listening log #1: Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”

Note: timings are based on the following recording: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0WMYCtOqeU

Instrumental:

  • instrumentation is for a solo piano
  • minor tonality, but moves through major chords: contrast in tonality, constant change
  • melody in upper register, moves to lower register near end (5:00): contrasting timbres,
  • foundation of octaves in bass: quasi counter melody
  • arpeggiated chords in middle register: constant movement
  • duple meter throughout
  • simple, 8th note rhythm: constancy, movement

Structural:

  • overall A-B-A’
  • arpeggios across middle register of piano (0:00)
  • melody established in higher register (0:23-1:14): repeated notes characterize melody, faster rhythm
  • second melody established (1:14-2:26): half steps up move from dissonance to consonance, retardation; call and response between higher and lower melodies; slower, held notes
  • (2:27-3:07): movement of melody across keyboard as arpeggio, progressively higher, moves down (2:55), approaches lower melody
  • (3:07-3:27): development of second melody
  • (3:27-4:14): return to initial melody, unchanged at the beginning
  • (4:14-5:00): recapitulation of second melody
  • (5:00-5:35): melody moves to bass, increased intensity, but still quiet
  • (5:35-6:06): cadence to end

Contextual:

  • 1st movement of a 4 movement sonata
  • establishes melody for the rest of the sonata
  • written by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • late-Classical composer
  • from Belgium
  • recognized as a great composer in his time
  • contrast in styles, timbre, tone, etc within single piece
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