Friday, February 18, 2005

"Dancing in the Moonlight" Van Morrison

This song to me represents the ultimate in what I like to call "happy music." It's music that may not be that good, complex, interesting, or well-performed, but just makes you feel good. Something about this tune in particular makes me feel better no matter what the circumstances.

First of all, it may be the synthesizer sound (or electric piano). After taking the electronic music winter term last year, I'd guess that the wave of the sound produced is close to a sine wave. As I recall, the sine wave has no overtones. This makes it sound very pure, and to me, pleasing.

Second, the lyrics obviously have a lot to do with the feeling of the song. There's no real depth to their meaning, but rather they're all about enjoying life:

"We get it almost every night
When that moon gets big and bright
it's supernatural delight -
everybody was dancin' in the moonlight!"
etc. etc.

Finally, the happy nature of the song may be related to the harmonic activity - the whole song uses the same series of chords- cm7, fm7, Bb, Eb, dm. However, there's no real cadence point - the progression just continues throughout the song to give it a nice, groovin' continuity.

Mahler symphony no.1 mvt 2

Mahler symphony no. 1 mvt 2
Slovak Radio Orchestra (not very good...)

The movement is in three throughout. The bases outline the main rhythmic gesture as a soli. Then the woodwinds come in with the main motivic line with the cooperation of the strings. This phrase is then repeated as a written repeat. The horns and basses give a transitional bar or two into the development of this same theme. The developed theme eventually becomes more developed. It is new material but should not be classified as the second them. The violins play a virtuous passage outlining the second theme. A large sweeping crescendo culminates to the basses playing soli rhythmic patterns. The main motivic gestures are repeated but within a different texture and dynamic. A crescendo happens again and the density is immediately increased. A hemiola occurs as all the brass enters leading up to the second theme. This theme is played by the strings and accompanied by brief interjections by the oboes and other woodwinds. The answer to the theme is still contained within the confines of the second theme but is somewhat new material. The texture changes as pizzicato make themselves heard. There is some mode mixture. The secondary theme winds down as the horn solo states the same thing as the basses did at the very beginning of the movement. Now, the first motivic gestures are repeated almost identically. Another sweeping crescendo occurs changing the density of the piece. The hemiola returns with runs by the horns and trumpets against the descending notes of the low brass. As with most movements in three, this movement makes me feel like dancing. There is a wonderful feeling of levity. The intensity and burden of the first movement are temporarily removed by the compassion of this movement.

"good times around the bend" by string cheese incident

This is a great feel-good song. It's very upbeat, and has a kind of progressive bluegrass feel to it with some sweet harmonies. It makes you feel like you're on a train, because it has a chugga chugga chugga feel to it (that's the only way i can describe it...) It starts off with a measure of introduction by the banjo, and then the bass, violin, and drums (using brush sticks) come in. The bassline is on the upbeats, and kind of help create that bluegrass feeling. I love how the violing is used in this song, because it's kind of suprising and does a great job of initiating the main melody first. There is one main male vocalist, and then another one kind of backs him up on the last half of each of the lines of verses. Then they both sing on the chorus, with the backup guy singing mostly a perfect 4th down, which sounds pretty cool. The vocalists are backed up by the instruments and sing the verse or chorus (i like the lyrics a lot), and then one either the banjo or violin improvises on the melody.

There's a half cadence 4 measures into the song, and then the rest of the phrase has 5 measures, ending on a PAC. This is a continuous pattern throughout the song. The asymmetry in it makes the extra measure in it makes it a little more unique and makes it seem like something's going to happen, making the listener sort of wonder when the vocals are going to start. It does a good job of the music imitating the lyrics. Like in the chorus, the words "sometimes it seems like such a hard life," all of the instruments create a downwards progression with the violin wailing, and then immediately creates an upwards progression on the words "But there's good times around the bend."

"Nun beut die Flur" from Haydn's Die Schoepfung

“Nun beut die Flur” is one of the angel Gabriel’s several arias from Haydn’s Die Schoepfung (The Creation). Die Schoepfung is Haydn’s epic oratorio combining the Book of Genesis from the Bible and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The oratorio includes many arias sung by three angels, Raphael, Uriel, and Gabriel, who sing the praises of God and tell of the creation of the world during the first six days. “Nun beut die Flur” is about the third day, when God created plants, fruit, and flowers.

The text in Gabriel’s opening recitative comes straight from the Bible. It is important to note that all recitative that deals with the first six days begins the same way: “And God said …” just like the Bible. Haydn scored the Bible text in the exact same way for each aria and recitative – the recitative melody is the same for each aria. This creates a kind of uniformity to all of the arias. Also, it could be interpreted as Haydn’s belief that it would be impossible to do justice in scoring Bible text, as it is the Word of God. By creating uniformity, he brings the listener’s focus to the holy words of the text, not on the notes themselves. The recitative opens in C Major and modulates to Bb Major, the key of the aria.

The text for the aria comes from Paradise Lost. The entire aria is written in Da Capo form, ABA, to suggest a cycle. The A sections discuss the grass, flowers, and plants. The B section, although it stands on its own, could be seen as developmental. It moves from Bb Major to the relative minor key of g minor to d flat minor to Ab Major and back to Bb major. Although this section is obviously tonally unstable, I still see it as its own independent section. Unlike rounded binary form, it is not dependent on the following A section. The final A section is almost exactly the same as the first time through, except that some of the cadenzas are different.

I found it interesting that Haydn put nearly all the cadenzas on the word, “Heil” which means “healing” or “medicinal” as in “healing plant” or “herb.” His reason for doing so couldn’t be as simple as the fact that “Heil” is a nice vowel sound to sing a cadenza on. I think that Haydn wanted to glorify the wonders of God as seen through Gabriel. The entire oratorio serves to praise God, and it makes sense that he would stress the word “healing” to show how wonderful God was in creating herbs that could be used for medicine, to miraculously heal the sick.

The orchestrations are light - mostly strings and some woodwinds. All of Gabriel's pieces are peaceful sounding. The character is sung by a soprano, who ironically enough, also sings Eve in the second half.

Messiaen, Olivier--Meditations sur le mystere de la Sainte Trinite, no VI

-Recorded by Hans-Ola Ericsson on the 1987 Gronlund Organ of Lulea Cathedral, Sweden
At the beginning, it starts on syncopation with a major third interval. After playing around, it moves to a chordal section that ends in dissonance and then goes to a monophonic chant. After this it patters around on an odd sequent of chords and then ends on a pretty chord it holds out. It then returns to the same sort of monophonic chant. Then it returns to the more dissonant chordal texture and ends on a beautiful chord again that moves up a whole step. Then the chant and the chords (sonorous and dissonant) get interwoven. After completing this mixture with again a big, lovely, sonorous chord, it returns to the original major third and syncopation and either almost or does repeat itself from the beginning, but the last chord moves down almost like a re do before the chant and chords get woven together again (If I can here that change, there are probably a few others, but so far the sequence of sections is about the same as far as I can tell). The whole thing lasts about nine minutes, and while I enjoy the dissonant parts, and while the chant energizes me, what I really anticipate are those nice pretty chords he plays often at the end of a section. For those moments, it's almost as though I'm listening to Phillip Glass, except the chord moves away into something else, giving me more variation and variety than would Phillip Glass. The development and the call and answer nature of the chant and chordal sections helps to move things along. Lastly, I'm an organ fiend.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Husa, "Music for Prague 1968" toccata

This is one of the more modern conceptions of music which aims to showcase motive and color rather than fitting a traditional form.

This movement begins with a rhythmic 6/8 unison chord throughout the orchestra, but from there the movement has little formal organization. The next several minutes consists of several contrasting motives that weave in and out of one another, ranging from a woodwind motive that is rhythmically jagged and has several very large leaps to a brass motive that consists of long tones that are very dissonant and emphasize a lot of close relationships like seconds. The point of the this is to sound erratic and crazy because it references the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968 after several months of increasing liberalism. Despite this, the song does have some sort of predictability. After hearing a motive the first time, the listener knows when this motive will finish up and structural divisions are easily determined by great variations in instrumentation from single instruments to the whole group. After all this, the instruments slowly start building from the woodwinds to the brass in an 6/8 unison chord like the beginning which the movement ends on.

This piece shows the whole range of possibilities of music that can be created from a limited number of motives using the full timbres of the instruments.

Kate- Ben Folds Five

This has been my theme song since seventh grade, when I fell in love with Ben Folds and his music. His lyrics are so perfectly worded that you can't help but relate to them, and then of course love them.
The song starts out with a repetitive bass line, it almost has a feeling like a walking bass line is jazz, but like double the speed. Its bass guitar, piano, and strings that starts off the song. The bass line then repeats after the exposition which happens when Ben comes in with the lyrics, the same pattern repeats over and over again until the change to what would be like the consequent to that period, then the same melody\harmony repeats with new lyrics forever.
There is a bridge section that happens with just voice and strings that then leads into a transition that is piano solo, drums, and bass guitar, and then Ben comes in with the "Oooo la la la's" and the original form repeats itself all over until the end and it fades away. Its not really a typical pop form, I don't think just because there is a lot of transitional and added in types of instrumental things which is awesome, Ben is a big piano man and writes all of his own music so thats the best.
Here are the lyrics...
She plays wipeout on the drums
the squirrels and the birds come
Gather around to sing the guitar
Oh I...have you got nothing to say
When all words fail she speaks
Her mix tape's a masterpiece
Walks through the gardenso the roses can see
Oh I...have you got nothing to say
And you can see the daisies in her footsteps
Dandelions, butterfliesI wanna be Kate
Everyday she wars the same thingI think she smokes pot
She's everything I want, She's everything I'm not
Oh. I...Have you got nothing to say
She never gets wet
She smiles and it's a rainbow
And she speaks and she breathesI wanna be Kate
Down by the Rosemary and Cameron
She hands out the Bhagaved Gita
I see her around every couple days
I wanna see her so thatI can say...hey Kate
She never gets wet
She smiles and it's a rainbow
Oh oh...You can seeI wanna wanna wanna wanna beKate, Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate
No, no, no, no, no

Beautiful Girl by Domestic Problems

It begins with a four bar guitar introduction. The phrases are the traditional 4-bar phrases which continue througout the whole piece. The only exception is at the end of the chorus. The last phrase is extended. Throughout the expository section of the piece accompaniment keeps getting added. By the time the first chorus rolls around, there is saxophone, drum set, guitar, keyboard, and vocals. I love this song. It reminds me of the way I feel about a certain someone.


