed. If you like it and it serves your purposes, go for it.

If the "originality police" throw a tantrum, all the better. smile
Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 06:30 PM

Originally Posted by pjang23
Originally Posted by eweiss
I agree PL. What I'm saying is why recreate something in a style that's dead - like a classical piano sonata based on Mozart?


i.e. "You can't do this because it's old and therefore is plagiarism."

No reason or justification is needed. If you like it and it serves your purposes, go for it.

If the "originality police" throw a tantrum, all the better. smile

You can do it and of course no reason or justification is needed. But it's like going to a poetry reading and someone starts reading something that sounds like Edgar Allan Poe. Nice but not really relevant today. wink
Posted By: pjang23

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 06:55 PM

Originally Posted by eweiss
You can do it and of course no reason or justification is needed. But it's like going to a poetry reading and someone starts reading something that sounds like Edgar Allan Poe. Nice but not really relevant today. wink


Because even if it communicates his own ideas as he wishes, writing a sonata implies he'll sound like Mozart. Gotcha. wink
Posted By: ll

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 07:25 PM

Originally Posted by eweiss
Originally Posted by pjang23
Originally Posted by eweiss
I agree PL. What I'm saying is why recreate something in a style that's dead - like a classical piano sonata based on Mozart?


i.e. "You can't do this because it's old and therefore is plagiarism."

No reason or justification is needed. If you like it and it serves your purposes, go for it.

If the "originality police" throw a tantrum, all the better. smile

You can do it and of course no reason or justification is needed. But it's like going to a poetry reading and someone starts reading something that sounds like Edgar Allan Poe. Nice but not really relevant today. wink


... do you even know anything about literature or art?

It's not like those styles are 'limited' to the times they began. People still paint in impressionist style today, and Poe's "Romantic" era is still in effect because all forms of writing are continued.
Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 07:28 PM

Originally Posted by ll
... do you even know anything about literature or art?

It's not like those styles are 'limited' to the times they began. People still paint in impressionist style today, and Poe's "Romantic" era is still in effect because all forms of writing are continued.

I know enough. As I said before, if someone wants to paint [exactly] like Monet or write like Poe, go for it. Why would I care? The point I'm trying to make is it's antiquated and not relevant for TODAY. It was relevant when it was originally done. Is that hard to understand?
Posted By: findingnemo2010

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 07:35 PM

sonatas are beautiful. they dont make music like they used to
Posted By: beet31425

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 07:51 PM

Originally Posted by eweiss
Originally Posted by ll
... do you even know anything about literature or art?

It's not like those styles are 'limited' to the times they began. People still paint in impressionist style today, and Poe's "Romantic" era is still in effect because all forms of writing are continued.

I know enough. As I said before, if someone wants to paint [exactly] like Monet or write like Poe, go for it. Why would I care? The point I'm trying to make is it's antiquated and not relevant for TODAY. It was relevant when it was originally done. Is that hard to understand?


I think it's a fascinating and complex issue, not well served by ll's "do you even know anything about art", nor by eweiss's condescending "is that hard to understand?". Because, yes, it is hard to understand.

I had a friend in graduate school who wrote sonatas in the style of Schubert. Beautiful themes, complex, unexpected modulations, overall balance. Schubert himself might have been proud of some moments-- and I don't say that lightly.

So I had great respect for my friend's compositions, but I couldn't help thinking... what was the point? A part of me always felt his pieces to be derivative, mere copies. But why? Schubert's music has timeless value, not depending on the century it was written in; why then can't my friend's music (assuming for the sake of argument is was on the level of Schubert, which of course it isn't) be judged on its own merits, independent of its century?

It's a really interesting issue, I think. The only wrong opinion is the simple black-or-white one.

-Jason

Posted By: Kreisler

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 08:18 PM

There is plenty of precedent for sonatas written in contemporary styles. Two saxophone sonatas come to mind - Phil Woods and the "Fuzzy Bird" sonata by Yoshimatsu. (Both are easy to find on YouTube.)

