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Henry Purcell

Clockwork Orange

Clockwork Orange


Here is the music analysis of a famous piece of music that is the soundtrack of the Stlanley Kubrick 's movie "Clockwork orange". This theme is arranged by composer Walter Carlos is directly borrowed from baroque composer Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695) and has been composed for Queen Margo's funerals.


Part 1 4 bars
Part 2 4 bars
Part 3 4 bars
Part 4 4 bars
Part 5 4 bars


Orchestration Moog and Fairlight synthesizers


1 unique theme

The unique theme of this piece follows the harmonic progression studied here above. It is divided into 5 parts + Da capo, and does not exceed the ambitus* of a perfect 5th.
From bar 1 to 9, we are in a anacrusis* phase that leads to the climax* on a "D" note (bar 9); from bar 9 to 16, a desinence* leads us back to the initial G note in bar 16.
The 4 last bars conclude by a perfect cadence* in the key of C.
Generally, the funeral mood is respected by the use of a bare melody made of small intervals giving a "reverence" feeling.
Finally, we can notice an existing symmetry between the 4 first bars and 4 last bars using an upwards chromatic neighbour tone (G-Ab-G) and a downwards chromatic neighbour tone (C-B-C).
The other symmetry is about section 3 and 4 built on an harmonic sequence in G minor, then in Eb major.



The harmony is typically baroque with a kind of modal chord progression on 1 theme only. The main key is C major. The constant contrast between C major and C minor reveals a modal color of the baroque era in which the new tonal and ancient modal languages coexist. For example, the contrast created between the tonic chord C major and the sub dominant modal chord F minor.

Part 1 C maj F min C maj Cmaj
Part 2 C min Ab maj / Ab maj 6 G maj G maj
Part 3 G min C min / D7 G min G min
Part 4 Eb maj Ab maj / Bb maj Eb maj Eb maj
Part 5 C min F min / G maj Eb maj Eb maj

The modulation between these different parts mainly use the "homonym technique", in other words, a changing of mode (from major to minor by keeping the tonic). For example, in bars 4 & 5 (C maj and C min); in bars 8 & 9 (G maj and G min); in bars 20 & 1 (da capo from C min to C maj). The tonal progression remains clear : the 1st and 2nd parts (C major with modal IV chord F minor and modal VI chord Ab maj); the 3rd section (going to G minor = modal dominant of C major); the 4th section (to Eb major = C minor relative), and the 5th section (C minor = Homonym key of C major). The harmonic interest comes from a constant crossfade between transition chords, a kind of bridge betwwen the different keys.


On the rhythmic point of view, the tempo is : quarter note = 80, and the overall moderate rhythm is based on every beat with long note values or a dotted rhythm (bar 6), majestic and "royal" rhythm found in the "French openings" pieces of the 18th century. In this way, we can compare this piece with the Haendel's "passacaille", also a funeral march used by Stanley Kubrick in the movie "Barry Lindon" (1975). Generally, the pulse unit remains the quarter note, sometimes enriched by eighth notes.


Moog synthesizer 1
Moog synthesizer 2
Moog synthesizer 3
Moog synthesizer 4
Fairlight synthesizer


Sound Panorama Effects
Sustain chords Left + Right Reverb + Auto pan + Vibrato
Timpani sound Center Reverb + Chorus
Gong sound Spatial Reverb large hall
Choir sound Center back Reverb hall
Counter melody Center right Reverb hall
Sound effect Center Reverb + Auto pan
Percussion Center back -


Title Duration Tempo Style Measure Tonality Parts
Clockwork Orange 2'21'' 80 Classical music 4/4 Do menor 7


Anacrusis A melody or a rhythm starting on the offbeat
Baroque Period of the music history corresponding to the 17th century
Chromatic neighbour tone Non harmonic note that decorates a real note of a chord a semi-tone above or below, before returning to the original note.
Climax Highest point of intensity of a melody or a musical piece.
Desinence Resting period and return to quiet of a melody or a musical piece.
Homonym Chords or keys having the same tonic but a different mode; example : C major and C minor.
Modal Melodic or harmonic musical language based on the ancient greek modes, and used between the antic and baroque eras.
Motion by step Melodic motion proceeding by successive neighbour notes.
Opening Introduction part of a musical piece used at the 17th and 18th centuries, having a majestic mood and generally destinated to the royal courts.
Perfect cadence Conclusive pause going from chord V (dominant) to chord I (tonic).
Range Distance between the lowest and the highest notes of a melody
Relative key 2 keys placed a minor 3rd apart, one is major and the other minor, and having the same signature key. Eg: C maj. and A min.