This is a piece that I composed to sound pastoral(in other words, like the countryside). I used this sequence of modulations:
F major -> C major -> A minor -> Bb major -> C minor -> G minor -> Bb major -> F major
The first F major section is supposed to sound like the sun is rising. Then in the C major, A minor, and Bb major sections, it sounds relatively peaceful. But the Fate motive appearing in both the bassoon and the piano foreshadows the C minor section, and the last entry of the Fate motive being on a C minor chord makes it sound like I am directly borrowing from Beethoven's 5th. Once I get to the C minor section, there is a jolt, both in dynamics and in tempo. The tempo almost doubles and the dynamics become fortissimo. I also use a repeating progression twice in this section. Here it is:
i -> i6(first inversion tonic) -> i -> iv(with Ab in the melody giving a more dissonant tone) -> i -> i6 -> i -> vii°7 -> i
Now there were a lot of ways that I could have gone from C minor back to F major. Here are just a few:
- Circle of fifths, ending it on the subtonic dominant 7th in D minor
- Ending the progression at F minor and then going straight to F major via parallel modulation
- Ending the progression at C minor, then going to C major which leads to F major
- Ending the progression at B°7 and resolving it to C major, again leading to F major
I decided to start like the circle of fifths progression, going to G minor. From there I went to the mediant of G minor followed by a plagal motion to F major.
Once I got back to F major, I decided on having the flute play a melody to give us a sense that the drama of the C minor section is over. This melody, I accompanied in the bassoon. Later, when the melody comes back, I change the register to be down an octave and have it played by the bassoon. The flute harmonizes and embellishes it with a countermelody of its own. Towards the end, I have all 4 instruments playing simultaneously and there is a ritardando, going from the 120 BPM of the G minor and second Bb major sections to the 60 BPM at the end. In the third to last measure, the harp does a diatonic glissando. I intended for it to be diatonic to avoid much dissonance between the Bb major harmony and the glissando. In the measure after that the harp does a long trill and then it ends with arpeggios in the harp and block chords everywhere else. These last 3 measures are again fortissimo. But because there is no modulation or sudden tempo change, the fortissimo in those last 3 measures just sounds like a typical ending cadence and so even though mezzo forte and fortissimo have quite a noticeable difference in intensity and there is a busy texture in the mezzo forte before it, there isn't much of a noticeable dynamic jolt. The flute and bassoon move in contrary motion over the piano chords in the last 2 bars, both to an F but in different octaves.
I didn't compose this for your typical quartet. Instead I thought "Which instruments would go well with the countryside in terms of their sound?" Piano, Harp, and Flute were obvious ones. To help balance the woodwinds against the piano and harp, I decided on having a second woodwind instrument. I didn't go with the Oboe because it sounds pretty nasal in timbre compared to other woodwinds(would probably be a very good instrument though if I wanted to make a piece sound Scottish). Another instrument that I could have used is the Clarinet(which in the case of this piece would be a Bb clarinet). It sounds mellow like the flute. But I figured that I didn't need a more mellow sound, I needed some warmth to the sound. And I knew just which woodwind instrument would provide a warm quality to the piece. That would be the Bassoon, which is comparable to the cello because of its wide pitch range and warm tone.
What do you think of it? Here is the link: