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CHORAL PARTITE (1974) L. LOCKWOOD
Although the term partite is now generally used to denote a suite of dances, the original meaning of the term (as noted in Grove’s Dictionary of Music) was of variations, and that is the use that is made of it here. The chorale for these variations is a melody harmonized by J.S.Bach with the text “Hilf Gott, dass mir’s gelingen” (BWV343) which roughly translates to “Help, O God, that I may succeed.” The melody was originally published in the Praxis Pietatis, a collection of chorales published in Germany, 1653. I have taken Bach’s arrangement and composed five variations on it for vibraphone and marimba.
I. Sopran, presents the original melody, re-harmonized and played on the vibraphone.
II. Alt, is based on the alto part of Bach’s version, which appears as a sort of cantus firmus in the left hand. The use of bass bow on the marimba is a novelty that produces a pure, sustained marimba sound.
III. Bass, makes free use of Bach’s bass line.
IV. Tenor, is the most abstract movement, incorporating the pitches of Bach’s tenor line as part of a pre-compositional plan which divides the movement into two parts. The first section features repeated notes which diminuendo to softness, while the second part has the opposite effect, leading to a climax at the end of the movement.
V. Phantasie. This is my own melody – inspired by the anonymous music from the 1653.
CHORALE PARTITE was completed December 24, 1974, and is dedicated to James Preiss.
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