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Set Works

HandelMozartChopinSchoenbergBernsteinReichDavisBuckleyMobyCapercaillieRag DeshKokoThe Exam and RevisionThe Essay
Handel

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’.



If you’re listening in school and can’t access YouTube, click on the Grooveshark widgets below:

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 Handels 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.

Mozart

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

If you’re in school and trying to listen to the Mozart, click on the Grooveshark widget below:

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...

If you’re trying to listen in school, and you’ve no YouTube, click on the Grooveshark widget below:

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.

Area of Study 2 covers C20th classical music, starting with a short, but challenging piece by Arnold Schoenberg, composed in 1909, which you can listen to below:

4. Peripetie - Schoenberg (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... 'Peripetie' - by Arnold Schoenberg From 'Five Orchestral Pieces' Set Work 4 for GCSE Music Edexcel From Area Of Study 2 - Music in the...

If you’re in school and can’t use YouTube, then click on the Grooveshark widget below:

Context

Before you start to dismiss the whole pieces as a noisy, disorganised row, you need to understand the concept and direction music took from 1850 onwards, particularly in terms of harmony.

Wagner’s Prelude to Tristan und Isolde
IMPORTANT – remember – that tonality means the key that you are in (major/minor), and how chromatic the music is. Harmony means types of chords

NEW CONCEPT – think about the function of harmony. Chords have jobs, and fit well in certain orders. Cadences are a good example of this. They ‘sound right’ because one Roman Numeral sounds good when it is followed by another – V-I for example.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883), was a German composer who wrote long and complicated operas. The orchestral prelude to Tristan und Isolde is a really important piece of music, because of the chromatic harmony that is used. The piece is so chromatic, that it is very difficult to tell what key it’s in at times. The opening is supposed to be in A minor, but it’s several bars in before you hear a tonic chord, and the use of silence confuses the tonality even more.

Just listen to the first couple of minutes, to get an impression of it.

Richard Wagner - "Tristan und Isolde", Prelude

Prelude to the first act from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde", german opera in three acts. Author: Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwangler &...

If you’re in school and can’t use YouTube, then click on the Grooveshark widget below:

After this piece, other composers started to stretch tonality further and further. Try listening to some Debussy or Faure on YouTube to hear other example of more modern tonal language.

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

It would be no exaggeration to say that Schoenberg is one of the most controversial composers ever. He changed the direction of music in the C20th. To read a biography and listen to other pieces by him, click here, on the BBC Radio website.

What did he do that was so radical?
He got rid of the key, and scale, creating atonality (no fixed key). This means there is no tonic (key note) in his music, so there is no note or key chord to build a composition around. This genre is called expressionism, and is the genre of Peripetie, the fourth Set Work.

Features of Expressionism

There are several key features of this style, which are explained here. Further down the page, you will be asked to find specific examples of them in the Set Work.

As mentioned above, this music is atonal.

  • Pieces try and convey one intense, specific emotion.
  • Instrumental sound, in the form of pitch range and timbre are considered as important as more traditional musical elements such as pitch and rhythm.
  • Unusual combinations of instruments are used, or when an orchestra is used, it is often supplemented by non-standard instruments, such as contra-bassoon, cor anglais, etc.
  • The range of dynamics and articulations in expressionist pieces is wide and often changes suddenly.
  • Pieces are short, and use traditional structures, such as sonata form and rondo form.

During the 1910s, Schoenberg developed further a system to replace the key and scale, called serialism, which uses all twelve chromatic notes in a grid, and allows composers to pick particular rows and columns of the grid to create chords and melody.

Peripetie from Five Orchestral Pieces (1909)

To understand the unusual and challenging sound of this piece, we need to consider the following ideas, all of which were important in his compositions:

  • Haupestimme (Principal melody) – obviously, this is an important melody in his composition. They are labelled in the score with an H and a bracket to show when they start and end.
  • Nebenstimme (Secondary melody) – obviously, secondary melody, labelled N with a bracket.
  • Hexachord – a group of six pitches, all different, which don’t move necessarily by step, but act a bit like a scale in terms of importance. There can be several different hexachords in one piece.
  • Complement – a group of six pitches, left over once the hexachord has been formed.
  • Melody lines with lots of angular leaps (because the hexachord and compliment don’t use steps).
  • Extreme changes in dynamics, which happen very frequently.
  • Frequent changes of tempo (which are mainly in German in the score – click here for help to translate them).
  • The texture of the piece is very varied, because Schoenberg mixes the combination of instruments that he uses. There are only a few occasions when the whole orchestra plays, and there are many times when there are only a handful playing. The main texture of the piece is polyphonic.
  • A large orchestra, with several additional instruments to bolster the sound and allow Schoenberg to create a wide range of orchestral sounds – a technique called klangfarbenmelodie.
  • This piece is in rondo form – ABA’CA”.

Task
Go through your score and find examples of each of the techniques listed above. The listening questions about Schoenberg frequently test knowledge of all of these aspects of the piece.

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.

Our second piece in AoS 2 is taken from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein:

No Title

Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.

