Thursday, September 30, 2010

Variation IV (W. M. B.) with "Ein feste Burg"

The mark of highest originality lies in the ability to develop a familiar idea so fruitfully it would seem no one else would ever have discovered so much to be hidden in it.

Variation IV from Elgars Enigma Variations is dedicated to William Meath Baker (1858 - 1935), the Squire of Hasfield Court. Alice befriended the Baker family before meeting Elgar. After he married, Elgar befriended the Meath family. One outcome of that friendship is Elgar dedicated three of the variations to members of that family, i.e., III, IV, and X. 
It is entirely plausible for Ein feste Burg to play through and over Variation IV as shown in Figure 13.1. An audiovisual file of this melodic mapping supports the efficacy of the contrapuntal solution.

Figure 13.2 illustrates precisely how Ein feste Burg was carefully mapped over Variation IV based on melodic interval mirroring and the principles of counterpoint. Melodic interval mirroring occurs when note intervals from Ein feste Burg are reflected in the variation over comparable or identical distances between notes. These notes do not necessarily appear in the melody line of the variation. The contrapuntal devices of similar and contrary motion were also considered in this analysis. Similar motion is when both voices move in the same direction, but not necessarily by the same degree. Contrary motion takes place when Ein feste Burg moves in the opposite direction than the variation, again not necessarily by the same interval. Similar motion is indicated by SM, and contrary motion by CM. For the purposes of this analysis, similar motion includes any instances of parallel motion, and contrary motion any instances of oblique motion. In some cases, the upper voice of the variation moves parallel with Ein feste Burg while the bass line moves in a contrary manner. An effective counterpoint typically employs a fairly balanced mix of contrary and similar motion, something clearly evident with this mapping. 

In Figure 13.2, a melodic conjunction is represented by a diamond-shaped note head and a harmonic conjunction by a triangle-shaped note head. A melodic conjunction is defined as any matching melody note between Ein feste Burg and the movement's melody line. A harmonic conjunction is defined as a match between a melody note from the covert principal Theme and any non-melodic note from the movement. Both melodic and harmonic conjunctions must sound together to be considered a match. 
Table 13.1 summarizes 26 melodic conjunctions between Ein feste Burg and Variation IV. A melodic conjunction is defined as a shared note between both melody lines. Share melody notes are dispersed over 28 of 32 measures from Variation IV. Ein feste Burg was found to be dormant in 4 out of 32 measures, namely measures 178 through 181. This means Ein feste Burg plays in 28 out of 32 measures or 87.5% of the time. In measures where the missing principal Theme is deemed active, shared melody notes are present in 19 of those 28 measures or almost 68% of all active measures.

Table 13.2 breaks down melodic conjunctions between Ein feste Burg and Variation IV by note type. There are 8 types of shared melody notes with frequencies ranging from 1 to 8. 

Table 13.3 gives a complete breakdown of all shared notes between Ein feste Burg and a piano reduction of Variation IV. There are 113 shared notes spread out over 28 measures. Ein feste Burg was deemed active in 28 measures, so almost 88% of active measures have shared notes. There are 9 shared note types with frequencies ranging from 2 to 40. There are 9 shared note types with frequencies ranging from 2 to 40. Among these notes, 8 are shared by both melodies (i.e., A, B-flat, C, D, E, F, F-sharp, and G).

The preponderance of the evidence outlined in the above Figures and Tables demonstrates Variation IV is a clear and convincing counterpoint to Ein feste Burg. To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed. Like my heavenly Father’s gift of salvation, the price is freePlease support my original research by becoming a sponsor on Patreon.


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About Mr. Padgett

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Mr. Padgett studied violin with Michael Rosenker (a student of Leopold Auer), and Rosenker’s pupil, Owen Dunsford. Mr. Padgett studied piano with Sally Magee (a student of Emanuel Bay), and Blanca Uribe (a student of Rosina Lhévinne). He attended the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California, and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in psychology. At Vassar he studied music theory and composition with Richard Wilson. Mr. Padgett has performed for Joseph Silverstein, Van Cliburn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Steve Jobs, Prince Charles, Lady Camilla, Marcia Davenport, William F. Buckley, Jr., and other prominent public figures. His original compositions have been performed by the Monterey Symphony, at the Bohemian Grove, the Bohemian Club, and other private and public venues. In 2008 Mr. Padgett won the Max Bragado-Darman Fanfare Competition with his entry "Fanfare for the Eagles." It was premiered by the Monterey Symphony under Maestro Bragado in May 2008. A member of the Elgar Society, Mr. Padgett is married with five children.