G. Bertoni: The Sound of Forgiveness/Friendship

Forgiveness&Friendship-score notes

By Giovanni G. Bertoni Class of 2016

This piece was mainly inspired by its title. It took a long time and thought to discover in myself a melody that would be simple yet interesting for both the musicians to play and the audience to hear. For the instrumentation, I originally thought of my middle eastern group, “Neshwa quartet” (oud, clarinet, cello and percussion). However since I composed this piece on a grand piano, I decided it needed the sounds of the piano as well.


The piece is composed of two movements. The first one “Forgiveness”, is a slow, meditative, reflective and sentimental melody. The second is “Friendship”, a faster and more upbeat and sunny feel. In Forgiveness each instrument (one at the time) begins to solo on the drone in G, held by the piano among other instruments that are not soloing. I want the listener to be able to understand the sounds and tambur of each instrument in the ensemble, so that as the piece unfolds one is able to detect the different colors of the instruments involved.


After the initial improvised section, the oud starts to hint at the main melody of the first movement in a free, unmetered way. This is the cue for the piano to join, playing the chords and melody in the actual rhythm followed by the whole ensemble playing the melody. The players have the freedom to play countermelodies, but they should not obstruct in any way the main theme, which should always be present. The players can add ornaments to the melody but not all together; each player should be sensitive one to another and listen to each other.


This first movement comes to an end with every instrument fading away except for the piano which is the last instrument to decay. This is because it is the piano which will open the doors to the next movement “Friendship”.


Friendship is the name of the second movement of the piece. I decided for this movement to be a different character, happier and groovier. The piano starts the composition by playing a rhythmic pattern on single note, D in  ⅞  time, followed by percussions. The chords differ slightly from the first movement, C-7, Bb, Eb and at last a G Major which brings sunshine, brightness and positiveness to the entire melody.


As the introduction unfolds, the oud and piano interact by playing with each other in a very rhythmical way, paving the path for the cello and clarinet which enter together playing the main melody in ⅞. The piano also joins in playing the melody while the clarinet takes a solo and plays a countermelody. This thick texture must never lose the ⅞ feel and groove, which is kept in place by the percussion player (this section can be played for as many times as the players want).


When the players decide that the piece is ready to come to an end, the piano must perform the transition to the ⅝ time with the concluding statement. This section is fast and must be repeated four times. The piano plays the first time alone and is then joined by all instruments which at the end of the fourth time all end together on a G Major chord.


This is my first composition, and I would like to dedicate it to my Professor Jafar Mahallati, who has been one of the most important figures for me in this past year. This piece embodies characteristics and feelings throughout all my years as a student here at Oberlin. I felt very happy, especially when presenting the piece to my very good friends musicians who were kind enough to record it with me. They all had a great time playing it and were all smiling and having fun while learning it. For me this is the most important message and feeling in music.