Chopin: Prelude No.15 in D flat Major

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Transcript Chopin: Prelude No.15 in D flat Major

Handel: ‘And the Glory of the Lord’
from Messiah (Baroque 1600-1750)
Instruments (timbre) /Ensemble
SATB choir accompanied by string
orchestra with basso continuo
Tempo & Rhythm
Time sig. 3/4. Allegro (fast). Almost
continuous crotchet movement keeps
the piece moving. The final bars use
sustained chords.
Background/General Information
The Messiah is an Oratorio – a work for vocal soloists, chorus and orchestra that uses
religious text from the Bible. It would have traditionally been performed at Easter,
but is now often performed at Christmas. Handel composed it in only three weeks in
1741 and it was first performed in Dublin. The whole work ‘Messiah’ is a huge work
in three sections that lasts nearly 3 hours. Within each section there are lots of
shorter pieces (movements) that include Arias & Recitatives (solo songs/ duets),
Choruses (with the choir) and some instrumental pieces. The piece we are studying
‘And the glory of the Lord’ is the first chorus in the whole work.
Structure: The piece is based on 3 lines of text that repeat and 4 melodic ideas:
Mixture of homophonic (parts moving together with similar rhythms) and
polyphonic (different rhythms in the vocal lines weaving in and out of each other).
The string parts support & accompany the vocal lines (often double the vocal lines).
Sometimes, two or more vocal parts sing in unison (exactly the same notes) or
together in harmony (same rhythm and words, different notes).
The continuo players (cello, double bass and organ) play throughout.
Structure continued:
Short instrumental introduction called a ‘ritornello’ (= ‘a little return’)
Introduces each idea simply, usually in one part, then weaves them into the rest of
the music as other parts join in, often imitating each other and overlapping.
The last four bars of the song are marked Adagio – they are much slower and there
is a plagal cadence (chords IV – I). The texture is also homorhythmic with all parts
playing/singing to help give a sense of finality.
Melody & Pitch
All the parts keep to a modest pitch range. Lots of Imitation in the vocal parts.
Most of the singing is syllabic (one note per syllable) but the word ‘revealed’ is
melismatic (when a syllable is sung over several notes).
Style - Baroque Features (general features)
• Ornamented melody
• Diatonic chords/harmony (all belong to the key)
• Prevalence of one mood or ‘affection’
• Terraced dynamics - contrasting volumes on two levels, loud and soft
• Basso continuo (literally continuous bass – play chordal support with the bass line usually played by the cello)
• Use of the Baroque orchestra – strings carry tune, a few woodwind, brass and timpani used.
Tonality and Harmony
Major keys to create a constant happy mood.
Mostly in A major. Modulates to E & B major
at certain points. Most cadences are perfect
but the final cadence is plagal.
Mozart: Symphony No.40 in G minor
– 1st Movement (Classical period 1750-1820)
• Written for a fairly small orchestra (no percussion)
• Only brass are French horn (no trumpets/trombones!)
• Woodwind - seven players (flute, oboe, 2 clarinets and 2 bassoons)
• Original version didn’t have clarinets (as they had only just been invented)
• Mozart wrote another later version (the one we are studying) that included them.
Tempo & Rhythm
Fast molto allegro in a 4/4 time signature. Clear pulse, easy to follow. Opening
quaver accompaniment in the violas and on-beat crotchet bass notes from the
basses. 1st subject is based on a driving pattern using quavers and semiquavers.
Melodic/Musical Devices
Sequence – used in opening melody in violins. First four bars repeated
using a descending sequence. Also in the bridge passage
Chromaticism – used in second subject (semitones – G, F#, F, E, E flat, D)
Counter-melody – used in development.
Augmentation – doubling original notes values (used in codetta)
Pathétique – literally pathetic, overall melancholy mood of the piece.
Structure: This movement is in Sonata Form, in three main sections:. There is no intro.
Exposition – two contrasting themes.
First subject in G minor (idea 1: bar 1-9, idea 2: bar 9-14). Extra chromatic notes add tension in the bridge
passage (bar 28-43). Second subject in B flat major (bar 44-72).
Idea 1:
Idea 2:
Structure continued:
Development (contrasting middle section)
- themes go through lots of variations.
- Harmonies are more chromatic (Oboes and Bassoons)
- Starts in F# minor, but explores lots of different keys.
Recapitulation – (repeats themes of the exposition).
- Returns to G minor and repeats the first subject.
- Bridge passage is longer this time (& more keys).
- Second subject this time in G minor.
