Work: ‘The Village’ (excerpt)
Artist: Boy and Bear
Track from the album: The Moonfire
1 minute 35 seconds.
a) Describe how the performers create character in the vocal parts of this work.
An energetic yet relaxed character is created through varying vocal techniques which create a wide variety of tone colours. Sudden changes in approach to rhythm and tone colour also increase the energy of the work.
Relaxed – through the use of mellow, warm colours in the main male vocal line at a comfortable mid to high register. Also through the use of effortless falsetto in unison with backing singers. In the falsetto section note values are longer and articulation more legato enhancing the relaxed nature of the piece. The tone colour of this section is clear and bright. When the falsetto line is harmonised the tone colour palate extends to include more mellow, rich colours due to the use of lower pitch. This increases the energy of the section while the mellow tone colours enable the relaxed character to remain.
The vocalists tone colours blend well, being of a similar type and quality = relaxed. Even when bright and clear there is a unifying warmth overall.
The ends of vocal phrases are often let go and not accentuated. There is ‘lazy’ or relaxed articulation as the ends of some words or phrases sound swallowed or use techniques like downward bends, for example after the words “hold me” = relaxed character.
Energetic character – Created through the layering of vocal tone colours from bright – at higher pitch, to warm – lower pitch. While the overall vocal colours are usually warm, there is a nasal overtone or edge to the sound. The rhythms of the vocal line are quite short and syncopated. The rhythm used changes quite unexpectedly from short, syllabic phrases to longer held notes in the falsetto section.
The rhythms of the vocal line are quite syncopated and change quite unexpectedly from short, syllabic phrases to longer held notes in the falsetto section. This sudden unexpected change also increases the energy of the work.
“Down by the river” – energetic through use of rhythmic unison short note values, use of syncopation, doubling the melody at the 8ve. The lower octave is at a more uncomfortable lower register = energy. Again, the layering of parts increases the energetic character through thickening texture and resulting richer, close harmonies.
Abrupt end to the piece – the sound is cut off prematurely which adds to the energy, especially given this note implies a certain energy through being on the off beat.
b) Describe how the performers create character in the accompaniment of this work.
Two characters are created in this piece – energetic and relaxed/laid back.
An energetic character is created through the shaker playing semiquavers as an underlying layer of sound. Strong accents on the bongos use syncopated semiquavers, anticipating the second and fourth beats of the bar. This accent is more prominent through being in unison with the guitar. The guitar notes are cut off abruptly while playing this rhythmic ostianto = energy.
The guitar, aside from playing off-beat accents, fills in chords with quietly intense syncopated notes playing both a bass and harmonic role, thickening the texture and increasing the energy.
Before the chorus returns the bongos have a syncopated, accented solo which increases the energy and enables a smooth transition to familiar musical material. This section begins with a much louder syncopated guitar accent.
Relaxed – Through ringing guitar chords, and the accompaniment dropping out use of silence for “Down by the river” section. When the guitar enters on its own it uses strummed, ringing chords which contrast with the previous abrupt decay during the verse and are more relaxed through comparison and articulation.
The shimmering bright tone colour of the piano using legato articulation at high pitch and soft dynamic = relaxed character.
The synthesiser similarly uses legato articulation and has mellow tone colours = relaxed character, with nasal, hasher overtones = energetic. The synthesiser is almost a bridging instrument between the two characters.