Of Sketches, Vignettes & Miniatures in Music

 What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (Act II. ii. 43)
What’s in a name, indeed, when a music composer finishes a work – or a collection of works – and has to make a conscious decision as to what its title should be? The established literature is rife with terms that are sometimes romantic, sometimes comic, and sometimes plain prosaic – the sky (or the earth) is the limit!
In my case, I found that, over a period of decades, where I happened to be colored my titling process to some extent.  But more often than not, I let my imagination take flight irrespective of my geographical location. Speaking of which, my love of birds and small animals certainly played a fair part in my arriving at the word, or words, that truly expressed my visceral thinking in the heat of composition.
Take, for example, the hummingbird, that legend says floats free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Here’s an audio file of my “The Hummingbird.”
hummingbird
Or, the adorable little donkey of South America, el burro (dim. burrito) that is found just about everywhere in mostly Spanish-speaking lands as a symbol of quiet domesticity.
burrito2
My favorite, however, from the time I was a child in New Delhi was Polly, my pet Indian parrot, which I doted on when it was kept in a capacious cage in the family’s back veranda.
But came a time, when I was so overtaken and ashamed by its cooped up existence, that I unclasped the cage-door and set it free forever……….indiaparrot
Oh, the thrill of so doing! It was soon followed by the pang of losing an almost constant companion when I returned from school each weekday afternoon to find a quiet empty cage awaiting me. My answer as a 12-year old was to fill that void on the family Bechstein piano with “My Prayer.”
To illustrate by example, and reflecting some of the thoughts expressed  to my dear readers at the bottom of this posting, I am presenting hotlinks to three collections below bearing in their title the words sketches, vignettes and miniatures respectively.

Five World Travel Sketches: Sketches
1.  Carioca  2. Viennese Musical Box  3. Gitano  4. La Chasse  5. Lyon Cathedral
Six Vignettes in Praise of Nature: Vignettes
1. My Prayer  2. Songbird on a Window Sill  3. The Hummingbird  4. El Burro
5. Berceuse – La Mère et la Fille  6. Bacharach am Rhein
Ten Miniatures for the Piano: Miniatures
1. Consecutive Fifths  2. Waltz in C  3. Petite Polonaise  4. Prelude in A minor
5. Marcia alla Jacopo  6. Galop  7. Ballad in A  8. Theme and One Variation
9. Tanochka – Chaconne in A  10.  A.L.E.X.

The last-mentioned miniatures include a variety of musical forms with well-known nomenclatures that are found in old and new world classical compositions. They are largely based on the first names of friends and family members as explained in the following video, which selects one name, A.L.E.X., as an example of how I do it:
Tune on a Name
Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas

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2 thoughts on “Of Sketches, Vignettes & Miniatures in Music

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