Saturday, February 05, 2005

"Matta Zeybegi" by Kismet

"Matta Zeybegi" by Kismet is an amazing piece from the island of Crete off of Greece. It uses many mediterranean instruments like an udu (Aisian flute), guatam (Indian drum), Cajon, Zarb, and bansuri (Greek stringed instruments). It also uses a few more traditional instruments like the bass flute and octobass. I love studying music from different cultures because I hope to go to graduate school to become an ethnomusicologist. While in Greece I got to experience the music first hand. This helps me invision its beats and the dances that accompany them. The piece begins with a steady heartbeat pulse on the guatam. The drum is pitched to 3 different tones which make up the underlying rhythmic pattern that stays constant through the remainder of the piece. Soon after the drums, the flutes begin. They sound improvisatory on a foreign key. This section has many embellishments. After an authentic cadence, the female vocalist enters. She also sounds like she's improvising with embellishments. The flutes and vocalist play back and forth adding complexity in each round until they both begin to play at the same time. The microtones of the two melodic lines leave a haunting and mesmerizing impression on the listener. The steady pulse unites the improvisitory sections of the music. It seems to mimic the trance like dancing of the men who perform this piece. A few scalar passages introduce the start of new sections of music. The dynamics remain as constant as the heartbeat pulse. The intensity of the playing between the two voices creates interest through density and rhythmic variation.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Enraptured by Rhapsody

George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is one of my favorite pieces. I played it in high school, and I love to listen to it, but I have never thought about the actually music. I just like how it sounds. Gershwin takes the main theme and changes it rhythmically and its registration. It is played loud and soft, simple and hard, but he sticks to the theme. I like how one can hear the melody passing through instruments and changing timbres and styles. I never really thought about this before until i listened to it tonight with the view of analyzing it and understanding it. Also, the jazz chords he uses are strikingly uncommon for a "piano concerto" and it is interesting to think how revolutionary this piece is in the development and acceptance of Jazz music. *sigh* i love this piece...

"River of Dreams" by Billy Joel

From the album River of Dreams

A simple song sometimes has the greatest impact; this is one of my favorite Billy Joel songs of all time. It begins with a low synthetic bass drum beat and electric piano outlining the basic verse structure while Billy improvises ooohs over the top. A chorus comes in to begin the back-up vocals ("in the middle of the..") and we're off into the first verse. The harmonic structure of the verses is only a I-I-IV-V progression repeated over and over again. The gospel choir background adds an air of a religious meeting, much like a preacher singing his testimony. The bridge is in the relative minor, with a stepwise progression (vi-V-IV-iii-IV-iii-ii-V) that rises to a half cadence before tumbling back into the verse. Slowly, Joel extends out the break between the bridge and the return to the verse, even to the point of eliminating all sound before triumphantly bringing back the verse riff. This adds a great amount of anticipation to return to that familiar I-I-IV-V progression. After the huge break, Joel returns to the verse, this time with a twist at the end, on the words "we're all carried along, by the river of dreams" his vocals reach up to a high B. This powerful edge seems to be his primal scream, adding a huge exclamation point to his "sermon". The final verses see Joel improvising his oooohs and falsetto ahhs over the chorus again, much like the beginning before fading into silence. The whole idea of the song, along with the gospel theme, gives it the air of a truly religious experience; and coming from an agnostic like Joel, gives this piece a considerable amount of depth to such a harmonicaaly simple song.

"Deliver Us" - Prince of Egypt soundtrack

I just listened to The Prince of Egypt soundtrack – excellent recording, I must say. Stephen Schwartz wrote all of the songs, with Hans Zimmer’s beautiful orchestrations. Even if Christian-affiliated movies aren’t your thing (I’m not heavily religious), The Prince of Egypt still is a beautiful movie with fantastic music and great animation.

“Deliver Us” is by far the most powerful song in the film. It opens the movie by introducing viewers to the hardships that the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. You hear the Prince of Egypt theme on a solo trumpet/cornet, which leads into a large men’s chorus chanting, “Mud … sand … water … faster!” This opening men’s chorus reflects the frustration of the Hebrew slaves. The music ties in very effectively with the visual elements – you see graphic images of Hebrew slaves being whipped and beaten. Lots of whipping sound effects and heavy percussion. Eventually a women’s chorus joins in for added emphasis.

The chorus transitions to some Middle Eastern instruments, two that I can’t identify. One sounds like a pipe instrument, the other like a recorder. This signals a change in the mood of the song: We are introduced to Yocheved, Moses’ mother. Ofra Haza sings the part of Yocheved, and her unique combination of Middle Eastern trills and embellishments with a powerful belt soars over the Hebrew chorus. This is one of the most hair-raising moments of the song. The words are the same as the earlier men’s chorus, yet Haza’s passionate pleas to God add that extra “umph” of intensity.

In the film we next see Yocheved and her two children, including Miriam, sneak away from the Egyptian soldiers stealing away the Hebrew infants, and deposit Moses into the Nile, praying that he will be safe. The transition is played on a Middle Eastern flute. Haza changes her timbre to that of a soft lullaby. As Yocheved lets Moses go, Haza emphasizes the sadness of the moment by increasing the volume of her voice. Schwartz adds a “wailing” effect for Yocheved’s character – she sings on the “ah” vowel in a Middle Eastern style.

In an instrumental interlude we see Moses’ basket make the tumultuous journey to the Egyptian palace where he will be raised. Schwartz uses this sequence to change keys. He takes a long, long time to modulate, creating aural tension for viewers. We literally cringe our teeth in hopes that Moses will make it to safety, not only because of the visuals, but because of the modulation! Schwartz also adds cymbals crashing to mimic waves, and recapitulates the original men’s chanting to illustrate a slave ship passing by.

The last and final section, once we’ve changed keys, has a descending melodic sequence, to reflect the calming of the waters as Moses’ basket enters the palace. The flute returns. Miriam sings from the edge of the river, as she watches Pharaoh’s wife discover the basket. She prays that Moses will grow up, and come back to save the Hebrews. Her last line is interrupted by the Hebrew chorus, who sings one last impassioned verse of the “Deliver Us” chorus. My favorite line is, “Send a shepard to shepard us.” Very cool. Haza sings a final “deliver us” in her unique Middle Eastern style.

All in all, I think that Schwartz and Zimmer effectively use instruments and specific voices to help illustrate the visual elements. You could seriously listen to this song without having seen this movie and understand the action.

