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AOS1

HandelMozartChopin
Starting to listen to the Set Works

Begin by listening to all three AoS 1 pieces, by Handel, Mozart and Chopin, and start to think about which you prefer and why. When forming an opinion, try and think about musical reasons why you like or dislike a piece. For instance I prefer the sound of the piano melody in Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude than the choral sound of Handel’s ‘And the Glory’.



 

Please email your paragraph to [email protected], and use AoS 1 Comparison Paragraphs as the Subject line.

Extension task – compare recordings of the Chopin by listening to another one online. I found an excellent one on YouTube by Marta Argerich, a very famous pianist. Notice how a different pianist plays the piece in a very different style. Why might they do this?

Context and Genre Task

To put the piece into context of when and why it was written, find out the answers to the questions below:

  1. And the Glory is a small movement of a much larger piece by Handel. What is the name of this piece, and what genre (type) is this large work an example of?
  2. Who’s life story is told through this piece?
  3. In what year was this piece first performed?
  4. In what decade did Handel move to London?
  5. What period of music do Handel’s compositions come from?

Use this webpage and this webpage to help you.

Jot them down in your notes under the heading Context and Genre, and try and learn them. No need to email the answers to me. There will be a brief quiz in class to test this information.

Extension Task – find out more about this period of music using this brilliant webpage. There’s tonnes of stuff to read, listen to, click on… Also, why not also listen to this 20 minutes from the BBC Radio 3 Discovering Music website about the piece? It is extremely useful and informative.

Four Themes Task

Handel’s piece is based on four themes, which he uses throughout the piece. Each one has its own distinctive character.

  1. Find the themes in your score, and highlight them, using a different colour for each theme.
  2. Now find three more examples of each theme and highlight them.

Extension task – find every example, and highlight them all.

Harmony and Tonality Task

(If you have forgotten what Harmony and Tonality mean, then refresh your understanding by visiting the DR GC SMITH webpage). Write all your answers on your score.

  1. What is the key of this piece of music?
  2. What are the main modulations used, and where in the music do these modulations first happen? (Bar numbers)
  3. What does this tell you about the tonality of this piece?
  4. What is the final cadence of this piece? Use the Cadence Help Video below to guide you.

You might also like some help from this webpage.

Extension task – Can you identify all the modulations in your score? Remember this includes modulating back to the original key too.

Instrumentation Task

(Remember, instrumentation includes voices too!)

  1. What is the instrumentation of this piece?
  2. What is the basso continuo? This question always crops up on the exam papers.
  3. What is a countertenor? They are used in the choir which sings the recorded version of the piece provided by EDEXCEL. You will need to learn this information.

What is a basso continuo?

This is a combination of a keyboard instrument and a bass instrument. The keyboard instrument was either a harpsichord or an organ (the piano wasn’t established as a popular instrument until after 1760). (If you want to find out more about the harpsichord, watch this YouTube video here.) The bass instrument was either a cello, double bass or bassoon. Music for these instruments looked like this. Notice that there are some numbers written above the left hand. These are chord symbols, 1730s style! The keyboard player would use these to busk in the right hand part, whilst playing the left hand part, along with the cello. In this piece, the melody part is played by a flute.

In ‘And the Glory’ the basso continuo is made up of a cello, double bass and the organ.

Baroque Orchestras and Choirs

The orchestra in the Baroque period was quite small. Watch this video of the Academy of Ancient Music. They are singing a famous piece by Handel called ‘Zadok the Priest’ which has been performed at every British coronation since the 1730s. Is the orchestra bigger or smaller than you would expect?

Countertenors

Countertenors are male altos. They sing ‘falsetto’, and have a unique tone. The music still says alto, or part of an SATB choir, but the recording for our GCSE Music is using countertenors. Have a listen to this solo aria (Italian for song), which is by Handel, called ‘The Land Brought Forth Frogs’ (I know, funny text!) by clicking here.

Instrumentation information will also help you with the topic below too.

Task: Ensure that you learn the exact instrumentation in ‘score order’, including voices and what the basso continuo is. What is meant by the orchestra doubling the choir?

Extension task: Extension task – find another movement from Handel’s ‘Messiah’ to listen to online. How does it compare with ‘And the Glory’? Jot down your thoughts in your scores.

Other Musical Features

In AoS 1, there are three main types of texture (combination of parts) that you need to understand:

  • Monophonic texture – a single line of music, or parts in unison/octaves.
  • Homophonic texture – a melody plus accompaniment, often with the parts moving at exactly the same time.
  • Polyphonic texture – two or more overlapping melodic lines, sometimes using imitation (direct copying of parts).

Handel uses a mixture of homophonic and polyphonic textures in the main, with one example of monophonic texture.

