Analysis Question with Sample Responses: Rainbow Connection I

Analysis Question with Sample Responses: Rainbow Connection I

This is the first Facebook analysis question for 2019! Go team!!  If you’d like to play along at home, Like the Listening Beyond Hearing Facebook page for further questions, advice and event notification. One of my favourite songs most recently sung to me by my dear friend and piano man, Trevor Jones. Ironically, I just got a Facebook notification that he’d sung this for my ‘significant'(!) birthday party a decade ago!

Thank you for your analysis response, anonymous, and permission to publish it.

From the start to 1:09

From 1:51 – 3 mins

Question: How does the approach to tempo and articulation in this work help create musical character? 

Jenn Gillan: A great set up for an answer to a comparison question. Headings make it clear what you’re discussing. Be careful that you don’t do a parallel analysis (analysing version 1 separately to version 2) rather than a comparison analysis (referring to the other version all the time). This reads a little like that at times. Make sure when you read across the page, you’re always talking about the same thing for the versions.

V1. Kermit V2. Willie Nelson

Intro – a sense of freedom in tempo by the sustain string notes, no obvious tempo and then a more strict tempo approx. 120 BPM. Allegretto/Allegro Moderato tempo established by the banjo player and reinforced by bass and strings giving a playful character.

Jenn Gillan: Your tempo is well described but the elements of music that aid that less so.  What helps establish the new tempo? What does the banjo do? Do they play the beat? Every first beat of the bar? Pulses?

The singer creates a more reflective character by sitting at the back of the grove/tempo.

Jenn Gillan: How is this seen? Are they a little behind the accompaniment? Do they sing with more rubato than the accompaniment? I don’t know if your links to character are quite strong enough. Playful implies change unexpectedly or often. If this happens you need to describe it more.


Very similar tempo to V1. This version slightly slower approx. 105 BPM Moderato tempo. The back phrasing and rubato from the singer gives a relaxed, dreamy character, where the strummed guitar is more strictly in tempo reinforcing the moderato tempo and gentle character.

Jenn Gillan: Watch the words dreamy and dream-like. There are stronger words to describe character. Tranquil, laid back, relaxed – these work better. Again, you need stronger descriptions of the factors that reinforce the tempo. What is the guitar strumming? Beat? Pulse? Beat 1? Are there pulses? Make sure you line up the tempo of the singer in version 1 discussion with that of version 2.


Jenn Gillan: When discussing articulation, your analysis isn’t quite complete unless you use the words ‘attack’ and ‘decay’ over and over. This helps keep you on the right track.

Strings – sustained bowing

Banjo – emphasis on the 1 beat and lighter strum articulations on beast 2 and 3 – energetic character.

Jenn Gillan: Your character words change a lot without saying whether there’s a change in the music or whether you’ve just changed character word to describe the same/similar character. Maybe reduce the types of words you use and if there is a change, clearly state what happens in the music to make this change.

Strings – sustained articulation floating character. Some pizz sounding articulation in prechorus more dreamy character.

Bass – emphasis on beat 1 and ‘let ring’ sustained articulations.

Piano – emulating banjo articulations establishing the energetic character.

Voice – half sung/spoken articulation first section, chorus more reflective character. Sustained articulation more playful character.


Guitar – gentle finger picking articulation creates a peaceful character. The strings are let to “ring out” articulation.

Male voice – a combination of half-spoken, half-sung articulations – reflective character.

Accented words on “rainbow connection” provides a more serious character on the title words.

Jenn Gillan: Try to line up banjo with guitar for comparison reasons. Or, if the instruments aren’t the same, line up instruments that have the same roles for comparison.  Line up voice with voice.


Jenn Gillan: Great that you have a summary at the end. I think this is where you really start answering the question. Your other responses are a little individual to each song rather than always comparing at each point.

Tempo: both tempo/tempi are similar with Interpretation A slightly faster and more urgent in character with V2 slightly more relaxed. Both use strings to establish a strict tempo and have the voice back phrasing against the tempo with V2 more relaxed and reflective.

Articulation: Both employ strummed plucked strings and voices with half sung/half spoken articulations with more energetic V1 and more reflective character V2.

Jenn Gillan: A few more specifics needed with articulation – what sort of attack and decays are used? How do these compare? Some great work with a little more detail needed at times and comparison between the two being the main priority. But some great responses and observations.