Part of Your World- Jessica Simpson

Alright, in case you fans of The Little Mermaid were wondering how much better "Part of Your World" could possibly get, your search is surely over with Jessica Simpson's rendition of this classic Alan Menken song.
The beginning of the song begins with synthesizer and piano ending in an authentic cadence. The ending of the first phrase is marked by a half cadence, which then immediately goes into a brief section of varying material, the lyrics at this point leading into the developement or B section are "I've got gadgets and gizmos of plenty..." the phrase ends with a perfect authentic cadence then continues to the first A theme once again, "I want to be where the people are, I wanna see wanna see them dancin...". New B material returns again with "Up where they walk up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun", I really love the the diminished 7 chord leading towards the end of this progression it gives this pull towards the lyrics "stay all day in the sun" making it fit the lyrics really well. The C section comes in with the lyrics "what would I give, if I could live out of these waters, what would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand..." this is completely new material, but then shortly returns to the previous ternary pattern, used at the beginning of the song, the exact ABA form.
Its hard to really pinpoint whether or not this is a Rondo, or just a simple ternary form. Since its pretty much pop music, I'd normally go with just ternary. However, the C section changes the mood of the piece, though only for a few seconds, it is significant and creates a more tranquil downtime before the real return of the A theme pushing towards the end of the song.

Prokofiev: Sonata for Cello & Piano in C Major II. Moderato, Andante dolce

What first caught my attention when listening to this piece was the crisp, staccato rhythm of the piano part. It gives the piece a sense of playfulness. The cello adds to this feeling by mimicking the piano part. The technique used by the cello is plucking the strings. During the beginning there are a couple instances where the end of a phrase will have the cello pluck sol-mi-fa-re-do (high)- do (low). From this point the piece moves on adding more notes to the cello part, and by doing this it is adding thickness and building intensity. Building in dynamics, the piano at a forte playing staccato and the cello forcefully playing the accented notes that gives the feeling of being thrashed around. Also, the eighth note runs descending causing a feeling of dizziness. I get this feeling of being dizzy because of non-chord tones being played in between the scalar notes. For a short while we return to A to get the sense of home and after the plucked sol-mi-fa-re-do-do on cello, a dissonant scale on the piano part enters into a new section of light floating sensations because the cello has the primary part here. A very flowing, legato melody is played. The piano is laid back at this point but definitely comes through to increase intensity in the middle of this section. It’s staccato octaves in the treble line help propel the tempo and dynamics up, and then gently bring them back down to return into the A again. In this transition I believe that the modulation back into the original key is done my common tone. You can sense we are returning when the cello is no longer playing legato and starts to pluck, mimicking the piano line. The ending gives you this feeling that the conversation between the piano and cello is coming to an end. For the last few measures they no long play together, just one at a time. Short staccato answers back and forth. On the pianos fourth response back to the cello it plays every note from do to sol with pedal down to give a fuzzy sound. The cello responses back, then the piano plays the closing remark with the same, every note from do to sol pedal down, but then continues to extend it this time to end on a do, leaving us with the feeling of mystery because of the dissonant scale (ex. To be cont… like at the end of a t.v. show), yet pure simplicity.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Since tomorrow is Friday...CURE- Friday I'm in Love

Oh The Cure.
This starts out with a pleasant percussion riff (is that right?) and a variation on the melody on electric guitar. The verse starts and the pleasantries continues. The verse is melodic with a pleasing I-IV-V-I and lots of I-V-I action. Even when they say, "Monday you could fall apart, Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart," there's no dissonance because we get to the end of the phrase and find out that it's Friday and he's in love.
The first sign of dissonance is in the bridge between verses when he says, "Saturdaaaayyyyy...WAIT. Sunday always comes too late" but we get back to tonic with the phrase...wait for it..........wait for it........"It's friday I'm in LOVE!"
For the Coda we mix in a little synthesizer squealing for some dissonance and character, but this is a relatively straightforward piece. I would highly recommend this song for people that do not know English and want to learn the days of the week. The Cure runs through the days of the week quite a few times in this song. As it turns out, it doesn't matter what happens Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or even Thursday's FRIDAY and he's in love.

Happy Friday Everyone! And thank you CURE for this annoyingly simple diddy.

Somebody by Domestic Problems

This piece is done by a local band (local to Grand Rapids, MI) who I find very interesting. The main accompaniment to this piece is piano/keyboard. And in some places, there is a technique that is used to distort the voice to make it seem like it's being held out longer than usual. It almost has a chant-like feel to it because it keeps coming back to the same note in the melody. Recitation comes to mind. Like a chant, there are points where the melody wanders away from the recitation tone, but it ends up coming back. Most of the movement of the melody is neighboring up and/or down. The song is very simple, but beautiful. Also, the words that are in the song speak true to my desires in a soul-mate. It's a very calm, soothing piece. I enjoy all their music I've heard so far.

I apologize for any mistakes in this writing...we just finished the first day of recruitment...I'm sleepy.

"Empty Chairs and Empty Tables"

“Empty Chairs and Empty Tables”
From Les Miserables
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg

The melody of this piece, sung by one male voice, is very memorable because of its simplicity, repetition, and sheer beauty. It is made up of short phrases throughout that contain identical or similar rhythmic and melodic material. It is strophic, with rhythmic and melodic motives returning again and again. The return of these motives are made more interesting by dynamic changes and ascension or dissension in register. These changes in dynamics and register often relate to the meaning of the text. For example, when he sings of growing, the melody rises in both register and volume. These variations also give some of the cadences a more finalized sound, most commonly from descending and softer notes. The instruments strictly function as the accompaniment. It alternates between strings, which follow the voice, and a solo guitar, which plays during rests in the voice. When the voice becomes more impassioned, the strings become fuller. The final effect of this piece is a combination of melancholy and passionate beauty that grabs the heart.

"You Make Me Feel So Young"

"You Make Me Feel So Young"
Michigan Jake

This song is a classic Barbershop Quartet. It uses many typical Barbershop methods to make it really catchy and something you can snap along to and won’t forget. The best spots of the song are at the cadences. These sensations are brought out by various techniques. There are long sustained notes through out that make you hold your breath for the next note, and the notes leading to it generally slow down in tempo. Another enhancing effect is from frequent changes in the density, as separate voices drop out or hold while others continue. Another is the use of motives at the end of the phrase to produce an echo effect. For example, in one part, you get somewhat final sound towards the end of a phrase, but then suddenly continue with an echo that gives a more finalized cadence. It is the variation that makes this piece so enjoyable to listen to, from different combination and movement in voices, rhythmic fluctuation, tempo changes, and changes in register.

Concerto in G minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani - Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

Movement 1 (Andante):

The piece begins with the jarring voice of the organ in a harsh and dissonant, yet thrilling theme, it fades once into the softer, more esoteric folds of the organ's pipes and suddenly is halted by the timpany and strings. The theme returns, punctuated at by an especial dissonance which then smoothes into a crawling, soft, yet more lyrical suggestion on the part of the strings. The music pauses, the violins hesistantly draw up part of a scale and mimic meekly the original theme of the organ--ending in a sort of diminished seventh chord. Then the low voice of the cellos speaks until the organ, loud and full of brassy gusto, dominates once more the texture. Suddenly the strings spring out in a quick and leaping (and also more tonal) theme. The rhythm is quite striking--dotted, almost as though the melody is bouncing downward. The organ and strings play off each other, and eventually decide upon a tonal ambiance of something to order of a chord "ti, do, re, mi" and then suddenly break into a final dissonance which ends the movement.
-subsequently in the following movement, a part of the theme of the strings is echoed.