Mozart Requiem, Maunder Edition
[2] Kyrie

In response to Kaberle's mentioning the Requiem, I thought I'd follow suit as it was already in my my CD changer!

The Kyrie is the second movement of the Requiem, and is a fugal cry to God for mercy. The text is simple, repeating, and heart-wrenching with the music. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison (Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us). Beginning tempo marking is allegro.

The movement begins with the basses on Kyrie with the alto's entrance on the and of 1 in measure 2. they're already singing the Christe with a run that lasts for two and a half measures on the word eleison. The beginning motive in the bass is passed from section to section throughout the piece with very contrapuntal runs on the the word 'eleison'. These runs on the word 'eleison' often end up sounding like a wailing cry for help, especially in measures 40-43 when the sopranos hit their highest notes (going up to a high Bb in the runs). Only for the last two bars of the movement is the choir singing together, and the tempo is taken to a dramatic adagio.

interestingly, the 14th movement of the Requiem is entitled "Cum Sanctis" but musically is the same as the Kyrie.

wow. what an amazing piece of music. i think i'm going to have to get my score and sing the entire thing now. oh well, it'll be a fun night :)

Barthold Kuijken, Vivaldi: "Springtime

In honor of his Master class that I will be performing in, I am giving the "Prince of Ornamentation" a listen. This Belgian baroque flautist plays on a period instrument, notoriously difficult to play in tune.
Being a baroque piece there is no hiding phrases, cadences, or harmonic motion. With all the ornamentation, it is pretty obvious what in important melodically and what isn't. Phrases come in usual lengths and end in pretty typical ways. No big surprises. Rather, this piece shows off a performer’s virtuosity and style.
The coolest part of this piece is that it was written in 1775. You might ask, why is this so cool? I'll tell you....because this version of Vivaldi's "Spring" was written minimilistically. There is no accompaniment to this piece, instead the listener is supposed to imagine the orchestra playing behind the soloist. Playing the violin 1 part, it is an extremely familiar melody today. Back in the 18th century there were no LPs, CDs, 8 tracks, or cassette players. (Obviously). Music wasn't as widely distributed. So why would any composer arrange a piece where the audience has to imagine the orchestral accompaniment when they might not have ever heard it? It is like playing your concerto for the concerto competition with the orchestra....weird? but unique and sweet sounding! this case at least.
I really like this piece, it's very descriptive music. It always paints my imagination with pictures of nature, streams, and flowers. The essence of springtime. It has a very natural quality to it, and the solo instrument in this unique arrangement gives it an air-like quality.
PS this guy is really good. I'm scared to play Monday. Like real scared.

"Light in your Eyes" by Blessid Union of Souls

Much like the Counting Crows, here's a band that quite a few of us probably remember hearing a lot of in those oh-so-awkward years, but probably couldn't name right away. This song actually I had never heard before this year, but has quickly gotten a lot of rotation on my computer. It's really a basic song...bass outlines the chords, piano adding a little arpeggiation over it, guitar and drums providing rhythmic interest. The singer's voice has a very pleading quality, lending the melody a sweet quality. The entire song is a series of repeated phrases. The first phrase follows a I-IV-vi-V pattern. We repeat that, the melody repeating notes except a small variation that pulls us into the second pattern, iii-IV-ii-V, which brings us back to a full repeat of the first two patterns. After that half cadence, then we have our chorus progression, I-iii-IV-V, which (surprise, surprise) is repeated and ended on a PAC. We once again repeat the "verse phrases" and the chorus section as well, but now we have a desceptive resolution to our bridge section (progression: vi-IV-V-I, which as you can probably guess, is repeated). We now return to the chorus, only much softer than previously. Now, once we reach the chorus section we only have the piano outlining each chord, a pop device to make us realize the power of the message. Slowly, we fade out after a final PAC. Is it cheesy and predictable, yes, do I care, no...

Wagner Das Rheingold

This of course is a hearty chunk of music to listen to, but as I listened to it today in Claude's class, I thought I might as well talk about it. I have been exposed to this opera in the pat, but never really listened to it or studied it. Now, I am. The whole idea of Wagner's music is "gesamstkunstwerke", or a total work. His music flows throughout the entire work with barely any stops for cadences or even scenes, it just flows from one to another. This is a very difficult concept to get used to. Also Wagner uses specific motives called "leitmotives" to symbolize certain characters, ideas, objects, and events. These change and develop throughout the opera and are very interesting to follow. There are no arias to speak of except maybe an 11 measure "aria" sung by Froh in the 4th scene. The music itself is also very different from most music of that time. It is at times bombabstic and in your face, and at other times it is very soft and melodic. His music portrays emotions and drama to the audience and sets the scene for everything going on in the opera. The story is taken from Norse lore along with some Wagnerian concepts. As I have been studying and listening to this, I have come to really really enjoy it and appreciate it...and you should too!!!

Schumann's Fantasy Piece

The phrasing of the piece is very clear, and is of utmost importance. Schumann employs his usual technique of symmetrical phrases, with 4-measure phrases throughout, with the only exceptions due to extensions or interpolations. The piece is made up mostly of 8 measure groupings with two similar phrases that are either periodic or identical. They are mostly parallel, symmetrical periods in which the only significant change in the second phrase is the use of a more final cadence than the first. The structure of each of these groups provides a sort of question-answer or echoing effect. This feeling is enhanced through dynamic and tempo changes, with the 2nd phrase often being played softer and slowing down. The melodic and rhythmic motive from the first phrase returns throughout the piece, often suddenly and with louder volume.

Don't Know Why - Norah Jones

This piece has six different vocal sections that begin after 4 bars of an instrumental introduction. The first verse is an eight bar period with four bar phrases. However, this initial verse has a cadential extension of two bars at its end. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the piece. The next verse has identical melodic content, but doesn't have the extra two bars added on at the end. The next part, also an eight bar symmetrical period, is the chorus. Following this is another verse the same as the previous two, and then we are treated to another round of the chorus. A piano interlude is then heard, which again is eight bars long. Finally, one more verse is sung before the end of the piece. Overall, it's very relaxed and lazy-feeling. A lot of her pieces make me wish I was laying in a hammock on a spring/summer day, reading a book and drinking lemonade for some reason...

Don't Know Why - Norah Jones

This piece has six different vocal sections that begin after 4 bars of an instrumental introduction. The first verse is an eight bar period with four bar phrases. However, this initial verse has a cadential extension of two bars at its end. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the piece. The next verse has identical melodic content, but doesn't have the extra two bars added on at the end. The next part, also an eight bar symmetrical period, is the chorus. Following this is another verse the same as the previous two, and then we are treated to another round of the chorus. A piano interlude is then heard, which again is eight bars long. Finally, one more verse is sung before the end of the piece. Overall, it's very relaxed and lazy-feeling. A lot of her pieces make me wish I was laying in a hammock on a spring/summer day, reading a book and drinking lemonade for some reason...

jules massanet "castillane"

this movement comes from a larger work called "le cid" composed by jules massanet. i'd never heard of him until tonight, but i must admit, i do enjoy his style. this piece is on his "spanish festivals" cd, which is obvious from the first tutti note of the piece. the first note is immediaetly followed by the clicking of casanets. listening to this peice, i like to imagine flamanco dancers in bright colored dresses, but when i open my eyes i realize that i'm in greencastle and it's winter. the melody begins softly in the flute section with and a light bass arpeggiation. after about 8 bars, the strings come in, changing the whole attitude of the becomes untameable and wild with lots of scalar runs. the bass line becomes more prominent, too, almost drone like. the main melody first heard by the flutes becomes a little bit meatier than before and builds up to another loud section. this piece is kind of schizophrenic, suddenly changing from a light, bouncy melodic section to a rough and biting one. phrases tend to end in half and perfect authentic cadences.

"Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables

"Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables. Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg.

It is the French Revolution, and a group of students have just built a barricade. The group of student revolutionaries defy an army warning that they must give up or die. As they are spending the night on the barricade, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the onslaught that is to come.
I noticed tonight that it takes me longer to decide which piece I am going to write about than it does for me to actually write about it. I just like too many musical theatre pieces! Anyway, I think that this is one of the most moving songs in Les Miserables. It is just such a sincere plea from Valjean to God to save Marius. There are many musical elements that cause the song to be so moving and emotional.
The song begins very softly, with arpeggiated chords being played on the piano and violins playing a variation of the melody in a high register. When he begins to sing, there is a formatta on a rest, so he enters acapella. The vocal line begins with an octave jump which is done in falsetto as he sings, "God on high, hear my prayer." When the accompaniment joins back in, it is mostly arpeggiated chords on the piano, and strings echoing the melody. At all of the entrances of the vocal line, there are formattas over the rests. The accompaniment is played in a rubato style. The combination of the voice entering alone and the rubato style creates a very improvsational feeling, as if he really is offering this prayer up on the spot.
The dynamics are fabulous because every phrase builds from piano and falsetto to belting and mf to f. It is as if he is becoming so passionate about saving Marius, that after every phrase he needs to calm himself down and keep his emotions in check. At the bridge, it is forte the whole entire time, and he belts out some "money notes". But, at the end of the bridge, the return of the A section brings back the piano, accapella, and falsetto entrances. This great build and climax just to return the the hushed dynamic where we started is incredibly moving and passionate.
The song ends with him repeating the words "Bring Him Home" three times. The first two times, the notes are do la ti, and then the big finish is do mi mi. If I remember correctly from when I did the show, the last note is an a. He sings it pp and falsetto for 12 counts as the orchestra plays arpeggiated chords underneath him. It is beautiful. There is nothing technically demanding in this piece other than the extremely high vocal line that requires a male with a strong falsetto. However, the simplicity and the raw emotion of the piece create an honesty that makes it extremely moving.
How I love Les Miserables!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mozart Requiem: Confutatis (Maunder Edition)

Mozart’s Requiem is just an amazing work. There are so many movements I love in this work, but one song that really stands out to me in this whole work is “Confutatis.” I think one huge reason why it just stands out is because of it’s placement in the requiem, and also the dramatic melodic variations. It follows a quartet (recordare), and comes before Lacrymosa, which is intense, but more of an intense whisper. Confutatis is a full out battle scene. The tension and echo effect between the bass and tenor parts really give the image of a war between the two with much intensity. The orchestral part is playing scalar motion for the most part. Certain instruments in the orchestra are playing block chords on the weak beats. Also a lot of the vocal lines start on the weak beats giving the intro a sense of not really confusion, but definitely adding to the force of the line. Because of the line not starting on the strong beat, the singer must be aware and know how to stress the right beat

This movement then moves into what I like to think of as a fuzzy dream sequence. It only last a few short measure before the battle scene come back into play, but this is where the women of the choir enter for the first time. It is the exact opposite melody compared to the men’s. The bass and tenor parts contain many jumps and isn’t legato. The alto and soprano parts basically stay on one note, and are extremely connected as a phrase. This song sends your emotions into a tornado, throwing you back and forth.

In this song these two main sections are repeated with extension of new development, so it goes….war/dream/war/dream. From here is goes into a section that includes all voice parts. It is definitely a terminative function. Everything seems to have slowed down, but the tension and a feeling of aftermath of the battle still linger. The orchestra has a very staccato rhythm with dissonance to really cause more tension. The vocal parts have sustained notes to form very emotional chord progressions. For me, I can see the bodies laying in the open war field, and the smoke still coming out of the gun barrel. It’s a very trance like, then Mozart or Maunder decided that it should end with major chords in the last measure….interesting…

Vespers, Op. 37: Praise the Name of the Lord

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Robert Shaw Festival Singers

The entire piece is very legato and connected, the cadences are all cinnected, like the song is an entire phrase. The note intervals are very close together, another one of the things gives it a legato and soothing sound. It ends with a Plagal cadence. Most places where cadence would be expected are HC. Much of the solfege stays within do-sol range, with an emphasis on re. There is a constant sustaining of notes, another aspect that gives it the legato mood. The first part of the phrase is so connected that the four phrases in it could be regarded a one. If they are not, then it would be two contrasting periods, both with a HC the PAC. The piece establishes a simple triple meter time signature, usually by landing one on do sustained, and an occastional syncopation on two and three, just eighth quarter eighth, which emphasizes the next one. The piece has two seperate parts two it, a higher part, and a full voice, choir part. The upper voices are either sustaining while the lower voices are moving, or the lower voices are sustaining while the higher voices are moving. Because of this, whenever the voices come together it builds up very successfully. Also, when the voices come together it could also signal the beginning of a new phrase. Altogether, there were several HC then PAC throughout the piece, and it gave it a feeling of completness. The phrases were also very well rounded. I loved the syncopated rhythms. Overall, I really liked the piece, it was very beautiful, and there were several effective dynamic contrasts.

Vespers, Op. 37: Khvalite imya Gospodnn

Gioacchino Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri

"Wow" is my best word to describe Gioachhino Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri. I decided to analyze the 6th track on CD 1. I can't figure out what this piece is called so I guess I'll just go with the title "Six." To be honest, I know nothing about opera! When hearing this piece, however, I couldn't help but laugh at the extreme speed of the men vocalists trying to spit out their words as fast as possible! This made me think of Pergolesi's opera buffa that we studied in music history. I felt rude at first, laughing at this music that I assumed was to be highly respected. When reading the CD jacket, however, I discovered that I'm brilliant. Indeed, this is an opera buffa. It's amazing! Music history actually did do some good for me. Anyway, I suppose I should actually analyze now. "Six" begins with three big orchestral booms. This is followed by a downward scale that leads into fast violin bowing on a tonic. Soon after this, the first male vocalist enters. The violin reinforces the vocalist by playing his part in unison. The phrases go by so fast that they almost sound like one measure phrases. When listening closer it is obvious that these short measures only sound like individual phrases becuase of the way they are divided through rests. I think it's a contrasting double period. I think the second period begins in double time as the singer manages to sing even faster with riveting intensity. Right when one thinks the first vocalist is going to pass out from lack of oxygen, a second male vocalist enters. These two begin having a competition on who can sing the largest range and speed. The second begins singing to show off timber and it's obvious that the first is jealous so he breaks in with a really out of place and hilarious cadenza of musical velocity. This piece truly accomplishes the opera buffa feel.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"Tiny Dancer" by Elton John

The introduction for "Tiny Dancer" uses the dominant triad with the seventh plus the tonic triad to have a nice little piano riff for the beginning. After the riff is played a second time, the first verse of the song begins. The first verse is only Elton on piano and singing until the very end when a sort of slide guitar comes in. During a lot of the verse you can here the V-I-V-I chord progression that was used in the introduction. The melody definitly makes use of some non-chord tones, but most of them sound passing and flow very smoothly with the chord progressions. At the end of the first verse the percussion and bass join in with the bass being very steady, staying on one note for the most part aside from some moves to V or little riffs thrown in to the mix. At some point during the second verse, violins came in, but they're very subtle. The chord progressions in the second verse are definitly the same as the first, but this verse has the whole band playing together plus some background vocals instead of just the piano, as in the first verse. The next couple of phrases seem like a little introduction to the chorus and use some chords that were not used in the verses. The chorus itself might use a I-V-VI-V of some kind and it repeats to really get the full sound of the band. After this there is a little instrumental break before going back to the piano introduction from the beginning of the song. This gives a perfect opportunity for the first verse to repeat, along with the introduction to the chorus and the chorus. The end repeats the chorus one last time before the song begins to wrap up with song background singers, some violin, the piano, and a definite V-I at the end for an authentic candence.
Every time that I hear this song it makes me think of the movie "Almost Famous" with Kate Hudson. The made up band Stillwater has just had a huge arguement and their lead guitarist goes off and parties with some locals. But after he has finally returned, they get back on their tour bus and this song comes on. Hudson begins to sing and eventually everyone on the bus joins in. The song talks about life on the road, very fitting for the movie. I enjoy this song because of that image it brings to mind and for other reasons. I like how the beginning is just John on piano and vocals but then the band joins in to make it gain a more rockin feel. I really like the use of the slide guitar, violins, and the one noticeable lead guitar lick near the end of the song. This song is fun to sing along with, especially to/with your pals and I really like the lyrics(by Berney Taupin? however you spell his name). "Pirate smile," "ballerina dancin in the sand," and "jesus freaks" are great images that are equally hard to forget.

"kate" by Ben Folds

This is a great song, not only because it's my name, but because I love Ben's piano intro. It's really upbeat and sounds a little of 50's style rock and roll...anyway, it has some interesting chord progressions from the transitions to the chorus, and uses a lot of 7th chords. It has a really cool bass solo right after the 2nd chorus.

I also have always thought he was a really good lyricist ("When all words fail sheSpeaks,Her mix tape’s a masterpiece-walks through the garden so the roses can see, oh why...have you got nothing to say"). This album "Whatever and Ever Amen" has some awesome songs, "Kate" being one of them.

Chopin Nocturne Op. 72 No. 1 (posthumous)

I find this piece very interesting and beautiful. It is very Chopin-esque in that it has the broken up flowing eighth note chords in the bass while a simple, yet beautiful melody is played on top. It is highly emotional and gives the listener a yearning feeling. It states the main melody right at the beginning and then variates it again, then it takes the same melody and embellishes it with runs and trills and grace notes. It then takes the melody again and adds harmonics to it. A very simple, yet beautiful piece, I found that it really did seem to evoke images and ideas in my head, even some words to fit the music. As ou can tell, I really liked this piece of music.

Jean Langlais (1907-1991) "7 voix" from "Eight Preludes"

Each prelude is entitled with a number--each successive piece obtaining a hire number. This prelude being "7 voix," it is the fourth prelude in the section. Each prelude generally graduates a little in complexity and voicing. I chose this one, because at this point, there are enough voices to create a very thick vertical texture. The voices all speak in rhythmic unison, though they do not follow any real tonal structure. There are a lot of dotted rhythms and changes in rhythmic motives (predominant is a dotted triplet pattern) At about 2:32 there is a plagal cadence and suddenly the texture becomes fugal and climaxes in a thick dissonance which returns to the original rhythmic motive which then halts and returns for one big, long luscious chord. The final and following "8 voix" actually begins with a monophonic melody. In the overall work, there is a mix of monophony, odd homophony and polyphony. It reminds me of Baroque transcribed to the post-modern. He also exhibits a few qualities of Neo-classicists in a relative economy of material, but still remains a bit more extravagant.