Task: Below is an example of each texture, taken from the Handel – can you identify which is which, just by looking at the score samples below? (Click on images to enlarge)

Extension Task: Mark on your score all the different textures, and when it changes from one to another.

Rhythm Features

The piece uses a quick 3/4 tempo, with a one-in-a-bar feel. This means that the tempo is too quick to keep beating in 3-time, so you only beat the 1st beat – one-in-a-bar feel.

A hemiola is a rhythmic feature which makes the music feel like it is in 2-time instead of 3-time for a short moment, usually at the end of sections, as the music approaches a big cadence. The first example is in bar 9-10 in the orchestra, and below is one from bars 36-37. The red boxes indicate the 2/4 bars within the 3/4 bar structure.

Handel Hemiola Example

Handel Hemiola Example

Task: Find the hemiola in bars 9-10, and mark the 2/4 bars on your score as the illustration above demonstrates.

Extension task: Find all other examples of hemiolas, and mark them all in your score. Practice listening to the way the metre (beat) changes at the point of each hemiola.

Dynamics
Dynamics are all terraced in this piece, and much other Baroque music – in other words, they change from one distinct level to another, purely by altering the number of parts singing or playing – the more parts involved, the louder the dynamic will be. In general, there are virtually no dynamic markings in the score of the Handel.

Task: Mark into your score some different dynamic markings – find one piano, one mezzo and one forte dynamic.

Revision

As with all the pieces, there is a three-way process to learning everything you need to know about the piece:

  • Know the basics (C) – title, composer, key, time signature, instrumentation etc. This needs learning to start with.
  • Understand the detail (B/A) – the technical details of the piece, and how they relate to DR G SMITH. This needs you to have written up all the detail onto your score. Listening to the piece lots whilst following through the score is what is needed here.
  • Hear the detail (A/A*) – being able to recognise the sound of all the technical language in the pieces, with no score in front of you. Listening to the piece without the score is what you need to do here.

This check list document should help you with this process.

The Symphony and the Classical Period

The symphony is the single most important orchestral genre, and was established during the Classical period (1760-1830), depending on which website or book you read). Mozart was one of the most important composers of symphony.

Task: Discover some basics about the Classical period. Who were the most important composers, and which other genres were significant as well as the symphony? – there are two significant ones. Also, what happened to change the Classical period orchestra – new instruments, and ones that were common in the Baroque period, which fell out of fashion in the Classical period? Make a note of what you’ve discovered in the notes pages of your score.

Start with this timeline on the Classic FM website, which is very informative.

Task:

Firstly, watch this great introduction to Mozart, and music from 1750 onwards, presented by Howard Goodall (BBC presenter and composer of various theme tunes including QI) .
What does the word ‘symphony’ mean? How does a Classical symphony work? There is a pattern to the number of movements and the order and character of them. What is this?

Starting on this website would be a good idea.

Who was Mozart?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is surely one of the three best-known classical composers (I mean of all classical music and not just the Classical period). His short and often chaotic life has been the source of much fascination for years.

The Mozart Project Chronology is a good starting point to place his life in historical context.

The BBC Radio 3 Mozart page has a brief biography.

This Classic FM short guide sums him up quite well too, in a slightly silly manner!

Task: Have a listen to this short movement from a different symphony from the one we are to study by Mozart. What do you think of it? Remember the previous attempts that we’ve had about discussing music, and trying to demonstrate informed opinion by using technical language based on DR G SMITH. How much repetition is there? How does Mozart create contrast? Does this look like a typical orchestra, and if so, or if not, why? Email me your thoughts please – a short paragraph.

Extension Task 1: Find some other recordings or YouTube clips by Mozart and listen to them. Make a note of the piece(s) and include it as part of the previous email.

Extension Task 2: Find out a bit about the film Amadeus, which is very loosely based on Mozart’s life. It won the Oscar for Best Film in 1984. There are a variety of clips on YouTube from the film. The legend behind the script of the film has now been proved not be true but musical historians, but it doesn’t spoil the drama of the film!

Sonata Form Overview


Genre and Structure

Mozart composed his 40th Symphony in 1788. The first movement (which we are studying for the exam) is in G minor, 4/4, Allegro (molto). It uses Sonata Form structure, which has three sections, the Exposition, Development and Recapitulation. Each of these is broken down into smaller sections (see below).

The Exposition

This section is split into four:

1st subject (1-20): in G minor, uses regular four bar phrases, falling sequence and a dominant pedal.

Bridge (21-43): starts in G minor, modulates to Bb major, using a descending sequence and dominant pedal once the music has modulated in bar 27.

2nd subject (43-70): in Bb major, more lyrical, to begin with, which shorter regular phrases, repeated, and then leading to a short monophonic passage in bar 66, finishing with a long descending scale and strong perfect cadence (chord V-I). (If you’ve forgotten how to work out what a cadence is, go up to the Handel page and watch the tutorial.)

