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Encyclopedia > Variation

In music, variation is a formal technique where material is altered during repetition; reiteration with changes. Changes may be harmonic, melodic, contrapuntal, rhythmic, and of timbre or orchestration. Variational sections depend upon one type of presentation of material, while developmental sections use many different presentations and combinations of material. Wikibooks Wikiversity has more about this subject: School of Music Look up Music on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Wikisource, as part of the 1911 Encyclopedia Wikiproject, has original text related to this article: Music Wikicities has a wiki about Music: Music MusicNovatory: the science of music encyclopedia Science of Music... Repetition is the occurrence of an event which has occurred before. ... In acoustics and telecommunication, the harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. ... Look up Melody in Wiktionary, the free dictionary In music, a melody is a series of linear events or a succession, not a simultaneity as in a chord. ... Counterpoint is a very general feature of music (especially prominent in much Western music) whereby two or more melodic strands occur simultaneously – in separate voices, either literally or metaphorically (if the music is instrumental). ... Rhythmic music and Rhythmic radio, also known as Rhythmic Crossover or Rhythmic Pop, is a term used to describe a certain group of radio stations and the Billboard chart that is compiled based on airplay from those radio stations. ... In music, timbre is determined by its spectrum, which is a specific mix of keynote, overtones, noise, tune behaviour, and envelope, as well as the temporal change of the spectrum and the amplitude. ... For the use of the term orchestration in computer science, see orchestration (computers) Orchestration or arrangement is the study and practice of arranging music for an orchestra or musical ensemble. ... Musical development is the transformation and restatement of initial material, often contrasted with musical variation, with which it may be difficult to distinguish as a general process. ...


Variation form, or theme and variation, is a musical form where a theme is repeated in altered form or accompanied in a different manner. Passacaglias and chaconnes are forms in with a repeating bass line or ostinato is heard through the entire piece. Fantasia variation is a form which relies on variation but which repeates and incorporates material freely. In music, a theme is the initial or primary melody. ... The term musical form is used in two related ways: a generic type of composition such as the symphony or concerto the structure of a particular piece, how its parts are put together to make the whole; this too can be generic, such as binary form or sonata form Musical... In music a passacaglia (French: passacaille, Spanish: passacalle or pasacalle) is a musical form and the corresponding court dance. ... In music a chaconne is a musical form. ... Ostinato, an Italian word meaning stubborn (compare English obstinate), is to classical music what riffs are to popular music. ...

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History of variations

Works in theme-and-variation form have been written through most of the history of classical music. A favorite form of variations in Renaissance music was divisions, a type in which the basic rhythmic beat is successively divided into faster and faster intervals. The basic principle of beginning with simple variations and moving on to more elaborate ones has always been present in the history of the variation form, since it provides a way of giving an overall shape to a variation set, rather letting it just form an arbitrary sequence. This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... By Region: Italian Renaissance Northern Renaissance *French Renaissance *German Renaissance *English Renaissance The Renaissance, also known as Rinascimento (in Italian), was an influential cultural movement , about a period of scientific revolution and artistic transformation, at the dawn of modern European history. ...


Two famous variation sets from the Baroque era, both for harpsichord, are George Frideric Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith set, and Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations, which together with Beethoven's late variations is widely considered to represent the pinnacle of the form. Baroque music is Western classical music from the Baroque era, after the Renaissance music era and before the Classical music era proper. ... Harpsichord in Flemish style; for more info, click the image. ... George Frideric Handel (German Georg Friedrich Händel), (February 23, 1685 – April 14, 1759) was a German Baroque music composer who lived much of his life in England. ... Johann Sebastian Bach, 1748 portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann Johann Sebastian Bach (21 March 1685 – 28 July 1750)[1] was a German composer and organist of the baroque period, and is widely acknowledged[2] as one of the greatest composers in the Western tonal tradition; indeed, many critics and scholars... The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, is a theme and variations by Johann Sebastian Bach, originally written for the harpsichord but nowadays frequently performed on the piano. ... Ludwig van Beethoven Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized December 17, 1770 – March 26, 1827) was a German composer of Classical music, the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras. ...


In the Classical era, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote a great number of variations, such as the first movement of his Piano Sonata in A, K. 331, or the finale of his Clarinet Quintet. Mozart favored a particular pattern in his variations: the penultimate variation is in slow tempo, often acting as a kind of extra slow movement in a multi-movement work; and the final variation is fast and in bravura style. Joseph Haydn specialized in sets of double variations, in which two related themes, usually minor and major, are presented and then varied in alternation; one example is the slow movement of his Symphony No. 103, the Drumroll. The Classical period in Western music occurred in a large part of the 18th century, and into the early 19th century. ... W. A. Mozart, 1790 portrait by Johann Georg Edlinger Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791) is among the most popular, significant and influential composers of European classical music. ... Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts Piano Sonata No. ... Franz Joseph Haydn, (March 31 or April 1, 1732 – May 31, 1809) was a leading composer of the Classical period, called the Father of the Symphony and Father of the String Quartet. Although he has come to be popularly known as Franz Joseph Haydn (with many published scores and recordings... Joseph Haydns Symphony No. ...


