20er Music Scale & "Over The Waves", Part 2
 by Harald Mueller (021116 MMDigest)


[ Re: 20er Arrangement of "Over The Waves" -- by Christofer Noering (021115 MMDigest) ]

Christofer and all,

> Now, Harald, I would treat the first bars of "Sobre las Olas" (as it is called in its native Spanish) differently.  To be frank, "using the nearest natural note" sounds bad.

Yeees? ...

> There's a trick which I would like to call "diverting the listener's > attention",

You are right here, but ...

> and with a famous piece such as "Over The Waves", the listener's mind will automatically put in that missing note in its proper place!  Please refer to the attached MIDI file which I hope that Robbie will put on the "Sounds" page!

... you did not use the "divert trick".  You too use "the nearest natural note".  I'll show how to use "divert the listener" in a moment.

How can I argue that you used "nearest natural note"?  Thus:

Many ornaments, but not all, have a "center of gravity" or "dominant note."  (I have no idea what the correct musical expression is, therefore I use double quotes around the words "dominant note"; and of course, this has nothing to do with the dominant=fifth).

Let's for a moment look at a different sort of ornament, namely a trill.  Here, the "dominant note" is one of the two trilling notes, almost always the lower one.  For example, a trill g-a-g-a... over long notes c+e sounds like a trilling g.  The "dominant note" of a trill can be even more stressed by (a) starting the trill with it, and/or (b) adding an appoggiatura which _leads into_ the "dominant note", and/or (c) holding the "dominant note" for some time at the beginning and/or end of the trill; and probably a few other ways.

mueller2_trills.gif (8 kb)
MIDI file "Trills" (1 kb)

Now your ornament, in "Sobre las Olas", is a two-note 16th appoggiatura, with a subsequent eighth c.  The "dominant note" here is the c, for four reasons:

(1) Listen to it - it _is_ an ornamented c.

(2) More analytically: The c is the longest and last note of the ornament; this makes it the "dominant note" by default.

(3) Also, the c is harmonically a possible "replacement note" for the original c# (the extended[correct term??] triad f-a-c# is replaced with the more standard f-a-c) - so a listener will mainly hear the c.

(4) Last, but not least, an appoggiatura leading to a note in general _stresses_ this note; so, here the c gets an additional weight (part of which is compensated, however, by the c's shortness at this agitated tempo).

Overall the c remains an (albeit ornamented) c.  So you did nothing substantially different from my arrangement.  I would therefore argue that you accept the c anyway ... except that you (and I agree here) somewhat "down-play" the c.

Side-note: Okay, a little bit of diversion comes from the fact that you changed the rhythm of the accompaniment from waltz to something else.  (Sorry, I am very bad at names of rhythms; what is dum--da-da-da-da?  A more common variant of this is dum--da-da-daa - kind of a 3/4-paso doble?)

Anyway, the first time this appears, the listener's attention will probably be really diverted by something like, "Huh? What was that unexpected bass there?"  But when the motif is repeated 16 measures later, then the rhythm -- which you have to keep, as it adds a different, (hopefully) intentional (I would say "more modern", 20th century instead of 19th) character to the piece -- will have been accepted by the listener, and so the diversion is lost.

What would one have to do to really "get rid of the natural c"?

First, one can continue on your path and fiddle around with the 3 notes of the ornament to de-emphasize the c even more.  Variants are:  [Ref. Ornament1 files]

mueller2_orna1.gif (11kb)
MIDI file "Ornaments 1" (2 kb)

(Note: The tempo is somewhat slower than the original; this is very useful for intense listening, which is necessary for arranging.  In contrast to the final listener, we as arrangers must be able to listen to each note _on its own_ -- every single "event" in the music must be grasped consciously!)

The first 4 variants, in various ways, make the c less outstanding, some even replace it more or less with a d.  The last version replaces the c with an e-flat; by this, the "danger of the natural c impression" is completely banned, but the intention of the composer is, in my opinion, interpreted incorrectly:  Rosas, in the original version of "Sobre las Olas", plays around the d (d-c#-d-f-...), i.e., there must be "something below and something above" the d.  This is lost in the d-eb-d-eb variant.

What could we do to re-capture the intention of the composer?

What actually happens in the four notes c#-d-f-bb (measures 2 and 3 of the theme), is an "acceleration": Not in tempo, but in jumped-over notes.  The number of semitone intervals is 1-3-5.  (If Rosas had decided to continue this effect [only], he could have continued upwards f-d, with 7 and then 9 semitones - interesting that this succession of b-flat-major chord notes yields exactly the odd numbers as semitone-intervals).

With c instead of c#, the semitone-intervals are 2-3-5, still an acceptable "acceleration".  A completely different idea for accelerating would be to start even lower than c, but with a higher tempo.  Here are some variants.  [Ref. Ornament2 files]

mueller2_orna2.gif (8 kb)
MIDI file "Ornaments 2" (2 kb)

The three variants start on a, g, and f respectively.  From a harmonic standpoint, a and f are somewhat more correct than g, because f+a+c# is the harmonization chord for the original c#.  I would prefer the version with f, because it most effectively does what you also wanted to do: "divert the listener's attention".  The 5 notes - even accelerating in the last triole - are so fast that it is impossible to assign a specific "dominant note" to this ornament, thus no "mistaken c" can occur.

There is, however, one significant weakness here: The tempo starts high, then suddenly we stop the whole tempo on the d, instead going into the "jumping mode".  One could use a counter-melody to continue with a few more fast notes - 16ths - to "even out" this change of "tempo mode"; or add another fast ornament elsewhere - a trill, a staccato sequence -; but all this, of course, leads farther and farther away from the original simplicity of the melody ....

Different sorts of "tempo modes" are by far not the end of the possibilities: If we start to harmonize the melody (which is usually necessary for small organs anyway, to make the melody more "prominent"), we could again start at a, but now together with a supporting f; or we could use parallel thirds to add more "distinction" or "weight" to the re-arranged phrase, so that the listener will accept it more readily; or we could introduce even more complications with parallel sixteenths and trioles, thereby even more diverting the attention.  [Ref. Ornament3 files]

 mueller2_orna3.gif (11 kb)
MIDI file "Ornaments 3" (2 kb)

I stop here; even more variants could be tried, depending on which "meaning" you want to transport, e.g.:

 * the original simplicity of the theme (then you would need a counter melody which somewhat softens the "hectic" of at least the later suggestions above; but most probably you could not use many of those hectic variants)

 * the 20er's character (which is more playful than an orchestra)

 * ... whatever you want to read into the music ...

you would have to add supporting accompaniment, supporting counter melody, supporting ornaments, and finally have the player select supporting stops.

And so on through the whole piece ... Try it - happy arranging!


Harald M. Mueller
Grafing b. Muenchen - Germany
16 Nov 2002 22:01:02 +0100

16 November 2002