Three assignments about music

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Part A

Ted Talk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENJuNCkPfx0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Over the Rainbow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cHeNscKZN0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Tears in Heaven

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ExFsLH-O-o (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Amazing Grace (with some commentary prologue)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niT2q0ElP4g&index=12&list=RD9ExFsLH-O-o (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Beatles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPkQn5nDTZs (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Assignment:

1.) Start with the Ted Talk. Consider the the parts where he introduces his band (1:40) and where he talks about his percussion techniques (7:30). When we think of the guitar, we usually think of the sounds produced by the strings. But if you consider all of the different kinds of woods that are used to make the guitar, and if you allow more than finger picking and a using picks, you can get quite creative with many other possible “guitar” sounds.Reflect on his technique and on the excerpt that he performs.

2.) Tommy’s + wife’s letter (15:30). Share a few elements of his letter and the Talk overall that stood out to you.

3.) Listen to any song from the list and share your thoughts.

4.) Listen to another song and share your thoughts.

5.) Today, many guitarists combine varieties of techniques and sounds to put on a great show. Do you have a guitarist you enjoy listening to who brings these extended techniques to the guitar? Compare Tommy Emmanuel and your guitarist. If you don’t know anyone, Andy McKee (here performing “Africa” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) has millions of views. I personally love Thomas Leeb (here performing a Pink Floyd cover. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.)

Part B

Music: El Sueño de la Razon Produce Monstruos (The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters)

Artist: Francisco de Goya

Composer: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

El Sueño de la Razon Produce Monstruos (The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters) is a piece of music that was inspired a piece of artwork by the same title. The music seeks to reflect the artwork. It starts with a theme, a melodic idea, that gets developed in five variations. A “theme and variations” is a simple tool that a composer can use to expand a musical idea. In this piece, this is the structure:

  • Theme: Theme is harmonized with “block chords.” Chords on most of the beats.
  • Variation 1: Theme is harmonized with rolling (arpeggiated) chords.
  • Variation 2: Theme is in the bass, harmony arpeggiated on top.
  • Variation 3: Theme is in the bass, harmony and rhythmically more intense.
  • Variation 4: Theme is in the bass, harmony and rhythmically more aggressive.
  • Coda: The music turns into a major key and resolves peacefully.

El Sueño de la Razon Produce Monstruos is also based on an etching by the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya. The image is shown below.

El Sueno del a Razon Produce Monstruos

Assignment:

  1. Listen: my performance (a much younger me) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.:
  2. Listen: I love this performance by Pietro Locatto (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..
  3. How does the music relate to the etching?
  4. Consider the title of the work. “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.” Goya noted that the subject here was an artist who, dressed in white, symbolized Reason. What more do the title and image say to you? Does the subject relate to anything in your life, to current events, to the future?
  5. Reflect on the triangular relationship involved here: an artist produces an image, inspiring a composer to write a piece which inspires a guitarist to perform it.

Part C

Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki

Music: Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima (1960) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Before you do this assignment, it would benefit you to simply listen to the piece a few times.

This is an animated score, meaning that as the music is being played, the video is showing what the score (the noted music) looks like.

Go to 0:35 — let’s explain what you’re seeing.

24 Violini: 24 violins. The numbers immediately to the column, 1-4, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24 are dividing the 24 violins into 4 groups. Violins 19-24 are playing lower notes than violins 1-4. Instead of notes, Penderecki is telling the violins to play notes in a certain range and to play a gesture.

Bottom left, you see 15”. That means that this first gesture lasts 15 seconds. Instead of notes, think of the large shapes, lines, squiggly lines, etc. and that they represent musical gestures. You can see that the next section is to last 11”.

Assignment:

1.) What does the title mean?

2.) What is piece about?

3.) How does the appearance of the score reflect the title?

4.) How does the appearance reflect the music?

5.) How does the sound of the music reflect the title? Pick 3 segments of music (i.e. 8:05 – 8:30) that stood out to you and share what they evoked for you. It could be an image, a feeling, something historical, or anything reasonably relevant.

6.) For most people, music is something to relax to. Composers live in the real world and their work is a reflection of that world. This is why music is always evolving. Threnody makes us feel, think and maybe even challenge us. Has this piece affected your idea of classical music? Most people are not going to come home after a long day of work to listen to this music for fun, but this kind of music has a place in our lives. Once again, reflect on what music appreciation means to you.

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