How Could I Ever Know from The Secret Garden

"How Could I Ever Know" from the Broadway musical The Secret Garden. Composed by Lucy Simon, Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman.

Ready for some more musical theatre DePauw??? I thought so... :-)
This song takes place when Archibald Craven's dead wife Lily comes to console him about her death.
The song begins pp in a minor key, with i chords in different inversions being rolled very gently on the piano. After two measures, the vocal part comes in. A few different elements give the vocal line a very haunting quality, which is appropriate since she is dead. The soprano singing the part of Lily has a beautiful, resonant, and clear voice. She can sustain notes with almost a perfect straight tone, which she uses wonderfully in the opening of the song. The vocal line is mostly the pitch sol being repeated on eighth notes, and every once in awhile there is a do. This almost monotonous quality over the pp rolled chords is haunting.
After about 10 measures, the whole orchestra comes in and the accompaniment changes to eighth notes playing the notes of 1 iv and V triads. The eighth notes help to move things along, picking the tempo up a little bit, The dynamic also shifts to mp. Gradually, it keeps building and building. We now have a much faster tempo, a forte dynamic, and the vocal line is in a much higher range. After this great climax, there is a huge ritardando and things settle back down again. The accompaniment goes back to rolled chords on the piano, and the haunting motive from the beginning of the song returrns.
When Archibald begins to sing with Lily, we have another build. At the climax the dynamic is FF, the loudest thus far. Trumpets call out in a celebratory fashion, and both vocal parts are soaring. The countepoint and harmonies between the vocal parts are breathtaking. Once again, things calm down, and they finish the song together at a very hushed dynamic. The violins finish the song and create a bittersweet feeling of Archibald knowing how much Lily loved him, and also knowing that he will never have her on Earth to love again.

'they can't take that away from me'

"They can't take that away from me"
George and Ira Gershwin
Performed by Ella Fitzgerald
Album: Ella a Nice (live)

wow. ella is amazing. the recording is live from Nice, and her combo is fabulous as well. To begin the song, Ella starts one bar before the refrain, completely skipping the verse (common practice among the well-known jazz charts). For the first four bars of the refrain Ella stays pretty true to the chart, playing with a rhythm here and there...adding a bit of vocal inflection...but after that...she's amazing! Half the reason I love jazz so much is because it's all about taking the chart and then changing it to 'make it your own' owns this one. She stretches or condenses rhythms, changes and adds notes, and sometimes repeats words that she finds to be particularly compelling.

Gershwin uses a lot of cliche progressions, among them being the I-ii7 over the fifth-#ii add 6 over the fifth-I6 (so in Eb: Eb-Fm7/Bb-F#m6/Bb-Eb/G) this is followed by a flat three diminished chord leading to a Gershwin, that progression is great. Because his melody is reasonably simple (jumps within the tonic triad or step-wise motion) it gives the performer a lot of freedom to embellish.

I love this song, and I particularly love this performance. She's flawless...I love it. At least in jazz if you hold any note long enough it's correct! :) If you haven't heard this recording...I highly recommend it. (the entire album is great, she's does some great medleys and her scatting in later tracks is phenomenal). enjoy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

"Festive Overture" by Shostakovich

This piece begins with a very pompous trumpet fanfare after which the strings take over without losing its grandeur. The most interesting thing about this part is that unlike most overtures that emphasize the dotted rhythm, this fanfare functions exclusively triplets. With nine full orchestra chords at the end of the fanfare the listener gets the expectation of a spectuacular chord to finish this, but Shostakovich surprises the listener by going straight into a light, dance-like allegro 4/4.

This section has some fast sixteenth note melodies that get passed from woodwinds to strings and even trumpets. This gives the song its festive quality.

The next section is able to successfully combine the festive and pompus aspects of the first two sections by having a great polyphonic structure with the low brass having an constant eighth note moving line while the strings provide the chord structure while still having a melodic form on the top line.

This is followed by the first lyrical section of the song with a very legato melody that starts in the cello and moves up to the higher strings, with a wonderful mostly offbeat accompaniment that juxtaposes the melody.

After this, everyone drops out except for pizzicato strings and snare drum (not the best combination in terms of balance, but anyway) that play the melody and then takes a back seat to a flute melody. This transitions back into the first fast melody but with a larger arrangement. After the soft foreign section, it is nice to come back to something familiar, and the next couple of minutes is a lot of repition of earlier material with some additions that bring more tension into the music.

The initial fanfare returns again, with more involvement from strings and more cymbal and drums and accents, and once again misleads the listener by having the tonic have a resolve that goes straight into the fast section again which leads into one of those terminative V-I's that never seem to end with the big timpani roll.

I like this piece because it has very beautiful melodies with a contrasting and exciting accompaniment behind it.

Scene 5, ACT I of Don Giovanni - Mozart

We're reading about Mozart in music history, and one characteristic of his opera that is noted in our textbook is that he characterized personages of the opera, "...not only in solo arias but especially in duets, trios, and larger ensembles." (The Concise History of Western Music 356). This scene provides an excellent example of that, supposedly. There is a trio involving Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni, and Leporello, and the way each of the characters sings is indicative of their personality.

Donna Elvira sings a "rage aria," which displays her anger. It seems like Mozart had a very different, probably more subtle conception of angry-sounding music than I do. Besides the leap-filled melody, the music sounds pretty pleasant. I would say that, today, angry-sounding music is often dissonant, loud, and the vocalist uses a different tone. In Mozart's opera, the orchestration is pretty light and consonant, with unusual harmonic progressions. The scene from Don Giov is written in a major key, and most often the cadences are perfect and authentic. Maybe I just don't know German, but my general impression about her aria was that she didn't sound too angry.

Fauré: Ici-bas! (Here below)

Fauré: Ici-bas! (Here below)

This piece starts out with a very simple arpeggiated chord which ascends and descends in the first few bars leading right into the vocal part. The vocal part as well starts the melody off with a descending arpeggiated chord (minor) which then flows into more scalar motion. The A section is immediately repeated starting with the introductory arpeggiated chord (V) leading us right along with same accompaniment and melody line just on different words. From this point, after the A section has been repeated (ending on a HC) it enters a completely different section. The first arpeggiated chord in the vocal part isn't a minor chord this time, but has been changed to major to add more unique characteristics to the new section. The rhythm is changed in the vocal and piano part. Momentum is picking up, and the feeling as transferred from sweet, legato, and smooth, to a feeling filled more with intensity, climax, and an overall feeling of termination. The bass picks up more blocked chord to make the texture more full and pronounced, yet at the end of course Fauré decides to bring back in the arpeggiated chord (V...I believe..ending on a IAC) to finalize the piece after the big climatic section.

Haydn Symphony no. 6 mvt 1

Haydn Symphony no.6 mvt 1
Vienna Masters

The low strings start this out by outlining re ti do. Then they sequence it up a third. Pulsating strings with woodwind suspensions lead to tonic and its arpeggio. This adagio was just an introduction to the piece. The flute comes in with the melody over string 8th notes. More sequencing happens and the orchestration changes from woodwinds and low strings to high strings playing running 16th notes. The main motivic gesture is repeated. Rhythmic gestures are passed around from woodwind to woodwind. Again the main motive is repeated in the flute but this time inverted, then it is passed to oboe duet. A new section of music appears from this inversion. String tremelos at a soft dynamic flowing through a new mode which finally leads to the main melody as played by the flute played again now in minor. The horn then plays the same melody but back in minor, this leads right into the flute repeating the same pattern again. Again gestures are passed from woodwind to woodwind instrument. Orchestration is drastically changed again with arco strings and a louder dynamic. The tremelo string progression is played once again. Then the minor theme is played once again. Woodwind and horn chords over string pizzicati is a new color Haydn uses. Once AGAIN the flute statement is used again. Terraced and echoed falling passages of the major scale are antiphonal between the first and second violins and create a bleeding sound. Then the first few notes of the flute statement, which are the first few notes of the triad, are expanded upon and the arpeggio is laid out, finally ending on do. This music was much more beautiful then I expected. I thought it was going to be too much like mozart...too "in the pocket" but it ended up stimulating both my mind and my emotional output. My brain was able to chunk the movement very easily which helped give me a visual of the music going by. THe use of color, sonority, and orchestration was very pleasing to the ear. I also thought the performers played very well. It was just a careless and frivolous piece to listen to as I drank tea and ate crumpets...cheerrio!

Haydn Symphony no. 6 mvt 1

"Isn't She Lovely?" by Stevie Wonder

OK I'm feeling better (temp down to a reasonable 100.3)

From the Album Songs in the Key of Life

I love this song for the sheer joy it expresses. Stevie wrote this song for his daughter in celebration of her birth (if you can't tell from the lyrics). The song is completely strophic, with the same music repeating over and over again. Not one of Stevie's most complex song, but it accomplishes it's task well. The music begins with a babies cry and bass toms rolling into the bassline that will serve as the groove that the song is based within. Gotta love soul music for bassline grooves...The harmonic structure of the piece is a repeating VI-ii-V-I (CIRCLE OF FIFTHS ALERT!!!) progression with little variation. The synth acts as chord outlines, while most of the percussion is tambourine and snare hits, followed by a fill between repeated progressions. A small harmonic difference comes in before the the titular words, when westart with a more standard but a little jarring minor six chord in the progression, then at the end we double the five chord for a little extension before ending in a PAC. This song also includes a LONG harmonic solo (LONG=the entire second half of the song). In the background of the solo we have actual sound footage of Stevie playing around in the bathtub with his daughter (not like that, Jacko). This song is on his concept ablum, and really doesn't seem longer than usual since the entire album clocks in at over 4 hours. Honestly I can listen to this album for weeks on end and never tire of it, because the entire album is so nuanced. Just this song takes a simple harmonic structure and pulls every ounce of imaginable joy into it. I'm guessing I don't even know the half of it, never having experienced the miracle of child-birth.

