Stephanie Solanki, 9/24/12

I thoroughly and completely enjoyed today’s class session. I am a musician; I play guitar and sing in my church’s band every Sunday and can also play guitar classically. Music theory is something that I’d love to get into. I think that this was a very toned-down type of theory class, which made me so happy.

The four fundamental components of music are rhythm, melody, harmony, and timbre/texture. I knew what the first three were very well, but timbre/texture were knew terms to me. I loved listening to the different pieces and seeing the different combinations of the “Big Four” components. It was so interesting how a little change in one of the components sets it apart from all other pieces.

“Praeludium I” was heavenly. I notices a very distinct rhythm set by the 1st and 5th notes. the bass notes add a depth in the middle of the song that contrasts the dominant high notes of the melody. The homogeneity created a soothing feeling, like a lullaby. There was no climax. Volume and dynamics create a climax, but this piece was very tranquil.

“Praeludium II” was not calming. It was rather suspenseful. Dr. Kahan said it was like a “malevolent machine,” a concept that I’ve never thought of before, but I realized how well it  fit the piece. Different configuration of basic elements of music create a different sound. Dissonant notes in this piece set it apart from the first piece in which the notes were consonant.

In the “Rite of Spring” by Stravinsky, I noticed a very strong bassline. There was a dominant, repetitive melody broken up by they elimination of the bass to transition from one melody to another. I thought it was interesting that the harmonies among the instruments created an eerie sound. There was a very futuristic sounding strings part paired with a basic 1-2 bass rhythm. I also noticed the contrast of the staccato baseline paired with very long sounds in the background.

In Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” I thought it was so interesting that Dr. Kahan said “more humanity, as represented by more instruments, is added to the tune.”  There were different musical events occurring under the dominant melody in the piece. The staccato bassline contrasts the fluid dominant melody provided by upper string instruments. The climax in the piece was a departure from the standard tune of “Ode to Joy” and is brought on by the fast beat of the upper strings.

We then looked at the use of music in productions, like in a movie and an opera performance. In “Camille” with Greta Garbo, there was quicker pace. In “Un di felice” from “La Traviata,” the music was like a waltz. It was an aria. It had a slower pace, which made the content or text of the song more dramatic and realistic. It illustrates the process of him falling in love with her, rather than just a love-at-first-sight type of infatuation in “Camille” where he remembers what she was wearing.