Reflection on”A little polyphony”

For this assignment I was asked to write a polyphonic piece for three woodwind instruments with a duration of around 2 minutes. Even though I was provided with a plan of how to create a rough surrounding texture for the piece ( by placing several triads in advance) , I really struggled to find a good start.

Quite interestingly I didn’t have a problem with finding a beginning for project 10, even though the tasks where similar. I ended up having to restart around 3 times, before I was feeling confident with the first few lines I wrote.

The triads I had in mind for “A little polyphony”, which surprisingly stayed the same until I finished writing, were the following :


Even though nothing is repeated in the exact same way, one can still find a  A-B-C-B’-A’ -form, which is quite similar to a rondo form. One can distinguish between these parts by looking at the key signature, whereas A= G-minor, B= C-major and C= F-major.

I initially only had the first three parts A, B and C, and still about 30 seconds out of the two minutes left to fill. Seeing that the first three parts where quite a contrary to one another, I decided to continue with some familiar themes to give the piece a bit more memorability. Therefore I retrograded part B to form part B’, I furthermore swapped the instruments and voices around, which makes this part of the piece sound new and familiar at the same time. Part A’ is basically a completely new theme, the only thing that this part has in common with part A is the key signature, time signature and the slow pace.

The transitions between the A and B -parts I found particularly difficult to manage. I used the piano as a help by playing the bars which connect the parts A and B several times, always with a different sequence of triads in between until I found one which I felt confident with.

Overall, I really enjoyed working on this piece. I found it was the most challenging assignment so far, but the projects in part 3 where a good way for me to be prepared for it. Especially helpful were Project 9 : Descants as well as Project 10 : A contrapunctal trial.