Bach Sonata in B Minor - BWV 1030

This piece opens with the the flute playing the main motive, which continues to be the biggest part of the work throught this movement. There are a couple measures of rests for the flute where the harpsichord echoes what the flute has just played. The flute then returns with more of the motive while the harpsichord returns to its accompanying position. This is only one of the arrangements that this melody is played in. Throughout the movement as the motive returns, it may keep part of a phrase exactly how it was first played at the beginning, but most of it is varied, usually through rhythm. The motive is still recognizable though, it usually just sounds like it's been embellished a lot. About halfway through the piece, there's a section where the flute rests in the middle of playing the motive while the harpsichord takes over for a short while and then the flute returns with an echo to what the harpsichord has just played. About thirty seconds or so before the end of the piece, there is a brief part with many accidentals that sounds like mostly new material and I sort of expected it to develop that some more, but it ended almost as soon as it had begun, returned to the motive, and rallentandoed to the end.

Ihr habt nun Tranrigkeit

A German Requiem
Johannes Brahms
Margaret Price, soloist

This piece begins with a solo line in the strings. The line is very legato, very quiet, very connected, reminds me of a lullaby. The solfege in the beginning is something like s-l-d-t-l-s. This introductory phrase sets the is mirror in the first phrase, where the solo soprano line enters. Like the introductory phrase, this one ends in a PAC. The repetition of moods in the introductory line and soprano line give the piece a connected feel, like together it is all one phrase. The first phrase has a lot of res and ts, giving it more of a sad sound. With the soprano line there is a continual accompanient of solo clarinet or flute, also played very soft and quiet, that serves as a way to emphasize the mood without having to use contrast. It also leaves room for build up. The phrases begin to crescendo more, with longer duration of re and ti, to create more tension. Although the majority of the cadences are PAC, compare to the rest of the phrase they are soft, and brief. This acts as a way to connect with the next phrase, which begins much in the same way the previous one ended, soft and briefly, and the listener is able to pick up immediately on the contrast in the beginning of the third or fourth phrase, which begins on a loud ti. It emphasizes the pull to do, and creates a tension that, because of the loud dynamic and continual builiding in the accompanient, creates a sense of danger. The harp in the previous phrase plays on each beat, and so more of a meter and tempo has been established also. This phrase also is accompanied by the strings, and ends in a HC, which acts as a way to keep building. The intervals in the soprano start to get farther apart, and so any ti or re is emphasized even more, with more crescendo. In the next phrase, the high winds have descending scalar patterns, where the last note of the pattern jumps to a note above the starting note of the previous pattern. This creates a climbing feel, and is accompanied by the soprano lines do-sol, then an octave higher, the sol getting cut off ubruptly compared to the previous phrases. This is also significant because the entire piece gradually there have been intruments and crescendos, but this is only high winds and the solo line. Although it is a very brief part of the phrase, it is significant because of the irregularity of it compared to what the listener is used, although it does not feel out of place. In the next phrase, the choir enters to accompany the soprano line, and crescendos more, again building up. The piece by this time has gone from lullaby-like to victorious sounding, and stable. There are several parts of this piece that make use of little contrasts, inorder to keep the mood but signal that something else is going on, that are effective in creating the feeling of a wide range of emotions in the listener, from uncertainty, to happiness, to saddness, to strength. The rest of the piece sort of goes up and down, building up and then transistioning to a happier theme. The lack of repettition and parallel periods gives it a feeling of continuance, like it is an orature. Most of the cadences are either PAC or HC, to either create a continual transistion, build up tension, or both. The listener as a whole is not exposed to a lot of blatent deceptiveness, and the piece has a nice, slow, but continual feel to it. The only time the piece returns to a theme previously stated is somewhere in the middle, where it returns to the high wind and solo line duet, and repeats from there to a PAC at the end. There is not one main central theme, it is like a continual story.

"Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull

Who ever thought of a flute player in a rock a roll band? Jethro Tull did! Granted, not every song includes the great Ian Anderson on flute, but "Thick as a Brick" does. The thing I like most about this music is the juxtaposition. Guitar, drums, keyboard, flute? Awesome! America felt so to. The album released with the same name hit #1 in the charts in the 1970's.
The flute and acoustic guitar give this piece a air-like, sprightly feel. In the beginning, the guitar and flute alternate the melody. The use of the flute gives Jethro Tull a distinctive sound, which is especially prevelant. All at once this band seems to emcompass Rock/Jazz/Irish. Although there are many cadences, most of them obvious, there is no termination function. The piece doesn't end for 40 mins! It was the first album to run continously and not have seperate distinct tracks. Unless you listen to the entire CD, one gets a feeling of incompletion.
The lyrics, telling their fantatistic story, use lots of metaphores and even reference the great Monty Python. Again this piece is strophic, but less so than most songs. One doesn't really get the feeling of, verse chorus verse chorus. Instead this piece is a little more seemless, letting the guitar and flute make transitions. One last tidbit. The lyrics were written by an 8 year old. Man, that makes me feel dumb...or thick as a brick if you will...

"Ceremonial sabio duet" Bosavi: Papua New Guinea

This music is very interesting and would be a fun style of music to analyze in class due to the complexity of its simplicity. The sounds of this music almost remind me of the dissonant traditional music of Bosnia. A shaker begins the piece setting up the rhythmic foundation for the reminder of the ceremonial song. Then a male voice enters beginning and ending every two measure phrase on the same pitch. While he's holding this ending pitch, much like a drone, the second voice enters in call and responce fashion and also ends on the same pitch. Even though it's apparent that they're both singing the same pitch at this point, the vibrancy in their voices makes it sound microtonal. This is the amazing part. We now have the tonic being sung that doesn't sound very stable at all due to the "out of tuneness" to western trained ears that resolves to the first note of a suspension! But, due to the instability of the previous note, this new note doesn't feel like it needs to be resolved to be stable. So, we have a phrase group consisting of a PAC every two measures except for the last one that ends on something even less stable and we have tonics that are RESOLVING to the first notes of suspensions! This is so weird to me but does create a very trance like ceremonial quality.

Promise by Duke Greene

I cannot in any way tell you what the chord progression is of this song. It is acoustic guitar and male vocals. Duke is a friend from high school and is an extremely talented singer song-writer. This song is up-beat and inspirational. Again, I'm a sucker for the words. It is the kind of song that makes you want to be a better person. Everone is a unique individual and should live accordingly. These are the lyrics.

I'm gonna sing a song today
Open untouched melodies, and set my heart to dancing
I'm gonna walk a mile today
Feel the air upon my face
And calm my mind again
And every time I promise myself joy and love and new-life bringing

I promise me
I'm gonna be the answer to my dreams

I will rise with the dawn
I'm gonna watch the setting sun
I'm gonna find my way
Not a single day will die without me in its life

I'm gonna close my eyes today
Thank the day for all the light that sets my soul to singing
I don't wanna live like yesterday
So I'm gonna change my ways
And change my mind again
And every time I promise myself joy and love and new-life bringing

I promise me
I'm gonna be the answer to my dreams

I will rise with the dawn
I'm gonna watch the setting sun
I'm gonna find my way
Not a single day will die without me in its life

But I, I want to be
The kind of man I'd want to be around
I'm gonna kiss the sky and shake the ground
I'm gonna shake the ground
Not a single blessed day of mine will die

I will rise with the dawn
I'm gonna watch the setting sun
I'm gonna find my way
Not a single day will die without me in its life

Here is the website if you'd like to listen to the song:


i like this composer because his name sounds kind of like mine. that's entirely false--i actually played a medley of some of his renaissance pieces when i was in high school. this choral piece is called "bacco bacco" probably because those are the only words in the piece and it comes from a larger work called "mattio rampollini."
the chorus comes in after an instrumental introduction that sounds very much like a dance. it has a strong, bouncing rhythm and a hummable, upbeat melody. there first part of the phrase ends in a half cadence and is completed by a PAC in the 8th measure. when the first phrase ends, a new melody, or maybe a developmental section arises. the phrases are very predictable, easy to follow, and the melody is easy to sing. i feel that this music may be the kind of music that was not played for aristocrats, but rather for normal, everday folk.
when the voices come in, the mimic the instruments by singing lightly and lifting/bouncing as they sing. they play with the melody, passing it on to difference sections of the choir, from tenors to basses and back again.

Great Expectations Theme

This theme song from the movie made up of motives, repeating the same melodic lines throughout. However, the composer is still able to maintain motion, interest, and create a sort of story or journey. I haven’t yet watched the movie, but from what I remember from the book, the music seems to relate pretty well to the story. It’s a story of passion, longing, searching, and never complete resolve, in the man’s long journey. The piece has a feeling of never endless motion with very few complete resting points. As soon as a phrase ends, it either goes straight to the next phrase or repeats itself. In the few cases when there is pause, the pause is still surprising and tense, and the music soon creeps back in and returns to its original state. The beginning of the piece has the sense of rushing and urgency, produced by speeding up at the end of phrases and by the constant short notes and circling sounds picked up by the string instruments of the orchestra. Then, the second part has the same melodic line, but takes a completely different quality, reserving back into a much more pensive and meditative feel. This is produced by a much slower and straighter tempo and a lighter density. It is first played alone by guitar, then a voice creeps in, and then strings. Each of these instruments plays with a much softer and relaxed tone color and in their middle ranges. Then it returns back to the original material. This time a voice part comes in with a very high register, giving the sense of reaching some destination and almost rejoicing. But then it quickly comes back down to the beginning part, and it dies off in the end without ever reaching total resolve.