Also, Eric Ewazen's brass sonatas are very much in a contemporary, almost "pop" style.

One example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP1MfOdiqHs
Posted By: ChopinAddict

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 09:06 PM

There is a description of the Sonata Form here, but like others I would advise you not to follow all the rules too strictly....
Posted By: Lingyis

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 09:15 PM

yeah, i think it's important not to limit yourself to these "rules". because these are how theorists get a job, since most of them can't compose very well. (jokes aside, it's also partially true)

the bigger picture: if you were to write a sonata (not as homework), use these rules as helpful hints. they were established by the greats through lots of trial and error, so even if they are anachronistic, there is something to glean from.

other than that, i think the main reason to write a sonata is because most of us have played so many of them so there's familiarity. and it's a neat and fun exercise.

and of course, most sonatas i guess are secular music, not sacred. so it might not have a church atmosphere anyway.
Posted By: Lingyis

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 09:18 PM

also, i wonder how the impossibility of equal temperament tuning in those days affected the rules. just keep in mind we're now living in the 21st century and so many things are so different.
Posted By: Exalted Wombat

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 09:18 PM

Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
I agree with eweiss -- nobody does this type of thing anymore, really in any sense other than purely academic -- far better IMO to explore the pop, New Age, and jazz stylings of contemporary Christian music. There's been a huge build-up of literature in that area over the past 20 - 30 years.


Well, the great argument AGAINST "contemporary Christian" is simply to note the bland, derivative pap that is presented under that label :-)

Sonata is a dramatic form. It states a proposition, takes you on a journey, comes to a resolution. It demands active listening. I can see an application of this in underscoring an episode of religious exploration, but it would need to be quite closely integrated with the rest of the material! Is this the sort of thing you have in mind?
Posted By: ll

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 09:53 PM

Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by eweiss
Originally Posted by ll
... do you even know anything about literature or art?

It's not like those styles are 'limited' to the times they began. People still paint in impressionist style today, and Poe's "Romantic" era is still in effect because all forms of writing are continued.

I know enough. As I said before, if someone wants to paint [exactly] like Monet or write like Poe, go for it. Why would I care? The point I'm trying to make is it's antiquated and not relevant for TODAY. It was relevant when it was originally done. Is that hard to understand?


I think it's a fascinating and complex issue, not well served by ll's "do you even know anything about art", nor by eweiss's condescending "is that hard to understand?". Because, yes, it is hard to understand.

I had a friend in graduate school who wrote sonatas in the style of Schubert. Beautiful themes, complex, unexpected modulations, overall balance. Schubert himself might have been proud of some moments-- and I don't say that lightly.

So I had great respect for my friend's compositions, but I couldn't help thinking... what was the point? A part of me always felt his pieces to be derivative, mere copies. But why? Schubert's music has timeless value, not depending on the century it was written in; why then can't my friend's music (assuming for the sake of argument is was on the level of Schubert, which of course it isn't) be judged on its own merits, independent of its century?

It's a really interesting issue, I think. The only wrong opinion is the simple black-or-white one.

-Jason



I'd agree except for one reason.

Who said the sonata would be in the style of SOMEONE?

Was Beethoven just copying Mozart? Or Mozart copying Hadyn?

No. We're talking about a style. Someone shouldn't be limited to what's going on now - God, I'd rather never think about music than believe that I'd have to write in the style of Lady Gaga. That doesn't mean I'd never want to try pop music at all.

And really, the OP never specifies what 'classical' means. Classical era, or just classical music?

Would you say that a Mozart sonata is similar to a Rach sonata?

eweiss has made similar posts like this before. They end in one thing: promoting his own style. How is that any better? Just because it's been recently used?
Posted By: beet31425

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 10:00 PM

Originally Posted by ll
I'd agree except for one reason...

