Rhythm Dynamics Melody Harmony and Essay

  • Length: 19 pages
  • Subject: Music
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #15065513

Excerpt from Essay :

Beethoven uses choral voices in his 9th Symphony to produce a sound that no man-made instrument could produce. Beethoven is attempting to achieve the highest and most joyful sound in the final movement of the symphony and so therefore uses human voices to compel the listener to the rapturous heights that he wants them to witness.

or what might look at the importance of tone and key. In the 20th century, composers like Schoenberg wrote atonal music that made music sound fractured and splintered and, in a word, off. This effect allowed Schoenberg to artistically represent a world around him that seemed to be going off its head -- with war, loss of conviction, and devaluation. There seemed to be no real key to happiness, and so the earlier keys that were used by Bach are rejected here by Schoenberg.

6) Using the illustrations found throughout chapter five, name the 4 families of instruments commonly found in an orchestra and discuss how tones are produced by each.

In an orchestra, the four families of instruments consist of woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings. Woodwinds can range from flutes to bassoons, brass usually consist of horns, trumpets, tubas and/or trombones. Percussion can consist of timpani, snare and bass drums, cymbals, tambourines and more. And the strings usually consist of violins, violas, cellos and basses.

The tones of each family of instruments vary, and they are classified according to how their tones are produced: for example, in the string family tones are produced by bowing or plucking. In the woodwind and brass family, tones are produced by blowing, and in the percussion family, tones are produced by striking. Now, of course, it gets even more complicated than that when one realizes that there are techniques and fingerings required for producing specific tones whether with woodwinds or with strings -- but that is essentially how each family produces sounds.

A bow accompanies the strings (which can also be plucked to produce pizzicato tones), while a hammer accompanies the percussion instruments. A player simply provides his own wind for woodwinds and brass instruments (but horns often require a reed as well).

The strings tend to dominate the symphony orchestra perhaps because this family produces some of the most alluring and elegant and eloquent tones imaginable. A string instrument can make the heart weep and make the heart leap for joy. Woodwinds and brass instruments can also do the same, of course (Mozart produces lovely flute sounds in the Magic Flute). As for percussion, Beethoven has created perhaps the most famous percussive tones in history with the Fifth Symphony.

7) List the six vocal timbres and describe each of their characteristics (timbres). (Textbook p.34)

The six vocal timbres of the singing voice are (ranging from highest to lowest): 1) soprano, 2) mezzo-soprano, 3) contralto (alto), 4) tenor, 5) baritone, and 6) bass. These classifications divide the singing voice according to pitch.

The soprano is the highest female voice and is "often lighter and thinner than a contralto's" (Ferris, p. 34). The timbre of the contralto, on the other hand, will be fuller and richer and deeper. The mezzo-soprano has a sound that is in between, but of course no two sopranos or contraltos or mezzo-sopranos will sound exactly the same.

Men's voices are naturally deeper and they comprise the lower range classifications. The highest of the men's voices is the tenor. This is followed by the baritone, which is medium in range, and finally by the bass, which is the lowest in pitch. Again, a baritone is slightly fuller and richer than a tenor and may even sing as high as a tenor (but with more fullness in the timbre). The bass, of course, provides the lowest notes and the most depth -- but, again, no two tenors nor baritones nor basses will sound the exact same. One famous example of this point is the group known as the Three Tenors, which consisted of three men named Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. These three each had tenor voices, but all three of them sounded completely unique. Tenor may have been their classification, but each brought his own unique timbre to the arrangement, thus showing that every ensemble is going to have its own original sound.

8) Describe the differences between a band and an orchestra. (Textbook p.53,54)

As Jean Ferris states, "a band sounds quite different from an orchestra, since it has few, if any, string instruments" (p. 53). The sounds that go into making up a band are usually coming from instruments in the brass family, the woodwind family, and the percussion family. That is perhaps one reason why bands are popularly used in marches and in saloons: they are lively, can produce sounds more associated with inspiring activity (like marching or dancing), and evoke hearty sensations. The orchestra is typically composed of similar instruments with the addition of one more family -- the string family.

Orchestras, therefore, tend to be associated with spiritual elements: medieval churches utilized the scale patterns and melodies and harmonies or orchestras to inspire prayer and religious devotion (Handel's Messiah is one such example).

The string family, as has been stated already, makes up a significant proportion of the orchestra. The timbre of the string family also produces sounds that are more associated with contemplation and reflection. This is one reason that in the old days, churches allowed strings in the choir but not brass instruments or percussion. String instruments produce sounds that help the listener reflect on what is in his mind and heart, and the stir the emotions to meditation rather than activity -- at least such is usually the case.

But bands, on the other hand, may be found in dance halls and on the streets. Bands produce sounds that are associated not with prayer and contemplation but with energy and action: bands tend to play with lively tempos and catchy and simple melodies that can quickly become popular.

9) Discuss the differences between monophonic, polyphonic, and homophonic texture. List one musical style that you listened to which displays each particular texture. You need a different example for each texture. (Textbook p.27-29)

Monophony is "a single unaccompanied melodic line, whether sung or played on one or more musical instruments" (Ferris, p. 27). Such a line is said to have a monophonic texture. Musical texture is simply a way of describe a composition's conception -- whether it is predominantly melodic or harmonic. One example of monophonic texture would be Gregorian chant, often sung in the old world churches.

Compositions that contain more than one melody to be played in unison is music that is said to have a polyphonic texture. (Mono, of course, means one -- and poly means several). One example of polyphony would be Walt Disney's "It's a Small World," a composition that contains two distinct melodies which are sung together. Polyphony adds complexity to the composition and it also allows for harmony to transpire, giving the music a sound of overall agreement.

Still, there is another texture that is different from both monophony and polyphony -- and that is homophony. Homophonic texture is best described as "a melody accompanied by other voices that are producing harmony, but are not primarily of melodic significance themselves. An example of this might be a church hymn that is sung but is also accompanied by the chords played on an organ: the singers provide the melody, and the organ simply supports it harmonically. Another example would be band which provides harmony for a crowd of singers gathered together to sing a patriotic tune like "The Star Spangled Banner." In any case, homophonic texture is created when one group provides melody and another group provides support for the melody by creating harmonic chords.

10) Discuss the differences between consonant sounds and dissonant sounds, including the effect each might have on the listener. Which do you prefer and why? (Textbook p.27)

Dissonant and consonant sounds pertain to harmony and are terms that express differing harmonic characteristics. Dissonance and/or consonance can happen when two tones (or more than two) are played at the same time. Harmonic sounds that are "active, or unstable, evoking a sense of tension or drive" are called dissonant, while sounds that are stable or passive are called consonant (Ferris, p. 27). In music dissonance and consonance interplay to produce alternate effects of tension and release -- much like a drama, which contains conflict and climax.

Dissonance can be used in music simply to "suggest an impending resolution to a consonant conclusion" (Ferris, p. 27. This implies that dissonance can very often be merely functional. The function is to create sensations or emotions in the listener, than can then be resolved in a satisfactory and/or cathartic manner. In films, one often hears consonant sounds during peaceful or romantic scenes, and dissonant sounds during scenes of stress or action.

I prefer both rather than one over the other. Dissonance and consonance can be used to compliment one…

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