Instrumental guitar piece Anija. Structure

by Issa Molina

In terms of formal design, the instrumental guitar piece features a fairly straightforward construction.

This instrumental guitar piece is in the key of A minor featuring small modal digressions. Throughout, which will be elaborated later on in the article, another interesting quality is that the piece is exclusively for guitar; the choice of key, chord voicings, and general textural content is highly idiomatic for this instrument and grows organically out of its possibilities.

Harmony and form.

The A section of this instrumental guitar piece features two smaller subdivisions. We’ll call them «a» and «b.» It consists of a repeated four-measure unit with a harmonic rhythm spanning two measures. This progression I-V is in the key of A minor. Thus, using the natural minor scale and introducing the folk and modal quality makes the piece characteristic.

The b part consists of another periodic and repeated four-measure unit with the same harmonic rhythm. Its harmonic content is based on another chord progression, IV–I, in the same key. Again making use of the natural minor scale. Something worth mentioning is that the melodic content of this part features a small appearance of the chromatic C# note. Nevertheless, this note functions as a chromatic neighbor tone to the real D. Therefore, this chromatic diversion is merely superficial, not affecting the total harmonic content of the section.

The harmonic contents of this section is simply an alternation of the I and II chords

The B section features a certain level of digression from the previous parts. Since it seems to shift its tonal center to the F Lydian mode. The chord progression of this section is simply an alternation of the I and II chords. A characteristic progression of the Lydian mode. It is also worth mentioning that the F Lydian mode shares the same collection of notes with the A natural minor scale. Making this a modulation to a very close center and therefore sounding very gentle.

This section’s harmonic rhythm is again spanning two measures, but the phrase structure is slightly altered. It has now been divided into four measure units, each featuring the same musical content, except the last one, which contains a descent from F to G that produces the retransition to the A minor tonal center of the A section. These two previous sections are then repeated exactly in the same way. C section is the most divergent of all, featuring the greatest degree of tonal direction, for the first time introducing chromaticism at a structural level and utilizing chordal structures of higher complexity.

The harmonic progression is ambiguous, after cadencing on A minor

The harmonic progression is ambiguous; after cadencing on A minor, the I degree is followed by a vii, a progression native to the Phrygian mode, yet, this progression is then retrospectively interpreted as an III-II progression in F major followed by a cadence featuring V–I in said key. Nevertheless, this cadence is then deviated by moving on to a B Flat major triad which is retrospectively interpreted as the Neapolitan chord (bII) of the home key of A minor, which then rises chromatically to B before approaching the cadential E dominant seventh chord for the final V -I perfect cadence. Furthermore, it is the climactic section of the piece which, after producing the strongest cadential movement to the A minor tonic of the piece, is diverted into the coda.

To conclude, the piece features an extended improvisational coda based on the progression of the «a» section, tying the formal scheme together and producing a large degree of coherence between the parts. In addition, this formal part features some of the most common features of closing thematic areas like tonic-based harmonic progressions, repetition of a single harmonic scheme, no introduction of new materials.

Melodic structure

The melodic content of this instrumental guitar piece is very lyrical yet at the same time highly idiomatic for the guitar. Essentially, it tends to feature repeating figures and a general surging contour with the motion growing from lower to higher-pitched notes, with a higher amount of skips in the lower parts of the register, using more steps as it goes higher, undoubtedly emulating the movement from lower to higher strings of the guitar.

The final coda section is slightly more elaborate than the other parts since it relies more on soloing than harmonic content. In addition, this formal segment uses other techniques that hadn’t been used before, like double notes (thirds, sixths, and octaves) and faster figuration, especially on the high E string.



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