I'm not sure what you're agreeing with. smile All I was trying to show was that the question of the validity of composing in older styles is complex, and I personally have quite conflicted feelings about it.

-Jason
Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 10:04 PM

Originally Posted by ll
I'd agree except for one reason.

Who said the sonata would be in the style of SOMEONE?

Was Beethoven just copying Mozart? Or Mozart copying Hadyn?

No. We're talking about a style. Someone shouldn't be limited to what's going on now - God, I'd rather never think about music than believe that I'd have to write in the style of Lady Gaga.

eweiss has made similar posts like this before. They end in one thing: promoting his own style. How is that any better? Just because it's been recently used?

Beethoven was making music for his time. So was Mozart. They weren't interested in writing music like Bach (although they acknowledge the influence.) They were interested in expressing their voice through music.

Of course I want to promote my style. But I'm not writing these posts to do that. Just bored and killing time. smile
Posted By: ll

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 10:14 PM

Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by ll
I'd agree except for one reason...

I'm not sure what you're agreeing with. smile All I was trying to show was that the question of the validity of composing in older styles is complex, and I personally have quite conflicted feelings about it.

-Jason


I was agreeing on the complexity of the situation: why write music in that style if you are just 'copying'? But at the same time, why not write it if you wish to and can create it in your own way?

My argument was against 'why you shouldn't do it' - in the end, it does lose its merit.

Originally Posted by eweiss
Beethoven was making music for his time. So was Mozart. They weren't interested in writing music like Bach (although they acknowledge the influence.) They were interested in expressing their voice through music.

Of course I want to promote my style. But I'm not writing these posts to do that. Just bored and killing time. smile


Who said the style Mozart and Beethoven wrote aren't music for our time? Last time I checked, plenty of people listen to and play their music.
Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 10:17 PM

Originally Posted by ll
Who said the style Mozart and Beethoven wrote aren't music for our time? Last time I checked, plenty of people listen to and play their music.

Dude ... 'rap music' is the music of our time. It reflects the values and morals of our lovely society. smile

But right now, Lady Gaga is the queen of all things musically relevant. But give it a few months and another 'star' will take her place.
Posted By: Exalted Wombat

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 10:29 PM

Originally Posted by ll

I'd agree except for one reason.

Who said the sonata would be in the style of SOMEONE?


Shall we get one thing clear? No-one requires our permission to write anything they like in any style they like!
Posted By: ll

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 10:38 PM

Originally Posted by eweiss
Originally Posted by ll
Who said the style Mozart and Beethoven wrote aren't music for our time? Last time I checked, plenty of people listen to and play their music.

Dude ... 'rap music' is the music of our time. It reflects the values and morals of our lovely society. smile

But right now, Lady Gaga is the queen of all things musically relevant. But give it a few months and another 'star' will take her place.


...uh, right. Whatever you say.

Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted by ll

I'd agree except for one reason.

Who said the sonata would be in the style of SOMEONE?


Shall we get one thing clear? No-one requires our permission to write anything they like in any style they like!


Of course! Hence the conclusion of, "Why talk about why - talk about how!"
Posted By: eweiss

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/01/11 10:41 PM

Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Well, the great argument AGAINST "contemporary Christian" is simply to note the bland, derivative pap that is presented under that label :-)

One man's pap is another man's pleasure. smile
Posted By: wr

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/02/11 08:33 AM

Originally Posted by Lingyis

other than that, i think the main reason to write a sonata is because most of us have played so many of them so there's familiarity. and it's a neat and fun exercise.



I think the main reason is because as a musical structure, it still works for some composers, and so there is no good reason to discard it. As far as "relevancy" goes, I really have no idea what that even means in classical music. Seems to me that the composers decide what is relevant to them, and because of that, whatever they compose is going to be relevant by definition. Trendiness, now, that's different...


Posted By: wr

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/02/11 09:17 AM

Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by eweiss
Originally Posted by ll
... do you even know anything about literature or art?