Mozart Oboe Concerto in C Major K. 314 I. Allegro

My sophomore proficiency program is concerto heavy, so with oboe on the brain I though that I would tell you all about one of the biggest staples in the Oboe World.
The Mozart Oboe Concerto in C Major is a beautiful baroque concerto, and its Mozart... so the form and rhythm are extremely simple, as most of you have probably experienced for yourselves. The oboe part consists of a lot of mixed articulated sixteenth note passages (a lot of the time in scalar motion). I shouldn't really say "mixed articulation" because that is the thing about the baroque concerto, and my job as an oboe player. One of the things that makes this piece challenging after all is the fact that it calls for the musician (and their teacher ;)) to add a butt load of ornamentations, mostly trills and a few turns here and there.
Also a lot of time in most of the music I end up playing, there are not articulations written in so I get to do fun things like pick how I want to articulate things. Yay, freedom!
One of the biggests things about this concerto is the phrasing. I feel like the sixteenth notes dip and dive with the help of dynamic contrasts and ecspecially from a performance standpoint, really going for the phrase, ecspecially the crescendos, helps you move your air and it all kind of works together.
The overall nature of the piece is crisp, and good natured, almost playful, yet somehow refined.

Chopin: Nocturne in C Sharp Minor, Op. Post

This nocturne in C sharp minor is possibly my favorite piece by Chopin. While listening the melody is very strong throughout and sounds as if it should be performed by a soprano singing of a lost, found, and lost again love. The introduction uses a very simple chord progression, played very softly: I-V-IV-I-V-I, and then played again but even more quietly. The introduction creates a very nice contrast to the first theme. The introduction contains blocked chords and the first theme plays the left hand notes in the chord separately accompanying the melody in the right hand. Throughout the entire piece, except for one small excursion, the left hand uses the same rhythmically separated chords to accompany the melodic right hand. Also, it sounds as if the right hand only plays one note at a time, making the melody easy to focus on and even stronger. The introduction uses the natural minor scale, which is often during the song: do-te-le-sol-fi-sol. After the introduction, there seems to be a sort of A-B-C-A pattern. Section A has a slow melody with few non-chord tones: sol-fa-me-fa-sol-do. Section B is much different and sounds happier than Section A because it modulates to some major key and the melody has faster rhythms. It still uses the same accompanying left hand part as the beginning. Section C is the short little excursion which is still in a major key. It sounds bouncy and very different from the beginning using some sort of dotted rhythms. The end of this section plays up the key's major I triad before returning to section A. The second playing of A is slightly different with a change in the melody to eventually bring us to the end of the piece. Before the end there are four runs up the C sharp minor scale with the left hand playing I-V-I-V over and over again, the same way as the rest of the piece, and finally brings us to an authentic cadence.
I enjoy the modulations in this piece that allow the song to go from sad sounding, to happy, and then sad again. This song is quiet and peaceful for the most part and makes me want to take a nap, in a good way. The melody makes me wish I were a ballerina or something, or that someone else should do a dance to it.

Monday, February 14, 2005

NIiels-Henning Orsted Pedersen - "Future Child"

I'm not sure if the name of this artist is all of the last names of several of the artists, or just the solo bassist - I found this recording The Best of Danish Jazz online at Naxos and decided to get a taste of their take on jazz.

What I found was a really confusing mixture of styles. Basically, this song is an electric bassist with a Victor Wooten-esque sound playing a solo over a big band playing pretty typical sounding backgrounds. The song was pretty neat - the electric bass as a solo instrument sounded very good (I'm not a big fan of acoustic bass solos), partially because he (or she, who knows) stayed up in the higher parts of the bass's range. The aural effect of having a low instrument solo over higher accompaniment is unusual but soothing.

Overall the album was confusing (one track was Duke Ellington - I didn't know he was a Dane). There doesn't seem to be anything noticeably different between Danish and American jazz - they just took it and made it more lame.

Die Sproede - From Wolf's Songs by Goethe (1888-1889)

This song actually goes hand in hand with the song following it in the collection (Die Bekehrte). This piece, like it's compliment, is in a sort of modified rondo form. Each new addition of text and melodic material (which is through-composed) is followed by a section of ra-la-la's that are not all alike, but play around the same idea. Each section of new text (there are three major sections) ends with a perfect authentic cadence and then moves into the ra-la-la's. The last ra-la-la ends on a mi do. Judging from the do that the ra-la-la's end on and the minor quality of the initial arpeggio of the ra-la-la, they embellish a minor six chord--or perhaps just in a minor key. Wolf loves accidentals and key changes. But at the first ra-la-la's and at the end, he does this very effective trick where he has the listener's ear moving along with the ra-la-la's only to change the key at the end--first jarring our senses with a tritone and then resolving happily into another major key. Wolf likes to change the key right before the cadence, jolting the listener and then pacifying them with a full PAC. It also fits quite well with the sense of the work, as it is about a shepherdess who only frolics and laughs at her suitors. That tonality trick is a very effective laugh--conveying the mischevious and playful mood of the young maiden.

"Reeling in the Years" by Steely Dan

Steely Dan have made great musical strides which have changed rock music's boundaries over a span of 30 years. They have always worked towards growing musically, always searching for the "Steely Dan" sound. One tool they used a lot, which is obvious in this song, is that they use a lot of mixed meters. I can understand why thye might use this to add extra beats on the ends of phrases, as well as a wauy to accommodate the transition from the verse to the bridge in "Reeling in the Years." They also use a lot of inversions and diminished chords, creating a descending and ver chromatic bass line. I also like how they use multiple guitars as well as keyboards because it creates a variety of textures. These multiple instruments also provide much more complex rhythm patterns...It's a good song too!

Sonata, K. 119 #1 Alessandro Scarlatti

Sonata, K. 119 #1 Alessandro Scarlatti

I have really started to take a liking to the harpsichord, and especially to hear someone play it very well. Since there is no pedal, like on a piano, it is pretty much impossible to get a true feeling of fluidity in a piece unless it is allegro. In this piece the tempo is definitely at an allegro. It begins very choppy and jumpy in both hands, but soon smoothes out into these amazing runs that feel very fluid like. Scarlatti seems to use the runs to really increase the dramatic effect of the piece. He uses them to exaggerate that we are changing keys. Soon the left hand has the flowing melody in new key and the right hand is setting the bass of the chord progression by playing them staccato on the beat while the melody quickly turns and trills above. I noticed in this first section towards the end, to help build tension Scarlatti liked to use trills. The feeling of a trill kind of gives you the since of being unstable, but he soon resolves it all with a PAC at the end.

Your Body is a Wonderland - John Mayer

Ahhh...John Mayer. When listening closer to the chord progression, you hear that over the main part of the verses he uses the I-vi-IV-V heart and soul progression. It's his words that make the song. This song speaks about discovering someone's body. But it's not the unethical discovering. He sings of it in a sensual, peaceful, and loving way. It's a way that means something. How it really should be. John Mayer's music always seems to calm me. The sound of an acoustic guitar and a man's voice is a complimentary combination.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

"The Millionaire Waltz" by Queen

You're going to see quite a few Queen songs by me during the semester, but they'll all be unique. No one can accuse Queen of sticking to a formula.

As the title would indicate, the style of the song is a waltz. To give a general idea of the lyrics is to sum it by the line from the final line of the song, "You make me feel like a millionaire" as one emotional feeling and the other emotion being expressed by the repeated line in the middle, "Come back to me"

The song begins with the piano doing a very basic boom chick chick waltz. Then the piano is joined by the bass for a duet which is a very unusual and interesting sounding combo and goes a whole 24 measure without any feeling of cadence, though this isn't terribly with a brisk waltz tempo. The chord structure stays very simple, and the rhythm still maintains a waltz feel, though the duet contains some syncopation of eighth notes. This feeling is lost a little bit at the end where the piano wraps up the phrase with a 1 2 & (3) & figure for a couple measure which would be better felt in 6/8 if it weren't an isolated couple of measures.

The first verse then comes in with music very similar to the beginning as the beginning with the bass doing more accompanying and can be split into nice eight measure phrases. After the vocalist sings for the first three phrases (with backup singers on the third) the fourth phrase is taken over by a guitar solo which transitions into one of many parts where there is no strong tempo.

The next phrase has a wonderful building up of instrumentation and tempo. It starts with just the singer and then adds a piano on each beat (w/o waltz feel), and then builds up with the piano doing the regular waltz feel and then the bass doing the downbeats, the down and up beats, and finally a two measure eighth note run to reach a high point for the phrase with the backup singers.

The overall feel of the previous phrase is repeated, but this time in a minor mode, which serves to contrast the happy lyrics (remembrance of love) of the previous phrase to the sad ones (currently separated from love) of this phrase.

The lyrics now are centered around "come back to me, my love" and the background music becomes more dense with the addition of guitar accompaniment and finally the addition of drums with the singer being very emotional.

This then breaks apart to a very simple waltz with the guitar providing a solo that has a degree of complexity but still fits well into the waltz feel.

Then there is another slow section without the heavy accompaniment and then the guitar comes back in and builds to a repeat (finally, a section that can truly be called repeated, over 4 minutes into the song) but with full backup singers supporting the important words of the lead singer.

The 6/8 like section is elongated this time with some guitar and drums, followed by the last verse "you make me feel (with a great piano trill) like a millionaire" with a final do-sol-mi-do on the guitar to solidify the ending.

Wow, I wrote quite a lot about this one. It's hard to keep a song like this concise because the only true repeated section is the initial and final verse. There are other similarities within the music but no concrete ones, which makes the music constantly exciting and fits in well with the shifting emotions of the lyrics of a person separated from love.

