Work: Maninyas violin Concerto, movement 3 (excerpt)
Composer: Ross Edwards
Track from the album: Ross Edwards Orchestral Works (ABC Classics)
Discuss ways in which expressive elements of music are interpreted to achieve expressive outcomes in the performance of this excerpt.
In your answer, refer to two of the following expressive elements of music:
- Tone colour
- Blend of instrumental voices
- Dynamic range and shape
* * Please note, the question asks for two, I’ve covered all four for those who did different elements * * *
Character expressed – energetic, excited, joyous.
Tone Colour and Blend of instrumental voices:
Bright, echoing, slightly nasal TC from solo violin. Echoing violins have similar brightness but do not have its piercing intensity. Reinforces main violin line. Bright, clarity of TC = joyous/excited. Instruments blend well because of their clarity but contrast at the outer edges of their tone colour through harsher elements in first violin.
Solo violin TC made more intense/cutting through use of fast vibrato especially at ends of phrases or in longer notes.
Overall TC of string opening section is unified, clearly blending well, but covers a fairly wide spectrum from warm, mellow lower strings to brilliance of upper strings. Helps add to energetic character. Solo violin emerges from this overall blend without clashing colours through use of dynamics, higher register and sharper tone colour that cuts through the overall wash of complimentary bright, warm colours.
Constant change in tone colour also increases energy. Here the blend has more complexity. While still unified through tone colour elements there is much more contrast. Very high sections in first violin – sharp, nasal TC then contrast immediately with lower repeated semiquavers that are darker, heavier in tone colour. Biting, dull TC of pizzicato also unexpected and changes dramatically the tone colour quickly. Enhances energetic character. Creates more complexity to the blend.
Other instruments exchange or echo melodic fragments – upper and lower brass. Upper brass with more clarity, cutting tone colour while at mid range when echoed, more warm and resonant. Voices blend but move in and out of the foreground almost competing from prominence. Usually due to increase in dynamics, move to upper register, brighter tone colours. After these fragments are stated, they disappear as quickly as they emerged by changing tone colour to more warm, reverberating, softer dynamics and moving to a lower register. The frequency of the change and the polyphonic, overlapping texture help enhance the joyous energy of the piece.
Dynamic range and shape:
Energetic character created through both having a fairly loud overall dynamic and constant changes from soft to loud both gradually and suddenly, or unexpectedly. Opening dynamics mf for solo violin. While there are more instruments in the orchestra they still seem to be echoing the solo violin as they have a softer dynamic through warmer, resonant tone colours and a lower register. The dynamics build through greater textural complexity. It’s quite homophonic initially but as counter melodies emerge the dynamic naturally becomes louder. The competing from prominence creates natural dynamic swells which mirror the melodic contour, becoming louder as the melody rises and naturally falling as it falls.
The accompanying strings stay fairly stagnant in their moderately loud dynamic. This is largely due to the same short melodic phrases, or fragments of these phrases being repeated over and over. It falls largely to individual melodic lines to increase or decrease the dynamics. Having said this, as the accompanying line continues the players naturally increase their dynamic and accent the final note of this phrase at the height of the crescendo in each of these units. This also increases intensity.
The tempo remains constant. It is a fairly fast tempo, but what makes it seem faster is the use of short rhythmic values – repeated semiquavers, dotted notes and rhythmic values over this steady tempo. The tempo also creates the illusion of change through the use of changing accents both in the solo violin line and in the accompanying strings. There is also jolting change in time signature from compound to simple at times – especially when the brass enter the first time – but also seemingly adding in an extra beat at the end of the bar. This creates a jolting, unsettling effect but the constant rhythmic drive adds to the energy of the work.