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
- Blend of instrumental voices
- Balance of instrumental lines
- Tone Colour
Thank you, anonymous, for this response and permission to publish it!
- Character: Tranquil and laid-back. No real character change like in excerpt B.
Jenn Gillan: A great way to compare characters here.
- At the beginning of the piece, every second piano chord played in off-beat, giving it an improvisatory feel and adding to the character. This trend continues less often after the introduction of the higher piano line.
Jenn Gillan: Is playing off beat enough to equal improvisation? Does syncopation feed in to laid back? Maybe a little more elements needed here.
- The higher piano plays very fast improvisatory lines. Although they are minor and scalic like the improvisatory piano runs in excerpt B, they are much longer.
Jenn Gillan: Don’t forget to link these to character. It’s not sounding particularly relaxed again. You could either 1. Change your character word or 2. Work out a better way to say that something that is fast and improvised seems relaxed. Is this maybe to do with dynamics or tone colour? “While the scalic runs are fast and high, they are played at a soft dynamic and appear effortless, thus feeding into the relaxed character”
- After the introduction of this higher piano, the backing piano continues playing a chord progression with only a few added minor and major second trills, both ascending and descending, which is a contrast to the much busier ornamentation and improvisation of the piano in excerpt B. The use of a minor scale adds a hint of unease to the otherwise tranquil character.
Jenn Gillan: Maybe discuss this uneasy character at the start too?
- The brass instrument also improvises using some downwards scalic runs to end phrases, adding to the laid-back character as the phrases seem to drop off.
Jenn Gillan: The link to laid-back is much clearer here.
- The use of brushes on the snare drum throughout the piece creates a sandy tone colour which supports the character, unlike in excerpt B where the tone colour of the percussion is more ringing.
- The slight uneasiness is facilitated by the harsh, nasal tone colour of the brass instrument – its high register and resulting loud dynamic make it dominant over all the other softer tone colours, thus a sense of unease is created. However, its use of improvisation helps to maintain the tranquillity, as previously stated.
Jenn Gillan: Good reasons given for tone colour change. Great.
· This is a contrast to the much more blended tone colours in excerpt B.
- Character: Also tranquil like excerpt A, but has a character change to playful.
Jenn Gillan: Having read through your analysis, I’ve missed you supporting the ‘playful’ character. I think it’s a good choice of word that needs supporting and can be supported quite easily with an improvised line.
- The piano at the beginning plays a wide range of chords and chord inversions an a much shorter amount of time than in excerpt A (multiple per bar). In-between chord changes, or sometimes at the same time as chords, there are minor scalic runs. These two improvisatory elements, although different to excerpt A, create a similar tranquil character.
Jenn Gillan: Better description of improvisation but to me it doesn’t sound so tranquil the way you describe it. So linking here still a bit of an issue. Great lining up these points so they’re easily compared though.
- The introduction of a warm, reverberant bass blends with the tone colour of the piano, which is often less bright that in excerpt A as it is played in a lower register. The gentle playing of the hi hat in this section creates a ringing tone colour which also blends. This blend of many tone colours increases the dynamic and therefore causes a shift in character, making this excerpt different from A as excerpt A features contrasting tone colours yet does not feature a similar character change.
Jenn Gillan: Is this answering the question? You really need a heading to state which other element you’ve chosen to discuss.
- The change in character is also emphasised by more movement on the piano.
Jenn Gillan: What sort of movement?
Jenn Gillan: Some good comparison here. Just seems to lose focus a little toward the end. Keep linking to character and make sure you answer the question. Using headings might help especially when there are multiple elements you need to discuss. Make sure when having a chart you line up things and keep referring to the other version so that you don’t end up with two versions parallel, which is different from comparison.