Techniques of Melodic Composition
Plainsong: Singing is unaccompanied
Sung by monks in Latin
Performed in Roman Catholic services
Melody is modal
Resonant acoustics in big churches, cathedrals
Leaps in melody are usually 4ths or 5ths.
Melody moves mostly by step
Monophonic texture (1 line of melody sung at a time)
Tone row (Prime order) includes all 12 chromatic pitches
20th century technique, made by Schoenberg
Detailed dynamics and articulation give serial melodies structure
Notes must always be heard in the correct order
Variations on tone row include: inversion, retrograde, inversion retrograde
Atonal: no sense of tonic home note.
Based on whole tone scale
20th Century technique made by Debussy
Whole tone scale is made up entirely of whole tone intervals
Linked with impressionism in art
Whole tone scale sounds ‘dreamy’
Fusion of American and African music growing out of the slave trade
Call and response
Blue notes and the blues scale
12 bar blues based on chords I, IV and V
Syncopated rhythms anticipate the beat
Indian Classical music
Much is based around improvisation
Rag: a group of notes like a scale that the melody is based on
Tabla plays rhythmic improvisations
Tal: a cycle of beats that rhythm of based on
Sitar plays the melody
Music from Indonesia
Based on cycles of melodies played at different speeds
Uses metallic instruments
Drums keep a steady beat
Choir: Vocal Ranges
Soprano: Highest female voice
Alto: Lowest female voice
Tenor: Highest male voice
Baritone: between tenor and bass
Bass: lowest male voice
Ternary: ABA (or ABA1 where 1 is a variation to A)
Rondo: ABACADA (A: refrain; B,C,D: episodes)
Melody: Simple, decorated with many ornaments, trills, mordents
Harmony: Simple, no harsh dissonant chords, based mostly on primary chords (I, IV, V)
Phrasing: Balanced phrases, dialogue and imitation between instruments, NOT call and response.
Orchestra: Small ensembles, mostly strings with harpsichords, organ or recorders.
Composers: Bach, Handel, Purcell, Vivaldi, Monteverdi
Melody: Simple, sometimes decorated with ornaments
Harmony: Simple, no harsh dissonant chords, based mostly on primary chords
Phrasing: Balanced, regular 4 bar phrases, question and answer, not call and response.
Orchestra: Small orchestra, mostly strings with a few woodwind and brass, percussion is mostly timpani playing tonic and dominant, also could include piano.
Composer: Mozart, Haydn
Part of a suite of dances from the Renaissance period
The Pavane is the first dance. It is slow and stately
In 4/4 time
Often has a drone accompaniment
Danced at court in pairs. Formal dance, big heavy costumes
Followed the Pavane, often based on the same melody
¾ time, fast and lively
Dotted rhythms allow for a jump.
Dance in pairs but not as formal as a Pavane
Strings, lute, tabor are common instruments.
Romantic period first became popular in Vienna with Johann Strauss.
Um cha cha feel, bass note of a chord accents the first beat of every bar.
Harmonies are simple and change slowly (slow harmonic pace)
Melody is in balanced phrases, flowing and lyrical. Played by higher instruments (stings, flutes) in orchestra.
Played by a large symphony orchestra
Rubato (slowing down and speeding up) is sometimes used although a steady beat is generally needed to dance to the waltz.
Partner in a ballroom, formal, social occasion. Upper class dance to set steps.
Piano waltzes are common, but tend to be freer and therefore not suitable for dancing.
Began in the USA
120 beats per minute, fast tempo, usually 4/4 time
Uses much technology:
Use of hook lines and memorable melody
Short guitar riffs
Simple verse and chord structures
Informal, relaxed dance in clubs or discos
No set dance steps – people can dance how they like
Dancers can dance alone or in big groups
Amplified sound – loud.
Traditions and innovations
Son is a dance song from Cuba
Structured around the son clave rhythm
Uses lots of percussion to form complex cross rhythms
Call and response between pregon (lead singer) and choro (chorus) during montuno section. Sung is Spanish or Portuguese
Melodies move in 3rd or 5ths.
Simple harmonies based on chords I, IV and V.
Ostinato patterns are based on syncopated rhythms.
Big band instruments are used
Brass instruments have stab chords
Dialogue between different instruments
Use of riffs
Piano and uitar use the compong style
Punjabi Folk Dance
Folk music to celebrate the end of the harvest
Music led by the dhol drum playing the chaal rhythm
Bols are used to help the dhol player know which strokes to use (dha and na)
Folk melodies are used
Singing is in Punjabi
Western popular styles
Styles such as rap, reggae, hip hop, drum n bass have all influenced Bhangra.
Bhangra tracks can sound very different to each other as a result of what style is has been fused with.
Technology plays a big part in Bhangra:
Sampling of other tracks
Remixing old tracks
Effects such as echo
Sequencing and looping
Technology is also found in the instruments used:
Developed as a ‘Classical’ style of music in the 1960s
Influences from Africa, India and Indonesia
Composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass
Cells are staring points for ideas. Repetitions or patterns allow cells and patterns to develop and change over time.
Technology can be used to loop cells or build them up using multi tracking.
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