Wednesday, March 09, 2005
"Where E'er You Walk" from Semele by Handel
Alright I also want to comment on this apparently popular piece. This piece is a great example of ternary form, as it is a da capo aria. The A section is a contrasting period, lasting 19 measures. The first phrase ends on a half cadence in measure 8, although we could consider it an authentic cadence in the dominant, since it is tonicized well, but I really felt the tension of a half cadence. The second half of the phrase doesn't repeat material, so we do have a contrasting period. We end on an IAC in measure 16, completing the phrase, but an extension carries us through to measure 19, ending the entire section on a PAC in our original key. This section is tonally closed, and therefore the piece is considered sectional. The B section is very different, as we move modally into minor, and drastically change dynamics to piano. This section is shorter, with only a single phrase group. The first phrase lasting a mere three measures and ending with a PAC in g minor. The subsequent phrase repeats the lyric from the previous line and adds a layer of change, modulating to c minor and ending on a PAC before a link back to the beginning of the piece (da capo). The return of the A section is exactly the same, at least from an accompaniment standpoint. The vocal line can and should be ornamented to liven up the melody. Handel purposely makes the accompaniment subdued during his arias, because at this point the entire plot of the story was told simply through song. The orchestra only rises when the voice falls away. I love this piece for its simple yet stunning vocal line, completely lovely ideal and basic accompaniment. Handel is a master of writing a melody that everyone can identify with, and that will easily get stuck in your head for hours and hours to come.