Question: Using only two of the following elements discuss how character is created in the following work:
2) blend of instrumental voices
3) tone colour
The opening string quartet section begins with a unified warm, resonant tone colour due to the use of similar mid to low register, legato sustained chords. This aids the creation of a tranquil character.
In contrast with this, the first violin overlays whistling, ringing harmonic overtones played at a soft dynamic. This gentle approach enables sustains the tranquil character.
As the strings become more arpeggiated there is a greater contrast in tone colour between individual instruments due to a larger range covered. Upper strings, higher in register, have a brighter, clarity to their sound while the lower strings remain resonant and warm. The use of vibrato brightens the sound.
The female, soprano voice contrasts a little with the strings tone colour. Her voice has a nasal quality but a rounded warmth to it still which resonates well with the accompanying strings contributing to the tranquil character. Her vibrato is broader at times than the strings’ giving clarity to her sound. At the height of her phrases, there is no vibrato – on words like “guide”, which creates greater contrast – more purity than warmth – with the string accompaniment.
There is greater variety in tone colour in the voice. Some notes are left to grow and have a resulting pure tone colour but others are cut off early and have a more aspirate or creaking tone colour eg. lyrics such as “Frustrated” – creating word painting. These also tend to be in a lower register.
Tranquility is maintained through use of a stable overall approach to tone colour. Changes are expected and gradual eg. a brightening tone colour corresponding with a rise in dynamics and ascending contour that warms as the dynamic and descends in pitch.
The use of gentle, wide glissando in the opening first violin on harmonic overtones played with legato articulation creates a sense of tranquility.
Legato articulation of string ensemble while playing long, sustained harmony remains the same when arpeggiated. Long, continuous bows with subtle changes helps enhance the tranquil character.
The idea of glissandi in the first violin introduction extends and is used to gradually ascend to notes at chord changes in the opening bars by a few instruments in the quartet. These glissandi are purposeful and smooth the transition between harmonic changes, creating a tranquil character.
The soprano has gentle, subtle bends in her opening phrases on the lyrics “no longer”. Her overall approach to articulation is likewise legato. Her attacks slightly emerging, giving a more gentle approach to each note. Subtle downward bends towards the next note in the melody – a pattern set up by similar articulation in the strings – smooth the transition between larger intervals – eg. the words “bound” and “and”. This leads to creak onset on the word “frustrated” creating word painting. A similar approach to bends between notes occur on the words “door open and close”. As this is also a descending line, the tranquility is supported.
There is a subtle flip up using melisma on to ‘mor’ ow. As this is at a soft dynamic it only enhances the tranquil character as does the final phrase ending with a subtle fade and gentle aspirate decay in the soprano.