Timbre and texture
Mix of strings, woodwind and one brass instrument. Mainly melody dominated homophony used throughout. Explores other textures too.
Violins I & II play in octaves at first, also plays in unison. Other parts uses pedals (sustained notes) and it ends with homophonic texture.
Melody & Pitch
Moves mostly in
step/conjunct movement
with some leaps.
Instruments generally play
in their comfortable, middle
registers (ranges). The flute
and violin 1 explore a
higher range at times.
Style - Classical Features
• Balanced phrases – often of eight bars
Marked soft – p - at the beginning (unusual for a Classical
• Graceful melody lines
symphony) – the opening is normally loud. Second subject has
• Melody dominated texture
crescendos. The bridge is then loud – f and has lots of sforzandos.
• Structures defined by clear use of keys and sense of symmetry
• Harmony was functional (based on I, V, IV, II and VI)
• Ideas of contrast in terms of key, melody and more varied dynamics
NB – this is just the first movement. A classical symphony has four movements, each with a
• Orchestra was established as a standard instrumental ensemble
different speed – 1st: very fast, 2nd: slow, 3rd moderate and 4th very fast indeed.
• New musical genres emerged – the symphony, concerto and string quartet.
Chopin: Prelude No.15 in D flat Major
- Raindrop (Romantic period 1820-1900)
The piano and playing techniques
• Developed in the Romantic era so it became a much more popular and important instrument
• PEDALS – both the sustain pedal (that holds notes on) and the soft pedal became more effective
• SIZE – it got bigger which meant it had a bigger dynamic range.
• HAMMERS – given a felt covering instead of leather, so the tone was made a lot softer and more rounded.
• STRINGS – were made thicker, longer and more tense – creating a fuller tone.
Sustain pedal symbol. The first symbol means ‘press the pedal’ and the
second star looking symbol means ’release the pedal’.
Structure and Tonality
 Ternary form – ABA with a short coda.
 Section lengths are not equal. The longest
section is the contrasting middle section.
 When section A returns before the coda we
only hear 8 bars of the original theme.
Timbre and texture
• Entirely homophonic (blocks of chords), except for two monophonic bars at the start of the coda.
• In the A sections the texture consists of melody and accompaniment and is often quite thin.
• Middle section texture is more chordal. Also repeated pedal note, now in the right hand (inverted).
• In the loud sections the texture in thickened by octave doubling in both hands.
Style - Romantic Features
• Piano developed in the romantic period – became bigger.
This meant it had a large dynamic range.
• Rich harmonies
• Use of pedal (on piano)
• Often long, slow melodies
• Rubato – not playing strictly in time but making notes
longer/ shorter with the feel of the music.
Tempo & Rhythm
 Slow 4/4
 Rubato is used – expressive shortening of
some notes and lengthening of others.
 Accents used in section B
 Notes lengths augmented making it feel
slow and heavy.
Type of piece
A prelude would have been
played in the home, small
concert halls or in a recital room.
Tonality and Harmony
Keys outline the structure. Opens and ends in the
major with a contrasting minor middle section.
• Raindrop notes are dominant pedals. We hear them at
the start (the A flats in the left hand). The dominant
pedal is very clear in section B – repeated quaver G#’s.
• Passes through G# minor and F# minor in section B.
• When section A returns it is slightly more chromatic.
D flat major
27 bars
C# minor (tonic minor)*
Explores other keys too.
47 bars
D flat major
8 bars
D flat major
6 bars
*C# is the enharmonic equivalent of D flat – the same note
• The minor key sounds much more dramatic
• Raindrop notes in section B are the G#’s
• Exploring other keys is called modulation.
Starts quietly (p) and continues through section A.
Section B: reaches ff (very loud), continues to drop to p then crescendo (get louder).
Return of section A is p (soft). Also marked smorzando (means dying away).
The piece ends very softly – pp.
Schoenberg: ‘Peripetie’
- from Five Orchestral pieces (Expressionism)
Rondo form (ABACA)
Can be described as free rondo – ABA’CA’’ (A’ and A’’ are variations of section A)
Uses small ideas (motifs) that are first stated and then transformed.
Each motif is based on a hexachord – a set of six pitches.
Motif A:
Motif A is a short fanfare played by
three clarinets, a bass clarinet and
three bassoons. The dynamic is forte
(loud) with a crescendo.
Motif B:
Motif B is played by three flutes and
piccolo, three oboes and cor anglais,
plus three clarinets in B flat and one
in D (a very unusual clarinet). All the
accidentals create the dissonant
chord at the end of the motif.