If you can’t access YouTube, then try the Grooveshark widget below:

Who was Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)?

He is one of the most significant C20th composers, working in a wide variety of different genres. However, he is best known for his film and musical works.

Task 1
Try and find out a bit more about him by reading this basic biography. There are also some clips of his works to listen to here as well. If you need or want more detail about him, and his career, then click here to read his official website.

Task 2
Listen to/watch the following clips of other works by him.

His Chichester Psalms is a brilliant choral work, which manages to be dissonant, yet tuneful in equal measure. The influence of jazz rhythms can be felt through much of the piece.

Bernstein: Chichester Psalms - LEONARD BERNSTEIN (Complete)

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) CHICHESTER PSALMS (1965) 00:06 I. Psalm 108 (verse 2); Psalm 100 03:43 II. Psalm 23; Psalm 2 (verses 1-4) 09:24 III. Psalm 131;...

This extract from On the Waterfront is a bleak-sounding piece, reflecting the difficult social and political issues raised in the film, from 1959.

"On the Waterfront" - by L B

Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra ... the music is the score he wrote for the magnificent movie, "On the Waterfront", starring M...

What are the components of a stage musical?

There are usually several integral elements:

  • A script (usually called the ‘book’)
  • A musical score
  • Choreography
  • A set, costumes, props
  • Named roles
  • A chorus
  • An orchestra (or group of instrumentalists)

Within the musical score, there are usually the following components:

  • Overture/prelude/Ent’racte (Orchestral piece, which outlines themes from some of the songs)
  • Solo songs
  • Duets/trios
  • Choruses
  • Dance numbers

West Side Story

Undoubtedly, this is Bernstein’s greatest triumph. The stage musical, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (who also wrote many famous musicals himself, including Sweeney Todd), was first performed in 1957, and then adapted into a film in 1961, which, at the time, won a then-record 10 Oscars.

Below is the extract from the film of Something’s Coming. Please note, this is a slightly different version of the piece, and that in the exam, you’ll be expected to know about the version at the top of the page, and not this one. However, it is good to see the film version too, as it puts it into a context for you, hopefully.

West Side Story - Something's Coming (1961) HD

Could be! Who knows? There's something due any day; I will know right away, Soon as it shows. It may come cannonballing down through the sky, Gleam in its ey...

Task
Find out a bit more about the background of the musical, by answering the following questions:

  1. What play is the story based on?
  2. Where about in the show does Something Coming appear?
  3. Apart from Tony, who sings this song, who are the other three main characters, and how are they ‘related’ to Tony?
  4. How does the ending of this musical differ from the ending of the original play?
  5. What role did Jerome Robbins play in the development of the show?
  6. Name three other songs from the show – listen to them, and note who the singer(s) is/are.

For help, try this website. There’s an interesting timeline on the left of the screen to look at too.

Musical Content of Something’s Coming

There are some straightforward recognisable features of this song which are typical of Bernstein’s musical style. You need to be able to hear them in the music to be able to answer a listening question successfully. This means first studying the score, then learning how to spot them by listening lots of times to the recordings.

Influence of Jazz
This can be seen in a variety of different ways:

  1. Use of jazz harmonies – chords with added 7ths and raised 4ths
  2. Syncopated rhythms, particularly use of a push rhythm
  3. Melodic motifs, particularly that of a triton (an interval of three tones)
  4. Melodic phrases which have short note values throughout, apart from a long final note
  5. Short riffs – repetitive pattern
  6. Stab chords – off-beat/syncopated single, short chords in the accompaniment
  7. Cross-rhythms – the feeling of two different time signatures being used over the top of each other

Look at the extract of music below for examples of each of these features.

Snip20140222_7

If this image is a bit too big or small on your screen, why not download it by clicking here.

Task
You need to go through the score and find further examples of each of the above. Try if you can, to find the same technique used in a different context – for example, the jazz harmony, using a raised 4th in the second time bars at the end of A is new and different harmony from the opening, whereas the jazz harmony used in bar 140 at the start of A1 is just an exact copy of the example above, and therefore not as interesting.

Other Important Musical Features of Note
There are several other features that you need to remember. These are not specifically jazz influenced, but you need to be aware of them:

Instrumentation: The song is sung by Tony, who is a tenor voice. The orchestra that accompanies him includes full strings, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpets (sometimes muted), French horns, plus piano and drum kit. This is quite a large pit orchestra.

Structure: The song has an ABB1A1 structure. The changes of key and time signature, mentioned below, help to define the changes in sections.

Tonality: The song begins in D, modulates to the unrelated key of C, and then modulates back to D.

Rhythm/Tempo/Time Signature: The music begins in 3/4 and changes to 2/4, then back to 3/4, then 2/4 then 3/4. The tempo is a very rapid presto, at about 170 bpm.

Texture: Basically homophonic, with the melody in the vocal line, and the orchestra providing harmonic support.

Dynamics and Word Painting: The dynamics are used as an extension of the expressiveness of the character. This is further extended by word painting – where the specific meaning of a word is conveyed by a musical idea, usually in the melody.

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.

