Date of Award
Master of Music
David Van Vactor
George F. Devine
The analysis of Theme and Variations for Orchestra was undertaken to trace the elements of thematic unification through the work, to note certain aspects of orchestration, rhythm, texture, melody, counterpoint, harmony, and form.
Thematic material is derived from the pentatonic scale, which is the characteristic scale of Korean folk tunes. The theme is first stated in the flute at the beginning. In addition to several appearances of the theme in its original form, the theme appears also inverted, retrograded, transposed, and modified in various ways.
Theme and Variations for Orchestra is not intended to be sectional, by which is meant clear cadential breaks of indefinite length forming sectional series, but continuous form. The over-all plan which gives a profile and cumulative effect to the total series of variations is gradual increase and subsidence of motion, of dynamic intensity, of brilliance of color, and of textural complexity.
The orchestration is conservative. Most variations, except the fifth and the last two variations, are lightly scored, laying emphasis on contrasting color. To help listeners follow the thematic material in each variations, an instrument or a group of instruments of contrasting colors is assigned to carry it out. A number of solo passages may help in identifying the theme. The score requires woodwinds in pairs, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, one tuba, timpani, percussion, and a medium sized group of strings, minimum preferred 8-6-4-4-2.
The rhythmic idiom of the work is relatively simple, except the superimposed rhythmic figure above compound meter in the fifth variation.
Most of the texture is contrapuntally conceived, with melodies influenced by vocal style. Voices are rhythmically independent in contrapuntal texture.
Tertian sonorities are much used in the harmonic vocabulary. But often as a result of linear thinking of voices, sharp dissonances are created, then resolved properly. In the last two variations tone clusters are used for the purpose of percussive orchestral effect. Root progressions, first inversions, and second inversions of chords are well proportioned by means of counterpoint.
Ha, Jae Eun, "An Analysis of Theme and Variations for Orchestra. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1969.