Monday, March 18, 2013

In 2 Acts: The Classical Period

Act I - Sonata Allegro Form

Musical form is nothing new. Many modern composers, like Eric Whitacre, tend to write pieces that don't follow a set form, but that's because modern composers are pretty weird that way.

You're all already familiar with the concept.  Popular music has verses, bridges, choruses, an introduction, etc. You all instinctively know when the chorus is coming up in a song, just because you're all so familiar with pop music form. Poetry, too, has form:

My candle burns at both ends,
It will not last the night.
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
It gives a lovely light!

~Edna St. Vincent Milay

If you look at the poem, you'd say its rhyme scheme was ABAB, since "ends" rhymes with "friends" (lines 1 and 3, respectively) and "night" rhymes with "light" (lines 2 and 4, respectively). Likewise, when I use A and B when talking about musical form, it's the same idea.

The first form I'd like to show you is alternatively called Sonata Allegro form, Sonata form, or First Movement form, because it's the form most commonly used for the first movement of symphonies. Here's basically what Sonata Allegro form looks like:

Introduction - A - B - C - A - B - C - !!!OMG!!! - A - B - C

Don't worry, that will makes sense in just a little bit; I've got a recording here to show you what I mean.

Here's the first movement from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. It's the freaky butterfly one from Fantasia 2000, although I guarantee you'll all recognize it from the first four notes:

A-B-C, A-B-C, !!!OMG!!!, A-B-C

0:06 - 0:13 -- Told you you knew this piece! This is the introduction.

Exposition0:13 - 0:28 -- This is A, the first theme, and the start of what's called the Exposition. Like you're being "exposed" to the themes.

0:28 - 0:49 -- This is, essentially, the " - " between A and B.

0:49 - 0:59 -- Here's B. B is usually very peaceful, quiet, delicate, and happy sounding.

0:59 - 1:12 -- And here's the " - " between B and C! Isn't it cool how B just blended right into " - "?

1:12 - 1:20 -- Here's C! Usually, C is the end of the Exposition (the Exposition is "A - B - C"), but Beethoven decides, for good measure, to do just a little bit more before he finishes the exposition:

1:20 - 1:28 -- Beethoven decides to wrap up the Exposition by tossing in some stuff that sounds similar to A. Now we're officially done with the Exposition! Know what that means?

It means we're going to do it all over again!

Exposition1:29 - 1:36 -- Sounds exactly like the Introduction at 0:06, doesn't it?

1:37 - 1:53 -- Here's A!

1:53 - 2:14 -- Here's the bridge to B! Sounds familiar now, hmm?

2:14 - 2:24 -- And here's B! Right up until the flute finishes his nice little solo.

2:24 - 2:37 -- Bridge to C.

2:37 - 2:46 -- Here's C!

2:46 - 2:53 -- And here's that cute little ending Beethoven added in, which means we've finished the Exposition for a second time!

Now comes the !!!OMG!!! part. This is what's called the Development. In the Development, the composer takes fragments and pieces out of the Exposition and just plays around with them. It also has a tendency to be very dark, and to feel like you're lost in the woods or something. It can also be kinda intense, edgy, or dissonant. The Development is (to give the textbook answer) "characterized by tonal instability and fragmentation".

It'll be like you're lost in the woods, hearing little bits and pieces of the Exposition being thrown at you.

Development2:55 - 2:59 -- See? It sounds like the Introduction... but kinda... different...

3:00 - 3:08 -- ... sounds just like A. I thought you said the Development would be different?

3:08 - 3:31 -- Right at 3:08 you should be like,  What's going on? Where are we going? Am I gonna hear B? WHERE AM I?! WHAT'S HAPPENING?!

3:31 -- Is it... B...? It sort of is...

4:04 -- That's... kinda like the beginning of B and the Introduction... What's happening?

Recapitulation4:17 - 4:25 -- OMG! It's the Introduction again! It's so huge and triumphant, like we've just left the forest and found civilization again!

This is what's called the Recapitulation. Basically, it's the Exposition one last time... but with a few differences.

4:25 - 4:36 -- Here's A again, just like before!

4:36 - 4:50 -- Wait... oboe solo? That wasn't in the Exposition, was it? The biggest difference between the Exposition and the Recapitulation is that the " - "s are going to be very different.

4:50 - 5:11 -- Well, here's the old " - " between A and B.

5:11 - 5:23 -- Whee! It's B, and it's virtually unchanged, except now the violins are playing it instead of the clarinet and flute.

5:23 - 5:37 -- And here's the " - " between B and C, just like we remember it!

5:37 - 5:46 -- It's C!

5:46 - 5:54-- And here's the little ending that Beethoven put at the end of the Exposition. Piece is over, time to clap and go home!

5:54 -- ... wait... he's still going? Wasn't it supposed to end right there...?

"Screw you," Beethoven is saying, musically, "I'm not done yet!"

Now, if you're interested in knowing what my absolute favorite part of this entire piece is, it's right here, from 6:09 - 6:33, specifically.

So there you go. Exposition - Exposition - Development - Recapitulation. Or, more simply, ABC - ABC - OMG - ABC.

Act II - The Concerto

Mitsuko Uchida plays piano and Jeffrey Tate conducts the Mozarteum Orchestra in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9 "Jeunehomme", in E flat major, K. 271.
A Saltzburg Festival performance, recorded in the Mozarteum, Saltzburg, 1989.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed this concerto in Salzburg, 1777. Though only 21 years old, he displayed great maturity and originality in what is regarded by many as his first great masterpiece.