"I Can Cook Too"--Bernstein

Well folks, I think Lenny really got it right this time. What a fun song! Nancy Walker is singing the part of 'Hildy', a female taxi driver, in Bernstein's "On The Town".
The song opens with the orchestra playing fortissimo in octaves with a grace note on every pitch. The effect sounds very confident but still provides a bit of anxiety for the listener. The base line in the A section is a dotted-eighth+sixteenth pattern that provides a walking base feel. The eighth notes are swung, creating a bit of relaxation to the previously stated anxiety.
When Hildy begins to provide examples of why she'd be a wonderful woman to be in love with, the orchestration drops way back and is playing half notes while she keeps the same rhythmic motive. They also modulate down a whole step. This element was crucial so that the audience will catch all of the random tid-bits that are thrown into her argument. ("Some girls make magazine covers/Some girls keep house on a dime/Some girls make wonderful lovers/But what a lucky find I'm).
When Hildy begins to prove how good she is, the lyrics are the same except that now SHE can do all these things (I'd make a magazine cover/I do keep house on a dime/I'd make a wonderful lover/I should be paid over time). However, Bernstein points out to us that this part is a bit more important because he modulates up a whole step, but with the same motivic structure.
The song's great--very light hearted, and the rhythms are so much fun! Walker strays from the original rhythms sometimes, and even embellishes notes here and there...but for the most part I think it was just being comfortable with Bernstein's style.
Mmm...oh so much fun.

William Bolcom: William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience - "Nurse's Song"

I thought it would be interesting to hear how Blake's poems were put to music since I had read them last year. I listened to both the Innocence and Experience versions of "Nurse's Song" and found them both to be lacking much musical complexity. I didn't expect to be wowed though, I was mostly intending on comparing the two, which were both less than two minutes long. The Innocence version has two stanzas - the first is entirely in minor, the second in a major key. I found this to fit well with the meanings and speakers in the poem because whereas the first stanza is spoken by the nurse, the second begins with the children speaking, hopeful that they will be allowed to stay outside and play a bit longer. It begins with an "oom-pa-pa" accompaniment that stays constant throughout the song. In the Experience version, however, it opens with an eerie flute duet full of downward-moving chromatics. The vocal line has the same melody as in the Innocence, but does not venture into a major key which is an appropriate decision to have made for the musical presentation of this poem. The "oom-pa-pa" string accompaniment continues for most of the piece, but there are now some dissonances that weren't previously present.

Premiere Rapsodie, Claude Debussy

The intro starts off with just piano, just playing soft octaves. The clarinet enters on do-re-mi, and creates a soothing effect. Before the clarinet enters, the piano almost leans into the entrance of the clarinet, and the clarinet sort of mirrors the beginning notes of the piano. The feels as if it is random, because there are so many octave jumps and fast-slow rhythms. The transistor into the first theme has a sort of fridgen-sounding cadence. There is a complete change in style signified by the piano landing directly on one, modulating a minor third down(?). Overall, the intro seems to have an evasive feel, with an emphasis mainly of the rhythmic interaction of the piano and clarinet; especially with the octave leaps. The first theme has a sort of care-free, happy sound to it. There isn't a whole lot of emphasis on any main beat, but a lot of pull to certain notes, almost swinging. The piece follows a pattern of going from the first theme to a more rapid, tension filled tonicization, and back to something similar to the first theme. This piece is full of deceptive cadences and tonicizations. Several of the modulations are common tone, and creating a feeling of falling from one place to the next. Solfege wise, in the piano part, I heard a lot of sudden hopping intervals and octaves, especially in the more rapid parts. After the first theme, I heard a brief tonicization of the parallel minor key, and modulating back to the major by common tone. Overall, I got the impression of an unfinished feeling, until the ending, which has a builds up and ends soft and suddenly, contrasting with the many up and down moods of the piece. At times, the clarinet and piano felt as if they were chasing each other; adding to the playful, fun feel the piece also exhibits. All of the sudden tonicizations and tempo changes have created a lot of tension and at the same time contrasted with a swingy, fun feel.

"In His Eyes" from the Broadway Musical Jekyll and Hyde

"In His Eyes" from the Broadway musical "Jekyll and Hyde." Music by Frank Wildhorn. 1994 cast recording. Performed by Linda Eder as Lucy and Carolee Carmello as Emma.

Jekyll and Hyde takes place in London in 1885. Lucy, a prostitute, and Emma, the daughter of a high society family have both fallen in love with Jekyll. In this gorgeous duet, they separately and simultaneously express their deep but confused feelings for the man they both love.
The piece starts out in c minor, which allows for a sad and reminiscent mood as they sing, "I sit and watch the rain, and see my tears run down the window pane. I sit and watch the sky, and I can hear it breathe a sigh. I think of him, how we were, and when I think of him I remember."
The accompaniment at this point is very simple, mostly just sustained i iv and V chords supporting the vocal line. Once they start singing the refrain about all the hope that Jekyll has brought to their lives, the key changes to Bb major. At this point the orchestration becomes more interesting. The strings come in, the parts move around much more, and there is a lot of chromaticism and non-chord tones, especially suspensions.
The vocal line in this song is AMAZING. The melody is just gorgeous, and very memorable. This is a unique duet, because they don't actually sing together until almost the very end of the piece. But, when they do finally come together, it is a phenomenal sound. The harmonies are incredible. They are really tight and really move and work nicely together. When the duet begins, the accompaniment increases in density. There are more instruments playing, and the sound is even more full. At this point, the sound is forte, and it is just so passionate. The last line of the song is my favorite part: "Love is worth forgiving for! Now I realize. Everything worth living for is there, in his eyes." The vocalists belt out and sustain their last notes, and the orchestra plays brilliantly beneath them, and it is beautiful. It makes my jaw drop every time.

Can you all tell yet that I am a musical theatre freak? :-)

"Hotel California" performed by the Eagles

Quite possibly one of the greatest songs ever written, Hotel California was first released in 1976 on the Hotel California Album by the "quintessential California country rock band", the Eagles. Originally conceived by Don Felder and Glenn Frey, the lyrics of the 3 verses and choruses tell an eerie Twilight Zone story of a visitor to a roadside hotel in California where you can "check out any time you like but can never leave."
This song starts with a beautiful guitar intro that improvises on the theme and eludes to the rest of the piece. One familiar with this piece can pick the catchy theme out practically instantly after hearing only a few bars of the intro. After a brief pause in the piece, the drums come in underneath the guitar, joined shortly thereafter with the rest of the band. This motive will be repeated throughout the rest of the song. With the exception of a little guitar improve on top of the singer; there is little change in the melody and accompaniment until the final verse. Near the end of the song, the bottom drops out, emphasizing the creepy-ness of the lyrics, and crescendos dramatically to the end of the final verse. Of course the Eagles are not nearly finished, as the guitarist still has several minutes to improve a final guitar solo. This famous concluding solo expands upon the Hotel California melody and clearly concludes a song that is over seven minutes in length.
This is, hands down, one of my favorite classic rock songs. There few bands that are able to create a song that tells such a good story and have such a great timeless melody. The combination of instruments, guitar and rhythm give this piece and unmistakable Spanish Reggae Rock feel that has made this piece unique and special. Rock on Advanced Musicianship.

