Serial Miniature for Piano 2

Serial Miniature for Piano 2

If any pianist wanted to play this piece, you will find a pdf of the music at the bottom. Let me know if you do  🙂

After writing the Serial Miniature for Piano 1 I wanted to write a series of them. After the lesson where I presented the first one, Pat asked me to write another one too, and said that, as that one was quite ‘vertical’ it would be good to try to write one that is more ‘horizontal’. He suggested I therefore write a contrapuntal one, but using the same tone row, which he liked.

I googled serialism and came across a 1973 lecture given by Stockhausen in London on his piece “Mantra”. I watched the first part of that

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

This gave me some ideas, so I have created the Serial Miniature for Piano 2 based on this. I also listened to a Radio 3 lecture on patterns in music. This talked a lot oabout symmetry and number sequences.

To create the piece, first of all I took the same tone row as in Serial Miniature for Piano 1

Tone row

And created a melody based on this. In this melody each note has its own characteristic. So

  1. the first note is a slow repetition.
  2. the second has a series of grace notes before it.
  3. the third is a short sharp followed by a longer iteration of the note and ending with another short, sharp version an octave different.
  4. the fourth is a straightforward, bare note on E.
  5. the fifth is a rapid, regular repetition.
  6. the sixth a trill.
  7. the seventh is an irregular repetitions (dotted crotchet, followed by f=dotted minim).
  8. the eighth and ninth are 8 cycles of a slow tremolando.
  9. the tenth is a simple note linked to the previous note by a chromatic triplet.
  10. the eleventh is a chord based on the note and the note preceding it and the note following it.
  11. the twelfth is a sforzando short note.
  12. then we return to a long version of the C, the first note, completing the circle.


Having taken this basic melody it is then set out with some ornaments. It is broken down into 4 elements a, b, c and d, where

  1. includes notes one to four :
  2. is notes five to seven
  3. includes notes eight to ten
  4. is notes eleven, twelve and the return to the C

The piece is divided into four sections, I, II, III, and IV

Section I

This section has the main them in the right hand over the course of thirteen bars. The pairing of the elements between left and right hand was dictated initially by the length of each element, as elements a and c are both four bars long, and elements b and d are shorter. In this section the left hand plays reflected version of each of the elements. At the start, therefore, the left hand plays element c (marked c- in the score, to show that it is reversed), followed by element d- (paired with element b in the right hand), element a- (paired with element c in the right hand) and element b- (paired with element d in the right hand). The reflected elements are shown below.


The dynamics of each part are separate, but again follow the original ones form the main theme.

Sections II and III

In section II the theme appears in diminution in the left hand, starting with element c and progressing to element d, element a and then element b. The right hand, meanwhile, plays a tremolando circle of notes, following the tone row in the P0 order. This tremolando series switches to the left hand at the start of section III. Each tremoloando is made up of the note from the tone row with the one that follows it, and each is slightly longer than a bar long (13 semiquavers to be precise). This ensures (with some artistic license!) that the trmoloandos last as log as is required, and makes the piece of music more interesting and less regular, adding to the tension as the sections progress. At the start of section III the right hand takes the melody, using the reflected elements in the order b-, a-, d-, c-.

An example of the tremolando is shown below


Section IV

This section then brings these elements together. The original tone row melody is swapped between left and right hands with the elements as follows:

  1. left hand
  2. right hand
  3. left hand
  4. right hand

The accompaniment gets tricky to play here with two things going on at once creating three-part counterpoint.

  • While the left hand plays element a, the right hand plays the reflected c- as well as a figure made up of the notes that made up the tremolandos in sections II and II whenever elements a and c occurred (in normal or reflected version). This means that we have a figure comprising A, C#, D, E, F#, G and G#, accompanying the first four bars of section IV, where the left hand carries element a and the right hand element c-. An example bar is shown below

3-part counterpoint

  • We then move on to element b in the right hand and d- in the left hand together with figures based on the notes from the relevant tremolandos in section II and III, giving notes, C, D, D# and F#
  • The left hand then takes the melody with element c, accompanied by a- and an iteration of the figures from the first part of section IV
  • Finally the right hand takes element d, accompanied by b- in the left and an iteration of the figures in the second part of section IV, which are augmented to bring the piece to a close with a re-statement of a bare chord of the first and last notes of the tone row – C

Here is the music

Serial Miniature 2 – Full Score


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