The final analysis question of prerecorded music for the 2016 Music Style and Composition Exam. Sample responses by Jenny Gillan
Describe the treatment of melody in excerpt 4a
Hubert Giraud and Jean Drejac ‘Sous le ciel de Paris’
This question features two excerpts from this work – excerpts 4a and 4b. 4b includes all of excerpt 4a plus another 1 minute 18 seconds of the work.
The opening cello melody begins with a large interval – an ascending minor 6 – and contrasts with a small interval – a descending minor 2nd. This pattern of larger intervals being balanced by smaller intervals in contrary motion is often used in this excerpt at different pitches. Often these melodic motifs continue scalically to complete a phrase. A descending, scalic motif is played sequentially before the voice enters.
The tonality is minor and melody is consonant, without use of chromaticism.
In contrast the intervals of the vocal melody are smaller. Scalic in nature and arch-like in contour. This scalic, arch-like contour is repeated almost sequentially down in pitch.
In the first phrase of the vocal part the descending melodic line in the vocal line complements the descending scalic movement of the cello creating parallel 6th harmony.
The accordion’s melodic line consists of four pitches beginning at the upper tonic and descending scalically.
Describe how the composers develop music ideas in excerpt 4b. In your response, refer to texture.
The opening texture of solo cello is monophonic. Once the voice enters, this is initially biphonic – the cello maintaining a drone while the voice provides the main melody. The arch-like contour of the opening theme develops through increasing textural thickness. The texture then becomes homophonic – harmonised lines, nearly rhythmic unison between the cello and voice. The texture thickens as more instruments are added. Different expressions of homophony are heard. The accordion adds a three time typical 1 2 3 bass harmony (3rds) harmony (3rds) motif. Later on this theme is developed as it is taken over by the piano– the left hand playing the first beat of each bar. This is developed from the accordion as the first note was much longer and louder while the piano left hand did not ring out as much and thus played more of a bass role rather than melodic role as in the accordion’s statement of these notes.
The accordion changes to a more melodic role and develops the melodic idea by playing in a heterophonic manner at the repetition of the verse. At times playing the exact melodic line, at times adding embellishments of trills or turns.
The piano enters thickening the homophonic texture through providing a rising arpeggiated accompaniment. The nature of this accompaniment develops itself once the piece rises to climax. Towards the first rising climactic line the piano plays at moderate register a complementing melodic line in unison.
The texture further thickens as the piano plays duplet descending sequence then complements each first beat of the melody with punctuating chords.
Before the end of the excerpt the texture becomes more complex with the accordion playing a chromatic triplet semiquaver counter melody and polyphonic overall texture. The cello doubles the melodic line at the octave and while it seems that the accordion is playing an independent line to some extent they are connected. Within the semiquavers the melody itself is doubled on accented notes thus the melody is reinforced even more.