Orefici Melodic Studies

Orefici's Melodic Study #8. Discussion of context, purpose, direction, and relationships in music and life. Story of the B flat note and application to living.  By Terry B. Ewell. BDP #333. www.2reed.net.

[Music: Orefici’s Melodic Study #5, performed by Terry B. Ewell]

[Alert Sound: https://freesound.org/people/Kinoton/sounds/350508/]

Warning, warning, danger, danger! This video contains the application of music as a metaphor for life. Be prepared for a lengthy study of opening of the etude and then applications for living. If you can’t handle that, then just proceed to the next video with the performance of Orefici Melodic Study #8.

I want you to imagine that you are a B flat note. Now, you have been brought into this world as a B flat note and you really don’t know much about your purpose as a B flat note, your position as a B flat note, and how you relate to others as a B flat note. In fact, right now as a B flat note you don’t even know if you are a low B flat on the bassoon or a high B flat. You don’t know which octave of B flat you are. You don’t know if you are in a symphony or in an Orefici study. You are just simply a B flat note.

We are going to start looking now at context and purpose and ending and all of that. And this is a great study, because it is all about goals, all about context, all about understanding.

Well, here is the music for the opening of the Orefici Study. We can see that the key of the study is in Bb major so as a Bb note you are probably thinking, “Well, this is wonderful. I am the most important note in the piece. The key signature is even named after me!” Too often we deceive ourselves and think we are of the most importance, however, Orefici educates us in the opening that B flat is not a note of focus in the beginning.

So, here you are, you are a B flat. [music] You think, “How disappointing! I am a B flat and there are no B flats yet in this piece. What is going on? I haven’t even appeared yet.” Let’s go to the next phrase.

[music] Ah, we have two B flats. These B flats, however, function in different ways. The first B flat is not rhythmically emphasized. It tends to be that smaller notes move toward the longer notes and metrical emphasis. That is, where the note appears in the measure is very important.

[music] That second B flat is a little more important than the first B flat and therefore that first B flat needs to move toward the second. Let’s go on.

[music] There is another B flat that is in [music] this scale ascending. The context is that the B flat in relation to the other notes is part of a scale, part of a melody, but it is not prominent. It is not the goal. That B flat is not the goal.

So, the opening of this Orefici study contains several gestures. Let’s call a gesture a two-measure grouping. These group to phrases—let’s call those phrases four measures. Then the phrases go to periods of eight measures. Each of these is hierarchically arranged, strategically arranged. There is a goal, a direction, there is a telos to all of this. There is a movement to this.

[music with demonstration of goals, telos]

In each of these there is a pairing of notes. Here is have reduced the melody to simple pairings. We expect it then to go: [music] to end on a B flat. But, oh, Orefici doesn’t do that! Instead, he maneuvers around the B flat. This prominent B flat, this B flat should be so emphasized is hidden and not yet revealed.

[Music] Those B flats are passing. We have an appoggiatura above what should be a B flat [music]. There would be a B flat but instead [music] there is an appoggiatura, a delay with emphasis going to the next B flat. [Music] This ends that first phrase, the other gesture. We still haven't arrived on the B flat. And what happens? He doesn’t take us to [music] … he doesn’t take us to the ending, the telos, the goal of this whole thing, instead [music] it sweeps back up to the F and then we have to do it all again.

[music] So far it is like the beginning and then we depart a little bit. [music] We get a lot of B flats, but they are not rhythmically stressed on the downbeat. This is not yet the ending, this is not the telos that we are looking for.

[music] Ah, there it is. There is that B flat that has been the goal of all that has gone on before, all the has happened before leads to this B flat.
Are we done yet? No. That B flat, even though it is a completion of all that has come before is yet a premonition of the fulfilled ending. It is just a part of that fulfilled ending in the piece.

 We find in the Hebrew Scriptures, Ecclesiastes 3:11—my favorite verse, that is says there that no one can find out what God does from beginning to the end. You are here, this poor little B flat and you don’t know the beginning and the ending of your composition. You are just a part of it, you are just a part of it in some way. But that part is very important. If you were to leave out that B flat there would be a hole in the composition. It is needed. Whether that B flat is a little grace note; that  B flat is a harmonic support  for others so that others can be in the limelight, the melody; or that B flat is part of the ending.

This is the marvelous thing we see here in the Orefici study. This telos, this direction from beginning to end. You as a performer need to communicate how all of that works so that every note is part of that purpose, is part of the ending. Every note has a place to belong. Every note speaks at its time for what is great in this composition.

Likewise, in your life you have a place. You have a place in that eternal plan and you are valued as a note. I don’t want to leave out a B flat here and likewiseI want you to fulfill your life and purpose.

[Music: Orefici’s Melodic Study #5 performed by Terry B. Ewell]