2017 VCE Music Performance Exam Analysis Response Question 1a and b

2017 VCE Music Performance Exam Analysis Response Question 1a and b


Question 1 

Work: ‘Albatross’

Artist: Sarah Blasko

Album: What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have (Dew Process/Universal Music Australia, 2006)

Excerpt length: 1’02”

a) How do the performers use tone colour to achieve expressive outcomes?  
(5 marks)
A tranquil character with an underlying sense of restlessness is created through

  • Overall, unified, warm, mellow, resonant tone colours. Often due to low pitch


  • Aspirate and ‘creaking’ tone colours in the vocal part creates a sense of vulnerability. Created through using lower, almost uncomfortably so, register particularly at the end of the phrase, eg. “Be unafraid”.


  • Husky, breathy tone colour in final note of singer at mid to low register, intentionally letting much air escape, like a sigh, to the vowel “ahh…”


  • Acoustic guitar has a mellowing, echoing tone colour sustained through use of legato line and notes that blur into each other


  • Cello, likewise, blends and is resonant and reverberating due to lower register with some harsher overtones created by tight vibrato, which adds to the restless nature of the work.


  • The resonance of the lower guitar tones blends with the warm, reverberant bass guitar.


  • The use of finger picking on nylon strings keeps the acoustic guitar tone colour more resonant rather than brighter even on higher strings.


  • There is a stable approach to tone colour in the main instruments, which helps maintain the tranquility – little change in the bass and guitar. Where there is tone colour change, it is subtle and usually due to the gradual rise and fall of the melody. When higher, the tone tends to be a little brighter, though still tampered by the muted effect of finger on nylon string.


  • Blended warm, mellow strings at lower pitch


Restlessness created through:

  • Sharper overtones in the string section. At slightly higher pitch with a more pronounced vibrato. Combined with dissonance and dynamic swells creates restlessness.


  • Contrasting sandy tone colour of the shaker that plays relentless semiquavers below


  • Semiquaver semitone motif in flute at low pitch has a mellow resonant tone colour that blends with the strings and guitars, while its aspirate nature blends well with the voice creating tranquility. However, the dissonance of this melody even with a blended tone colour creates restlessness.


  • Contrast of synthesized ascending bright, ringing woodblock motif.


  • Dissonant harmony (restlessness) used in unified warm, mellow string tone colours (tranquility)
b) How do the performers use articulation to achieve expressive outcomes? 
(5 marks)
  • The use of long phrases and legato articulation – particularly in the guitar, strings and creates the sense of tranquility


  • The use of staccato sounds with sharp attack and sudden decay in the high wood block sound enhances the restless character


  • Sharp attack on the bass drum is tempered by a quite dynamic and the use of soft headed sticks which, when combined with low pitch, creates a slightly echoing decay. = tranquility


  • Use of aspirate decay on the final ‘Ahh’ in the vocalist aids tranquility


  • Sharp attack on the guitar, tempered by dullness of finger picking and soft dynamic, with echoing, blurry decay creates a tranquil character.


  • Sudden, simultaneous attack at the start of the song from all instruments creates a restless character


  • The tambourine has a sharp, though soft, attack with echoing decay = tranquility



  • The legato line of the bass guitar helps smooth out the sharper attacks of the acoustic guitar as they have similar tone colours and the starts of each note get a little lost as a result


  • Creak onset in vocalist aids tranquility eg. ”of” and “Kindness” and “Their” where the ‘S’ on “kindness” and “blindness” are a little elongated aiding the tranquil character.


  • A fairly strict approach to consonants in the vocalist “night” “afraid” Have hard consonants to finish. No words are thrown away though phrases are tapered by a gradual diminuendo, aiding tranquility.