Analysis Question with Sample Responses 2: Someday my Prince Will Come

Analysis Question with Sample Responses 2: Someday my Prince Will Come

Listen to the first 1 min 17 seconds

Listen to the first 1 min 8 seconds 

Question: How have different expressive outcomes been created through the elements of music in these two excerpts? Refer to improvisation, ornamentation and embellishment and one other element of music, either 

  • Dynamics
  • Blend of instrumental voices
  • Balance of instrumental lines
  • Tone Colour


Thanks to Sarah Bouquet for this response and her permission to print it. 



Davis’ rendition of “Someday My Prince Will Come” begins with the soft tinging of the drum, as well as bass and keyboard. The increase in instrumentation results in a very gradual crescendo, anticipating the entry of the saxophone, which enters at a louder dynamic, clearing delineating it’s role as the soloist. The saxophone’s melodic material often consists of jumping from one dynamic extreme to another; from quiet, low, mumbling notes to ‘forte’, soaring upper range. In Evans’ version, the dynamics are fairly consistent throughout; there are no drastic changes, resulting in a gentler, laid-back approach.


Jenn Gillan: Some great use of language here, but you haven’t addressed the question. WHAT are the different expressive outcomes? It’d be best to cover this part of the question first. THEN use musical examples to back it up. Consider using headings to make it clear which elements you are referring to. In this question one element has to be improvisation etc. the other must be from the given list. Headings can keep you on track. You do attach this to character at the end of the paragraph but that’s just for Evans.


Gradual entry of each instrumental voice culminates in the introduction to Davis’ piece, creating a “wash of sound”. The insistent drum, hollow-sounding persisting bass, shimmering glistens of the snare drum and the flitting, airy quality of the syncopated keyboard chords almost form a polyphony, with each line independent in rhythm and tone colour. This dissipates when the saxophone enters, the bass playing in a “walking” accompaniment style and other instruments reducing their dynamic, becoming an accompaniment for the saxophone, however with keyboard occasionally ‘popping’ out in between and interacting with the melodic phrases. A more homophonic style is evident in Evans’ rendition, with the walking bass and shimmering cymbal emphasizing the beat throughout, providing the harmonic and rhythm framework respectively. The accompaniment remains soft and muted throughout, with the main melodic material carried by the keyboard clearly in the foreground, the complex melody ringing out against the simpler harmony.


Jenn Gillan: You seem to be discussing dynamics but some of thi is not dynamics. You write well on dynamics. When you mention tone colour mention what it is and, as this is a dynamics response, what the affect on tone colour is. Also remember to link to character!! This needs to be clearer.


In Davis’ version, the alto saxophone’s improvised line consists of fast flurries of notes, utilizing an extreme tessitura and very fast flurries of notes to create a vibrant and exciting atmosphere. This is emphasized by short, punchy phrases, with Davis using these virtuosic ‘flashes’ as a means of embellishing his solo. However, what dominates the melodic line is the breathy, “barely-there” quality of Davis’ notes, rendering the overall tone quite light and husky. In contrast, Evans’ solo consists of longer, more lyrical phrases, only momentarily interrupted by quick, bouncy call and response phrases between the RH melody and LH accompaniment, rendering his version smoother; more arch-like. Nevertheless, Evans melodic material still moves frenetically, with speedy, virtuosic runs and dotted rhythms creating a more traditional “jazzy” sound, in comparison to Davis’ experimental style.


Jenn Gillan: Possibly a few more descriptive words relating to improvisation here. There doesn’t seem to be enough of an emphasis on this aspect seeing it’s a key factor in the question. Maybe a bit more of a description of the ‘virtuosic flashes’. What are they? Are they scalic runs, ascending/descending passages focussing on a particular note? or…? Other than that, this is some great writing on some of the Jazz based influences on the piece. Heading would make it clearer what you were discussing from the word go and help keep you on track. Some good work, just a little more clarity needed and answer the question!