AuthorMcLaughlin, Carol M.
Keywordslecture recital document
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe practice of applying variation to a given musical statement is one of the oldest of musical concepts. Before written notation was developed, the aural transmission of musical ideas naturally involved some degree of personal interpretation and variation. Documented history of variations as a musical form begins in the sixteenth century when the variation was established as an important musical procedure which increased the length and expression of a musical idea. In The Technique of Variation, Robert Nelson distinguishes seven categories of variation types developed from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries: 1. Renaissance and baroque variations on secular songs, dances, and arias. 2. Renaissance and baroque variations on plain songs and chorales. 3. The baroque basso ostinato variation. 4. The ornamental variation of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 5. The nineteenth-century character variation. 6. The nineteenth-century basso ostinato variation. 7. The free variation of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Variation remains an important process in music in the twentieth century -- as a viable compositional technique, as a virtuosic showpiece for the concert stage, and as a basic element of jazz music, where ornamentation and variation are integral elements of improvisation. The theme and variations is particularly suited to the harp. Elements of the form, such as its sectional aspects, allow the exposition of many facets of the instrument in one composition. The harp is endowed with an outstanding capacity for tone color and interpretive effects. Certain techniques available only to the harp, such as the glissando, bisbigliando, and pedal slide can be incorporated into a theme and variation, presenting a vast range of interpretive possibilities. The following four variation works offer a comprehensive representation of Theme and Variations originally written for the harp: Tema con Variazioni, G. F. Handel; Variations on a Theme of Mozart, M. I. Glinka; Fantaisie pour Harpe sur un theme de Haydn, M. Grandjany; Variations sur un theme dans le Style Ancien, C. Salzedo. These works span a period from the early eighteenth century to the twentieth century, during which time many advancements were made in the construction of the harp and also in the development of harp technique. Themes and variations are extremely worthwhile for pedagogical purposes as well as for performance on the concert stage. Suitability of the form for the harp and the virtuosic nature of the works have made them an important part of the harp repertoire.
Degree ProgramGraduate College