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I must confess I have added the following discussion to another website but hope you also find it interesting.

La Folia (pronounced lah foh-LEE-ah) which literally means madness, folly or empty-headedness is possibly one of the most remarkable phenomena in musical history. This simple but intriguing tune was first published in 1672 with roots going back to the 16th century. It has been a major challenge for many composers up to the present day, ranging from being part of a Bach Cantata to being incorporated into a film theme by Vangelis. Perhaps the most striking feature is that the theme is not better known despite more than 150 composers making variations of it over a span of nearly 350 years.

It strikes me that this would be an excellent basis for a competition among our members - just out of interest...sadly no cash prizes. Because sometimes I see myself fitting neatly into the meaning of 'La Folia' I have had a crack at writing 12 variations for horn quartet. For your interest the theme proper makes its first entrance in the 1st horn part in variation 5 - it is only 8 notes long.

Incidentally, I have become fixated with this so am now attempting a set of jazz variations - crazy or what!


Comments that might lead to improvements are welcome as always.

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Hi Stephen,

I like your variations very well. They show considerable invention in rhythm and melody and are well distributed and negotiated amongst all four instruments with varied articulations etc.

In terms of harmony I find it rather unified but not adventurous. It strikes me that you prefer to give the theme and all variations only one time and always ending with an imperfect cadence. The procedure I am used to with these theme by most composers, (and I have also experience as a player with some of them for guitar) is that the theme and all variations are repeated with Imperfect cadences on the first half and perfect at the end. So if you follow that procedure the piece would double in length automatically. Give it a thought.

Otherwise, all is very good.

Thanks for sharing.

 

Thank you Socrates. This is my first real attempt at theme and variations so I find what you say very interesting and will look further into the subject - what a great way to learn eh!

I have just quickly looked at a couple of examples and find that neither of them do as you suggest regarding repeats with the cadences you specify - this certainly demands more study and becomes more fascinating by the minute.

Also, rightly or wrongly, I have maintained the theme in its original key (A- for horn) in all variations so have been obviously very restricted in what harmonic variations I might employ.

One of the most famous settings (and performances)

Well, first of all it's Handel...my favourite composer, second it's Segovia playing with exceptionally musical and tasteful rubato plus exquisite use of dynamics....what's not to like!

Well done Stephen.

I like what you've done with this "simple" theme. Nice variety to the variations, but like Socrates, I would like to hear what it could be with some variations in the harmonic movement as well.

Again, well done.
mm
I cannot upload image again-text editor packed it up as it often does.

Hi Stephen
Yes I agree about both composer and performer!
I don’t like Segovia all the time (exactly because he plays with rubato inappropriately imo in some baroque pieces), but here he is really good.
But I posted it as demonstrating the phrase structure of La Folia: Half close in the middle-repeat-full close at the end.
(bars 8 & 16)
https://www.scribd.com/doc/176806473/Handel-Sarabande-Variations-Gu...

Thanks for your comments Tim - maybe you're exactly right with your view, shared with Socrates, about the lack of harmonic variation. I'm still in the process of researching other versions of La Folia (I haven't actually found any yet due to a lack of time) but will see what I can learn from the experts and then perhaps amend my effort to make it more musically rounded. As the man said....watch this space!

Tim Marko said:

Well done Stephen.

I like what you've done with this "simple" theme. Nice variety to the variations, but like Socrates, I would like to hear what it could be with some variations in the harmonic movement as well.

Again, well done.

I see what you mean Socrates and thank you for your interest and the attached demonstration - I'm still working on it and will post a revised version once I'm happy with it.

Socrates Arvanitakis said:

I cannot upload image again-text editor packed it up as it often does.

Hi Stephen
Yes I agree about both composer and performer!
I don’t like Segovia all the time (exactly because he plays with rubato inappropriately imo in some baroque pieces), but here he is really good.
But I posted it as demonstrating the phrase structure of La Folia: Half close in the middle-repeat-full close at the end.
(bars 8 & 16)
https://www.scribd.com/doc/176806473/Handel-Sarabande-Variations-Gu...

Socrates, I have just discovered there are long and short versions of La Folia - my variations are based on the original short form and your comments make complete sense (as ever) in relation to the long version. I will now attempt to write a new set of variations based on the long one (this time with a bit more harmonic adventure!).

I'll get there eventually :}

Socrates Arvanitakis said:

 

Hi Stephen,

I like your variations very well. They show considerable invention in rhythm and melody and are well distributed and negotiated amongst all four instruments with varied articulations etc.

In terms of harmony I find it rather unified but not adventurous. It strikes me that you prefer to give the theme and all variations only one time and always ending with an imperfect cadence. The procedure I am used to with these theme by most composers, (and I have also experience as a player with some of them for guitar) is that the theme and all variations are repeated with Imperfect cadences on the first half and perfect at the end. So if you follow that procedure the piece would double in length automatically. Give it a thought.

Otherwise, all is very good.

Thanks for sharing.

 

Thank you MMC. Out of interest who normally organises contests on this site...is it Gav?

MM Coston said:

I agree that that would be an interesting competition, Stephen. 

Btw, I liked the second half of your variations best.

Que?

Jon C Sebastian said:

No, to the out of tune old church organ,,,,

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