Published on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 16:09
Written by Bruce Gale
Like the development sections of other works in Sonata form, this section explores a variety of keys, many quite remote from the tonic A. However, the development section is also unusual in a number of ways. For one thing, it begins with a truncated (and slightly amended) version of the opening bars, suggesting that the composer is announcing the beginning of the recapitulation.
This variation begins at section 15. It is also unusual in that, instead of being some variation of the first subject, the composer presents us with material first introduced at the end of the first subject, just before the bridge to the second subject. This is in concert C.
I suggest that the trombones be encouraged here to play in a bold, brazen style.
Yet another interlude follows, this time heralded by the trumpets (section 16) in concert F. These trumpet passages should thus be played in a bold, declamatory style.
At section 17, the composer finally gets around to addressing the first subject. But instead of developing the melody, he takes the accompaniment to it (played by the upper woodwinds) and introduces entirely new material in the brasses (a descending bass passage). This material appears first in F major, then in concert Ab. It fades off in a series of scalic woodwind passages in Bb major.
Notice the cuivre section in the horns in section 18. How many bands in Singapore will get this right?
The “+” sign in the score indicates that the hand should be used to stop the sound, while cuivre requires an exaggerated, brassy effect. This is obtained by causing exaggerated vibration of the metal though a combination of lip tension and hand-stopping. Played properly, it can be quite effective!
Section 19 presents us with another fanfare-like trumpet passage, this time drawn out into more extended chords. These chords are difficult to identify, but the key appears to be concert E major. Once again, a declamatory style of playing is required from the trumpets. After all, they are announcing the end of one variation and the beginning of another.
Sections 20-22 suggest new variations on the first subject, this time using elements of the lower brass melody. The key in sections 20-21 is concert Db major. In section 22, the key changes suddenly to concert G major. Modulation upwards by an augmented fourth is a common gambit in jazz. In the circle of fifths, G is directly opposite Db.
At section 23 (especially the first half of the section) everything gets really complicated. The descending bass line (when it occurs) is vaguely reminiscent of the material used in section 17. The melodic line, if it can be called that, is played by the horns. It proceeds upwards by step, contrasting with the bass and recalling the more connected, smoother line of the second subject. The metre is in triple time (3/4). However, the two dotted crotchets in the bar played by the horns suggest a duple feel.
This is contrasted with running quavers in the saxophone and triplet scalic passages in the woodwinds. It is as if each section is battling for rhythmic control. This is a place where the band could easily come apart. I suggest it be conducted in one, and that the horns rather than the trombones and tubas lead the band.
Section 23 is in Ab, section 24 is in Gb. Notice the extended Db pedal in the lower woodwinds, tubas and piano in section 24. This pedal must be heard, since it functions as a dominant pedal, increasing the tension. Interestingly, this chord does not seem to resolve on the tonic (Gb), but moves instead to II#3 (Ab), then back to Db before sliding down a semitone into C7 at the beginning of section 25. This semitone slide is not unusual in jazz.
Section 25 introduces yet another variation. There is an abrupt change of key (to concert F) and a “walking bass” is introduced that has some similarity to the bass accompaniment of the first subject in the exposition (section 4). This time, however, the scoring suggests a heavier feel. How should the double bass and tuba parts allocated at section 25 and 26? I suggest one tuba on the double bass line and the rest play the tuba part as written. Similarly, there should only be one tuba covering the double bass line in section 4 and 7.
Much of section 25 is built upon a C7 chord (outlined by the piano and string bass), implying a modulation to F major. Then, just before section 26, C7 resolves on A7 (A minor would have been more usual), then D, the dominant chord of G major. Section 26 appears to be in the key of G. However, the absence of a G major chord suggests it is probably better understood as being in the Mixolydian mode with D as the tonic. The main chords in the section are A7 and D7. Section 27, which appears at first sight to be in E major, is similarly constructed to avoid the E major chord. I see this as being based on the Mixolydian mode with the tonic on B.
When the E major chord finally shows up, it comes in the form of series of quick (quarter note) imperfect cadences (I-V) in section 28. These suggest a rest or pause in the music. This is followed by a bII7-I sequence just before section 29 – a typical jazz ending.