Passport to Pimlico (1948): The Siege of Burgundy was composed to accompany a fast-moving sequence of events in a comedy film. Explain how Auric creates this sense of pace and mood.
Passport to Pimlico‘s episodic structure mirrors the on-screen narrative of the 1948 comedic film. The Introduction immedietly established importance and majesty through trills, a high-pitch range, fanfare-like trumpets through long dotted minims and demisemiquaver patterns, coupled with the comedic sound of descending scalic sounds. This all occurs in bar one. The bright E major key establishes this bright mood.
Rhythm is essential in creating a comedic effect: Rests create a staccato effect at bar 35 with off-beat syncopation creating an anticipatroy rhythm. This driving rhythm is emphasised through the pulsating effect of semiquavers in strings that pushes the fast-paced score. A single bar of 3/4 breaks up the 4/4 metre and reflects the on-screen action, preparing for another dramatic ‘Headline’.
Comedy is highlighted through antiphony. The brass and strings share musical dialogue at bars 36 and 37, reflecting the opposing voices of the people of Burgundy and outsiders. The comedic effect is emphasised throuh the high tessiturs: the trombones’ low pitched range is opposed with the high pitched strings.
Despite the tense, fast-paced mood, other emotions are created in order to heighten comedy – the ubular beslls at bar 31 represent church bells, a bizarre instrumentations to juxtapose the otherwise fast-paced, quaver and semiquaver dominated melody.
The climax at bars 49 and 50 where the citizens of Burgundy ‘receive presents’, sees a build up of pace through semiquavers and triplets, and the piece reaches its first ff through the rare uses of Auric’s extended tuned percussion – timpani and crash cymbals.
An equilibrium is found in both music and narrative at bar 55 through a modulation to C major and more conventional texture, MDH. However, the pizzicato strings provide a comedic effect and the music remains fast-paced through grace notes and trills. The music finishes with a perfect cadence disrupted by an F# dissonnce – the narrative is not yet complete, pushing the action into the next scene.
12/13 under exam conditions