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Listening Report

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Concert Analysis: Songs Around the Word

I Offer Thee by Allen Ridout

1. Gregorian chant consists of a single-lined melody and is monophonic in texture. This piece also consists of these basic structures as well as not having any harmory or counterpoint. This piece performed by U of I faculty member Steven Rickards, is sung a cappella.

2. This piece differs from the traditional Gregorian chant of the Middle ages because of the jumps and leaps presented in the piece, which show that the piece was written after the period. Another reason it differs from chant is because this is plainchant rather than Gregorian. It is also sung in English, rather than the traditional Latin text.

Ahavant Olam by Ben Steinburg

3. Cantillation, according to the Harvard Music Dictionary, is to chant or recite (a liturgical text) in a musical monotone; recitation or reading with musical modulations. One of its features is that the piece is straight out of the torah

4. One of the main reasons why this piece has a Jewish sound is it is in minor key, giving it the drama of a jewish piece. It also has a monotonic sound present. In some parts of the piece, the vocalist embellishes some of the long syllables, making it melismatic. Mizi Westra did a great job of bringing out the main idea of the text which is peace and love.

5. The main role of the piano on this piece is to establish the melodic idea. The pianist, Amy Eggelston, lets the vocalist take over but makes it like they are singing together. The pianist plays just as an important role as the vocalist, making her not an accompanist.

Leit etter livet by Christian Sinding

6. I believe that the piece is talking about happiness and fulfillment. The piece is entitled Leit etter livet which translated means "Seek after Life and Live it." The performer exemplifies this with his happy singing and the piano has an ascending line that also portrays happiness.

Det forste by Edvard Grieg

7. Mr. Samuelson interprets the piece in a few ways. First, with his urgency. He displays his passion and oneness of the music. He uses lots of dynamics and also in some cases bends the pitch, which makes the piece more interesting. He also displays a great representation of lightness and darkness. The piano helps makes this happen with several chord changes to make the "light" obvious and "darkness." His voice becomes somber when it goes to "darkness" like he is sad, then becomes bright when back to "light." The last chord on the piano, I believe says that the story is still continuing on even after the piece.

Pierrot by Claude Debussy

8. Claude Debussy was among the most influential composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Born Achille-Claude Debussy in 1862 in St.-Germain-en-Laye, France, his mature compositions, distinctive and appealing, combined modernism and sensuality so successfully that their sheer beauty often obscures their technical innovation. Debussy is considered the founder and leading exponent of musical Impressionism (although he resisted the label), and his adoption of non-traditional scales and tonal structures was paradigmatic for many composers who followed. The son of a shopkeeper and a seamstress, Debussy began piano studies at the Paris Conservatory at the age of 11. While a student there, he encountered the wealthy Nadezhda von Meck, whom was most famous as Tchaikovsky's patroness. She employed Debussy as a music teacher to her children; through travel, concerts and acquaintances, she provided him with a wealth of musical experience. Most importantly, she exposed the young Debussy to the works of Russian composers, such as Borodin and Mussorgsky, who would remain important influences on his music. Debussy began composition studies in 1880, and in 1884 he won the prestigious Prix de Rome with his cantata L'enfant prodigue. After a relatively bohemian period, during which Debussy formed friendships with many leading Parisian writers and musicians, the year 1894 saw the enormously successful premiere of his Prйlude Ðo l'aprиs-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) -- a truly revolutionary work that brought his mature compositional voice into focus. His seminal opera Pellйas et Mйlisande, completed the next year, would become a sensation at its first performance in 1902. The impact of those two works earned Debussy widespread recognition, and over the first decade of the twentieth century he established himself as the leading figure in French music -- so much so that the term "Debussysme" ("Debussyism"), used both positively and pejoratively, became fashionable in Paris. Debussy spent his remaining healthy years immersed in French musical society, writing as a critic, composing, and performing his own works internationally. He succumbed to colon cancer in 1918, having also suffered a deep depression brought on by the onset of World War I. Debussy wrote successfully in most every genre, adapting his distinctive compositional language to the demands of each. His orchestral works, of which Prйlude Ðo l'aprиs-midi d'un faune and La mer (The Sea, 1905) are most familiar, established him as a master of instrumental color and texture. It is this attention to tone color -- his layering of sound upon sound so that they blend to form a greater, evocative whole -- that linked Debussy in the public mind to the Impressionist painters.

9. Commedia 'dell arte refers to a type of improvised play full of physical comedy and acrobatics originating in Italy in the 16th Century. A rough translation of the term is 'Comedy of the profession' or 'by professionals indicating that the actors were trained professionals and not amateurs. Commedia dell'arte plays were unscripted, and the actors improvised around a pre-arranged plot. Each actor specialised in a certain role and played only that part. All the characters except for the young lovers wore a mask. The plots centred around the young couple who wished to marry but were prevented by their elders. Much of the comedy was supplied by the servants, called the zanni who included Arleccino (Harlequin), Pedrolino (Pierrot), Pulcinella (Punch) and Columbina (Columbine). Their comedies were played at Italian courts and had soon spread to France and Spain, and by the mid 17th Century, elements of the commedia dell'arte were appearing in English dramas. By the 18th Century however, it began to die out although elements of it survived in different forms of drama - Anglicised versions of the characters in the English harleqinade,

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