Our final Area of Study 2 piece is by Steve Reich, taken from Electric Counterpoint, written in 1987, for guitar:

6. Electric Counterpoint (Third Movement - Fast) - Reich (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... 'Electric Counterpoint (Third Movement - Fast)' - by Steve Reich Set Work 6 for GCSE Music Edexcel From Area Of Study 2 - Music in the...

If you can’t get at YouTube, then click on the Grooveeshark widget below to listen:

Steve Reich is an American composer born in New York. Much of his work was created in a minimalist style drawing on artistic influences of the time including the work of Mark Rothko. Much of Reich’s music is rhythmically complex and makes extensive use of repetition. Reich’s music is also influenced by the sounds of Africa where he spent time studying African drumming and this led him to write pieces such as ‘Drumming‘ and ‘Clapping Music‘.

An example of Mark Rothko’s work.

Rothko $87 million

Task 1
Try to find out more about him by reading this basic biography. You should also try to find other examples of Steve Reich’s music, you might like to try listening to the other pieces in the ‘Counterpoint’ series. What are instruments are they written for? Why do you think they all have the word ‘Counterpoint’ in the title?

Electric Counterpoint (3rd movement- Fast)

Written in 1987, Electric Counterpoint is the third piece of a series of works for soloists performing with pre-recorded tapes. You should have listened to these pieces to complete task 1 but there are links to both pieces here, Vermont Counterpoint and New York Counterpoint (N.B this was originally for soloist and pre-recorded tape). You will see how all of the examples make use of many common techniques associated with minimalism.

Task 2
Find out the meaning of the following terms and add them to your score. They are all words that will feature in our analysis of ‘Electric Counterpoint’

  • Looping
  • Layering
  • Note Addition
  • Note Subtraction
  • Resultant Melody

Analysis of ‘Electric Counterpoint’

The instrumentation for ‘Electric Counterpoint’ for fairly simple, it was written only for guitars. However,as mentioned earlier, many of the parts are pre-recorded with a live soloist playing the remaining part. The line up for this piece is

1 live guitar

7 Pre-recorded electric guitar parts

2 Pre-recorded bass guitars.

This extensive line up of instruments allows Reich to manipulate the texture throughout the piece. It does present difficulties for the performer, have you ever tried playing along with a pre-recorded backing track; the lack of flexibility in tempo really create challenges. The original performer of the piece, Pat Methany, admitted this himself after he had recorded all of the parts with Steve Reich.

The structure of ‘Electric Counterpoint’ breaks into 9 sections. They are unequal in length but at each point something significant happens to the texture. Use the tables below to help you identify where each section begins, the times are there as well to help develop your listening skills.

A 1-23 24-35 36-66 67-73
0:00-0:42 0:43-1:05 1:05-2:05 2:06-2:16

 

B 74-81 82-89 90-97 98-113
2:16-2:31 2:32-2:46 2:47-3:01 3:02-3:32

 

Coda 114-140
2:32-4:24

Task 3
Copy each of the section marks onto your score (use the labels A1, A2, A3 etc). Look at the score, can you identify what is happening at each point to explain why there is a change in section? Then listen through the piece and identify where each of the sections changes. You should be able to identify the ideas that are below for each section change.

Ostinato
Guitar ostinato Reich

An ostinato is a short repeated musical idea. The image above shows ostinato 1. This pattern is used by the first four recorded electric guitar parts. They all enter at different times and never on the first beat of the bar. These entries create what Reich calls a ‘Four part guitar canon’. As you look through the score you will notice that guitar 3 makes use of note addition before eventually playing the whole ostinato at bar 14.

The tonality of ‘Electric Counterpoint’ is ambiguous at the start and it takes a while for it to settle. At bar 33 the piece seems to be in E minor which ties in to the key signature. In E minor however we would expect to see an accidental, D#, look through the whole piece, you won’t find one!

This is because the piece is actually modal, aeolian mode to be precise (transposed to E).

Task 4
What notes are there in an Aeolian scale? What are they if you transpose it to start on E?

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.

AoS 3 covers popular broad in the broadest sense of the word. Below is Miles Davis’ All Blues, from the 1959 album, Kind of Blue.

7. All Blues - Miles Davis (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... 'All Blues' - by Miles Davis From 'Kind Of Blue' Set Work 7 for GCSE Music Edexcel From Area Of Study 3 - Popular Music in Context Gen...

If you’re listening in school and can’t access YouTube, then try the Grooveshark widget below:

Jazz Styles

Jazz music is so broad, and encompasses such a large range of influences, but the task below tries to enable you to understand the different styles in chronological order.

(Please note, because Grooveshark requires Flash Player to be installed on your device, these tracks won’t work on an iPad/iPhone, but should be fine on other devices, PC, Mac etc.)

The eight tracks above are stereotypical examples of the following styles of jazz. Can you put them in order, with one piece to match each of the jazz eras in the table below?