"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon

The coolest part about this song, aside from the phat bass lick that occurs before the chorus is sang one last time, is the way the chord progression is such a major part in creating the mesmerizing rhythm of the song. Paul Simon is known for his utilization of African based percussion in most of his songs and "Call Me Al" is no exception. The song contains three verses, having the same melody, which are each separated by a chorus, which uses a different melody. The chord progression is hard to distinguish but it seems to have a stepwise tonality as if the chords are moving down the scale within the songs given key. The song does not contain any noticeable cadences and the ending sort of fades away without an actual finish, sort of an easy way out.
I enjoy this song because of its African beats and rocking chord progression. "Call Me Al" makes me want to get up and dance or be able to play bass guitar. The lyrics are another interesting aspect of the song because each verse shares the depressed seeming state of three different men. The uplifting chorus must be meant to give help to these depressed characters, "If you be my bodyguard, I can be your long, lost pal." The song is altogether attracting to the ears and the very powerful chorus makes everything okay for the sad verses.

Chopin: Etude in E (performed by Vladimir Horowitz)

An etude is known to be a short composition made for a solo instrument. More importantly it is intended to be an exercise or demonstration of technical virtuosity. In this recording of Chopin's Etude in E Major, Vladimir Horowitz is obviously able to play the piece very well, giving it a feel that it is easy for him to play. Horowitz is one of my favorite pianists and I enjoy his version of the Etude in E because the melody is brought out so well while the accompanying parts are still equally important.
The piece has many different things going on at once. It begins slowly with a melody that may be heard, starting out softly, and then gaining sound as the pitch goes up by step. The bass line plays quietly but is easily noticed to be repeating the same rhythm on differing pitches throughout the first section of the piece. The rest of the accompaniment is also in constant motion and the chords change with the bass line. The end of section "A" uses either a perfect authentic cadence or an imperfect authentic cadence, depending on whether or not you include the grace notes which occur after the final chord. The second section, "B," takes a faster pace which could be described as spirited or playful. Chopin uses a new melody which is played softly and then louder the second time. Then he repeats this melody in a new key. The following portion of section B displays a change in rhythm to a faster chord progression of fully diminished sevenths. Then, to the listeners satisfaction, this same chord progression is played again in a new key. While listening, the rest of section "B" really sounds like an odd assortment of diminished seventh chords and in analyzing, that is what truly occurs. Part of this portion lacks a noticeable melody and then gains a very frantic and random sounding melody before making its amazing shift back to section "A". My favorite portion of the piece is the modulation back to section "A" because it incorporates the accompanying rhythms from the inner voices that could be heard at the beginning of the piece. Section "A" is repeated and ends with a definite perfect authentic cadence. In the beginning this piece sounds fairly simple before switching to the section of stepwise diminished chords. As a etude should, the piece shows great technical ability from the pianist who must perform a number of very different dynamic markings, chords, and moods. I enjoy this piece especially for its bipolar characteristics which make it enjoyable for listening and difficult for playing. Horowitz is always wonderful to hear and performs this piece just as it should be done, showing his superb technical skill.

Bach Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543

One thing that caught my attention in the prelude was the final cadence. It seemed immensely satisfying when it was finally resolved with a major I chord (Bach used a Piccardy third). Upon examining the score, I realized why - in the last four measures of the piece, a minor 4 chord in second inversion is sustained for nine beats. It is only on the fourth beat of the pen-ultimate measure that the dominant occurs, and in the final measure, Bach holds of resolving all of the voices until beat three. The overall effect is one of great tension - the four chord is pounded into the listener's head for a long time, and so the final resolution seems like a huge release.

I felt much more interested in this piece than the Vivaldi. There were many more voices, and, simply put, a lot more notes. The harmonic rhythm was also faster and the progression seemed more complex - Bach wanders pretty far from tonic at times.

"Vesuvius" by Ticheli

As the title suggests, this piece is programmatic and is supposed to portray the large volcano in Italy of the same name.

The introduction don't consist of traditional melodies but contains a mixture of separate motives by certain instruments that occur at different times. This immediately gives the piece a feeling of disorginization that one would associate with a volcano.

The main melodic theme of this song is wonderful. The time signature is in 9/8 but rather than being in a triple meter, it is in a mixed meter that sounds like 4/4 with an extra eighth note on the second beat. This gives the piece a very unsteady yet funky feel.

The piece then proceeds into woodwind solos which are most likely trying to evoke some sort of sound associated with the ancient Greeks. It sounds to me like it has a pentatonic or modal feel rather than traditional harmonies. This part does sound really pretty and is probably meant to be the calm before the eruption.

Then when the fast section comes back in, the main melody is elaborated by, or should I say interrupted by woodwind sixteenth note runs and ratchet which adds to the unsteadiness and gives the feeling that an explosion is happening. After this, Ticheli takes two of the earlier melodies and puts them together to create a polyphonic structure that adds more tension.

After going back to another section of separate instrumental motives mixed together, the piece reaches a very beautiful fugue of the main melody that is at least 5 instruments deep. In addition to the number of instruments, it is also interesting to note that each new instrument enters at the beginning of the fourth bar of the eight bar phrase rather than the expected fifth. The fugue is a wonderful way to build up complexity and make a great crescendo.

A timpani solo leads into the final hoorah, which has the interuppted melody again which is followed by another crescendo into brass glissandos first on the quarter notes and then on quarter note triplets, followed by high woodwind trills and one last rhythm enforcement of the melody to the end.

The appeal of this piece is the excitement and the instability. The rhythmic meter and instrument separation contribute a lot to this, but it's the fugue which really makes this piece stand out.

The Farmer and the Cowman

"The Farmer and the Cowman" from Oklahoma is just kickin' with exciten' musically structural forms that make a person wanna kick back from a long day on the ranch. The excitement starts with the chorus that repeats a simple phrase twice before doubling the rhythm intensity for the remainder of the chorus. This method is effective in making the section sound as though it doubled in tempo. The instruments mimic the twang of the piece perfectly. The verse is done by a farmer with a very nasally timbre that fits the imagery perfectly. Then the chorus is sung by a large group of mixed male and female voices. This density change, in not only amount of voices but also in hilariously funny timbres of voices, make the section changes 100 percent evident. The piece consist of many PACs and half cadences. The last cadence is the killer. Right when you think the piece is over, "hickville" returns and breaks into another invigorating rendition of the chorus for a grand hillbilly finale. The piece makes the listener wanna jump on a horse and ride through a cow field screamin', "YIPPEE!!!"

