Below are the Write Like Mozart Week 4 Notes that I sent my students last year when we took the Write Like Mozart class together. The Write Like Mozart class is online again at the time of these posts. Each of these posts are timed to match the current week of that class.
In this installment, I review diatonic substitutions, types of cadences, parallel / question and answer form, creating a solo with piano accompaniment from simple 2 part counterpoint, and the “Rule of 2.”
This is the sixth post in this series.
My notes for this week are fairly concise and without music examples. (The video lectures offer very clear examples.) You may use this page as a quick reference to what Professor Edwards covered in the lectures.
Professor Edwards presents five important concepts in Week 4:
- Diatonic Substitutions
- The types of cadences and when to use them
- The Parallel Period Form (a specific form of Question and Answer)
- An introduction to writing a solo and piano accompaniment from simple 2 part counterpoint
- The Rule of 2
I will cover each of these subjects below.
This is pretty straightforward:
- A IV and a ii6 are pretty much interchangeable and do not change harmonic function.
- A V and a vii° are pretty much interchangeable and mostly do not change function.
- At a cadence, you can use a VI (or vi) in place of a I, but it changes the function of the cadence to a Deceptive Cadence.
Some details follow:
ii6 and IV
These are interchangeable. Period. Voice leading may need to be adjusted, and ii6 or ii6-5 are actually more common than IV chords.
Note that ii chords are rarely used in root position, and some care must be taken with the voice leading in 2nd inversion.
V and vii°
A vii° serves the same function as V — it is a dominant type chord that creates a cadence. HOWEVER, a vii° can not act as a final cadence. For that you need the V to I, both in root position.
I and VI
You can cadence to a VI (and, to a lesser extent, to a iii!), but it is a completely different cadence than to a I chord.
As you know, the cadence to a VI is called a “deceptive cadence,” and it is far from being interpreted as a final cadence. It comes off as a trick the composer has played on the listener. Typically, after a deceptive cadence, the composer goes back and “makes things right” by reiterating the cadence, but this time ending on I.
Practicing Functional Harmony
The Write Like Mozart class inspired me to come up with ways to practice functional harmony with my students. In this earlier post I describe using multiple dice to create harmonic sequences that frequently are quite pleasing to the ear.
Types of Cadences
Professor Edwards discusses several types of cadences:
- Authentic Cadences, which go from a dominant type chord to a I chord.
- Deceptive Cadences, which go from a dominant type chord to a VI chord.
- Half Cadences, which end on a Dominant type chord (typically V)
- Plagal Cadences, which end with a IV to a I. Plagal cadences typically are NOT used in the classical era, so we do not need to worry about them too much for this course. But you’ll find them in the Baroque period and in the hymnody (think Church) literature.
Of the authentic cadences, there is the Perfect Authentic Cadence, which has a few conditions to be perfect:
- V must move to I
- Both V & I must be in root position
- The melody must move from the Supertonic (2nd scale degree) over the V to the Tonic (1st scale degree) over the I
All other authentic cadences are called Imperfect Authentic Cadence.
Professor Edwards states that the vast majority of classical era pieces end in a Perfect Authentic Cadence, and you should write your homework assignments that way.
I chatted about Deceptive Cadences above, so I’ll talk about Half Cadences now.
Half Cadences are GREAT for the question phrase of a Question and Answer phrase (or a Parallel Period Phrase – see below). If you end on a Half Cadence, the listener KNOWS that you’re not done yet, and that you have more to say. It is a great way to keep your piece moving forward.
Parallel Period Form
Most of my students have studied Question and Answer phrases with me. The Parallel Period Form is EXACTLY the same form as the Question and Answer formula that I teach:
- Write a phrase that doesn’t end on the tonic (frequently end with a Half Cadence)
- Repeat the beginning of that phrase, but end differently and on the tonic (with an Authentic Cadence)
The tune Mary Had a Little Lamb is the classic (but short) example of a phrase in the Parallel Period Form.
Parallel Period Form is a great way of doubling the length of your material. Got a great phrase? Great! Make that the ANSWER of your phrase, put most of the phrase again at the beginning of the piece, but change the ending so it ends on a V chord instead. That makes your QUESTION part of the phrase.
Writing a Melody from 2 Part Counterpoint
To me, this topic was an interesting segue into generating music from harmonic material.
Here, Professor Edwards has 2 lines of whole notes (1:1 Counterpoint, also known as First Species Counterpoint) that become the foundation of his work. The steps for elaborating a melody from this are as follows:
- Analyze what harmony best fits the counterpoint
- Start elaborating the top line to create your melody. Emphasize the notes in the original counterpoint, but feel free to use other notes from the harmony implied by the original counterpoint..
- Feel Free to use the “Rule of 2” (described in the next section).
The melody you have just created becomes a melody to be played by a single line solo instrument (e.g., flute).
After creating your melody, it is time to create the keyboard accompaniment:
- Take the lower line and use it as a bass line for your keyboard accompaniment.
- Add the chords of the harmony with Keyboard Voicing above the bass line, to be played by the right hand.
- Fill out the keyboard voicing with patterns.
Et voila — you have a solo accompanied by a keyboard.
Rule of 2
The Rule of 2 is very close to a rule of thumb that I offer my students: Never repeat something exactly 3 times.
My rule of thumb goes this way:
- State a pattern once.
- Repeat the pattern.
- You may start to repeat the pattern a third time, but surprise the listener by going somewhere else.
This type of pattern of writing is used A LOT by Bach, and I find it frequently used in Mendelssohn to extend his phrases.
Dr. Edwards defines the Rule of 2 this way:
- State a pattern.
- Repeat the pattern.
- Go on and do something different now.
This is very similar my rule of thumb (should I call it the Rule of 2.5?) The difference is that his Rule of 2 does not start to repeat the pattern a 3rd time before moving onto new material.
In the examples he offered for his Rule of 2, after the pattern is repeated, start something completely different immediately. He said that the Rule of 2 is very common in the Classical period, and upon reflection, I would agree!
Have fun, and keep writing.