Here’s the first response to the ‘Babe’ question as posted on the VCE Music Support Facebook page 2016
How is tension created in this piece?
Analyse up until “Get yourself a dog, Hoggett”
Response gratefully received from Steven Alesi
- A tense and uneasy character is created in this work through a plethora of rhythmic, melodic and harmonic techniques that create a foreboding mood.
Jenn Gillan: I love the word plethora too!! But make sure with an opening statement like this you back it up with a plethora of examples 😉
- A heavy use of suspension occurs throughout this piece between the mellow rich timbre of the woodwinds and brass that play an accompanying role and the cold shrill strings that feature in a melodic role. The use of dissonance and suspension between these instrumental parts create tension through harmonic conflict, supplementary to this the use of a minor tonality intensifies the brooding mood that permeates throughout this work.
Jenn Gillan: You change quickly from talking about suspensions to talking about tone colour. Maybe being a little more specific about the suspensions – rhythmic values, instruments that play them, whether they’re accented or not, intervals used might clarify this and give you more detail. Or are you saying that there are suspensions between these melodic lines? You need to make this a little clearer.
- The excerpt features a moving pedal point throughout the work. This creates tension as it harmonically signifies the presence of something in the distance. As harmonies shift around the pedal point it offers dissonance adding to the tension. Supplementary to this the long note lengths in the pedal point contrast to that of the melody, further creating tension through rhythmic contrast.
Jenn Gillan: “Signifies the presence…” Does it? Watch suggesting what something signifies outside creating character. Hmmm… Does the use of a long note in a pedal and shorter notes in the melody = tension? I’m not sure. This is the same technique you’d use to create something quite tranquil. In which case, you may need more elements of music to make this argument stronger.
- A contrast in articulation in the final phrases of the work between woodwinds playing legato sustained notes and strings playing tremolo in their upper register. This also occurs in the opening phrases of the work with brass and woodwind playing long sustained notes and strings playing ascending and descending glissandi. This creates tension through conflicts in articulation between instrumental parts.
Jenn Gillan: Overall some good points. Make sure each point is detailed by bringing in other elements of music if you can in such an open ended question. Little was made of dynamics, which might be worth some discussion, and how dynamics are caused. The use of sequential development/repeated motifs, thickening of texture. A good first attempt!