Era Jazz Style
Pre 1900 Early Blues
1900-1920 Ragtime
1920s Dixieland
1930s Big Band
Late 1940s Be-bop
1960s Cool Jazz
1970s Latin Jazz
1970s Acid Jazz/Funk

The dates are loose, and need taking with a bit of a pinch of salt. All the styles overlap with each other to some extent, and all styles are still popular now, but the dates in the table represent when the concept of the style began, and it was in its ‘heyday’.

For a bit of help defining the different eras, try this website for some clues.

The Genre – Cool Jazz

Cool jazz is a style of jazz pioneered by Miles Davis in the album Kind of Blue. It has a laid-back rhythmic feel, and usually fairly simple, repetitive chord sequence. This allows for lots of free, extended solos, using modal scales. It was the predominant new form of jazz during the 1960s, but was probably overshadowed by more mainstream musical developments in pop music, including most obviously, The Beatles!

Musicians Performing on the Kind of Blue Album

  1. Miles Davis (trumpet)
  2. Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley (alto saxophone)
  3. John Coltrane (tenor saxophone)
  4. Bill Evans (piano)
  5. Paul Chambers (bass)
  6. Jimmy Cobb (drum kit)

It is generally considered to be one of the finest line-ups of jazz musicians to ever step into a recording studio together. Each of them is a titan of jazz in their own right!

All Blues is the greatest selling jazz album of all time, no matter which of the various lists you look at, and it is currently (March 2014) in both the UK and US Top 10 Jazz Albums on iTunes:

Jazz Top 10

Musical Features of All Blues

Instrumentation
There are specific roles for each instrument within the sextet:

Frontline – this group is the three melody instruments, trumpet, alto and tenor saxophone. They mainly play melody, which is improvised for the most part. They take it in turns to play. Occasionally the trumpet uses a mute.

IMPORTANT – you need to be able to hear the difference between the alto and tenor saxophone – basically they have a slightly different tone, and the tenor is lower in pitch than the alto, but spotting the difference will take practice.

Rhythm section – these instruments provide backing. The bass plays either short riffs, or a walking bass pattern (moves up and down on the beat, often by step). The kit provides a swing beat, and plays using brushes (instead of sticks). The piano comps – this means it provides harmonic backing, based on the 12-bar blues sequence. The chord shapes, or voicing changes constantly, often missing out the root of the chord (because it is played by the bass). The piano does have a melodic solo in the middle of the piece.

Harmony
The harmony is incredibly simple. The whole of the piece is based on the 12-bar blues chord pattern. This is a basic harmonic sequence that has been used to create a massive amount of jazz, rock, pop, funk, r ‘n’ b – in fact you name a modern style, it will have used 12-bar blues within it at some point, probably. Try this for a quick, varied list (each linked to YouTube videos which will open in a new window): Austin Powers theme, Rock Around the Clock – Bill Halley and the Comets, Mercy – Duffy, Candyman – Christina Aguilera.

This is what a version of a basic 12-bar blues in G (the key of All Blues) might look like (on the left). It has a turnaround in bar 12, finishing on a dominant chord, which leads neatly back into the tonic chord to kick-start the next repeat of the pattern:

12-Bar Blues in G1

12-Bar Blues modified1

However, Miles Davis’ All Blues (on the right) uses a modified version of the chord sequence. Notice that bars 9 and 10 are more sophisticated harmonies, and that bar 10 has two chords, moving in parallel.This building block of 12 bars is repeated throughout the piece.

All the chords contain an added 7th, and bars 9-10, an added 9th. The addition of extra notes on top of the triad is what gives the harmony its jazz sound.

Notice also that there is a very limited range of chords, based on I, IV and V.

The chords are played by the piano, which provides harmonic support.

Structure
This is very simple too, and relies on lots of repetitions of the 12-bar blues. There are three basic sections:

Intro/Link – four bars, based on the first four bars of the 12-bar blues.

Head – this is a main melody, which is repeated a few times during the piece. The melody is played on the trumpet, and it lasts 12 bars.

Solos – these are improvised, and last different lengths, but always multiples of 12. The trumpet, alto and tenor saxophone, and piano take it in turn to solo.

Melody and Rhythm, and other Musical Elements

  • The melody is arguably the most important aspect of the whole piece. The simple harmony pattern allows the players freedom to improvise fluently, mainly using the mixolydian scale. This sounds like a major scale, but has a flattened 7th, and in the key of G looks like this:Mixolydian G Scale
  • A normal G major scale would have an F# in it. The use of a flattened 7th is what gives the melody a ‘jazz sound’, along with other chromatic notes, such as a flattened 3rd and raised 4th.
  • The head and all the solos use a variety of ornaments, such as mordents and appoggiaturas, which provide melodic decoration.
  • The head and solos use lots of rhythmic syncopation, or off beat patterns. The head and many ideas in the solo start with short riffs, some of which have a pick-up (upbeat). This is all performed in 6/4, using a basic jazz waltz swing quaver feel.
  • Dynamics are used freely and expressively in all the solos, but the whole piece generally has a relatively quiet dynamic level. Some hairpin crescendos and diminuendos are used.

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.

The next Set Work in AoS 3 is a song, Grace, from the 1994 album of the same name, by Jeff Buckley.