Codetta (71-100): final section of the exposition, using lots of perfect cadences, with the 1st subject passed around the orchestra using imitation.

Task: Make sure that you have written up your score with all this relevant information on it. This must include:

  • Labelling all the subsections
  • Finding and labelling the significant modulations
  • Finding all the examples of pedals
  • Labelling the short monophonic section
  • Finding examples of perfect cadences, and labelling the chords V-I

The Development

This section is split into three, but there are no ‘names’ for the subsections:

Bar 101-117: music modulates several times, repeating the four-bar 1st subject three times in a descending sequence.

Bar 118-140: strong>1st subject alternates between violins and bass instruments, with a countermelody being played against it – polyphonic texture in two-part counterpoint, using the cycle of fifths chord sequence. The music modulates through the cycle of keys, before finishing on a dominant pedal in G minor.

Bar 141-165: one long dominant pedal, which is passed through different instruments. Around this is a three-note motif, based on the opening of the 1st subject, which is repeated sequentially, through imitation and invention, all building up the the return of the 1st subject.

Task: Make sure that you have written up your score with all this relevant information on it. This must include:

  • Finding two or more examples of sequences
  • Finding two or more examples of imitation
  • Labelling the start of the cycle of fifths chord sequence
  • Locating at least three different examples of the 1st subject

The Recapitulation

This section is a repeat of the Exposition, but with one or two notable differences:

1st subject (165-185): a near-exact repeat of the opening of the exposition, but with the addition of a bassoon countermelody.

Bridge (186-227): starts the same as the exposition bridge, but it is extended significantly, including modulations to Eb major, and F minor.

2nd subject (227-260): repeat of the exposition 2nd subject, but significantly, the music remains in G minor and does not modulate to Bb major.

Coda (261-299): significantly longer than the codetta from the exposition, with many perfect cadences, and manipulations of the three-note motif from the exposition.

Task

Make sure that you have written up your score with all this relevant information on it. This must include:

  • Labelling all the subsections
  • Finding and labelling the significant modulations
  • Finding all the examples of pedals
  • Labelling the short monophonic section
  • Finding examples of perfect cadences, and labelling the chords V-I

Other Musical Details

The Orchestra

Mozart’s orchestra has some similarities and differences from the Baroque period:

  • The string section remains the same (1st and 2nd vln, va, vc, db)
  • There is no basso continuo (no harpsichord or organ playing the harmony)
  • Expanded woodwind section, two flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons
  • Two horns, one in G and one in Eb
  • Two instruments missing from this piece, which are in many other classical pieces of music – trumpets and timpani
Melody and Rhythm

The melodic writing is dominated by the 1st subject, and the way in which is it manipulated. This includes the use of the opening of the 1st subject, as a three-note motif. The 2nd subject provides a more lyrical contrast. The main changes to the melodic style are described above.

Phrases are usually in regular four- and two-bar patterns.

The rhythmic language is straightforward, and works within the framework of the regular phrases. Occasionally dotted rhythms are used, and there is a feeling of perpertuum mobile (perpetual motion) created by the quaver countermelody used in the middle of the development.

Harmony and Totality

All the significant information about this is mentioned in the analysis of the exposition, development and recapitulation above.

Texture

The texture is basically homophonic throughout, and this is typical of the Classical period. The main melody is usually found in the violins/flute, with other instruments providing harmonic support/accompaniment. Monophonic texture is used only briefly as mentioned above. There are some significant polyphonic sections, as mentioned above, particularly in the development section.

Dynamics

There is a much greater range of dynamics in this piece than seen in the Baroque period. This includes us of crescendo (gradually louder) and diminuendo (gradually quieter), as well as sf (suddenly loud). Make sure that you’ve found some different examples of dynamics in the score and highlight them.

Revision

As with all the pieces, there is a three-way process to learning everything you need to know about the piece:

  • Know the basics (C) – title, composer, key, time signature, instrumentation etc. This needs learning to start with.
  • Understand the detail (B/A) – the technical details of the piece, and how they relate to DR G SMITH. This needs you to have written up all the detail onto your score. Listening to the piece lots whilst following through the score is what is needed here.
  • Hear the detail (A/A*) – being able to recognise the sound of all the technical language in the pieces, with no score in front of you. Listening to the piece without the score is what you need to do here.

This checklist document should help you with this process.

Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude in Db major is a beautiful example of a Romantic piano miniature. It represents many musical features which are typical of the Romantic period (c.1830-1900, depending on which textbook or website you read).

3. 'Raindrop' Prelude No. 15 In D Flat Major - Chopin (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... ''Raindrop' Prelude No. 15 in D flat major' - by Frédéric Chopin From '24 Preludes, Opus 28' Set Work 3 for GCSE Music Edexcel From Ar...