Betty Davis Eyes

As most of the songs that I listen to away from school are...this is a very simple song. With mostly a percussion beat and a few outlined chords...the melody is the star of this simple tune. The lyrics are what really make me love this song. Just by this girl's eyes she can see through you, know everything about you, and control you. It's amazing how just a glance from a girl with Betty Davis eyes can change your life.
"She'll tease you
She'll unease you
All the better just to please you
She's precocious and she knows
Just what it takes to make a pro blush"
Sorry kids, that's all I got. It's been a long, opera-filled week.

Sonata for Piano and Cello, Edouard Lalo

I heard this piece earlier this evening played by Proff. Edberg and Claude at the faculty recital. I always enjoy seeing Proff. Edberg play because he plays with such passion, and you can see the joy on his face as he plays. The structure of this piece is important in giving life to the music and conveying its meaning. It gives the sense of confusion and searching from the beginning and getting closer and closer to finding something until the final resolve at the ending. While the cello part goes through a lot of change and provides the sense of confusion and searching, the piano part is simple and repetitious, and maintains a basic foundation so that the cello can go off on its own. It is playing chords, echoing the cello part, or providing a link to a new phrase. As far as the phrasing and structural breaks, most of the piece contains long, drawn out phrases with few structural breaks. This adds to the searching effect, as the phrase often comes very close to a structural break but never quite resolves in a cadence and thus maintains continuation. Changes in dynamics, texture, and density do occur, but mostly between phrases rather than during, as in one phrase being played with loud, long, bowings, and the next with soft pizzicato. Once a break is finally reached it either falls back down, illustrating the difficult struggle to go upward, or rises to a high point as it grows ever nearer to the final destination. Through the piece the rare cadential points become more and more final sounding until the final one at the end. The sense of searching for some final distant point is also created through the use of rhythmic and melodic motives ascending in sequential motion. The structural order of this piece clearly plays an important role in how it is heard.

Harry Potter Soundtrack, #2

John Williams

The piece begins by establishing a compound duple meter, accenting the two beat notes with and eighth-quarter, eighth-quarter rhythm. The solfege is sol- sol-me-sol-me-le-sol-fi-fi-sol-me-do-sol-me-do, the first sol starting on an eighth. There is a sort of pattern established with the direction of the rhythm, the rhythm leaping down certain intervals each time but always expected to reach back to a note above it. This phrase uses a V/V of fi, used to emphasize sol and create some dissonance to accompany the minor key. It ends with an IAC. The next phrase begins a period, and the main motif emphasized througout the piece. to signal this change to the listener, the key in the first phrase changes modes from minor to major. This new theme has a smoother feel to it, due largly to the contrast to the first theme in the lack of leaps; more legato. The phrase ends with a brief new motif in the high winds. This motif, along with the previous, is stated several times throughout the song to bring a more energetic feel. This is because, it is almost always paired with smoother motif, and its rhythms are faster and more lifted, repeated to reinforce its influence. In other words, the first part of the phrase is the antecedent, and the second the consonant. This second phrase ends in a HC, and begins the way it started, signaling a parallel period. This phrase is very much the same, but ends with a IAC. As you might have noticed, there is not a lot of harmonization, only emphasis on seperate melodic lines. The lack of any real base is one of the aspects that make it so carefree and simple sounding. There is also the fact that it is film music, and the goal is to be in the background. The latter of the rest of the song is the same thing over and over, but it manages to keep the attention of the listener by simply changing instruments. There is not a lot of strong cadence so there will not be a break in the connection of each phrase. It also keeps the listener's attention by simply moving to a different already stated motif-there a basically two, energetic and legato, both of which have the goal of being happy sounding- through a HC. It still, however, manages to generate some sense of higher emtion by crescendoing, or combining all the instruments. Anytime there is the slightest harmonization, it is very effective because the listener is not used to it. The latter of the piece is very lite and legato, so creating a good finale was simple. It uses more staccato and abrupt rhythms to build up, and ends with full orchestra. Although this piece was very simple, I liked it. The melodic lines, although predictable, were pretty. I also liked hearing the contrasts between the two lines, and some of the variations of them inbetween, and it was nice to be able to predict the cadences.

Le Fille aux chevauex de Lin

This piece of music was very cool....hah hah, just kidding! This piece by Debussy, is very interesting. I was listening to it b/c we were studying some Debussy in 20th century Lit, and how he attempted to essentially "paint" an image with music. Therefore, his music is very lush and coloristic, with lots of texture and exotic chords. I really like his music b/c it is still classical and yet it has sucha rich, jazzy feel. In the girl with the flaxen hair, the melody is extremely lyrical and seemes to pull me in with its constant, flowing motion. I loved the chords with the 9ths and parrallel 5ths. Even though these chords are sooo against all rules of Romantic tonality, his music still sounds beautiful and doesn't give any inclination of something being "wrong." This piece of music did inspire my creativity and imagination and did paint a picture in my mind...not particularly of a girl with flaxen hair, but rather lush colors and the idea of being free and happy and floating (ok, I know I now sound like i'm high, but hey did't he do opium??) Well, as you can tell, I really liked this piece, and I am excited to listen to more Debussy. Goodnight!

Feeling Good- Michael Buble

What a great song. If any of you have never listened to Michael Buble, you need to. People get mad when I compare him to Frank Sinatra, but that is the only fair comparison and the only way to get across to someone who has never heard his voice, how beautiful and smooth it is.
He mostly does re-makes of old Frank stuff, and some new things too. "Feeling Good" is the first track on his brand new album Its Time. Its pretty much big band music, the medium consists of Buble on vocals, piano, and jazz ensemble (trumpet, trombone, alto,tenor, bari sax, double bass, guitar, and drumset). There is also an orchestral section in the beginning with Buble and a small string ensemble.
Its going to be hard for me to talk about form because I know NOTHING about jazz form and style, (its definately something I want to know more about). Its definately not typical jazz, its more "cookie cutter" I think. There is no improvisation, and the arrangement consists of the same general phrase repeated over and over again with different lyrics going over the top of it. Its somewhat strophic in that sense, (I'm sure thats not the appropriate term for jazz ecspecially).
I think that the lyrics really help out with the form and the phrasing just because its seems like the arrangement underneath the lyrics is constructed to really show off the singer, and emphasize the lyrics. Particularly the lyrics "its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me, and I'm feeling good" really are pushed along and emphasized with the crescendo and phrasing done in the trumpet and trombone parts. The trombones emphasize and dominate the bass line during this lyrics with what is essentially a slow and heavy descending chromatic scale, it gives a really cool effect, and the song ends with Buble and the trombone tapering off together that way.

Goo Goo Dolls: Iris

Goo Goo Dolls
Featured on the Dizzy Up the Girl

Iris goes on my top 10 greatest songs of all time. Beethoven look out, here come the Goo Goo Dolls.
From a music analysis standpoint, Iris is very simplistic harmonically. It is strophic with 3 verses and a chorus. With the knowledge of three chords, Dmaj Amaj and Gmaj, (or I, V, IV), one can play the majority of the song. It might be of interest that the atypical chord progression that defines this piece is I V IV. Weird. It does give Iris unique feel, allowing for normal clichés to be more accented. One may also note the Do Re Mi walking baseline that is played at the beginning of every phrase.
The interest in this song doesn't lie in it's harmonic interest. Instead it lies in it's amazing lyrics. One wonders what the hell pop composers are thinking about when they right their lyrics. I always get feelings of longing, introspection, love, and introverted-ness when I hear Iris.
Along with the lyrics comes the unforgettable melody. Goo Goo Dolls do such an excellent job of synthesizing the verbal meaning of the lyrics with the aural meaning of the melody. The density of instrumentation builds until the guitar solo climax, incorporating the color of the violin into the mixture with great affect, and then disappearing into nothingness mirror the emotions of the singer.

this is good shit, pardon my language

this movement from mendelssons piano sonata in g minor fascinates me partly because i'm awful at piano and the performer's fingers move so fast! this piece maintains a consistent tempo throughout--it immediately starts of rapidly. it also starts in minor, but modulates several times during the piece. it's kind of like listening to a composer who had a split personality. it is rather aggressive too, at points, and sometimes makes me feel a little bit nervous, like i'm anticipating something really exciting. i noticed this especially when a descending parallel chords are played rather harshly. other times, the mood changes slightly when the dynamics soften--it becomes slightly mysterious (the minor mode helps out) and delicate (with lots of trills and frills). the beginning motive comes back at the end of the piece more powerful than ever. i really really enjoyed listening to this movement, not gonna lie.

"Anthem" from Chess

As of right now I've just taken a nice healthy dose of NyQuil to battle an extremely persistant flu virus. Let's have some fun shall we?

Music by: Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (the guys from ABBA, surprisingly)
Lyrics by: Tim Rice (of Disney fame)

This song is found at the end of Act I of the musical, when the Russian is at the Embassy (or Airport, depending on version) looking to emigrate from his native soil. He is explaining why he wants to leave the land he has lived in all his life. The music begins slowly, with strings on the harmonic bass with an oboe as the melody line. The voice comes in after a short 8-bar introduction that ends with an IAC that becomes a PAC on the first downbeat of the singer's measure. The singing is calm, not rushed, very measured, as he has been battling this decision for a long time. This song is in two parts, with a repeated A section (first melodic idea) made up of two 8-bar phrases. We then move onto the B-section (second melodic idea) This second section is a little more driven, with a lower tone and more emotion behind it, as he explains that just because he is leaving his country it doesn't mean he's leaving his home. After the first phrase we have an instrumental bridge that comes chrashing in, with an electric guitar, cymbals and drums. We get a repeat of the second phrase (although with new worda) with a small change (hitting a high G with the voice on "where would I start?" then an extension with deceptive motion, before a final resolution with a PAC. This repetition of the phrase is held aloft because of increased accompaniment activity, a horn section comes in, resonationg the point home, as the guitar continues to wail and the drums steadily beat. This truly feels like an anthem due to it's patriotic message ("my land's only borders lie around my heart") and melodic feel. The could definately be a national anthem for one of the former Soviet Republics, although it would have to be a swishy Republic, since he remembers the country fondly for the most part.