8. Grace - Jeff Buckley (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... 'Grace' - by Jeff Buckley From 'Grace' Set Work 8 for GCSE Music Edexcel From Area Of Study 3 - Popular Music in Context Genre: Folk R...

If you’re listening in school and can’t use YouTube, try the Grooveshark widget below:

You might also like the cover of Hallelujah, which also appears on the album. It is an emotive, and unique take on an iconic song. Buckley started to develop his reputation as a musician of note in New York during the early 1990s through performing cover sets in small clubs. He was picked up by Columba records in 1993.

Task
Why not have a listen to other songs from the album, Grace. Clicking on this link should take you there in Grooveshark. If it doesn’t work, just open Grooveshark in another window, and type ‘Grace Jeff Buckley’ into the search box.

This is quite a difficult thing to do, but what makes his sound unique? Maybe you disagree with this, and you don’t like his sound at all. Then why not? Which is your favourite song from the album, and why?

Watch Buckley in action by clicking here, at the MTV studios in 1995, and then here’s an interesting cover of a Jeff Buckley song here by Scarlett Johannson. Have a listen to both.

Who was Jeff Buckley?

He is a cult figure in the world of rock music, who died tragically young in a drowning accident. Although he wasn’t particularly significant in terms of record sales, he is often cited as a musical influence by other bands.

For a brief biography, plus links to other websites, and other listening opportunities, this BBC iPlayer radio page is a good starting point to explore his music. Chris Cornell, US rock star also makes a case for why Buckley should be included in Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘Top 100 singers of all-time’, at 39th position, claiming that his music has influenced Chris Martin and Damien Rice at times during their career.

Grace
This album, recorded in 1994, was the only completed studio album that Buckley made. The sound of his voice, and guitar is unique (and this is often an overused word, but not here).

He had started work on a second album and recorded a few demo tracks, but never got around to finishing it.

So why this song?

What is it about this particular song that makes it worth being a Set Work? It’s the only rock song in the list.

  • It’s a great song.
  • The instrumental line-up is what you might describe as a ‘standard rock line-up’.
  • It has a standard rock song structure, based on a verse-chorus pattern.
  • The vocal style is really interesting and varied.
  • The harmonic language is also unusual.

Performance line-up and guitar playing techniques
Apart from Buckley, who sings, plays lead guitar, and also provides his own backing vocals, there is also rhythm guitar, bass guitar, keyboard strings, and drum kit.

What is the difference between rhythm and lead guitar? The rhythm guitar plays a chord sequence in a rhythmic, strummed or picked pattern, whereas the lead guitar plays a melodic line.

Also, the guitars are all tuned to drop D. This means that the lowest string, normally tuned to E has been retuned to a D. It allows the D major chord and Ds in the bass to be played with the lowest string open, creating a rich deep tone to the sound.

Finally, there are a number of studio effects used in the guitar playing (and occasionally in the vocal line too): delay, reverb, and flanger. If you need help defining these terms, there’s a handy little guide here.

Task: Find examples of a strummed rhythm guitar idea, a picked lead guitar arpeggio, and a lead guitar melodic solo in the score, and mark them in. This is a straightforward task.

Structure

As mentioned above, this song uses a standard verse-chorus structure. The intensity of the song builds through the verse, into the pre-chorus and is heighten further in the chorus:

Intro – Verse 1 – Pre-chorus – Chorus

Link – Verse 2 – Pre-chorus – Chorus

Middle 8

Link – Verse 3 – Outro (based on chorus material)

Task: Find the different sections in your score and mark them in. Many are labelled, and double bar lines give you some guidance as well.

Melodic Style
Buckley’s melodic style is unique, and has a number of easily identifiable features:

  • The general pitch level is low in the verse, higher in the pre-chorus and higher still in the chorus. This helps the building of intensity mentioned above. Overall it means that the range (from highest to lowest note) of the vocal line is very wide
  • Phrase lengths vary quite widely, becoming longer particularly in the outro.
  • There is a lot of ornamentation and chromaticism.
  • There are lots of melismas too (lots of notes to one syllable).
  • He uses scoops up to notes, uses vibrato throughout the song to alter the tone of his voice, and portamentos (vocal slides).
  • He provides his own backing vocals, which are multi-tracked.

Harmony and Tonality
There are two distinct areas here:

  • The link and intro (after bar 3) use a D major tonality, and the rest of the song is based on E minor, but with a modal feel.
  • The chords have rich variety. Some are simple power chords – open chords which have no middle note of a triad, e.g. an E power chord has only the notes E and B in it, and no G in the middle.
  • A drone is used, so the chords change over a sustained bass note. This occurs in the verse.
  • Broken chords/arpeggio patterns are used, such as the opening of the intro.

Other Musical Features
The piece has a steady, lilting 12/8 time signature and is a moderately slow tempo, about 60 bpm. The sense of rhythmic drive is provided in the song by the strummed guitar, particularly through the link sections.

There are a variety of drum fills at the ends of phrases, and particularly at the end of sections.

The use of kit is rich and varied, provided by the use of toms and cymbals, which change throughout the different sections.

