Magazine article The American Organist

The Usefulness of Mozart

Magazine article The American Organist

The Usefulness of Mozart

Article excerpt

Listening to a masterwork of Mozart is always pleasurable, but is not always useful. I don't think it's helpful to behold a masterpiece and think, "I have no idea how to achieve something like that." That doesn't incite one to create-usually the opposite. More useful is to dissect a piece of Mozart and try to figure out what he did. Even just one aspect of what he did. Even a tiny aspect. "The melody has two four-bar phrases? Okay, I will try to improvise a melody with two phrases of exactly four bars."

In the June issue, we practiced writing trios on Kingsfold with the melody in the middle. Several readers kindly wrote to me, suggesting that I complete my example and make it into a "real piece." They give my exercise too much credit. It was merely that, an exercise. More to the point, I intentionally showed the mistakes along the way. Note that I wrote, "Okay, let's see where we're at." I deliberately did not write, "Here is my perfect, finished example."

My friends, if you remember nothing else from these pages, remember the following sentence. Here is the road to success: failure, failure, failure, failure, failure, failure, failure, failure, failure, failure, success.

Even after writing that June article, I continue to find it difficult to put the melody in the middle. But as the saying goes: if something is difficult, then that's what you should be doing. If you have the patience to write many bad examples (as I did), soon you'll write a good one.

I recommend practicing trios for a good while before attempting a fourpart harmonization. The first three examples below are a sampling of the infinite possibilities. …

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