Author Topic: Composing a polonaise, anything else to consider?  (Read 10259 times)

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Offline caters

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Composing a polonaise, anything else to consider?
« on: August 15, 2019, 12:07:37 PM »
So the thought has came to me several times to write a polonaise. I'm not Polish so I barely know anything about that side of the polonaise. But so far I have come across these commonalities across all polonaises(except maybe some of Bach's polonaises and some other early polonaises):

  • Triple meter(typically 3/4 time, though some are written with a 6/8 feel in mind)
  • Moderate to fast tempo(it gets especially fast if you look only at Chopin's polonaises)
  • Common melodic rhythm
  • Relatively simple bass line compared to the complex melody
  • Ternary form(often complex ternary form which is like ternary form sections inside a ternary form piece)

But then there are those things that differ. I will be using Chopin as an example since his polonaises are extremely well known, but don't feel as though I'm being too Chopin-centric.

Heroic Polonaise:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QT7ITv9Ecs

This polonaise has more of a 6/8 feel to it. And not just because of the eighth note bass line but also because of beams of eighths going across the bar. Also, I think there are some bars where the eighths are grouped in 3's, implying 6/8, even though it is written in 3/4 time. Also, in the B section, it feels more like a mazurka in terms of the rhythm. This is one of those cases where I would argue that 6/8 is the true time signature and that 6/8 is used as a triple meter(after all if 6 can be divided by both 2 and 3, no reason that 6/8 can't be triple meter just because it is most often duple meter)

Here is a typical polonaise rhythm:


And here is the rhythm I feel and see in the B section:


That is a typical mazurka rhythm. No idea why Chopin would write the B section of a polonaise like a mazurka in terms of the rhythm.

Military Polonaise:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbnunexhlXM

This one has clearer 3/4 feel to it. Also it sticks to the typical polonaise rhythm almost to the dot throughout, no section of it feels like a mazurka.

Polonaise in C minor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj4XjCrN0nk

This one is even more rhythmically confusing. Sometimes it sounds like a mazurka rhythm, sometimes it sticks to a typical polonaise rhythm, and other times it just sounds like a waltz rhythm. I guess the rhythmic confusion fits the mood of the polonaise though as does the tempo being on the slow side of Allegro.

So is there anything else I have to consider besides the rhythm, form, complexity of melody vs bass, tempo being moderate to fast, and most importantly triple meter when writing a polonaise.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Composing a polonaise, anything else to consider?
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2019, 01:24:07 PM »
Can't help with polonaises (though I like them), but I can say, "Welcome to GMG."

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