It's not like those styles are 'limited' to the times they began. People still paint in impressionist style today, and Poe's "Romantic" era is still in effect because all forms of writing are continued.

I know enough. As I said before, if someone wants to paint [exactly] like Monet or write like Poe, go for it. Why would I care? The point I'm trying to make is it's antiquated and not relevant for TODAY. It was relevant when it was originally done. Is that hard to understand?


I think it's a fascinating and complex issue, not well served by ll's "do you even know anything about art", nor by eweiss's condescending "is that hard to understand?". Because, yes, it is hard to understand.

I had a friend in graduate school who wrote sonatas in the style of Schubert. Beautiful themes, complex, unexpected modulations, overall balance. Schubert himself might have been proud of some moments-- and I don't say that lightly.

So I had great respect for my friend's compositions, but I couldn't help thinking... what was the point? A part of me always felt his pieces to be derivative, mere copies. But why? Schubert's music has timeless value, not depending on the century it was written in; why then can't my friend's music (assuming for the sake of argument is was on the level of Schubert, which of course it isn't) be judged on its own merits, independent of its century?

It's a really interesting issue, I think. The only wrong opinion is the simple black-or-white one.



I think your friend's music should be judged on its own merits. And the point of it is that it got written - why should there be anything else? After all, Rachmaninoff and Medtner and Stenhammar all composed much fine music that was, if not in direct imitation of another composer, certainly thought to be anachronistic in style. And many composers have found themselves more-or-less stylistically obsolete by the end of their careers, but still continued to turn out good stuff - Hummel, Strauss, Sibelius, and Saint-Saens come to mind.

To me, the issue isn't so much about writing in an old style, but about whether it's authentic to the composer. And naturally enough, if it sounds a whole lot like somebody else's music, I start wondering about how authentic it might be. But I try to stay open to any possibility - there have been some highly derivative composers who still managed to write enjoyable stuff.
Posted By: Kreisler

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 03/02/11 01:39 PM

There's always a place for modern reinventions of older styles. Dixieland bands doing original tunes exist. Bolcom's and Albright's revivals of Ragtime are brilliant. Arcadi Volodos, Stephen Hough, and Marc-Andre Hamelin write transcriptions and paraphrases that don't feel anachronistic at all. Even Radiohead's new album doesn't feel that much newer than what people like Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, Kitaro, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Laurie Anderson were doing in the 70's and 80's.

Bach was old-fashioned in his day, as were Brahms and Rachmaninoff. Nothing wrong with that, they wrote what they felt.

Also, it's worth keeping in mind that sonata form is merely a dramatic archetype. Just as the love story will never go out of style, sonata form is probably here to stay for awhile. That being said, popular love stories today tend towards the "Twilight" variety and not the "Pride and Prejudice" variety. But even then, there are people for whom Pride and Prejudice is still relevant, and those who would read and enjoy something newly written in that old style.
Posted By: MUhlenkott

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 07/19/12 03:59 PM

Hello. I'm coming late to this discussion and wonder if you are still interested in writing a piano sonata?

I have been working with my professor for over a year on keyboard sonata movements. We are writing in the "Galant" style (the period directly preceding & leading to the Classicism of Mozart and his generation).
Galant forms are somewhat more simplified and easier to tackle than later styles, but the simple courtly exteriors conceal very characteristic and often complicated gestures, schemes & progressions.

Writing sonatas is challenging, instructive & fun. It will help you as a student of composition in any genre. We can chat about it more if you like.

By the way, Dr. Gjerdingen at Northwestern Univ has a wonderful site which explores composition & teaching methods of the late Baroque & Classical. Check out
http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/music/gjerdingen/index.htm
Posted By: dlee1001

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 07/19/12 04:52 PM

Originally Posted by MUhlenkott
Hello. I'm coming late to this discussion and wonder if you are still interested in writing a piano sonata?

