Brenton Broadstock Symphony No. 2 Stars in a Dark Night
Sample Response I
By Hayley Witmore
Discuss how tension is created in this work.
*only analyse the first two minutes of the work.
In your answer refer to only two musical elements from the following list
- Tone colour
- Blend of instrumental voices
Unsettled, frantic and worry some character
Use of slowly growing dynamics within the introduction creates tension as it indicates that something is coming.
Jenn Gillan: This would be better if you gave some reasons for the dynamic increase. Also, saying ‘indicates something is coming’ is less helpful than saying ‘growing dynamics gradually increases tension’. That’s enough I think.
Changes between instruments with different TC create interjections that increase tension even when the texture is thin. This occurs towards the middle of the excerpt where the course and heavy TC of a cello is cut of by the timpani with a muted,dull and resonant TC as each change occurs it becomes more and more unpredictable and the texture slowly thickens. This creates a chaotic and frantic/energetic character which slowly builds tension.
Jenn Gillan: Great. I like 1. that you located clearly what section you were talking about. 2. Comparing tone colours. 3. Noting trends (becomes more unpredictable as something happens. Impressive. Only thing I’d add is influences on TC. Why is the TC of a cello course and heavy?
Raspy, Buzzing and guttural sound created within the low brass due to use of low register and the over blowing of notes contributes to the turbulent and menacing character that is being created. This creates a sense of chaos and further establishes the tension present.
Jenn Gillan: Well you fixed it here! You gave a reason why the TC was what it was.
TC is piercing, nasal and shrill at the beginning of the work. This is due to the use of high registers and loud dynamic creating the effect of an angered, explosive and unpredictable character which in turn creates tension.
Jenn Gillan: I’d only add the tone colour of what instrument is nasal and shrill.
Explosive dynamics within large instrumental groups create unexpected interjections like an argument. They are unpredictable and constantly growing. This creates tension.
Jenn Gillan: ‘Like an argument’ not required. interjections/interrupting these sorts of words are enough.
Dynamics constantly grow, terraced dynamics are used to create this increase within dynamics however instruments are removed particularly within the middle of the excerpt to ensure that the build is gradual enough to create tension and to insinuate that there is something to expect towards the end.
Jenn Gillan: Again, the ‘something to expect towards the end’ not needed.
Use of harsh TC sparingly creates suspense as each attack cannot be predicted.
Jenn Gillan: I would add ‘and contrasts greatly with the other TCs present, adding to unpredictability.
The course but mellow TC of the cello and bassoon as well as a rich TC of the clarinet is maintained so contrast is created when the sharp and piercing jabs from the shrill and piercing TC of high brass stand out and create suspense as they are infrequent.
Jenn Gillan: A really solid response. Aside from my other suggestions, I would say Tone colour is more solid than dynamics. Linking TC to dynamics more would enhance your response. Also, congratulations on only dealing with two elements. The question doesn’t say two or more and this sort of question has confounded other VCE cohorts in previous years. See the Chief Examiner’s report from last year:
“…There was concern that many students did not read the question correctly. The question asked students to refer to two of the given expressive elements of music in their responses. However, many students wrote on all four elements…”