"Plunky's Lament" Bela Fleck

This cool song from Fleck's collaboration with a bunch of awesome bluegrass players on the Bluegrass Sessions album is one of a handful of slow songs thats the artists picked for the album. The song eventually involves a number of instruments including back, fiddle, mandolin, bass fiddle, and possibly others. The song is in major. The first 8 measures are just the banjo a melody and harmony, the melody is like sol-do-mi-fa-mi-do. The first 8 measures are also the first phrase of a parallel period. The second time this period repeats, in the 9th measure, the bass fiddle plays alongs for the next 8 measures, pleaying the same note/notes the whole melody, a new one, for 8 measures, that sounds if it could be on the dominant chord. Next the banjo takes over the same melody for eight measures along with the fiddle echoing, the melody switches to the fiddle again, but it keeps on with the melody for 16 measures, with added harmony by the banjo. The melody switches 3 more times before the song ends, and the mandolin is finally more noticeable. The songs kind of sad, probably becuase it's a lament! Although it is not depressing, possibly becuase of the fairly bright, major chords and melody. The feature of the fiddle and banjo is cool how they seem to be playing to one another, or having a sort of conversation. I enjoy this genuine bluegrass piece and like it's soothing, slow nature.

"The Fox" by Nickel Creek

I enjoyed blogging the first Neckil Creek song so much that I decided to do another. This one is nice becuase the group shows off their vocal skill and ability to arrange an old folk song, as "The Fox" is a traditional folk melody unlike "Ode to a Butterfly" which Chris Thile wrote. This song has six verses with instrumental breaks after the second and fourth verses. It is probably in two-four which is fairly obvious by listening to the bass line. The mandolin plays for two measures and Thile begins to sing the verse. The melody for each five line verse is the same throughout the entire song. Sol-sol-mi-mi-mi-mi-re-do-do is "the-fox-went-out-on-a-chil-ly-night" all of these notes staying close to tonic and dominant. After this first verse the guitar begins and plays arppegiated chords. At the end of the second verse the melody sings do-do-re-re-sol-sol and at this point Sarah Watkins comes in on vocal harmony on town-o-town-o singing sol-sol-do-do with Thile's re-re-sol-sol, a very nice yet simple folk harmony. At this point you might expect the fiddle to join in but instead the bass starts for this first instrumental break. The huitar plays straight chords, the bass has a lot of1-2-1 with some 4's thrown in there, and of course the mandolin is featured. Thile sings the third verse and then the fiddle begins on the fourth which makes sense becuase the guitar came in on the second verse. The fiddle is subtle and harmonizing in this which is perfect since the second instrumental bread features the fiddle! This break is the same length as the first break. In the fourth verse the only instrument that plays along with vocals is the mandolin while Sarah does not sing harmony this time. That way the last verse has the whole group playing to their fullest. The song ends with a final instrumental part featuring the mandolin playing a very similar solo as that of the first instrumental break.
I enjoy the songs' simple harmonies and clever structure. Most of Nickel Creeks' songs from this album have a fairly formal structure, which makes sense considering what they were going after. Their second album is more risky and I Think they didn't want to make a huge splash on this one. Nothing is overdone or overplayed and I enjoy the control the exhibit as young artists.

"Annie Waits" by Ben Folds

"Annie Waits" is one of many Ben Folds songs that uses an easily distinguished chord progression throughout the entire song. The introduction is a piano playing I-I-V-V-IV-I-I-I in a medium paced, rockish syncopated rhythm. This progression is played twice before Folds begins to sing the verse, starting with a pickup sol, going to mi. "And so," sol-mi, is how each verse phrase starts with each verse having two main phrases. The main melodic theme in the verse is sol-mi-re-fa-mi-re-fa-mi-re-fa-mi and may be heard at least six times throughout the song. The percussion comes in on the second phrase of the first verse, playing a simple rock beat. The bass guitar comes in at the very end of the first verse and goes for the steady dotted quarter, eighth, half note rhythm staying on the same note for a few phrases and then doing some fancier things. At certain points you can hear the bass doing a more drawn out I-V-IV-I. The second verse is the same as the first other than lyrical differences, but the third verse creates a new melodic theme. The rest of the song practically repeats the first three verses and the chorus is "Annie Waits for the last time which occurs at the end of the first verse and in between the third verse and the repeating of the first,second, and third verses.
This song, along with most Ben Fold's song, is amazing because of it's simplicity. The piano, bass, and percussion parts are all very simple but when put together they create a rocking sound. Another cool part about this song is the noticeable chord progression that keeps repeating through the song, making it easy to sing along to or play. I most enjoy listening to Ben Folds because it's nice to hear how rock music can very easily be played on the piano with very simple chords and the addition of more syncopated rhythms.

"Unusual Way"

"Unusual Way" from the Broadway musical Nine. Music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. Performed by Linda Eder on her CD, "It's Time".

Throughout high school, Linda Eder was my favorite singer. Since then, my tastes have changed slightly, but I still love her rendition of "Unusual Way." She has a way of giving music her own special touches that make whatever song she records uniquely hers.
The song is in a minor key, and the sound is very haunting. This haunting feeling is created by the chord progression. For the first 4 measures, it is nothing but i VI i VI i VI i. After this point, the progression becomes more interesting, but the VI chord remains prominent throughout the song.
The song is strophic, like most musical theatre songs are, but nothing ever happens to make it more interesting. There is no shift in tonality, the tempo doesn't change, nothing. At the refrain, the denisty increases, but that is about it. The melody is very pop sounding, mostly stepwise and pretty straight forward as far as rhythm goes.
As I said before, Linda Eder adds her own style to just about everything she sings. At the end of the piece, she improvises in a very high register as the orchestra finishes up the piece. The shift in register adds to the haunting feeling, and the improvisation really creates a sense of finality.

Elephant Love Medley - Moulin Rouge Soundtrack

Knowing that this song combines snippets from many popular songs makes analyzing it different than if one didn't know this fact. Overall, I think it flows pretty well for the number of different songs it includes. The lyrics are woven together well. I think the lyrics are what really tie the song together. Sometimes the melodies and/or transitions don't quite fit, but the lyrics always make sense. As for form, the song is obviously not going to be consistant because of the range of songs included. A great quality of this song is that the lyrics and line of the music go together very well (ex- when the piece progresses to the 'Up Where We Belong' section, there is a huge crescendo and change in register). Toward the end of the song there's a section from "I Will Always Love You." This is especially notable because in the full Whitney Houston song these lyrics appear throughout but here it's only at this one point, and it feels very final and concluding. I think it's because the tempo drops a considerable amount and more percussion is added. Overall, I'd say this song is mostly about the lyrics, but the way the songs are laced together have huge impact the feel of the piece. Even though there's not a clear way to label the form other than with the word 'medley,' structural phenomena seem to shape the piece.

"Mrs. Taylor's Lullaby" from Bat Boy: The Musical by Laurence O'Keefe

“Mrs. Taylor’s Lullaby” from Bat Boy: the Musical, by Laurence O’Keefe, is a comic relief piece amidst the growing drama of the stage action. Bat Boy is a fairly new musical about the Weekly World News tabloid character and his relationship to a veterinarian and his family. The musical discusses Bat Boy’s attempt at assimilation into society, his romance with the vet’s daughter, and his eventual downfall.

“Mrs. Taylor’s Lullaby” occurs after the title character’s daughter, Ruthie, has been bitten by the Bat Boy. Mrs. Taylor comforts Ruthie at the hospital with this song:

“Sleep little Ruthie baby don’t you fear no Bat Boy. Dream about the angels floating ‘round your head. Sleep on a pillow made of fluffy clouds and rainbows, While Mama can’t believe that little freak ain’t dead.

“Sleep little Ruthie baby no one’s gonna hurt you. Sheriff’s gonna have that little freak destroyed. Or if he’s a coward and he won’t protect my children, Mama’s gonna get the Sheriff unemployed.

“Sleep little Ruthie baby don’t you fear no Bat Boy. Mama’s gonna hunt him down and bring him here. Then you can skin him and wear him as a jacket. And we’ll string a necklace with a dried bat ear.”

The song is strophic, containing three verses. Each verse is a contrasting, symmetric period with two phrases, A and B. For example, in the first verse: The antecedent phrase consists of four measures and ends on a half cadence – “Sleep little Ruthie baby don’t you fear no Bat Boy. Dream about the angels floating ‘round your head.” The consequent phrase takes the melodic motive up a half step and changes the rhythm significantly, ending on a PAC. - “Sleep on a pillow made of fluffy clouds and rainbows, While Mama can’t believe that little freak ain’t dead.” Each consequent verse modulates up a half step.

The orchestrations are very simple. The first verse uses only a celeste, the perfect instrument to accompany a lullaby. The other two verses add a piano and a vocal ensemble singing on the vowel, “Oooo.”

“Mrs. Taylor’s Lullaby” is one of the most humorous pieces in Bat Boy. The melody is basic, the lyrics incredibly malicious, and the accompaniment suitable to a lullaby setting. In addition, Mrs. Taylor is usually played by a cross-dresser. All of these components create a cheesy, over-the-top rendition of what would be a pleasing lullaby.