Motif C:
Expressionist features:
• A high level of dissonance
• Extreme contrasts of dynamics
• Constantly changing textures
• ‘Distorted’ melodies and harmonies
• Angular melodies with wide leaps
Tempo / Rhythm
• Tempos change in each section.
• Lots of different note lengths (from demisemiquavers to semibreves)
• Notes arranged in different inversions – retrograde, inverted and transposed.
– a German word that means ‘tone-colour melody’. The name was used by
Schoenburg and it’s a technique he used to break up a melody by passing it
around different parts/instruments. It gives the ‘tune’ variations in timbre.
There are 7 motifs heard
simultaneously at the start of the
piece. Each motif has a different
orchestral colour and mood.
Instruments / Timbre
Large woodwind section:
- 3 flutes
- piccolo
- 3 oboes
- cor anglais
- 3 clarinets
- bass clarinet
- 3 bassoons
- contra bassoon
Through out the piece, the texture
varies from polyphonic to
homophonic and ranges from solo
flute to the whole orchestra playing.
Tonality and Harmony
Use of the hexachord – as a chord or a melody.
Use of augmented chords (i.e FAC becomes F A C#)
Whole tone scales (the interval between every note
is a tone – Db, Eb, F, G, A)
Motif C is played by 6 horns,
another angular line. The motif is in
triplets but this time triplet quavers.
How are the motifs developed?
Imitation – where a motif in one part is repeated a few notes later in a
different part, overlapping the motif in the first part.
Diminution – where the note values are made smaller (usually halved)
Melodic inversion – where the melody is turned upside down
Big brass section:
- 6 horns
- 3 trumpets
- 4 trombones
- Tuba
Lots of percussion
Sudden changes and ranges from pp to ff
(very quiet to very loud).
Orchestral scoring supports some control.
Time Signature/Rhythm:
Movement III has a time signature of 3/2 (three beats in a bar, each equal to a minim).
Reich: Electronic Counterpoint
A 3/2 bar has a total of 12 quavers or twelve-pulse units. African rhythms are often
organised into twelve-pulse units. The pattern will not just be divided into three lots of
four, but will also be divided into other groups, such as four lots of three.
Electric Counterpoint is in three movements, fast-slow-fast.
Steve Reich uses this idea throughout the movement, moving the accents and sometimes
changing the time signature from 3/2 to 12/8.
Features in Electronic Counterpoint
 a complex contrapuntal texture
 broken chords (notes of a chord are played singly rather than together)
 slow harmonic changes
 note addition (where notes are added to a repeated phrase)
 melodic transformation (where a melody gradually changes shape)
 rhythmic transformation (where a rhythm gradually changes shape)
 gradual changes in texture and dynamics.
Solo guitar (acoustic or electric)
• 12 guitars
• 2 bass guitars.
The soloist plays live against a pre-recorded backing.
Alternatively it can be performed completely live by
the whole ensemble of 15 players.
Minimalist music often features:
 Layers of ostinati
 Constantly repeated patterns , subjected to gradual changes
 Layered textures
 Interlocking repeated phrases and rhythms
 Diatonic harmony (using notes which belong to the key rather
than chromatic notes which are outside the key)
Opening idea:
Guitar 1 is playing a repeated syncopated melody in its high register. This ostinato bar is played 73 times.
The guitars enter in canon. The entries start on different notes of the phrase so the accented notes fall in
different places (known as metrical displacement.).
Guitar 3 use of addition – notice how the
added rest displaces the rhythm pattern.
Tonality and Harmony
The solo guitar starts to play a three chord pattern: C, B minor and E minor.
The key changes suddenly to E flat and then back to G and then the two keys alternate quite rapidly.
The time signatures alternate between 3/2 and 12/8. From the fade out, the notes of a pentatonic
scale are used. A long crescendo leads to a final chord built on the two notes E and B. There is no
cadence and no complete tonic chord so we are left wondering what key we have finished in.
Bernstein: “Something’s Coming’
from West Side Story (Musicals)
Context and Background
West Side Story was composed in 1957. The musical is based on
Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet. Set in New York, it features two
rival teenage gangs, the Jets (American) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican). Tony,
the male lead character (Jet) falls in love with Maria (Sharks) and as in the
Shakespeare play, their love is doomed. The song ‘Something’s Coming’ is
Tony’s first solo, and establishes his optimistic character.
Tempo & Rhythm
The metre changes between 3/4 and 2/4.
These changes of metre, the fast tempo and the frequent syncopation help to maintain a feeling of excitement and anticipation.
The accompaniment is largely made up of an on-beat bass part with off beat chords. At the start of the piece, these two parts create cross-rhythms.
