Alice’s Theme – Analysis

The predominant theme that I have within my composition is Alice’s Theme.  Introduced at the very opening of the composition, it is important that I can try to bring this into other sections of the piece in order to maintain continuity.

The theme itself is a simple 4-bar motif:

(Include the motif via pdf Sibelius here)

The rhythm is extremely simple, comprising of 8 quavers in 4/4 time but syncopated by the inclusion of the tie between the fourth and fifth quavers.

The harmony maintains the tonic D major key throughout each bar, offering continuity and familiarity.  The bass note within each bar, however, descends chromatically; D, C-natural, B, and then B-flat.

The motif is repetitive and rhythmically very lilting.  I wanted to convey the hypnotic effect of the water in the river, which was sending Alice into a dream-like state.  What I also wanted to represent were the two ‘worlds’; the familiar, ‘normal’ world that Alice was currently occupying and the soon to be discovered strange ‘new’ world that she would disappear into. I achieved this harmonically.

The D major tonality provides and represents very simply the consistent, familiar, safe ‘real’ world that Alice knows; it remains the same throughout each of the four bars and the motif returns to it every 5th bar.  In contrast, the descending chromatic notes represents a departure from the known to the bizarre and ludicrous world soon to be discovered.

This motif is based upon the tonic-dominant relationship through an arpeggiated pattern; probably the strongest harmonic relationship that was established during the Classical period. And being strong harmonically is important because I somehow wanted to represent the strength of Alice’s character.  She’s a very head-strong, opinionated little girl who knows what’s right and what’s wrong.  Carroll reminds us of this frequently throughout his book and her astuteness and sensibility stands in stark contrast to the nonsense that she comes up against in Wonderland; she’s forever questioning what she sees and experiences.

Ideas around developing this theme:
Given that the next section I am writing for is the Hookah-smoking Caterpillar, I am going to feature Alice’s Theme as the basis for this new character but use Middle Eastern instrumentation to guide the variation, which will bring into the music the hookah influence.

Other ideas that I have to develop Alice’s theme:
1) Use the same harmonic progression but use a different rhythm; I have read that middle eastern music is often written in 10, 12, 14 or 16 beats per bar which could be an interesting challenge.
2) Turn the motif upwards instead of descending down (chromatically raising the D in the RH part every bar, keeping the LH notes the same), which could suggest the caterpillar getting ‘high’.
3) Change the tonality from major to minor but keep the melodic/rhythmic shape the same
4) Turn it into a ’round’ with counterpoint; repetition and interplay between instrumentation


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