It was composed for a Mlle. Jeunehomme, of whom very little is known (such as--her first name!). But she must have been a very fine pianist to be able to perform this! The mix of dramatic and intense emotions, some seemingly mad and anguished with parts of joy and happiness suggest (one romantically feels) that Mlle. Jeunehomme must have been quite a handful for the young Mozart

Friday, March 8, 2013

Vivaldi - The Four Seasons (Summer) - Baroque Instruments –

Enjoy the Storm that the music portrays in Vivaldi's "Summer". Click here to learn a bit more about Vivaldi.


Baroque Instruments -

I find the Theorbo to be the most interesting of the three guitar like instruments-

Harpsichord in all its Glory!


A cousin to the Harpsichord - The Clavichord! Enjoy...

What is the essence of baroque music? Baroque music expresses order, the fundamental order of the universe. Yet it is always lively and tuneful. Msic reflects the mood of the times, then as now as always.

Click here to experience - a great resource of Baroque composers, compositions, and history!

....from yesterday - Baroque Architecture. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

400 Years Later - the Baroque Period.

These are two great examples of Fugues by J.S. Bach. Notice on the second video the lined interpretation of the musical performance!

Fugue - A rich polyphonic composition consisting of a series of successive melody imitations. 

In music, a fugue is a compositional technique (in classical music) in two or more voices, built on a subject (theme) that is introduced at the beginning in imitation (repetition at different pitches) and recurs frequently in the course of the composition.        *** Think - complex "Row Row Row Your Boat..."

Baroque - The Baroque is a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music. The style started around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread to most of Europe.

The term Baroque is also used to designate the style of music composed during a period that overlaps with that of Baroque art, but usually encompasses a slightly later period. It is a still-debated question as to what extent Baroque music shares aesthetic principles with the visual and literary arts of the Baroque period. A fairly clear, shared element is a love of ornamentation, and it is perhaps significant that the role of ornament was greatly diminished in both music and architecture as the Baroque gave way to the Classical period.

Johann Sebastian Bach ( 1685 – 1750) was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist of the Baroque Period. He enriched many established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Many of Bach's works are still known today, such as the Brandenburg Concertos, the Mass in B minor, the The Well-Tempered Clavier, and his cantatas, chorales, partitas, passions, and organ works – and his music is revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty. Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the main composers of the Baroque period, and as one of the greatest composers of all time.

Western Music: The Start II

Neumes: The earliest neumes were inflective marks which indicated the general shape but not necessarily the exact notes or rhythms to be sung. Later developments included the use of heightened neumes which showed the relative pitches between neumes, and the creation of a four-line musical staff that identified particular pitches. Neumes do not generally indicate rhythm, but additional symbols were sometimes juxtaposed with neumes to indicate changes in articulation, duration, or tempo. Neumatic notation was later used in medieval music to indicate certain patterns of rhythm called rhythmic modes, and eventually evolved into modern musical notation. Neumatic notation remains standard in modern editions of plainchant.
....and for something a little weird...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Beginnings of Western Music! Homework Due 3/8/13

- Listen to Hildegard von Bingen: O Pastor Pnimarum (plainchant) and then to Michael Praetorius: Two Dance Clusters from Terpsichore. Write 3-4 paragraphs comparing and contrasting these two very contrasting early works in Western Music. In one paragraph tell us who was Hildegard von Bingen and who was Michael Praetorius? When did they live and what was the purpose of the music that they wrote? Due: Friday March 8, 2013!

Words to know:

Plainchant: Plainchant is monophonic, consisting of a single, unaccompanied melodic line. It generally has a more free rhythm than the metered rhythm of later Western music.

Monophonic: In music, monophony is the simplest of textures, consisting of melody without accompanying harmony. This may be realized as just one note at a time, or with the same note duplicated at the octave (such as often when men and women sing together). If an entire melody is played by two or more instruments or sung by a choir with a fixed interval between the voices or in unison, it is also said to be in monophony. Music in which all the notes sung are in unison is called monophonic. Musical texture is determined in song and music by varying components. Songs intersperse monophony, heterophony, polyphony, homophony, or monody elements throughout the melody to create atmosphere and style. Monophony may not have underlying rhythmic textures, and must consist of only a melodic line.

Polyphonic: In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony).

Sacred Music: Is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.

Secular Music: is nonreligious music. Secular means being separate from religion.

Monday, March 4, 2013

**HOMEWORK** Due Tuesday 3/19/2013

In an effort to make your progress report more meaningful for you and your parents, the Aministration would like for each of you to take a moment to reflect upon your year thus far in class and to consider your goals. In order to satisfactorily complete this reflection, you must write a short paragraph (just a few sentences) and email it to me Tuesday 3/19 by 10 a.m.

There is no need to attach a document – simply an e-mail with your reflection. (Please note that your reflection will be included in your progress report, so please proofread your work.)


1. Please begin with an area in class in which you feel successful. Please use a specific example to illustrate your ideas. (Example: An area of strength for me in class is preparation – I always have my homework completed and I never forget my books.)

2. Discuss an area in which you are struggling or in which you could improve. Please use a specific example to illustrate your ideas. (Example: I think that writing essays is hard. I feel like I am working hard, but my grades aren’t as high as I would like. Mrs. So-and-so always says that I need to work on my transitions, so I need to practice that.)

3. Share your specific goals and HOW you plan to accomplish them. (Example: In the next couple of months, I would like to see my vocabulary/grammar quiz grades improve. To accomplish this goal, I will put more effort into the lessons in the grammar book, make vocab flash cards, and see Mrs. So-and-so during tutorial if I am unsure about a concept.)

This reflection is a homework grade. 15 points - Please complete it with care.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Percussion - N'Stuff

Click on the link below to find more detailed information regarding all of the different (Non-pitched) Percussion available -


Here is a short video that gives a brief description of some of the standard percussion instruments. 

The University of Missouri - St. Louis, Percussion Ensemble