Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Exemplar 2: Journeyman Piece

The only way to enter the guild is with an Apprentice Piece, so you'll have to begin there. This exemplar is for the next level of Journeyman.

In order to be eligible for the level of Journeyman, a guild member will have to be accepted as an Apprentice first, and then be an Apprentice for a year. Once the second year's worth of dues are paid, the Apprentice is then eligible to apply for the level of Journeyman. If an Apprentice wishes to progress to this level early, that is fine: The second year's worth of dues - only $2.00 in the case of Apprentices - can be paid early. This guild is a level playing field, and everybody will have to pay the same dues.

The Journeyman Piece shall be a three-voice work of modest dimensions that displays fluency with counterpoint. It may be for solo guitar, solo keyboard, vocal trio, string trio, as this piece is, or wind trio. The application fee will be $5.00, and the applicant has two tries to get it right before another $5.00 will have to be paid. If the applicant is accepted, the $5.00 covers one year's worth of dues. Accepted Journeyman will also have their pieces entered in a Best of Ten contest, which pays an award of $25.00. The reason for limiting instruments and ensembles is to make recording guild compilation albums easier and more efficient.

The application must consist of a PDF file of the score, a MIDI file of the music, and the $5.00 application fee, which must be paid via PayPal. All submitted materials become the property of the guild, which simply means the guild can post them and record them if they become Best of Ten winners. The composer is otherwise free to do with them as he wishes.

This piece is a lament for my late father in the form of a three-part invention that I composed when I was a master's candidate, so it should be no problem for an experienced student of counterpoint to emulate. The Journeyman Piece does not have to be fugal or imitative though.

Here is the sound file:

Three-Part Invention in D minor

And, here is the score with a brief commentary:

This three-part invention is based on a subject that begins on the mediant of the key, instead of the tonic or dominant. That is why it begins with accompaniment: To properly define the key at the beginning. The answer is in inversion and on the subdominant level, with the third entry being the subject again in a higher octave. Note that from the G-natural in the fourth measure of the viola part to the second thirty-second note of measure six, that all twelve notes of the chromatic scale appear in descending order.

The first episode starts at measure seven; it is a sequence of the head of the subject, and it modulates to the relative major.

The first middle entries are in F major, and this variant of the subject starts on the tonic instead of the mediant. The second sequential episode based on the head of the subject begins in measure 14, and it uses the inverted form of the head as well. The dominant level of A minor is reached at 17, and that middle entry demonstrates the invertibility of the counterpoint while reaching the melodic peak of the piece in 18.

Invertibility of the parts is again demonstrated at 19, and the third episode begins at 21. This modulates the piece to the subdominant level of G minor - where another melodic inversion of the parts is presented - and this then allows for a direct modulation back to the tonic at 26, where the stretto section begins.

After the stretti are concluded, there is a short codetta to end the piece.

Unlike with the Apprentice piece, where the music must speak for itself, a brief description of the Journeyman Piece will be required, as I have provided above. Remember that, at first, I will be analyzing and judging these, so the description will aid in that work (Later, when there is a quorum of Masters - three - they will do the judging of Apprentice and Journeyman Pieces).

In the spirit of gentlemanly competition, if you think you can compose counterpoint this well, you'll have to prove it. A guild requires members to put up, or shut up.

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