The texture is predominantly homophonic, with some polyphonic moments particularly when the backing vocals have a countermelody in the Middle 8.

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.

The final AoS 3 song is Moby’s Why does my heart feel so bad? from the 1999 album, Play.

9. Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? - Moby (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... 'Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?' - by Moby From 'Play' Set Work 9 for GCSE Music Edexcel From Area Of Study 3 - Popular Music in Conte...

If you’re listening in school and can’t access YouTube, then try the Grooveshark widget below:

Who is Moby?

Moby is an artist from the USA who has worked in many popular musical styles including punk, rock and latterly dance styles. His career has not always been filled with success with much of his early work being commercially unpopular until the release in 1991 of his single ‘Go’ which bought him fame in Britain. He then spent much of the 90s touring with bands like The Prodigy, Orbital and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The album ‘Play’, from which ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad’ is taken was released in 1999 prior to which Moby had spent the previous creating material for the album. The three previous singles received little attention whereas ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad’ reached number 16 in the UK charts and was might with acclaim by music critics.

Tonality and Harmony
The key of the song is A minor, and the harmony is built using two 8-bar chord sequences. These are used throughout the verses and choruses. The chord sequences are shown below – notice each chord is always repeated, creating a mini-block of two bars:

Bar 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chord Am Am Em Em G G D D

Sequence 1 is used in the verse: ‘Why does my heart feel so bad?’

Bar 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chord C C Am Am C C Am Am

Sequence 2a is used in the first half of the chorus:’These open doors’

Bar 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chord F F C C F F C C

Sequence 2b is used in the second half of the chorus.

Task 1:

Have a go at playing through the above chord patterns. In the exam, a common question is to give you a copy of this chord diagram, with some chords missing, and you have to fill in the gaps. Although remembering the changes is possible you might find it easier to hear them and playing them will certainly help you to understand the changes more. If you are not sure how to construct the chords try having a look at this website. Don’t forget to hold each chord for four beats, and then try playing some different rhythmic patterns with them.

Melody – vocal samples
The entire melody line – all the singing in this song – is created using vocal samples, in this case of 1950s gospel singers. A vocal sample is exactly what it implies – a short snippet of someone else singing, which he drops into his song. He then writes all of the other musical ideas around these. To fit with the chord sequence, the samples selected are in A minor.

There are two samples, ‘Why does my heart/why does my soul?’ (male voice) and ‘These broken walls’ (female). Moby makes them more interesting to listen to by varying which chord sequence is used with which sample – a technique called reharmonisation (harmony – DR G SMITH). This happens in the chorus. He also uses echo canon.

He also adds digital effects to them to transform them – see below for details.

Moby prefers to use samples rather than record himself singing because the emotional range and the sounds of different voices was something he enjoyed exploring. Also, if the samples are out of copyright, they’re free to use too!

Technology in the song – equipment
Moby records all his own music in his own home, as many solo artists working in a club dance style might. It is important to know which bits of gear he uses to construct the song:

  • Drum machine (Roland TR909) – used to create the drum loops in the song.
  • Piano sounds (Emu Proformance/Yamaha Synth) – the two piano sounds used are taken from these two sources.
  • Synth sounds (Roland Juno 106/Yamaha SY22 and SY85 synths) – the bass sound and various synth strings come from these synthesisers (a bit like a keyboard).
  • Vocal sounds (Akai S3200 sampler) – the sounds of the 1950s gospel singers, mentioned above, are lifted from the original recording, and edited using a sampler.

Technology in the song – effects
The use of effects refers to digital manipulation and alteration of sounds, either as their being recorded, or in the post-production process (after the recording has been completed). Moby uses a Yamaha SPX900 Multi-effects unit in the production of this song.

Firstly, you need to understand what ‘EQ’ means – this is where certain frequencies (high, middle or bass) are boosted or reduced to create a specific sound. This is done post-production. The best example to remember is ‘telephone voice‘ sound in verse 2. This is created by removing the high and bass frequencies from the vocal sample, making it sound like the singing is being done down a telephone line.

Two further effects used in this song are reverb (imagine the feeling of performing in a large church), and delay (a type of echo effect, that you might get with the sound bouncing around the walls of a cave!).

Task 2:

Try listening to a random short section of the song, and identify which layers of the song are playing, and which bits of equipment are being used to create the sounds, and which effects are being used at that moment. It is the quickest way of learning this info.

Structure
The song has a simple verse/chorus structure, best shown by the diagram below (IMPORTANT – EDEXCEL’s score refer to the Verse as ‘Section A1-8’ and the Chorus as ‘Bx1 and By1 etc, just in case you’re also looking at that and are confused):

  • Green – Vocal samples, either ‘Why does’ or ‘These open doors’
  • Blue – Main piano pattern, chord sequence 1, 2a or 2b
  • Red – Additional piano melodies and synth strings chords (the chords used here always match the pattern of the blue piano chords)
  • Orange – Synth bass (always matches the root/bottom note of the blue piano chords)
  • Yellow – Drum loops

Moby Structure Timeline

If this is too small for you to read, then you can open the Word document by clicking here. Bear in mind that the paper size for this is A3, which you might have to adjust if you want to print at home.

