Sample Response II,
By Hayley Witmore
Question: How are musical elements used to develop character in this work?
Easy going and relaxed character established at the beginning by:
Moderate tempo – not rushed but give a drive with emphasis on beats 1, 3 and 4 in Common time is predictable and not rushed which develops the character as calm, and serene.
Jenn Gillan: I’m a little confused about your beats. 2 and 4 are typical of rock genres. Maybe some more information about what/how these beats are shown as more significant?
Use of repeated harmonic progression in the guitar chords establishes sense of familiarity and helps to strengthen the comfortable and calm character established.
Jenn Gillan: Maybe mention something about the kind of progression. Is it ‘tonal’? There’s also use of a pedal note and dissonance against it here. Does this reinforce your character?
A wispy and airy TC in the male vocals through use of low to mid register with lost of air and emphasis on S sounds and Qs for example in the ‘it’s something quite peculiar” lyrics (generally at the end of phrases) The effect is establishing a laid back character that imitates the sound of sighs, and or long breaths being released which further emphasises the peaceful atmosphere.
Jenn Gillan: Good location of examples through using lyrics. Clearly phrased. Does the emphasis on clear articulation of these words support your character though? Are they the best examples?
Use of moderate dynamics in the vocals also give the sense that the lyrics are not being pushed and are being spoken to a melody rather than forcefully sung this also helps to establish the relaxed nature of the character.
Balance between the instruments and vocals are always tailored towards the vocals so that even when more instruments are added and the dynamic levels become louder, the voice can still be heard without needing to forcefully sing the melody above this material.
Jenn Gillan: Good.
Rough and textured TC that is produced from the guitar at the beginning of the song due to the steel strings being strummed helps to develop a folk like character, by insinuating the environment where the vocalist and guitar are singing to others in a relaxed manner.
Jenn Gillan: ‘Textured’ possibly not the best word to describe Tone Colour. If you’re talking about multilayered tone colours that have contrasting sounds, this is a great point. Maybe use words like ‘undertones of ___ TC’ or ‘overtones’. ‘Folk-like’ is not a character. It’s also possibly a bit of a generalisation. Which folk? Whose folk? Best stay away from this expression. Your supporting example for this is not particularly strong either.
Gradual thickening of the texture allows the folk character to be developed throughout,without sudden changes which would disrupt the relaxed character and sense of familiarity established.
Jenn Gillan: You can use this example to talk about an intensifying of the character and development of this character into something more energetic or more sinister or more… Using ‘folk’ doesn’t make the point strong enough I feel.
Light vibrato at the end of long notes develops the calm, character as being laid back and smooth, rather than creating an intense and passionate character as a result of rich and heavy vibrato.
Use of harmonica with percussive inflections on the sound further establishes the folk like character that is established by the guitar at the start. Solo gives sense of improvised nature and environment that has a relaxed character in order for communication to occur between accompanists and the improvised soloist
Jenn Gillan: Is there something in the emotion/mood character you can point to that would be stronger here?
Harmonic progression is descending and rarely goes upwards. This develops a sense of reflection and and a calming character rather than one that is increasing in tension.
Jenn Gillan: Is it worth saying that it does return to a higher pitch at the start of a progression? Does this change when the character changes?
Use of repetition in the start with the same melodic material and accompaniment material repeated establishes foundations and sense of familiarity.
Jenn Gillan: And helps contribute to the relaxed character?
The use of synth like string instruments with hairpins underneath the melody and more complex melodic and rhythmic parts creates fluctuations like sighs and breaths underneath the melody, which insinuates a breathing pattern, which due to its slow and smooth rhythm further solidifies the easygoing and relaxed character while the other parts are becoming much more complex.
Jenn Gillan: OK. Overall some good examples but have you answered the question? It talks about how character develops. Character does change here. Feel free to argue with me if you wish, I’m always up for it! This question calls for you to name the character, how it changes and what happens in the music to make it so. Watch your references to ‘folk’ music. If you must talk about music being an expression of a particular style you need to go much deeper than you have. It’s ‘safer’ I feel to stick to the elements of music and character.