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Thread: Which Theme is Better for my Presto?

  1. #1
    Senior Member caters's Avatar
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    Default Which Theme is Better for my Presto?

    You probably already know about the Presto movement and how it is part of my Piano Sonata in D. I have 4 versions of the first theme of the Presto movement that I have written down. In all these versions, the melody is exactly the same. The bass is what differs. So starting with my original version, it has eighth note Alberti bass that only stops at the melodically evaded cadences and the final PAC. In the middle of the theme, I modulate from the tonic to the subdominant and then later on I modulate back. C natural acts as the pivot tone to the subdominant and likewise C# acts as the pivot tone back to the tonic. Here is the original version of my theme:

    Presto Theme Original.mp3

    People have told me that this 1 harmony per measure harmonic rhythm and being legato, all pushes the tempo towards Allegro and makes the melody sound rushed, and not like it is at a Presto tempo. One of these people suggested that I go staccato with my bass and only start the Alberti bass at measure 5 of my theme instead of right away. That same person also suggested that when I do use the Alberti bass, it should be in sixteenth notes. I shyed away from using sixteenth note Alberti bass in the original version because I was thinking it would be taxing on the pianist(and believe me, taxing and strong Mozart influence do not go well together. Even the difficult Mozart pieces pale in comparison to Beethoven and later composers). Anyway, here is the staccato version:

    Presto Theme Staccato.mp3

    Here, I lose the plagal quality of the first 3 measures in place of a dominant seventh with a tonic pedal point(in fact, I have the same chord progression in the first 4 measures as is in Beethoven's Rondo a Capriccio(alternating tonic and dominant over a tonic pedal point). I was told by somebody else, that if Mozart were to go plagal with the first 3 measures, he would use IV64. But that is an uncommon chord, even in comparison to V64, another uncommon chord. Also, the staccato Alberti bass here is tricky. Even at Allegro, it is still hard to do sixteenth note Alberti bass staccato. Alberti bass is much easier to do legato regardless of tempo.

    Somebody else suggested that I keep the use of Alberti bass from the start of the theme and just do it in sixteenth notes instead of eighth notes and change harmony twice per measure. Here is the sixteenth note version:

    Presto Theme Sixteenths.mp3

    This solves the issue of the staccato Alberti bass, but the almost constant sixteenths in the bass still makes it taxing on the pianist. Once again, this does not go well with the strong Mozart influence. It also brings another problem, that being lack of contrast. There are lots of sixteenth notes in the melody. Having lots of sixteenth notes in the bass as well almost makes it sound more like a countermelody than a true bass line. That is not at all what I am going for in the first theme of my Presto. Yet another person suggested that I keep it in eighths and just increase the rate of harmonic change. Here is what I get if I do that:

    Presto Theme Eighths.mp3

    The chord progression in this version and in the sixteenth note version is pretty much the same. However, to me, it sounds worse with the eighths than it does with the sixteenths. So that you can see all the versions of the theme without me going over the 5 attachment limit, here is a PDF that includes all the versions of the theme:

    Presto Theme Draft.pdf

    Which version of the first theme of my Presto movement do you think is better? The original? The staccato version? The sixteenth note version? The version with eighth notes and increased harmonic rhythm? And what is your reasoning behind it?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    First of all, I'm disappointed with those who said your original is not presto (because of 1 harmony per measure harmonic rhythm and being legato?). The beat is clearly presto. It doesn't matter how often you change the harmony, or not at all, it is still presto. The harmony in the left hand is clearly better integrated with the right in the last version over the original. They don't meld at times in the original, notably in the 6th bar. Don't you hear it? You can also see it in the notes on the beat you are playing together, they look and sound rather arbitrary. And you think the original is better? Also the sixteenth version is too fast for an Alberti bass. You can go back and forth between 2 notes at that speed like Liszt does, but not an Alberti bass.

    I think you're going about it wrong. Forget about the cadences, tonic scales over dominants, etc. You're comparing too much to Mozart and Beethoven. It sounds like you're taking certain things and doing what you see them do. They have the music in their heads guiding them to make the decisions they make and doing what they do. You can't replicate that. It has to stem from what you hear inside.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

  3. #3
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    I'd be tempted to try triplets in the LH so slightly slower than the 16ths but quicker than the 8ths, it won't lend to Alberti bass but you could easily arpeggiate.

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