Analysis Question Sample Response II Cat Empire Wine Song

Analysis Question Sample Response II Cat Empire Wine Song

Question: Explain how dynamics and blend and balance of instrumental voices are used to contribute to expressiveness in the following work: Cat Empire, Wine Song
* Please only analyse the first two minutes

Sample Response II

By Hayley Witmore


Lyrical and Passionate, Reflective, Somber character:


Jenn Gillan: Lyrical is not really a character word. Reflective and passionate contrasting words? Is passionate a character or an intensification of a character? You can be passionately joyous our passionately melancholy? I’m not sure about that one. If you’re saying the character changes you need to state this in the introduction otherwise it’s a little confusing.


  • Use of repeated figure in the piano creates predictability
  • Descending contour in the left hand of the piano contributes to sombre and reflective mood


Moderate dynamics in piano help to establish the somber character


Decrease in dynamic gradually as the pitch becomes lower at the end of phrases helps to express the reflective character and the somber mood.


Jenn Gillan: Good examples. You can also link dynamics with blend/balance.


Change to passionate, energetic character:


Jenn Gillan: This introduction and acknowledging a change is good. Maybe talk about the transition from one character to another and how that’s achieved? Also whether this occurs gradually or suddenly.


  • Increase in dynamics as the vocal melody becomes higher in pitch increases the passionate expression/ character.


As more instruments are added the dynamic increases.


Vocal melody is prominent – due to use of higher registers and amount of instrumentation beneath – this contributes to the strained TC because it has to be above the general balance.


Gradual increase in dynamics from soft to loud from the beginning with addition of instrument after another creates a gradual increase within tension towards a climax – helps to intensify the passionate character.


Jenn Gillan: Good mentioning the transition here.


  • Entry of tambourine and muted snare drum with off beat rhythmic accompaniment signifies the start of the adaptation to the energetic and playful character.


Jenn Gillan: Great.


Vocals maintain a similar dynamic throughout but with the increase in dynamics of the general blend underneath a build in tension and energy is created.


Jenn Gillan: Is it worth mentioning that the close placement of the microphone enables the voice to remain in the foreground despite the fact that many instruments are accompanying it. Also that these are back in the mix due to mixing techniques and resulting more muted tone colours, especially in the piano.


Slightly raspy,course TC at the end of phrases within the vocals due to mid- high register as well as lots of air through the end of phrases and on consonants at the start of words ‘dark,days,die’ helps to express the passionate character.


Vocals and piano remain in the foreground while the bass,brass and percussion instruments all bleed into the middle ground and background.


Jenn Gillan: Why? Remember to mention reasons why the balance is the way it is.


P.S Just wondering what would you talk about when it asks about dynamics and blend and balance of instrumental voices, what would you consider discussing? How do I link what I have said back to expressiveness?


This is a huge question!! I think I go through it in my book. In short, it’s worth looking at the overall approach to these elements, not just what they are. For example, a playful character may have constant changes to blend with parts changing prominence (playfully!) and dynamics changing suddenly or unexpectedly. A tranquil character will have a more stable approach to these elements with more predictable, gentle changes.