I have been working with my professor for over a year on keyboard sonata movements. We are writing in the "Galant" style (the period directly preceding & leading to the Classicism of Mozart and his generation).
Galant forms are somewhat more simplified and easier to tackle than later styles, but the simple courtly exteriors conceal very characteristic and often complicated gestures, schemes & progressions.

Writing sonatas is challenging, instructive & fun. It will help you as a student of composition in any genre. We can chat about it more if you like.

By the way, Dr. Gjerdingen at Northwestern Univ has a wonderful site which explores composition & teaching methods of the late Baroque & Classical. Check out
http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/music/gjerdingen/index.htm


I have finished my freshman year of college. I'm a music education major and my primary instrument is piano. In my theory class, we did learn about the sonata form and even did an analysis project on the first movement of Mozart's K545. Basically what we had to do in that project was label the exposition, development, and recapitulation. The rest consisted of marking the phrases, motives, and sequences, along with the complete Roman numeral analysis.

In my piano lessons, I've been assigned the third movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and also the first movement of Mozart's K333.

Where does all this lead to? Well, you can safely infer that I know much more about sonata form now than a year ago. Of course, there's still a lot to learn, and I have yet to apply what I have learned so far into recreating my sonata.

I have, however, applied some other things that I learned in my theory class, such as the cadential 6/4, phrases, and motives. Right now I'm contemplating what to write in order to apply my knowledge of secondary-function (secondary dominant) chords. You can see my other compositions on my MuseScore page here.

I once informed my piano teacher that I wrote a sonata and, upon me telling her that I used the first movement of Beethoven's "Patétique" sonata as a template for the first movement of my sonata (link: http://musescore.com/user/2127/scores/26530), it was revealed that I needed to add more to the composition and rewrite some parts of it. I'll have to find time to work on it.
Posted By: wr

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 07/20/12 10:01 AM

Originally Posted by MUhlenkott


By the way, Dr. Gjerdingen at Northwestern Univ has a wonderful site which explores composition & teaching methods of the late Baroque & Classical. Check out
http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/music/gjerdingen/index.htm


That does look interesting! Thanks for the tip.

Posted By: Damon

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 07/20/12 11:48 AM

Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by MUhlenkott


By the way, Dr. Gjerdingen at Northwestern Univ has a wonderful site which explores composition & teaching methods of the late Baroque & Classical. Check out
http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/music/gjerdingen/index.htm


That does look interesting! Thanks for the tip.



I guess, for once, you are happy to see a "zombie thread" resurrected?
Posted By: wr

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 07/20/12 12:24 PM

Originally Posted by Damon
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by MUhlenkott


By the way, Dr. Gjerdingen at Northwestern Univ has a wonderful site which explores composition & teaching methods of the late Baroque & Classical. Check out
http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/music/gjerdingen/index.htm


That does look interesting! Thanks for the tip.



I guess, for once, you are happy to see a "zombie thread" resurrected?


"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds..."

And I didn't characterize it as a zombie thread, anyway - that's your characterization, not mine.







Posted By: MUhlenkott

Re: How to write a piano sonata? - 07/20/12 07:24 PM

I thought I'd bring the topic back because it is an interesting and helpful one which got sidetracked a while ago by a discussion of relevancy.

Besides loving this music, writing in this style and trying to do it as perfectly as possible, it has been an incredibly helpful process for me. Learning how to construct logical, forward-driven and listenable (I hope) pieces of music would come in handy for any composer!

Anyway, there are lots of details and complexities to sonata writing. Expo, Dev & Recap are very general - really just the tip of the iceberg!

If it would be helpful to anyone, I've posted several of my Galant-style keyboard sonata movements (and a few other student pieces) at Soundcloud here:
http://soundcloud.com/search?q[fulltext]=michael+uhlenkott

Pretty basic stuff but writing these fairly simple pieces has helped me a lot!
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