2nd Essay for Orchestra

2nd Essay for Orchestra by Samuel Barber
Performed by the Columbia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter

The piece starts off very ominously with the main melody in the flute played over a sustained bass note dominated by the timbre of the tuba. Barber describes this essay as a piece pictating the struggle and victory of humanity during WWII. Already, after the first few seconds of the piece, one can get an elusion of this. The piece is predominantly in F minor. The main melody is somewhat triadic. The main melody focuses on Do Sol and Te, with an expansion on the Te major triad (Eb major). This melody is stated by the flute first, then the bass clarinet, then variated by the oboe. Using the little knowledge I have learned in form and analysis I would say the piece is ternary in form (ABA -coda). The A section has more of a languid feeling in a complex duple meter. The harmony for the most part has a very dark sensation. Victory has not yet been achieved. Then comes the faster section which is stated by the clarinet. Here, new thematic material makes itself present in a specific rhythm that is used throughout the rest of the piece. The beat then changes to duple. It is sort of a fugue with very complex rest and entrance patterns. The woodwinds dominate most of the texture with brief interruptions from the muted trumpets and strings. The density increases and a crescendo ensues which eventually leads back to the A section where the main theme of Do Sol Te is played in more of a vigorous war-mongering fashion. The intensity is definately at a different level than the first A. The texture is dominated mainly by the trombones and trumpets expouding on the theme, then reducing it to its most simple parts (playing just F C and Eb). The rhythm slow down and the volume decreases and the piece moves into its coda part. It is mostly a chorale of some sort played exclusively by the strings with the melodic interest being in the top line. The harmonic language is definately trying to convey to the listener that victory will be achieved. The brass join in and create an intense and emotional chorale leading drastically to just the 1st and 2nd violins holding an interval. Then, three final chords are played leading to a victorious major chord. The melodic interest of the three final chords are dominated by the intervals in the respective order of Me Te and finally Do.


"Bolero" Maurice Ravel
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

There are two main themes to Bolero. The first is the melody, a simple monophonic line with brief tonicizations of the dominant (mostly) throughout the piece. The theme is continually reinforced by repetition by various instruments or groups of instruments. The accompany line relies solely on its rhythmic appeal, and uses triplets to accent 1,2, and 3. Bolero is a Spanish waltz, and so inorder to maintain a waltz feel Ravel, inaddition to the rhythmic line's accents, adds another line of timpani or bass drum on one, and harp and strings on two and three. As the piece progresses, the second and third beats get just as strong as the first, meshing all the beats together into the finale to create a heavier, stronger feel. The melody is first introduced by the flute, because it will gradually build to louder and stronger instruments. It is accompanied by the rhythmic line conveyed litely by a snare drum. This creates a rigid sort of pulse, but a quiet feeling in the music. The period ends with a perfect authentic cadence, sol-fa-me-re-do being in the soprano. The melody and rhythmic pattern is repeated again, this time the flute switching to the rhythmic pattern and clarinet taking over the melody. Several different instruments take turns playing either the melody or the accompaniment, and because of this, the piece gradually builds. There is not many crescendos, but rather the entire piece is a crescendo within itself. Bolero gets stronger and louder by adding instruments that are stronger and louder, mainly brass. After awhile, there is a piccolo and sax duet in the melody, where the picc has modulated to some foreign key, possibly a chromatic mediant relationship, and the saxophone has stayed in the same. This has an interesting and prominent sounding affect on the piece. As the piece builds, first by adding a trumpet, then violins and more brass, it seems like it has become thicker, but still maintains an energetic feel. By keeping the piece in two basic parts, Ravel is able to emphasize the affect of the orchestra as a whole. The simplicity of it all sits in contrast with the slightest change in key or rhythm, so when Ravel starts his finale with a direct modulation to a foreign related key, everyone definitely knows the finale is starting to build. Ravel ends the piece suddenly, with a scalar passage down in all instruments, the brief ending contrasting with the constant pulse created in the piece that the listener is so used to. There is also some kind of swinging jazz-like effect in several parts of the repetitious melody, but at the same time brilliantly keeping a beating pulse by accenting the main beats. The piece as a whole conveys several different emotions; the most prominent being that of a waltz. The beginning emotions are that of calming, quiet, and smooth. The piece gets louder, thicker, and heavier. But the one emotion that is constant is happiness. Again the simplicity in the rhythm and melody, and the solos, give the instruments their own characters, each with a separate emotion. When they all are combined, there is an explosion of energy unlike any other piece.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

O Magnum Mysterium

Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium" performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, conductor Paul Salamunovich:

Because of its seemless and flowing texture, it is hard to define moments of cadential pause. This task is made more difficult due to the mixing of voices. Perhaps identifying such distinction is easier for more discriminating ears, but I find the effect it produces upon me one of mystery and continuous development. Seventeen seconds into the recording, there is a potent dissonance at a forte dynamic which then resolves into assonance and softness (ti do in sop? -it resolves a half-step up). The effect opening is repeated (but I do not believe exactly), thus creating a vaguely chantlike effect, although the texture be multi-voiced. There is a lulling and gentle undulation between stronger and softer dynamics. Dissonance between two voices presents itself in a moment of passion and then gracefully resolves into the warm and gentle harmonies of the unified texture very much as taffy is pulled apart and brought together again. Two minutes and forty-five seconds into the recording, the soprano line dips into a sweet, rich clash which it sustains for a few counts before resolving. It then repeats this gesture. Throughout there is a soaring, then falling soprano motif (often fa mi re mi la). Tonally it moves slowly like a wide river, but the ending seems to fade away out of audio range. As far as I can tell it ends on a PAC, and does not really pause or give strong cadential sentiments in general which it approaches several times (but by the end it's quite soft, so it's hard to hear if the piece was left dangling at a half cadence or if it closed itself with an authentic--though the overall feeling produced in that of closure, and when I listened with my ear to the speaker I could tell it ended on an authentic, though the men's voices were so soft it was hard to hear if the lowest not was on mi or do).

I love the dissonances, how they seem to be like one voice breaking into two and who then rejoin the ocean of sound waiting to swallow them. I love the texture of voices and how well they blend. The drone of the combined harmonies I find very peaceful. I love it when the soprano soars clearly over the top of the texture and then folds back into it like dough or clay. I am both emotionally roused and sated at once. I enjoy its peace and fluidity, and how it sinks slowly into silence at the end.

"Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera

"Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera
Album: Original Broadway Cast Recording

The Phantom brings Christine down into the dark depths of the Paris opera house, coaxing her in with his beautiful tone and his plead for her to help him make his music come alive.

