Friday, April 29, 2011

***Chapter 18 Vocabulary Test - Tuesday 5/3/2011***

You will have a vocabulary test on Tuesday 5/3/2011. This will be a 20 point test that will include matching and some fill in the blank. Be sure that you are able to use these terms in a sentence. That, of course, would only make sense.

Richard Wagner and Romantic Opera (In Three Acts)

Act One: The Ride of the Valkyries -

In the opera-house, the Ride, which takes around eight minutes, begins in the prelude to the Act, building up successive layers of accompaniment until the curtain rises to reveal a mountain peak where four of the eight Valkyrie sisters of Brünnhilde have gathered in preparation for the transportation of fallen heroes to Valhalla. As they are joined by the other four, the familiar tune is carried by the orchestra, while, above it, the Valkyries greet each other and sing their battle-cry. Apart from the song of the Rhinemaidens in Das Rheingold, it is the only ensemble piece in the first three operas of Wagner's Ring cycle. Outside the opera-house, it is usually heard in a purely instrumental version, which may be as short as three minutes.

Act Two: The Leitmotif-

A modern take on the German leitmotif

A leitmotif (sometimes written leit-motif) (from the German Leitmotiv, lit. "leading motif", or perhaps more accurately "guiding motif") is a musical term (though occasionally used in theatre or literature), referring to a recurring theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea.[1] It is closely related to the musical idea of idée fixe. [2]

In particular such a theme should be 'clearly identified so as to retain its identity if modified on subsequent appearances' whether such modification be in terms of rhythm, harmony, orchestration or accompaniment. It may also be 'combined with other leitmotifs to suggest a new dramatic condition' or development.[3] The term is notably associated with the operas of Richard Wagner, although he was not the originator of the concept.[4]

Although usually a short melody, it can also be a chord progression or even a simple rhythm. Leitmotifs can help to bind a work together into a coherent whole, and also enable the composer to relate a story without the use of words, or to add an extra level to an already present story.

By extension, the word has also been used to mean any sort of recurring theme, (whether or not subject to developmental transformation) in music, literature, or (metaphorically) the life of a fictional character or a real person. It is sometimes also used in discussion of other musical genres, such as instrumental pieces, cinema, and video game music, sometimes interchangeably with the more general category of 'theme'. Such usages typically obscure the crucial aspect of a leitmotif, as opposed to the plain musical motif or theme - that it is transformable and recurs in different guises throughout the piece in which it occurs.

Act Three: Bugs Bunny -

Please Click Here:

What's Opera, Doc? is a 1957 American animated cartoon short in the Merrie Melodies series, directed by Chuck Jones for Warner Bros. Cartoons. The Michael Maltese story features Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny through a 6:11 operatic parody of 19th century classical composer Richard Wagner's operas, particularly Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) and Tannhäuser. It is sometimes characterized as a condensed version of Wagner's Ring (also known as the "Ring Cycle"), and its music borrows heavily from the second opera Die Walküre, woven around the standard Bugs-Elmer conflict.

Originally released to theaters by Warner Bros. on July 6, 1957, What's Opera, Doc? features the speaking and singing voices of Mel Blanc as Bugs and Arthur Q. Bryan as Elmer (except for one word dubbed by Blanc). The short is also sometimes informally referred to as ''Kill the Wabbit'' after the line sung by Fudd to the tune of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", the opening passage from Act Three of Die Walküre (which is also the leitmotif of the Valkyries). This short is also notable for one of the final performances of Elmer Fudd by Arthur Q. Bryan, who died in 1959.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Romantic Music and Nationalism: Bedrich Smetena - Ma Vlast (The Moldau)

Excerpted from the Modern History Source Book  at

Nationalism was the most successful political force of the 19th century.  It emerged from two main sources: the Romantic exaltation of "feeling" and "identity" and the Liberal requirement that a legitimate state be based on a "people" rather than, for example, a dynasty, God, or imperial domination. Both Romantic "identity nationalism" and Liberal "civic nationalism" were essentially middle class movements. There were two main ways of exemplification: the French method of "inclusion" - essentially that anyone who accepted loyalty to the civil French state was a "citizen". In practice this meant the enforcement of a considerable degree of uniformity, for instance the destruction of regional languages.  The German method, required by political circumstances, was to define the "nation" in ethnic terms. Ethnicity in practice came down to speaking German and sometimes just having a German name. For the largely German-speaking Slavic middle classes of Prague, Agram (Zagreb) etc. who took up the nationalist ideal, the ethnic aspect became even more important than it had been for the Germans.
It was only later in the 19th century that nationalism spread to Slavic countries, some of which which had been effectively dead as political entities for centuries, and where languages survived only as peasant tongues. Among these groups nationalism tended to develop and change in similar ways among each people.
The music here illustrates one common line developments:- generally from a "cultural nationalism" to a more overtly political "liberal nationalism", and then, all to often, to an exclusivist "triumphal nationalism".  It is presented in order of stages rather than in order of date of composition. At any given moment, nationalist movements were often at different stages in different countries.

Vltava, also known by its German name Die Moldau (or The Moldau), was composed between 20 November and 8 December 1874 and was premiered on 4 April 1875. It is about 12 minutes long, and is in the key of E minor.

In this piece, Smetana uses tone painting to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia's great rivers. In his own words:

The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer's wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night's moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John's Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German.

The piece contains Smetana's most famous tune. It is an adaptation of the melody La Mantovana, attributed to the Italian renaissance tenor Giuseppe Cenci (also known as Giuseppino),[3] which, in a borrowed Moldovan form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. The tune also appears in major in an old folk Czech song Kočka leze dírou ("The Cat Crawls Through the Hole") and Hans Eisler used it for his "Song of the Moldau".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

F. Schubert - The begining of the Romantic period - Der Erlkong-

Franz Peter Schubert: (January 31, 1797 – November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer.
Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous "Unfinished Symphony"), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. Appreciation of his music during his lifetime was limited, but interest in Schubert's work increased dramatically in the decades following his death at the age of 31. Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, discovered and championed his works in the 19th Century. Today, Schubert is admired as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers.

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Erl King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
For many a game I will play there with thee;
On my beach, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child, thy fancy deceives;
the wind is sighing through withering leaves."

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
My daughters by night on the dance floor you lead,
They'll cradle and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl King is showing his daughters to me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it alright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou aren't willing, then force I'll employ."
"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
For sorely the Erl King has hurt me at last."

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He holds in his arms the shuddering child;
He reaches his farmstead with toil and dread,—
The child in his arms lies motionless, dead.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chapter 18 - In 2 Acts: The Classical Period

Act I - Sonata Allegro Form

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

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

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

~Edna St. Vincent Milay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Act II - The Concerto

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

*** Test Friday 4/8/2011 ***

You will have a test *** Friday 4/8/2011 *** on the information from the Medieval Period - Baroque Period.

Monday, April 4, 2011

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

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


Baroque Instruments -

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

Harpsichord in all its Glory!


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

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

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

Use the web-site listed above to research a Baroque era composer NOT J.S. Bach or A. Vivaldi.  Once you find one you like - Embed a video of a performance/recording of one of their works onto your blog. 

Write a brief Bio of your composer.  (Please do NOT copy and Paste - that would be plagiarism~) 
Did you enjoy the piece of music you embedded?  Why?  Is there anything special worth noting about your composer?

Due: Wednesday 4/6/2011