前言: 看來不少讀者都希望我略談一下作曲技巧的問題。我想，作曲技巧，在大多數音樂理論書都有廣泛討論，分門別類地引列出來。我也不便在這裡重覆。對我來說，最佳的作曲參巧書，就是實制的作品本身。一首 mp3，加一本總譜，就可以學習學習。不少作曲天書都有說過現代音樂裡的 Minimalism 微模風格的作品，如 Philip Glass, Terry Rily 等。可是死讀書的就只會想到這些近代作曲家和作品，如果你肯消化 Minimalism 的音樂特點，就是用最少的才料去發展最長的音樂，你可以不再盡信書中所記，反過來自己探索一下，你會發覺，遠至 Baroque，到鄰近的十九世紀浪漫風格，你也可以找到在不同時代的大師們的一些音樂處理，也是很 minimal 的，可說是 minimal 主義的先驅者。其作品的精巧程度，叫聽眾拍案叫絕。我們學寫曲的，就是要學會怎樣以最少的材料去完成最大的作品。
The “Minimalistic Setting” in Wagner’s Prelude of Das Rheingold
The musical extract typically shows three significant Romantic traits: sublime orchestral sonority, kaleidoscopic timbres and prolonging melodic line. The overall mood portrayed in this grand passage is extensively dramatic, profoundly poetic and sensationally moving, rather than elegantly classical or well proportionally symmetrical. Apart from the apparent Romantic appearances, however, this inspiring passage is not without having other novel features that invite further scrutiny.
Although the entire passage lasts nearly four minutes, the musical motion merely depends on the projection of one single element, the Eb major triad. The thematic melody, the sustaining pedal and the orchestral accompaniment are all derived from this Eb major tonic triad and are continuously repeated throughout the passage. Here the monothematic nature is obvious. The minimal use of materials probably reminds us of Bolero by Maurice Ravel in 1928, which could be regarded as one of the precursors of the Postmodern Minimalism in the years sixty. Bolero only consists of a single Spanish dance theme and a repeated snare drum rhythmic pattern projecting throughout the whole piece. Similarly, this extract exactly reflects such conspicuous feature.
Another significant characteristic worthy of considering is the continuous small-scale changes within the repetitions. By adding different instruments to the texture and changing the accompanimental pattern in the inner parts, the musical tension is built up gradually. These changes not only enhance manifold timbres to avoid monotonous, but also thicken the orchestral sonority step by step, providing a gradual growth of dynamic from soft to the climatic loud tutti near the ending, as well as holding the musical tension for the entire passage. As a result, neither a single repetition of the melody nor a harmonic pattern generates the same sonic sound. This characteristic is very similar to the art painting of Minimal style, the Coca Cola, by Andy Warhol in 1962. In Coca Cola, a matrix of many coca cola bottles of the same size is arranged, but in fact no single bottle is exactly identical. Doubtless the small-scale change within a repeated similarity is one of the most salient attributes of Minimal Arts. The listening extract, to a certain extent, also possesses such element alike.
In short, this musical passage comprises much novelty and innovation, despite its apparent Romantic outlook. The single Eb tonic triad successfully maintains the entire musical motion and tension. In order to keep the perceptive interest within a monothematic background, the orchestration, timbre, dynamic, harmonic pattern and texture are changing incessantly. This restless small-scale change is the key factor for the gradual growth of musical tension, building up a more complex texture and sonority until the climatic conclusion. The musical extract, therefore, can be regarded as an extraordinary example of hybridization of Romanticism and somewhat nascent Minimalism.
David Leung (theorydavid)