I continued to sketch away merrily on the cental movement of the Dunstan cantata yesterday in various coffee houses around Yeovil, the structure of the piece becoming more apparent all the time. As I add in detail what began as something really rather dull and basic is beginning to become more interesting, threatening to become a piece of music.
The opening section of this movement is being written as a fugal exposition, always one of my favourite things to write, especially as there are a couple of tips and tricks that I still remember from my time teaching this kind of thing that can really make these constructions more involving. Get the core elements right at the start and the rest can follow without adding too much to the difficulty.
Where fugues are concerned one always thinks of Bach, naturally, but also the likes of Shostakovich and Hindemith in the more modern age, and the aspiring contrapuntist can take something from all three of these. For all the rules and regulations that are laid out in the dusty, musty text books, there are at least as many imaginative solutions and ideas in the notes of these composers.
One can also change the entire feel of a theme by the context in which it is found, turning something very simple and rugged into a much more intricate idea simply by means of clothing it in different garb, and in a piece like this, writing something for non-professional singers, that is a good thing to remember. Britten knew it and, like the others mentioned above, he is one of the best guides to follow.
More to come today, I hope, along with some further tidying on the book, and then back up to London for the weekend for some playing. No performances of my music as far as I am aware, but I have had a good run of late, and will instead spend my time putting together this new music.