10. Rhythmic Displacement and Augmentation

How to Write for Theme & Variation – Rhythmic Displacement & Augmentation.

In my last tip I showed you how “Permutation” and “Same Rhythm with Different Pitches” were used in arranging melodies.

In today’s tip we are going to focus on “Rhythmic Displacement”and “Augmentation”.

Rhythmic Displacement is basically just starting an original phrase on a different place (beat) in the bar. You also could say that the melodic phrase is shifted forwards or backwards. Please look at the comparison below again:

Two Bar Original Theme
Two Bar Rhythmic Displacement Example 1
Two Bar Rhythmic Displacement Example 2

The 2 examples above contain the same original motive with the difference that the first one is delayed one beat (a backward shift) and the secondanticipated one beat (a forward shift).

Lets go back again to the eight bar theme & variation and make use of this rhythmic displacement technique:

Theme & Variation Rhythmic Displacement
Theme & Variation Rhythmic Displacement

In the first two bars I used delayed rhythmic displacement, in bars 3 & 4 inversion and in bars 5 & 6 anticipated rhythmic displacement.
I intentionally changed the 2 eighth notes at the 4th beat in bar 6 to two quarter notes in order to let it sound more naturally after the rhythmic displacement in bar 5.

In the second part of this tip we will discuss and use the “Augmentation”technique:
Augmentation is a good technique to make your melodic phrase double in length. The rhythm of your original theme is extended by making each of your note values longer, in this case twice as long.
Remember that all the pitches stay the same, only the rhythmic values change. Look at the next example:
Two Bar Original Theme
Two Bar Augmentation
We are now ready to double the length of the original two bar theme and inversion into 4 bar motives. Bars 9 to 12 stayed the same:
Theme & Variation Augmentation

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