Other basic info
4/4 time signature, 96 bpm, homophonic texture throughout. Dynamics are determined by the number of layers performing at any one time – less layers = quieter dynamics.

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.

AoS 4 explores music which takes influences from different cultures across the world. The first piece is from close to home, a song by the group Capercaille, Skye Waulking Song, from the 2000 album, Nadurra.

10. Skye Waulking Song - Capercaillie (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... 'Skye Waulking Song' ('Chuir M'athair Mise Dhan Taigh Charraideach') - by Capercaillie From 'Nàdurra' Set Work 10 for GCSE Music Edexc...

If you’re listening in school and can’t use YouTube, try the Grooveshark widget below:

Capercaille – their musical style

Capercaille are a Scottish folk rock band. Their music mixes elements and instruments from both these musical styles to form a fusion of them.

By reading the profiles of each group member, it will give you an idea of the range of instruments the band play.

Task

  1. Find out more about the band by exploring their website. How did the band form? How many albums have they released?
  2. Have a listen to other songs from the album, Nadurra by clicking here. This should take you to Grooveshark. If not, open the Grooveshark page, and type in Nadurra in the search box, you’ll find it! Skye Waulking Song

What is this song about?
The word ‘waulking’ mean ‘working’ and this song would have been sung traditionally by women producing cloth. The song is a lament, taken from a Victorian collection of Scottish verses, sung by the wife of Seathan. Seathan was the son of the king of Ireland, and his life story is told in the lines of the song.

This song is very repetitive, so understanding the basic sound and parameters of the music is important:

Basic musical features

  • E minor mode
  • 12/8 time signature
  • Mixture of traditional folk instruments with Western pop instruments, and recording techniques
  • Pentatonic scale for the vocal line
  • Simple chord sequence
  • Use of heterophonic texture

Instrumentation
As mentioned above, there are two distinct categories of instruments, which you will be expected to know in the listening exam:

Trad folk: violin (fiddle), accordion, uillean pipes (like the bagpipes), vocals (sung in Gaelic), string bass (pizzicato), bouzouki (Greek acoustic guitar)

Western: Wurlitzer piano (earlier keyboard), drum kit, synth (with tremolo effect)

Make sure you can spot which is which, and know which category they both fall into.

Harmony and Tonality
E minor mode is the key, and the harmony is almost all diatonic, can be split into three distinct uses in the song:

  • Bar 1-24: Em – G alternating every bar
  • Bar 25-44: C – G – Em – G, one chord per bar
  • Bar 45-end: a little more variety – Am9 – Em9 – Em G before reverting to the previous pattern, and fading out using C – G alternating.

Melody
There is one basic vocal phrase, which is repeated over and over, with subtle variations, lasting four bars. The melodic scale is entire pentatonic. There are a variety of ‘improvised’ vocal ornaments added freely though out the song.

Rhythm and Metre
The song is in 12/8, with a lilting gentle rhythmic feel. There is some syncopation in the introduction. During the first eight bars, the meter isn’t established clearly. The bpm is about 60.

Texture
The texture is basically homophonic throughout, with a couple of small variants – in the opening section, there is a hint of dialogue and imitation between the Wurlitzer piano and bouzouki riffs, and the texture in the instrumental section is heterophonic – the pipes, violin and accordion all play slightly varied versions of the same melody over the top of each other, making it nearly, but not quite, monophonic – this is what heterophonic texture is.

Structure
There is no fixed traditional ‘verse – chorus’ structure used here, given the almost constant repetition of the vocal phrase. However, there are some distinctive sections, as mentioned above:

Bars 1-8: Introduction, in which the tonality and pulse of the music are ambiguous, before the voice enters.

Bars 9-24: Voice enters, with the song slowly building around more fixed patterns.

Bars 25-36: Full instrumentation, with kit playing a regular rhythmic pattern.

Bars 37-44: Instrumental section, similar in style to the previous section, with one-bar vocal break in bar 44.

Bar 45-end: Varied repetitions of the vocal riff, repeating to fade.

Notice each section is built in blocks of four bar units, formed from the length of the chord sequence and vocal phrase.

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.

The second piece in AoS 4 is Rag Desh, from India. There are three different versions of the piece to listen to and study.

11.1. Rag Desh - Anoushka Shankar (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... 'Rag Desh' - by Anoushka Shankar From 'Live At Carnegie Hall' Set Work 11 (Version 1) for GCSE Music Edexcel From Area Of Study 4 - Wo...

11.2. Rag Desh - Chiranji Lal Tanwar (GCSE Music Edexcel)

Very basic facts on... 'Rag Desh' ('Mhara Janam Maran') - by Chiranji Lal Tanwar From 'Mewar Re Mira' Set Work 11 (Version 2) for GCSE Music Edexcel From Are...

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Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.

If you’re listening to the pieces in school, you’ll need to use the Grooveshark widgets below:

Understanding How Indian Music Works

Indian music is in some respects built in the same way as Western music, but different terms are used to describe the musical elements. Hopefully this basic table below will set you going, and the more you study further down the page, the more detail we’ll go into.

