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Autumn Lift

Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
11 minutes
Modern classical music and Classical music
Piano trio
Instrumental parts
Related scores

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"Autumn Lift" is the extended version of the little piano trio. I wrote this from 1st Sept to 4th Oct 2014.

It is not in any proper form, but loosely is A; B; A-extended; C; D; C-stressed version; E; B-extended; Mashup; A

A lot of thought went into this piece and every note and passage was carefully thought about. So it took me about 5 weeks on and off in the odd evening and weekend when I had time. There were plenty of draft passages that are not fit for human consumption. Maybe someone would like to use the analysis below for their A-level music (I know that will never happen).

"Autumn Lift" was the name my Uncle Rodney gave to the original little piano trio (it lifted his spirits as Autumn was coming) but I stole that name for the longer version instead. It starts as the little piano trio. Sections A and B are the same as the previous piece. Then section A returns as before but this time it is extended with the figures from bars 50-58. I deliberately made the strings overlap here (and in other places), added bits of pizzicato, arpeggios and off-beat emphasis in the piano to keep the momentum and ambiguity going a little.

Section C (bars 60-71) is contrasting and more angular though with moments of pleasing melody to stay in keeping with the general mood of the piece. Ideas are passed around the instruments.

A short connecting passage (bars 71-74) links to section D which is more soulful and based on the descending, clashing and resolving passage from the end of part A but with the inclusion of a new, slightly soupy, tune. I deliberately made the right hand counter-tune to be subtly dissonant - i.e. a 7th or 2nd plus an octave or two away from the strings or left hand so that it stood out but not in too jarring a manner, such as in bar 78.

The new tune from part D repeats, but is made more obvious, starting with the Cello in bar 84, followed by another couple of times passing this tune around the instruments.

There is a new linking passage bars 97-103. Bars 97-99 use the most commonly used classic Jazz chord progression known to man (the only jazz chord progression I’ve memorised which is why I used it as I was playing around thinking up a bridge passage and realised this hackneyed old progression seemed to work, so in it went!) Notice the overextended arpeggios in bar 103, a technique I use a few times later. Just about playable in real life, but easy for Sibelius. I wasn’t sure how much to write this just for Sibelius or whether to keep it possible for real musicians. It’s probably teetering on the edge.

A more stressed and dramatic version of section C follows next (bars 104-115). I struggled quite a while to get a version of the running figures I liked in bars 111-114. This section ends on a shimmering chord of Cmaj7 taking us into a new section E.

Section E starts at a slower tempo in bar 116. The new tune from bar 117 is again deliberately discordant but far enough away from the accompaniment to just stand out without being jarring. (Wendy particularly likes bars 117 to 124). Note the downward arpeggio in bar 122. I use that a few times to add a bit of colour. The section E piano tune is repeated more boldly in strings from bars 124-127, then again but more gently and against a nice gently glowing sustained note from bars 127-129. The tune is heard one last time 132-136.

A slightly disturbed linking passage 137-146, largely on a diminished chord, takes us back to the original tempo. At bar 147 there is a carefully placed C natural in the piano against Bs to give a mild percussive feel to break the music mood slightly which I thought helps with the move to the reprise of section B at 158. Before 158 though there is a dreamy suggestion of this reprise of B in bars 151-157.

Section B comes back with a vengeance in 158-174, initially with extra piano reinforcement. I felt that really had to be so at this point. The reprise of section B is extended in bars 175-191.

Bars 192-197 are another slightly disturbed/dramatic link. I intentionally interleaved tuneful passages with more angular passages like this to help keep the interest up. In an earlier draft there was too much tuneful music and it was in danger of drifting into Richard Clayderman. So there are a few earlier versions that went into the bin… Bars 198-202 are thick chords of I and V together to give tension, ambiguity and the idea that something is coming round the corner.

Bars 203 to 222 are a mashup of many of the previous melodies coming quickly on top of each other. Some are moderately extended, others are fragmentary.

Section A returns at 223 but in the extended version again. This extension of A is itself extended from bar 237. There are some nicely spaced piano chords in bars 241 and 246 against a violin 7th chord for tension. Note the use of piano arpeggios dropped in occasionally like spice.

The piece tails off from the slight interruption in bar 257 (being a variant of the interruption at the end of the original string trio) through gradual changes in sonority and some carefully chosen piano chords to give a little mellow discordance (if such a thing is possible) in bars 262-263.

There were quite a few experiments to decide in which order to remove the notes as the piece died away.

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