This piece starts in Db major without introduction, drawing the listener in quickly by a soft dynamic level, violas matching the singer on the melody, with bass never leaving our tonic chord. The first stroph slowly builds the main progression, moving along a tonic embellishment I chord, then IV-I-IV-I-Iv-bVII-IV-I64-V7. This progression is repeated in the second stroph, gradually building up dynamics until a sudden key change to B major, building a I-IV-V and a shift back to Db major as we build even further to to a high Ab sung in light flasetto, lending an air of sweetness and catharsis to this constant building we've been doing through the first 2 strophs. The third stroph begins just like the first two, though stronger and more pronounced. Instead of repeating the material as we had the first time, be move directly into the contrasting section, travelling through B major once again and building up to the high Ab once again, this time with full force-lending an air of majesty to the entire piece, as one can almost see the majesty that the Phantom is creating out of darkness. One final stroph and a tag end the piece very somberly, as though all this excitement the Phantom has created leaves a vacuum in its wake. An intersting ending, instead of a simple, cadential V-I, we get an ambiguous IV-ii-I-VII before our final I ending.

From an emotional standpoint this is one of my favorite pieces for one of my favorite musicals. Very much like starting a diesel engine, it begins slowly, slowly building momentum, backing of a little, building again before coming out to a roaring climax. The strings, harp and soft horns give it the somber air necessary of a song of such sweetness, but a full section of horns comes in for the climax, adding a majestic sound to what in truth a powerhouse number. The vocal line contains such a wide range in both pitch and dynamic contrast that it can't help but captivate the listener.

Schubert, Die Schöne Müllerin, #5 Am Feierabend

Am Feierabend is one of my favorite songs from the song cycle Die Shöne Müllerin. This song from the very beginning carries intensity using various methods. Right from the get go, Schubert starts the piece with eighth note minor blocked chords stressing the strong beats at a forte dynamic. This gives it a forceful, somewhat angry feeling. Then moving on to introduce the vocal line Schubert uses scalar eighth note runs which also brings the dynamics down. Schubert’s piano part for the B section is very simple compared to the franticness of the eighth note runs. It gives a sense of relief. The vocal line is very exposed because the piano part’s is only staccato eighth notes accenting the strong beats of the measure. At this point it is all up to the vocal line to keep the intensity going. The song then continues to dwindle in intensity down to the lowest part of the entire song. It reminds me slightly of recitative (section C). Giving a block chord at the beginning of the measure, and then the voice seems to have more personal inflection. There isn’t much movement as far as notes here. So, stressing of consonants help explore the emotion of the song. It’s a very soft dynamic giving off a very sensitive emotion. Then before you know it the song projects back into the A section with eighth note runs and more of a forte dynamic. The ending is especially unique in the fact that in combines tiny segments of sections A and C. Section C is played in the piano part while the vocalist sings, and during the one measure interludes section A is played. This technique captures the sensitivity and intensity I have been feeling throughout the whole song.

"Do You Hear the People Sing" from Les Miserables

"Do You Hear the People Sing" from the Broadway musical Les Miserables. Music By Claude-Michel Schonberg. Highlights from the complete symphonic international cast recording.

It is 1832 in Paris, and there is much unrest in the city due to the likely demise of General Lamarque, the only man left in the government who shows any feeling for the poor. At a political meeting in a small cafe, a group of idealistic students prepares for the revolution they are sure will erupt on the death of General Lamarque. When Gavroche brings the news of the General's death, the students, led by Enjolras, stream out into the streets to whip up popular support. (Do You Hear the People Sing)
The music begins softly with the very steady repetition of a simple V chord. The drum is quietly keeping time with a battle like rhythm. While Enjolras sings the first verse, the accompaniment is very simple, and basically just serves to support the vocal part. The chord progression for the most part is I-V until the chorus enters. This strong use of tonic and dominant creates a majestic and proud sound. The simplicity demonstrates the idea that the revolution starts out with a very small group of students.
The music doesn't really become complex until the chorus comes in. When the chorus begins singing the melody, the accompaniment becomes more interesting and serves the purpose of creating a mood rather than just supporting the vocal line. The lyrics state, "Do you hear the people sing, singing the songs of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again. When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drum, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes."
This is the last song in act one, and it really depends on the music building to a huge climax. This is achieved through dynamics, instrumentation, and adding only a few voice parts at a time. The dynamics go from mf to f to ff, indicating the support that they have found, and the passion the people have for their cause. The instruments that stand out the most to me are the trumpets and the drum. The trumpets create a triumphant, majestic, and inspiring sound. The drums play a rhythm similiar to a heart beat, creating the feeling of battle, and supporting the idea in the lyrics. The melody is fairly simple, but powerful. The pitches are mostly stepwise and the rhythms are mostly dotted eigths and sixteenths.
I think it is pretty obvious that I really like this piece. I find it very moving, and it gives me a sense of pride and inspiration. When the piece hits his climax and you can hear all of these people singing such a powerful melody about being willing to fight and die for their freedom, and you can hear the trumpets blaring and the drums pounding, it is just amazing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Otar Taktakishvili's Flute Sonata

The second movement, the Aria, begins softly with a simple piano accompaniment part. There are few non-chord tones and, personally, I found it somewhat boring to listen to, maybe because the chord progressions were all relatively basic. A few dissonant chords come from the piano during a short crescendo before it resolves back to being soft like the very beginning of the movement. After a brief pause in both the flute and piano parts, the piece continues on with the previous theme. About halfway through the piece, there is a sudden change in the mood because for the first time there very noticably harsh dissonances (much more than the slight ones earlier) particularly in the piano part but accented by the flutist. This also appears to be the most complex piano part up to this point in the movement, which adds even more depth to this major turning point. However, this change lasts for only about 30 seconds before returning to the sweeter-sounding theme that was initially introduced. This then crescendos into a progression of tension-building chords, which then resolve and drop down to piano for the end of the movement.

"Liebst du um Schoenheit" by Gustav Mahler

OK, I’m no expert at analyzing music, so I’ll start off with something I’m already VERY familiar with. “Liebst du um Schoenheit” by Gustav Mahler is one of his most moving lied. In my opinion, it is his most poetic piece – the music complements the lyrics perfectly. The poetry is relatively simple: A woman sings to her lover about her own ideals of love, that it is not based on aesthetics, but on the idea of love itself.

The opening measures for the piano are on a descending scale. This suggests that the lover has posed a question to the singer, as if the piano and singer are the two lovers engaged in a petty argument. The woman replies to the piano introduction, “If you love for beauty, oh do not love me! Love the sun, adorned by golden hair!” The first part of the phrase, “Liebst du um …” does not sound like it belongs to any key, the notes just float around. It’s as if the woman is in thought, “Well, what do I believe my ideals of love are? What should I tell him?” It is on the word, “Schoenheit” or “beauty,” that the key is solidified in a major key. From performing this song, I know that Mahler constantly alternates key signatures … anything with a duple meter is fair game for him! It’s tough on the singer, but I think that Mahler was more interested in mimicking spoken lines rather than keeping musical continuity. It results in a nice, intimate effect.

