Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts
James W Richens
Eros and Psyche represents an effort to achieve new clarity and simplicity of formaldesign in my work: its harmonies are tertian and loosely rooted in the functionalharmonic system so that this symphony may be said to be in the key of D, each section israther short and direct, non-legato touches are prevalent, etc. One will also notice that thiswork consists of distinctive, independent episodes, like the changing scenes of a balletwhich replace one another freely.The opening consists of three small sections: A (mm. 1-7), B (mm. 8-19), A (mm. 20-26). A is presented with melodic thirds predominating. B occurs with a dream-like,accompanimental “rocking” rhythm before the return of A. The somewhat childish styleof sequential writing in measures 32-47 is perhaps reminiscent of the sound of someRussian ballet music. It is here that a modulation occurs using only whole steps from D-flatminor to G minor. Modifications such as augmentation and diminution of originalrhythmic values, often practiced in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, can beobserved. For example, in measure 34, a small rhythmic motive (a four quarter-note unit)is introduced, in measure 96, the same rhythmic motive appears as four sixteenth notes,and, in measures 194-198, it appears in eighth notes. The melody in measures 48-58consists of a single repeated phrase with sharply defined, measured motion. In measures59-63, a short chromatic melody descends, anticipating a second important area whichhas a Phrygian color (mm. 70-77).A varied repetition of this same material, in which an added layer in the woodwindsdecorates the melody, follows immediately at the beginning of Scene II (mm.78-91).Next the small four-note melodic unit from measures 9-19 and measures 33-47 is used asthe main motive in measures 92-109, a third important area which features an ascending,chromatic succession of triads. This “four-note melodic unit” is, in fact, the primarymotive from B that is used throughout Scene II as an important developmental ingredient.This motive in 16th-notes (mm. 95-98) is doubled in parallel motion in both 8/5 and 8/#4constructions at the minor second as well as triadic sonorities in which the (major orminor) third is omitted and replaced with a perfect fourth. Second-area material thenreturns with a new harmonic scheme (mm. 110-121). It is reminiscent in character ofcertain moments in Prokofiev’s ballet music, even alluding to the repeated chords heoften uses to accompany melodic lines (mm. 114-116). This processed second-area musicis followed by sequential activity involving playful, developing reappearances of the Bmotive, leading via measures 158-172 (a passage containing a “neoclassical” locomotiverhythmic style) to a section in which the B motive and the chromatically ascending linesof the third-area triads are combined contrapuntally (mm. 194-198). My use ofcontrapuntal texture is itself another “neoclassical” aspect of this symphony as is themanner in which I take the four-note figure mentioned above and put it to use rather likean ostinato/quasi-Alberti-bass pattern for several measures at a time over the course of 62measures (mm. 138-199). The interweaving of these elements creates a vivid, excitingsound, a driving and vivid moment immediately preceding a strong climax, culminatingin a powerful passage in the key of C-sharp minor (mm. 200-218). It is here that a notableexample of a minor second key relationship occurs. Having moved to the key of C-sharp,the music eventually arrives at V of that key, just before a restatement of A from thebeginning of Scene I in its original key of D.The reappearance (mm. 219-225) of the A section of the opening initiates a deeplydisguised repetition of material from measures 1-109 which spills over, as it were, tomake up the entirety of Scene III (mm. 244-310). Scene III ends with a brief coda (mm.297-310) based mostly on material from measures 92-109.The melodic content of the last two scenes opens in D minor with tarantella-like motionand many leaps. In the subsequent transitional passage, I present ascending, stepwise,pizzicato tuplets (mm. 332-341) while nonetheless modulating downward from E to D toC. Measures 346-356 present its pitch content in a manner that quickly comprises theaggregate. A recurrent harmonic technique in Scene IV is the alternation between twodifferent chords. The chords in question are distantly related to each other, creating aspecial effect. Notable are the minor sixth relationship, and the augmented fourth (tritone)relationship. An example of the first type can be found in measures 349-352 in theoscillation between C major and A-flat-7. Notice that the material in the strings isgenerally constructed of material from the harmony in the woodwinds. In measures 375-383, I employ polytonal harmony: many different successive triads, ranging from A aug.to D major, superimposed over what could be described as a combination of C major andA-flat-7 in both rhythmically punctuating chords as well as in the content of the bass.After a fleeting, camouflaged reappearance of measures 110-121 in measures 395-410,everything is directed toward a cadence on C (m. 433). An example of the second typechordal alternation occurs in measures 422-430, where F-sharp major and C major togglebetween each other. Stravinsky, in his ballet Petrushka, famously used this alternation oftwo major triads at the tritone. Substitution of harmony can be seen in measures 440-441where the chord in measure 440 is E-flat, and the presence of D-flat implies that thedirection of the scale may be toward A-flat major in a functional progression. Instead,the chord goes to a neighbor, essentially D minor on the downbeat of measure 441.What follows, even to the very end of the last scene, is a developed repetition of thematerial from measures 311-388. The overall harmonic norm for this symphony isprobably the creation of dissonant sonorities by adding major or minor seconds to tertianharmonic components. One explicit instance of this occurs in the final scene (m. 515; Eflat-7 to which is added F, A-flat, and A over the course of the measure). Last but farfrom least, there is the coda (mm. 516-536), in which the quintuplet figure from measure356 has grown, over the course of the last two scenes, to enormous proportions.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Gillespie, Randy Zane Jr., "Eros and Psyche: Choreographic Symphony for Orchestra" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 767.