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Variations (Discover Prompts #22 – TEMPO)

My all-time favourite piece of classical music is Elgar’s Enigma Variations. That is not just because I love the score, but because of the stories behind each of the 14 variations.  The composition has a repetitive resonance with significant changes in tempo depending on Elgar’s depiction of the heartbeat of his friends within each.

Of the 14 variations, the average beat per minute is 89 with the slowest at 54 and the fastest at 141. The change in tempo for each variation illustrates, musically, the personality traits of the friend he describes.  What holds it together for me is the theme; its meter, the organisation of the rhythmic patterns, and how they repeat throughout the score with different nuances and, of course, tempos.  For me, the underlying melody depicts Elgar, himself, and how he reacts or interacts with his portrait of the friend.

We, Toastmasters, can learn much from the composition of musical scores when it comes to writing our speeches.  Recognising the 21 Italian descriptions, in relation to tempo may be a bit over the top. However, understanding how we can add a sense of movement with stresses, timing, and syllables, can enhance how our speech is received. If we change the tempo, during parts of our speech to the different sensibilities of the audience, we can reinforce the message that we want to get across.

Like the Enigma Variations, we need to tie the ongoing themes together in the last paragraph and conclude with a flourishingly dramatic finale that leaves the audience in no doubt.

 

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