Ophelia for clarinet, 2 violins, cello and guitar


Based on my song setting of the scene in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet in which Ophelia is losing her mind out of grief for her murdered father.
The modal shifts in the music follow her state of mind.
The main melody (Ophelia’s voice in the original) is taken by the flute.
The slow theme played on the cello is based on the Portuguese “La Folia” melody.

The modal changes are as follows:
The mode starts in Phrygian (D minor but with lowered second).

The modes changes to Khamaj Theta (major with lowered seventh) then to Kalyan Theta (major with raised fourth) as Ophelia becomes even more light headed.

The rhythms venture into dotted and Scotch snaps, which emphasise this temporary lightness.
When she begins to ruminate on the question “will he not come again?” the mode changes to Marva Theta (major but with flattened second and raised fourth), but the tonic is now a semitone higher than where she started.

The mode changes finally to the more familiar minor (Aeolian) at the end as she resigns herself to her fate.