February 17, 2015
Flute and piano
Amazing Grace is an extremely popular and famous Christian hymn written by the poet and clergyman John Newton in 1779. The folk song has evolved into a tune that embodies many traditional core American values. When searching for arrangements of this song, I found that the arrangers often limited themselves to the original melody. I believed that such an iconic and symbolic melody could be explored using different harmonies and rhythmic patterns.
Although the Amazing Grace melody is plainly stated early in this piece, it is at heart a theme and variations. During the course of the piece, the main melody is explored with rhythmic embellishments, harmonic changes, and modal changes.
There are three sections to this piece. The first section, in E-flat major, is the youngest and most simple of the sections. In this section the plain melody is stated, as well as a piano interlude the first variation. The second part is based in F minor, giving a darker feel. The melodies from earlier are restated in this new key, and parts from the earlier section are explored with different chords. An inverted variation of the Amazing Grace melody in B-flat minor is also present. After a transition to the third and final section, it is revealed to be similar to the first, although it’s in D-flat major and additional flute motives are added. Following an arpeggiated variation of the main melody, another harmonic development passage gives way into a simple statement of the first part of the main melody before settling in on a final D-flat major chord.
-Program note by Parker Fritz