Indian Term Western Term
Rag Scale
Taal/Tal Rhythm
Sargam Major
Sa Tonic
Alap Intro
Gat Main section
Tan Fast ornament
Meend/Mind Pitch bend

We are going to learn about the differences between all three, and the musical ideas which bind them together.

What is a Rag?
A rag is the Indian classical music equivalent of a scale. However, unlike a ‘normal’ scale, it doesn’t have to move by step, doesn’t have a set number of pitches in it, and is sometimes played differently, depending on whether you are going to go up or down in pitch.

There are hundreds of different types of raga, most of which have some sort of cultural, ceremonial or spiritual reference, possibly to do with the time of year or day, an important occasion such as a religious event or a personal one, like a wedding.

Rag Desh
Rag Desh is a specific type of rag, used to compose a piece of music for the monsoon season, which looks like this in traditional notation:
Snip20140228_1

Notice it does’t move by step on the way up, and is slightly different on the way back down.

The key note or tonic in Indian music is called the sa, and the tonal system (a bit like major or minor) is the sargam.

The three pieces that we have to study are all based on Rag Desh.

What is the tal?
Tala are rhythm patterns. There are several that we need to remember:

Rupak (3+2+2=7)

Keherwa (2+2+2+2=8)

Jhaptal (2+3+2+3=10)

Ektal (2+2+2+2+2+2=12)

Tintal/Teental (4+4+4+4=16)

They are a bit like time signatures, and most Indian pieces change tal at least once in the piece.

In addition to these, there are occasional tihai patterns used, which are specific syncopated, repeated rhythm patterns. They sometimes signify the end of a section.

Structure
There is a set pattern to the structure of an Indian classical piece:

Alap – slow, no pulse, improvised using the rag

Jhor – second section, slightly faster

Jhalla – third section, slightly faster again

Gat (Instrumental only)/Bandish (with vocals) – main section, split into shorter sections, when the tal changes.

None of the Rag Desh versions have a jhor or jhalla, but EDEXCEL still expect you to know these terms.

Instrumentation
For pictures of all the instruments listed below, click here to find them all.

The tabla are a pair of drums, which sit on a little ‘donut’ on the floor. One drum is slightly larger than the other.

The sitar is a stringed instrument with frets, plucked. It also has a layer of sympathetic strings, which vibrate, creating a drone in the background.

The sarod is similar to the sitar, but has no frets and is smaller. Despite this, it is lower in pitch.

The sarangi is a bowed instrument, higher in pitch than the sitar, a bit like a violin.

The esraj is also bowed, like a violin.

The bansuri is an Indian flute.

The tambura is a drone instrument, with four strings.

The pakhawaj is a double-headed drum.

Other Musical Elements
A tihai is a syncopated riff, often repeated at section endings.

A tan is a fast-moving scale passage (don’t mix this word up with tal).

Rag Desh Version 1

This is the simplest of the three, scored for sitar and tabla drums.

The piece starts with a free alap, before progressing into a lively gat.

The alap has no metre (regular beat). The sitar plays freely, improvising around the rag.

The gat is a fixed, ‘prearranged’ section, which has a Jhaptal rhythm pattern for most of it, switching to a tintal towards the very end.

For detail of what happens throughout this, use your score – to write it all again wouldn’t provide any extra insight.

Rag Desh Version 2

This version, Mhara janam maran, is a bhajan (song). It is written for voice, sarangi, sarod, pakhawaj, cymbals and tabla.

The alap contains a freely metered section based loosely on the chorus of the song.

The bandish has a regular structured pattern to it, alternating between a vocal verse and chorus, followed by an instrumental solo, using either the sarod or sarangi. This pattern is repeated three times. The tal is a fast keherwa tal.

For detail of what happens throughout this, use your score – to write it all again wouldn’t provide any extra insight.

Rag Desh Version 3

This is the longest of the three, and the most complex. It is written for bansuri, esraj, tambura and tabla.

The piece starts again with an alap. This is a significantly longer section than in the previous two versions. It starts with a drone on the tambura, and the bansuri then starts a series of elaborate improvisations, building ideas from short motifs based on the rag. The melody is quite fragmented at the start, but becomes more continuous as the section develops.

The gat is split into two, each with a different tal. The first gat is a slow one, with a rupak tal. The tabla and the bansuri take it in turns to play some elaborate improvisations against a simpler part on the other instrument. Tihais are used to mark the end of sections.

This leads into the second gat, in ektal time. Lots of fast moving bansuri passages provide the main ideas. This includes using tans several times. Again, tihais are used at the end of the piece.

For detail of what happens throughout this, use your score – to write it all again wouldn’t provide any extra insight.

Help!

Because these pieces are completely different from everything else we’ve studied, it needs a slightly different approach. What you need to be able to do is apply the information above to the specific part of the piece that you are played in the exam. This will take practice and time, but it is necessary to answer the questions well.

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 document should help you with the process.

Tab 3 content

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