The third response to an analysis question set for the VCE Music Support Facebook page. Thank you for your responses!
The Lumineers – Ho Hey
Question: Describe how only two of the following expressive devices contribute to character in this work:
Blend and Balance
Character: carefree, folksy, and spirited
Jenn Gillan: Watch ‘folksy’ as a term here. It’s a little colloquial.
Expressive devices chosen: tone colour and rhythm
Jenn Gillan: Good to have these listed up front. You might want to split them in two so that you can see you’ve written a fairly equal amount on both.
- The rhythmic riff played by the acoustic guitar, that’s slightly syncopated, adds to the folksy character
Jenn Gillan: Again, watch folksy.
- The lead male voice has a husky tone colour, which is accentuated by his use of melismas. He also enters phrases on the off-beat of bars (in the verses); both these things add to the carefree nature of the piece
Jenn Gillan: When mentioning tone colour, it might be worth mentioning how a particular tone colour is created or influences on this tone colour.
- The “ho” and “hey” shouts come on the first beat of the bar, highlighting their forceful nature. This, supported by the full tone colour, creates a spirited character.
Jenn Gillan: Is ‘full’ enough of a tone colour word to describe this? Are you talking about the tone colour of the voice here or of the supporting accompaniment? If of the accompaniment, link to instruments.
- The lead male voice’s tone colour becomes warmer and sounds fuller as he sings a higher tessitura after the first verse, adding to the spirited character.
Jenn Gillan: Better here. You’ve mentioned the tone colour and stated why it is the way it is.
- The singers in the background, supporting the lead vocalist, have a mellow tone colour, adding to the carefree mood.
Jenn Gillan: Does mellow on its own = carefree? This would be stronger if linked to another tone colour example or something rhythmic given that these are the two elements you’ve chosen.
- The banjo has a dry and tinkly tone colour. It takes over the guitar’s rhythmic riff in the second half of the piece. The sound of the banjo highlights the folksy character.
Jenn Gillan: Already mentioned folksy.
- The constant tambourine rhythm, as supported by its warm tone colour, gives ‘washes’ of sound, and adds to the folksy character.
Jenn Gillan: ‘Constant tambourine rhythm’ needs more of a description here. What are its rhythmic characteristics?
- The bass drum plays on the beat to keep a constant rhythm and drive the piece, so it doesn’t become overtly laid-back. The drum, as well as the perhaps foot stamping, has a full tone colour, even though they are in the background of the piece. This adds to the spirited character.
- The banjoist becomes harsher in strumming chords in the last chorus of the piece. This gives an almost abrasive tone colour, which accentuates the folksy and spirited nature of the piece.
Jenn Gillan: Overall some good points. Needs to be more specific in your rhythmic description. My mnemonic for rhythm includes describing the beat, pulse, rhythmic values, time signature, tempo, structure, all rhythmic parts and silence. I think you need a bit more vocabulary for describing some of the rhythmic elements you’ve mentioned so you can get some more detail into your analysis. In terms of tone colour, I recommend having more than one tone colour word, mentioning influences on tone colour and discussing combinations of tone colour – both overall tone colour and combinations of colours which blend or contrast.