The second phrase is almost melodically identical to the first. “If you love for youth, oh do not love me! Love the spring, it is young every year!” There are variations in the piano accompaniment, however. Instead of settling in major as in the first phrase, the key modulates to minor on the word “Jugend,” or “youth.” To me this suggests that the woman singing is older and wiser. She understands that youth is slipping away, she values it, and yet understands the knowledge it has given her of love.

There is a short piano interlude – a playful tune – as if the lover doesn’t really understand the singer’s complaint. She continues, “If you love for treasures, oh do not love me! Love the mermaid, she has many shimmering pearls!” This phrase is, again, like the previous two, with the piano accompaniment nearly identical to the first phrase.

Finally there is the realization of the poem, “If you love for love, oh yes, then love me! Love me always, I love you forever, forever!” Here is where Mahler’s genius really shines. Tonic has never really been established for the entire lieder; Mahler modulates between different keys and hasn’t officially settled on any particular key. Finally, on this phrase, on the word “Liebe,” he settles into Eb Major. At last the listener’s ear is relieved of all that tension. It reflects the woman who has finally convinced her lover that they belong together, if not for all of the things he may value (beauty, youth, riches), then for the sake of love itself.

Music history already has me whipped.

i chose handels water music (the "overture" from the art of baroque trumpet vol. 1) as some gentle reading music this afternoon...
the melodies are passed from the trumpet soloist to the strings and back again. so in the opening, the trumpet plays the opening 8 measures ending on a half cadence, and then passes the same melody to the strings who also end on a half cadence. The trumpet plays a bar very stately, the strings echo quietly, and this pattern continues until they both end the phrase together in a perfect authentic cadence. mmmm yeah sounds pretty nice. it's baroque-y, so there isn't much variation in the chord progressions, meaning there's an abundance of I-V-I progressions.

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

So I picked the first alto solo--who would've thought? The recording is from The Academy of Ancient Music under the direction of Christopher Hogwood. Carolyn Watkinson is the contralto singing the solo. She has your stereo-typical contralto/mezzo sound...sometimes this covers up her ornamentation (I'll get to that later). The orchestra used authentic instruments, and has a nice balance. I think Hogwood (despite the traumas of having a name like Hogwood) did well at balancing the strings with the harpsichord. When the vocalist is singing, it's mainly harpsichord accompaniment with strings playing in the interludes; but the harpsichord is still heard in the interludes. The violins approach in the interludes really adds a lot to the movement of line. The vocal line alone is not that exciting...but with the strings it really moves.

Baroque music is meant to be ornamented, and I think Watkinson really went to town on her ornaments, and has excellent ideas--but sometimes her voice detracts from the listeners fully grasping her ornamentation. Her pitch is good but her tone quality makes listening a bit fuzzy sometimes. I guess I prefer a clearer mezzo voice--or even a counter-tenor--it's easier to appreciate the melodic line that way. I did find it interesting, and was pleased by the fact that on held notes Watkinson stayed true to Handel's notation and did well at embellishing the well known runs, forcing me to play closer attention. Her cadenza at the end of the solo left a little to be desired...I wanted her to go all the way to the 'D'...but she's a contralto so we'll cut her some slack. Extra thought: wow, Handel really loves the pick up notes--this solo is in 6/8 and every single entrance is either on 5 or 6. That says something...hmm....good thinking Handel ;)

The choir on the recording is the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral of Oxford. I LOVE what they add to the piece! Hogwood goes for a very percussive sound from the voices in phrases "the glory of the lord"--and I think it works wonderfully! (The chorus is brought in because Handel often avoids the da capo aria by having the chorus enter at the end of a solo and opening it with a small recit section) Their sound is very airy, but the boy choir sound is great for this baroque music (I wish Watkinson would've listened to them a little bit more). Hogwood also has effective cut-offs and the diction is good.

Bravo, Handel...and Hogwood.

Adagio from "Concierto de Aranjuez"

Written by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo, the adagio movement is from his famous guitar concerto. Written in 1939, and performed first in 1940 by the Barcelona Philharmonic, this was the first orchestral work written specifically for guitar. Following the premiere in Madrid, he was catapulted to instant fame and carried shoulder high around the city. With his ability to paint acoustical landscapes, Rodrigo synthesizes classical music to describe Aranjuez, an 18th century region bordering the river Tagus adjecent to Madrid.
The adagio movement begins with a simple repeated chord played by the guitarist, while the english horn sings a somber melody, (which becomes the theme for the rest of the movement), on top of a thin orchestral accompaniament. The guitar follows and embellishes this theme, with interplay between english horn/oboe and guitar following. This marks the opening statement of the movement. The soloist takes several cadenza-like breaks in which Rodrigo makes full use of the guitars ability to ornament the melody in an almost baroque like fashion. The composer makes full use of the orchestra in contrast to the quiet guitar, and often allows it soar with the melody, creating moments of great emotion. This slow meandering movement has few moments of rhythmic momentum, (unlike the fanfare-ish first movement), except for final guitar cadenza. It ends very similar to how it begins, with the guitar and orchestra fading into nothing.
There are very few obvious candences, with much of the piece is sewed together seemlessly between the orchestra and soloist. The form is also very ambiguous as much the adagio movement is simply a developement of the first minute of music.
Though I'm not a guitarist, this is one of my favorite orchestral works. I'm not the only one who thinks so either. There has been many arrangements of this piece, including a jazz rendition by Miles Davis included on his "Sketches of Spain album." Rodrigo has an amazing ability to envoke emotion through his composition, while telling a musical story with a Spanish flair.

Seasons of Love from "Rent"

This piece is very simple in the melody. A six-note pattern repeats 4 times at the beginning and comes back many times throughout the piece. It's mainly stepwise with traditional resolution to the leaps within. The contour of the melody is very consistant with an up-down motion. There are many passages where the melody ascends and then repeats the exact ascending phrase. The cadences alternate between half and aunthentic throughtout the entire song. In the tenor part of the chorus, the composer uses neighboring tones as the only moving pattern when the rest of the voices are holding their notes on the word love. There are three soloist sections in which they take the six-note pattern and add ornamentation and their own style to it. It seems to be a very simple piece, though I am attached to it. This is one song we sang at my highschool graduation and it brings a certain peace and sadness to my heart when I listen to it.

John Mayer- Sucker (Live Version)

Well, after reading everyone elses posts I have officially decided to think out of the box.

