Music Appreciation Describe the Characteristics Essay

  • Length: 15 pages
  • Subject: Music
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #10991504

Excerpt from Essay :

In other words each music performance is different and the impulsiveness of each performance confirms the concept of indeterminate music.

6) Describe an Indonesian Gamelan. (Textbook p. 282-283)

It said that Debussy, when he heard the Indonesian ensemble called gamelan was surprisingly delighted at its diverse and delicate timbers, and decided to use the elements in the impressionistic sound which he was working at developing.

The gamelan, a distinctive Indonesian orchestra consisting mainly of percussion instruments, primarily metallophones (metal keys suspended over a bronze or wooden frame and struck with a mallet) gongs and drums. Accompanied by string and wind instruments for good effect is a widely respected theme. With drums regulating the tempo and rhythm, while a part of the instruments engage in playing melody, others add finesse and the gongs intervene methodically at phrase and section endings to notify the formal structures of a composition. The visually spectacular effects of this music from Java or Bali have attracted rave reviews from the Western World.

Between the Javanese and Balinese gamelan the latter is considered to be a richer and more satisfying experience. The gamelan music is known for the pairing of differently tuned but similar instruments, each tone clearly heard during the slow sections, and opens with the high pitch metallophones followed by regular and frequent interventions by gong strokes which punctuate the each of the first two phrases on the final beat. A 24-inch pitch bass ostinato melody is presented after a small interval dominated by high pitched instruments. In the Balinese gamelan you will be privy to drums, gongs, high- and low-pitched metallophones; pitches lying between the tones of the tonal scales; changes in dynamic level; frequent pauses; alternating sections of relaxed and driving rhythms.

7) Using the musical encounter Listening Example #62 (Einstein on the Beach, Act IV, Scene 37, "Spaceship" by Glass), discuss how that style of music has influenced American popular music. (Textbook p. 356-358)

Philip Glass was contemporary of Nadia Boulanger, who was popular for encouraging the concept of individuality among her students. Glass traveled widely in Africa and Asia to study their unique drumming prowess, and was taken aback by the profundity of Indonesia's Balinese gamelan. Glass always surprises his listeners with his use of the technique of systematically repeating melodic and rhythmic phrases that change slowly later on. His penchant for accompanying his melodies with parallel harmonies stands out from the traditional form of tonal harmonies.

"Einstein on the Beach, Act IV, Scene 37, "Spaceship" composition of Philip Glass is a classic five hour event with three themes running central to it, referred to as train, trial and field each of which has its exclusive matching music, but all are related to the thinking and experiences of Albert Einstein. The opera, based on Nevil Shute's novel referring to the horrors of a nuclear holocaust is the fruit of collaboration between Glass and Robert Wilson, the American dramatist, both of whom favored the endless durations inviting happenings or conjectures. The opera alludes to Einstein's growth from childhood when he played with toy trains to a spaceship, designed to save the human race. The audiences have found the opera enchanting and hypnotizing.

The Ensemble by Philip Glass, includes "electronic keyboards, saxophones, flutes, and a violin [representing Einstein]); rapid tempo; changing meters; solfege singing (do-re-mi, etc.); sectional form created by changes in timbre."

Several American composers have adopted Philip Glass's style of music. Though, Glass's earlier style of music was labeled as minimalists but he later preferred to be known as a "classicist," involving counterpoint and harmony in his music. His tryst with Buddhism and training under Indian greats like Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha, who believed that rhythm is an addictive feature in music, influenced his future works, many parts of which were imbibed by the newer American composers.

8) Name several elements of jazz that European composers included in their concert hall compositions. Name three composers who did this. (Textbook p. 332-334, 371, 373, 378)

Jazz, long perceived as representing the American personality, can purely and simply boast of an American origin. Though, the roots of jazz may be traced to African cultures, especially West Africa, it has spread its influence widely on music in several other countries as well. The original pre-jazz trends, ragtime and blues, were created by the black Americans, and this progressed into jazz in the early years of the twentieth century.

