The Lumineers – Ho Hey
Question: Describe how only two of the following expressive devices contribute to character in this work:
Blend and Balance
The overall character is laid back and joyous.
Jenn Gillan: In a case such as this, where only two elements are required according to the question, it’s wise to state which elements you’re dealing with first. Either through headings or in your opening statement “…through tone colour and rhythm.”
This is achieved firstly achieve by the full, echoing strums of the acoustic guitar in its low to mid register, with an active rhythm. This is juxtaposed by the “ho” and “hey” of the penetrating male voice with short decay. The shout-like way in which hey and ho are approached create an easy and relaxed feeling. And the simple rhythms, with each shout emphasising the first beat of each simple time bar adds an element of predictability.
Jenn Gillan: The term ‘active rhythm’ needs further expanding. You haven’t linked these elements clearly to the initial character. Your final words in this paragraph say ‘element of predictability’ but don’t reference the character words you have chosen. Make sure you link back always for two reasons. 1. So the examiner can see you’ve made the link and are therefore clearly answering the question and 2. So that YOU know you’re answering the question! If you make a link and it’s not strong you’ll hopefully discover it at the point you decide to write “creating a joyous character”
The male voice enters at the foreground, singing the verse with a clear, sonorous timbre in his mid-upper chest voice register. The voice enters in a syncopated fashion at the beginning of each phrase, which furthers the relaxed mood. Here the character still remains somewhat subdued.
Jenn Gillan: Character a little confused if you go by what you said initially. Does syncopation on its own = relaxed? Clear links needed. You’ve also lost your way a little when it comes to the elements you have chosen. You stated Rhythm and tone colour. Here you’ve talked about blend and balance, which is fine but needs to be clearly stated so the examiner doesn’t feel you’ve wondered off topic.
In the next section, the singer ascends to an upper octave. The tone colour is now more resonant and penetrating, and is now coupled with the short ringing sounds of the tambourine. Yet the voice still forms a homogenous blend with the ostinati of the shouts and acoustic guitar. The work now has an air of confidence and has somewhat opened up.
Jenn Gillan: Short is not a tone colour word. If using this in terms of rhythm, needs more expanding. You state that a blend is created but don’t list tone colours or reasons why there is a unified blend. In terms of “an air of confidence” How does this link to your character? Is this the best way to express this?
The chorus features diminution in rhythmic values, now sung with shorter note lengths, which creates greater activity and excitement. The high-pitched banjo like instrument and tambourine now stress every second beat of the bar producing a feeling of forward motion. The chorus also features an underlying rumbling adding to the depth and thus creating a more uplifting character. Although there are now many layers, the work is still unified.
Jenn Gillan: “diminution in rhythmic values” – which instruments? All? ‘Underlying rumbling’ created by the ___ . You might want to state why the layers are unified.
Overall some great points and good use of language. I would clarify the character. If it changes in the piece state this at the start and then provide supporting examples as to why. In terms of the elements chosen, these were sometimes hard to follow. Using headings for the elements could make this clearer as well as stating that the character changes. Make sure you have clear links from musical reason, eg “use of semiquaver runs” and character = energetic. You can have a musical reason that doesn’t work. For example Common time = energetic. Common time on its own is not convincing enough, it needs to be enhanced by other musical elements or more detail to make it a convincing connection.