What are the key features of Romantic music?

Romantic music differs from Classical and Baroque music in a variety of different ways.

Task: Find out the following pieces of information to help you build a picture as to how it differs:

  • What happens to the size of the orchestra? Are there any new instruments?
  • Who are the most important Romantic period composers, apart from Chopin?
  • Which genres are important in the Romantic period?
  • What is programme music?
  • What is a piano miniature?
  • What is tempo rubato?

Please email me your answers to these questions, with ‘Key features of Romantic music’ in the subject line.

Extension task: Listen to one or two more pieces of Romantic music. At the end of the ‘Key features’ email, include the name of the piece(s)/composers you’ve listened to, and any comments that you want to make about them.

Use this page from the Classic FM website as a good starting point. For something more in-depth, there is a great podcast here to listen to.

Who was Frederick Chopin?

Chopin is one of the most important composers of the early/mid-Romantic period. He wrote almost exclusively to the piano, and certainly did a lot to explore the capabilities of the more modern instrument. Again the Classic FM website is a good starting point here.

Task: Find out a bit about who Chopin was. Although he was from Poland, where did he live for most of his adult life? What sort of music did he write. Make some brief notes in your score.

Raindrop Prelude

Chopin wrote a series of piano preludes, one for each major and minor key, in 1838.

Task: Start by finding out the basics of the piece, and marking them in your score:

Key; time signature; tempo marking – what does sostenuto mean?; main sections (signified by double bar lines); also make a note of the extremes of dynamics too at this point.

Structure Tasks/Info
One of the big changes in the Romantic period is the expansion of structure. Pieces, even short ones like this, have loner, more complex structures. This prelude (what is a prelude?) is in modified ternary form – how does this form work? Which section is the longest? Look at bar 28, 76 and 81 for structural points of importance in the music.

Melody Tasks/Info
There are two main features to the melody in this piece – the length of phrases, and the way ornamentation is used. How regular in length are the phrases in this piece? Use the slurs above the right hand to help you, and look beyond the first couple before deciding. Then, can you find different examples of ornaments? Which ornaments are used? – choose from trills, turns, mordents, acciaccaturas and appoggiaturas. If you are confused, click here for some extra help.

The melody is further decorated by the use of chromaticism, which again is typical of the Romantic period. This also affects the harmony too. Understanding chromaticism in Romantic music is important, and this definition is quite full but easy to follow.

Also, think about where in the piano the melody is played. Is the melody always in the right hand? Look at the middle section of the piece and compare it with the opening.

Harmony and Tonality Tasks/Info
The harmony and tonality is also typical of the Romantic period.

  • The raindrops are represented by the dominant pedal which begins in bar 1. This pedal remains almost constant, but there are some changes in bar 15, 28 and 56. What is the significance of these changes
  • The music modulates to related keys, such as the relative minor (what bar does this happen?), but there are other more unusual modulations, to the tonic minor (where?).
  • Also the music is much more chromatic, as mentioned above in the melody paragraph, but this also creeps into the harmony too (where – look for a series of different accidentals that are not in the melody).
  • Cadences, in this piece usually perfect, play an important role at the ends of phrases still. All cadences are perfect, except the imperfect cadence in bar 27.

Dynamics, Articulations, Tempo, the Piano and ‘Programmatic’ elements

Chopin uses a wide range of dynamics and articulations from pp to ff, staccato, legato and accents, and a wide range of crescendos and diminuendos. In addition, think about what sostenuto, sotto voce, smorzando and slentando mean, and click here for further help.

Tempo rubato, meaning flexible tempo, is present in this performance. It requires the pianist to push and pull the tempo around subtly to enhance the expressive nature of the music. At no point in the music does it say that the performer should do this. It is just an accepted fact of the way that Romantic music is performed. This is why different performances of the same Romantic piece are all slightly different from each other.

The piano that Chopin would have played is similar to a modern one, and would have been touch sensitive, and capable of expressive dynamics and phrasing. The use of sustain pedal is very carefully marked by Chopin throughout the piece, and all of these elements allow him to create an expressive, and calm/stormy feel to the piece. For further help in understanding the role of the piano in Chopin’s music, try clicking here.

Revision

As with all the pieces, there is a three-way process to learning everything you need to know about the piece:

  • Know the basics (C) – title, composer, key, time signature, instrumentation etc. This needs learning to start with.
  • Understand the detail (B/A) – the technical details of the piece, and how they relate to DR G SMITH. This needs you to have written up all the detail onto your score. Listening to the piece lots whilst following through the score is what is needed here.
  • Hear the detail (A/A*) – being able to recognise the sound of all the technical language in the pieces, with no score in front of you. Listening to the piece without the score is what you need to do here.

This checklist document should help you with the process.

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