Jazz is a mix of rhythmic and melodic techniques originating from West Africa harmonizing with Western music, comprehensively including a wide range of music styles. Its progress from a spontaneous to a classy urban form of music has been very quick, and Americans quickly took to its beautiful timber and dance beat possibilities.

Though, endowed with typical characteristics, the basic concept of jazz always remains steadfast. Musicians, though, often improvise on pre-existing tunes and though they are always experimenting on expanding harmonic concepts, the harmony is mostly tonal. Rhythms have subtle and hot interpretations and though the mood may be blue or bright, the blend of Western/Non-Western origins provides jazz musicians with endless possibilities and instrumental ideas.

As ragtime in jazz became more versatile, well-known pianists now seriously considered jazz a component in their compositions. George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue was among the first to introduce jazz to the audience who were fascinated by its rhythm. Since, jazz had its associations with vernacular music it started to be effectively use in music for concert halls. Some of the major European composers realized the positive effects of jazz in their compositions and strived to include its distinct features such as rhythm, timber and technique in their concert music. Among the famous European composers to absorb jazz into their works are Darius Milhaud, Bela Bartok and Maurice Rave, who used jazz techniques and wrote jazz virtuosos.

9) Compare and contrast the styles of swing and bebop. (Textbook p. 378-379)

Jazz, usually associated with music in the vernacular, has interacted closely and effectively with music for the concert hall. Almost from the start, certain European composer included the distinctive rhythms, timbres, and performance techniques of jazz in their concert music: to name a few, Darius Milhaud, Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, and Maurice Ravel used interspersed their compositions with jazz techniques and wrote pieces for particular jazz virtuosos.

Swing had its origin in the mid 1930s after the great depression, when Benny Goodman improvised to make this new dance music a big hit all over the country. With its beautiful dance beat, swing was a big band version of the earlier jazz music, accompanied by 10 to 20 instruments, 3 or 4 saxophones, 3 or more trumpets and trombones, clarinets, a drum set, string bass, a piano for rhythm and a guitar for vibrant sonority. The instruments were allowed to improvise freely with its hot styles such as boogie-woogie and the blue singers swing became public favorite number one in the American dance circuit.

As time progressed, jazz found itself moving more towards the concert hall than the dance halls. However, in the 1940s the renowned saxophonists Charlie Parker and John Gillespie the great trumpet player rebelled against what they referred to as the rehearsed and written jazz, especially, the swing which had become highly popular then. They preferred to return to the earlier concepts of improvisation, proximity between the accompanying combo and the soloist and virtuosity, which concept was fiercely shared by a few experts in the field. Consequently, the bebop style was born, and many see it as the first manifestation of jazz. The bebop style was almost akin to the 1940s concert music and includes a small band of virtuosos with total independence to each instrumental line producing a combination of richly dissonant sound.

10) Why is jazz considered to be American music? (Textbook p.371)

Jazz was born in America, out of the wedlock African music and Western music promoted by the Afro Americans in the country. This is highly representative of American individuality, with black Americans contributing ragtime and blues which were the pre-jazz styles, and this has transformed itself in the twentieth century, into what we know as jazz today. Evolving from a spontaneous and untutored form of music it soon transformed itself into urban sophisticated music prior to and after the First World War. Americans were overjoyed at the stimulating timbers and danced themselves to eternity with it. Among, the several American composers, who had decided to adopt jazz into their compositions, were Charles Ive was so taken up by jazz, Aaron Copland and Milton Babbitt was also seriously impressed with jazz.

The birth of jazz coincided with the romantic era when Mozart's Jupiter symphony and Bach's 12 note chords were on the eve of battling traditional odds, to get acceptance into the music world. While composers like Chopin, Stravinsky and Debussy were striving to experiment with impressionistic music, in the U.S.…

Cite This Essay:

"Music Appreciation Describe The Characteristics" (2012, February 17) Retrieved January 18, 2017, from

"Music Appreciation Describe The Characteristics" 17 February 2012. Web.18 January. 2017. <>

"Music Appreciation Describe The Characteristics", 17 February 2012, Accessed.18 January. 2017,