Unlike many acoustic guitar/singer/songwriters John Mayer avoids the annoying "strummed chord" (Down up down up downupdownupdownup) affect by effortlessly arpeggiating the I and V chords in the opening of this tune. Marvelous!
Now, as if the prelude was not just gets more wonderful. The verses of this song are melodic and very catchy. And of course the lyrics touched me right here **touches heart with a Dr. Spiegelberg-like sympathetic glance**. For example the second phrase of the first verse says, "Sometimes I wish that I was a cold beer./I'd rest assured that you would hold me near you,/I'd be guaranteed to be just what you need." Oh John, you can be my cold beer (As soon as I turn 21, of COURSE!).
After a half cadence at the end of the verse, the simple bridge between the verse and the chorus builds tension until it deceptively resolves to a vi chord and then finally you are satisfied by the chorus. And any chorus that contains the words, "You're so LAME!" is okay by me! On the lyrics "I would walk, you know I'd surely walk away..." we are handed a V7 chord and we desperately await the return to tonic when finally he says, "If I wasn't such a sucker for you," and returns us home to the I chord and the good news that he'll never leave us.
Finally we repeat the chorus one last time but not before Johnny seductively whispers into the microphone, "This one's for you, Jeff." I think he meant to say Tricia.

Ginestera's Impetuosamente

This piece is very contemporary and therefore doesn't use traditional cadences like many classical, but uses familiarities of certain tones to allow the listener to be able to anticipate and enjoy the experience of the music reaching a destination. As implied with the title Impetuosamente, the song has a lot of energy.

The A section is in a brisk 3/4 and 6/8 (there is a constant flux between the two pulses in different measures and parts which adds to the effect.) It begins with a jagged rythmic melody by the bassons with marimba playing constant eighth notes on two notes a half step apart, which sets the feeling of uneasiness and a lack to tonality. By having the melody slowly increase in pitch and switch from the bassoons to the french horns and then the clairnets the piece gains momentum into the first unison, which consists of the higher range instruments playing a simple melody which almost ends with a decending scalar line that sounds like a fa-mi-re-do. This whole section is filled with a switch every few bars from the highly dissonant jarring chords with the melody to a simpler form with timpani solos and low brass with marimba accompaniment. Another timpani solo forms the transition to the b section which has a theme of a horn part that is a sol-do, like a V-I but just the single note.

The B section features the woodwinds with a more peaceful melody (though the fluttering of the woodwinds does give the piece some darkness) and is in a slower 3/4. There are also little rememberances of the A section that remind the audience that it will be back eventually. The horn part is also mixed in with the familiar sol-do.

The return to the A section features a crecendo like the beginning of the piece but this one is slightly different. It has a more funky feel with the melody having constant eigth notes and the accompanying line switching the pulse back and forth between 6/8 and 3/4 each measure. This development also features the use of a ascending pitch range with the constant timbre of the marimba and moving timbres from bassoon to clarinet to trumpet as the crecendo rises and the original A melody feels like a point of arrival. The A section keeps building to the end with an emphasis on the tonic for four unions notes and then ends with a scale flourish up the octave to give the piece a anticipated and exciting ending.

I really like this piece because it has a good sense of predictibilty but with very exciting and emotional dissonant chords and a rhythmic structure that gives the piece an interesting yet likeable feel to it, and if you haven't already guessed it, I have played marimba on this piece.

"Les cloches de Geneve: Nocturne"

"Les cloches de Geneve: Nocturne" from Album d'un voyageur by Liszt begins with a simple, haunting rhythmic pattern that ties the entire piece together. The three eighth notes form a sequence for the first 4 measures of the music that are transferred to the bass when the melody begins in the right hand. The piece has many PACs. The rhythm, however, never allows the resolutions to sound complete. This creates tension as the melodic line creeps higher in range. Just as the melodic line seems to be ready to resolve to g# minor as anticipated, the tonic is played as a G natural. After this tonal change in the major parallel key, the simple melody returns. The underlying rhythmic pulse makes the simplicity of the melody beautiful. Instead of finally ending this Lento section with an authentic cadence, it ends with a half cadence and the key quickly changes to the relative key of B Major. After such a long Lento section full of unresolved cadences, this half cadence seems even more agitating and ironic. The irony is that the piece has transitioned into a major key. Major keys are generally associated with peace-of-mind, but because of the way Liszt incorporated it, the feeling is quite opposite. The constant exploration of varied rhythms and tonal centers, added with the lack of clear phrases and cadences, make this piece a combination of "waterfallish" effects that are very pure like crystal while at the same time hitting one in the face with freezing cold water.

Vivaldi Concerto for Two Violins & Cello Op. 3 No. 2

One interesting thing about this concerto is that it has four movements - the first and third are slow and the second and fourth are allegro. The authors of our music history textbook use it as an example of Vivaldi's work shortly after writing that he most often wrote his concerti in three movements and began and ended them with Allegro movements and put the largo movement in the middle. Huh.The first and third movements bore me. If I had to guess why I'd say that it's because this music is almost three hundred years old and in that time we've come to expect a lot more complexity than Vivaldi used. I am not very familiar with early-eighteenth century music, but it seems that largo movements later became more legato and intensely expressive - Vivaldi's work has a lot of disconnected chords.

The second and fourth movements are interesting, but mainly because they're preceded by the other movements. It's sort of like when I stand next to eleven-year-olds to try and look tall.As far as cadences go, it seems as though every phrase ends with an authentic cadence. In longer phrases, one could say that there are half cadences where subphrases end, but the music is fairly predictable and always returns to tonic.

Symphony No.9 E minor Op.95 From a New World

Dvorak's Symphony No.9 or "Symphony from a New World" originally Symphony No. 5 is probably one of the most well known pieces of orchestral literature, everyone is familiar with the famous Movement II, the Largo.
The thing that Dvorak was most interested in at this point was folk melody which is the basis for this entire symphony, centering it around the pentatonic scale which he used to emphasize a more "folk like" feel and sound, and is also more American. The other unique and folk derived element of the symphony is his use of the modal scale (minor scale with a lowered 7) which was popularly used in Europeon music.
The Largo encorporates all of this, particularly a chant-like melody found in the English Horn!!! :)
To me, the opening of Movement II is similar to a processional with the solemn brass choir opening. The English horn is almost imitative throughout its solo portions of a chant which kind of makes sense, since one of Dvorak's main facisinations with the US was its negro spiritual and traditional music.

BWV 548

J.S. Bach's Prelude and Fugue BWV 548 seems to be a very long and some points in time monotonous piece of music. I mean, I like it, but it just seems to keep going and going. It is 12:51 long. It is very dissonant, played with several reed pipes of the organ and fairly loud. The low bass is actively involved, giving it a very menacing, dark quality. There are many arpeggios and constantly running notes in both the Prelude and the Fugue. What is interesting is after all this dark, constant, minor commotion, both parts of this work end on one long chord in a major key. This is known as a Piccardy Third, and Bach's usage of them is quite effective in resolving both parts of the piece. Besides it being rather long, I did like this piece.