Ludwig van Beethoven wrote many variation sets in his career. Some were independent sets, of which the most substantial are considered to be the "Diabelli" variations, Op. 120. Others form single movements or parts of movements in larger works, such as first movement of the Piano Sonata Op. 26, or the variations in the final movement of the Third Symphony. Variation sets that listeners often consider to be among Beethoven's most profound musical utterances occur in several of his late works, such as slow movement of his String quartet Op. 127, the second movement of his final Piano sonata, Op. 111, and the slow movement of the Ninth Symphony. Ludwig van Beethoven Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized December 17, 1770; died March 26, 1827) was a German composer of classical music, who predominantly lived in Vienna, Austria. ... The Variations for piano in C major on a waltz by Diabelli, most commonly referred to as the Diabelli Variations, are a set of variations for the piano by Ludwig van Beethoven on a waltz by Anton Diabelli. ... Ludwig van Beethoven composed his Piano Sonata No. ... The Symphony No. ... The String Quartet No. ... The Piano Sonata No. ... The Symphony No. ...


Franz Schubert wrote five variation sets using his own lieder as themes. A highlight of these is the slow movement of his string quartet Death and the Maiden (Der Tod und das M├Ądchen, D. 810), an intense set of variations on his somber lied (D. 531) of the same title. Schubert's Piano Quintet in A (The Trout, D.667) includes a set of variations on his sublime The Trout (Die Forelle, D. 550). Franz Schubert Franz Peter Schubert (January 31, 1797 – November 19, 1828), was an Austrian composer. ... Lied (plural Lieder) is a German word, literally meaning song; among English speakers, however, it is used primarily as a term for European classical music songs, also known as art songs. Typically, Lieder are arranged for a single singer and piano. ... The Trout Quintet is the popular name for the piano quintet in A major by Franz Schubert. ...


In the Romantic era, the variation receded somewhat in importance, but many composers nevertheless created variation sets. A standout was Johannes Brahms, whose Classical tendencies perhaps naturally inclined him to writing variations; some of Brahms's variation sets rely on themes by older composers, for example the variations for orchestra on a theme (thought in Brahms's time to be) by Haydn and the variations for piano on a theme by Handel. Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations (1899) is probably his best-known full-length piece. Romantic music is defined as the period of European classical music that runs roughly from the early 1800s to the first decade of the 20th century, as well as music written according to the norms and styles of that period. ... Johannes Brahms (May 7, 1833 – April 3, 1897) was a German composer of Romantic music, who predominantly lived in Vienna, Austria. ... The Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, consisting of a theme, eight variations, and a finale, was composed in 1873 by Johannes Brahms. ... Sir Edward Elgar Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO (2 June 1857 â€“ 23 February 1934) was an English composer, born in the small village of Lower Broadheath outside Worcester, Worcestershire, to William Elgar, a piano tuner and music dealer, and his wife Ann. ... Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra (Enigma),op. ...


Variation sets were also composed by 20th century composers, including Arnold Schoenberg (the Variations for Orchestra), Anton Webern (the Variations, Opus 27 for piano and Variations, Opus 30 for orchestra), Paul Hindemith, and Benjamin Britten (including the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Purcell) and the Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge). Arnold Schoenberg, Los Angeles, 1948 For the American music critic and journalist, see Harold Charles Schonberg. ... Anton Webern (December 3, 1883 – September 15, 1945) was a composer of classical music and a member of the so called Second Viennese School. ... Paul Hindemith (November 16, 1895 – December 28, 1963) was a German classical composer, violist, teacher, theorist and conductor. ... Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten (November 22, 1913 – December 4, 1976) was a British composer, conductor and pianist. ... The classical tv series Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra was created by famed world-renowned orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein, in 1960. ...


Improvised variations

Skilled musicians who know a theme well can often improvise variations on it. This was commonplace in the Baroque era, when the da capo aria, particular when in slow tempo, required the performer to be able to improvise a variation during the return of the main material. Improvisation is the act of making something up as you go along. ... The da capo aria was a musical form prevalent in the Baroque era. ...


Musicians of the Classical era also could improvise variations. A minor work by Beethoven, his Fantasia in G Minor Op. 77, is almost certainly a written transcription of an improvised performance, at the core of which is a series of variations on a short theme. The great number and somewhat stereotyped character of Mozart's stand-alone variation sets for piano suggest that these, too, may be written-down improvisations, or at least were composed in haste.


Improvisation of elaborate variations on a popular theme is one of the core genres of jazz. Jazz is a musical art form originally characterized by blue notes, syncopation, swing, call and response, polyrhythms, and improvisation. ...


See also

In folk music a tune-family is a seeming multiplicity of melodies reducible to a small number of models or sets. One can think of the models or sets as deep structures. ... In music matrices are used in the visualization of all permutations or forms of a tone row or set in music written using the twelve tone technique or serialism. ...

External link

  • Classical Music Pages: Variation

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