Structure & Melody
The melody is almost entirely syllabic.
It is based on the alternation of three main themes:
1. The quiet, syncopated opening theme.
2. The loud, strident theme in 2/4, first heard in bar 21.
3. The lyrical, slow moving theme, first heard at bar 73.
Theme 1:
These three ideas are alternated a number of times.
The repetitions are not exact. Bernstein varies the themes
by changing the words or metre.
Theme 2:
The texture of the song is Homophonic.
Theme 3:
There are three main ideas in the accompaniment:
 The repeated riff that opens the song
 The short, mainly syncopated chords heard in bars 21-26
 The fast, um-cha accompaniment first heard at bar 32 for the long note on ‘me’.
‘Something’s Coming’ is a song for the solo tenor accompanied by a band made up of woodwind,
brass, percussion and strings.
• Requires players to ‘double up’ (play more than one instrument, e.g. clarinet in one song and
saxophone in the next, then switch again in other songs).
• 5 woodwind players, 2 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, 7 violins, 4 cellos, and 2 double basses.
Tonality and Harmony
‘Something’s Coming’ is in D Major. There are two
contrasting sections in C Major.
In D major – to reflect happy emotions, because at
this point Tony is looking forward to the future.
There is frequent use of the sharpened fourth and
flattened seventh in both keys.
Sharpened fourth creates the interval of a tri-tone
with the key note. The tenor’s last note is a flattened
seventh. This is unusual as the note is unresolved
and the music just fades out beneath it – creates a
feeling of incompletion and fits well with Tony’s
sense of expectation.
The harmony is tonal and jazz influenced, with
frequent 7th chords and other added note chords.
Instrumental Techniques
To make sure the band doesn’t overpower the solo singer,
the accompaniment uses:
 Quiet dynamics
 Soft timbres (muted trumpets and pizzicato strings)
 Homophonic Texture
The words ‘The air is humming’ are illustrated by the strings
using harmonics (very high notes) and tremolo (very quick notes)
‘All Blues’ from Kind of Blue
- Miles Davis (Blues/Jazz)
Tempo & Rhythm
The score is notated in 6/4.
The tempo is described as a jazz waltz because each 6/4 bar sounds
like a pair of bars in 3/4 time (metre associated with the waltz).
‘All Blues’ is performed with swing quavers. This means that each
pair of quavers is played with the first a little longer than the second.
‘All Blues’ based on the 12 Bar Blues progression – a chord sequence which
lasts for 12 bars and returns throughout the piece.
One statement of the chord sequence is called a chorus.
Main melody is called the head and is played by muted trumpet.
Lasts for 12 bars and can be heard near the start and beginning of the piece.
There is a simple 4 bar riff in parallel 3rds that separates each section.
Context and Background of ‘All Blues’
‘All Blues’ comes from the album Kind of Blue, released in 1959. This is an example of modal jazz,
which is more laid-back and uncomplicated with improvisations based on modes.
This work was recorded with no rehearsal and improvised as the musicians had no score.
Davis gave them basic information about the pieces they were to record; which would have been
the chord sequence, main melodic idea, mode or scale to improvise on and the overall structure.
Melody & Pitch
The head melody is quite simple and characterised by rising 6ths (interval from D to B).
This is followed by four improvised solos:
Trumpet Solo: Lasts for 4 choruses. Mostly made up of short, syncopated motifs.
Alto Sax Solo: Lasts for 4 choruses. Uses quicker notes and a wider range; Adderley’s
improvisation is more virtuosic than Davis’.
Tenor Sax Solo: Lasts for 4 choruses. Uses fast scales and quick runs; also very virtuosic.
Piano Solo: Lasts for 2 choruses. This improvisation is calmer, with a simple melody that
leads into a string of parallel chords.
Tonality and Harmony
‘All Blues’ is based on this 12 bar blues sequence, which is repeated throughout the piece:
The piece can be broken down into 5 sections called the HEAD ARRANGEMENT:
INTRODUCTION – opening four bars, by the rhythm section, followed by the riff.
HEAD 1 – Head Melody, followed by riff which is played twice.
SOLOS – For trumpet, alto sax, tenor sax and piano, each followed by the riff
HEAD 2 – Head melody, followed by the riff is played twice.
A chord sequence is known by jazz musicians as the changes
We can think of ‘All Blues’ being in G Major but with a flattened seventh (called a blue note).
This is the same as the Mixolydian mode, so we can also describe ‘All Blues’ as being an
example of modal jazz.
CODA – a solo for muted trumpet
The FRONTLINE consists of the instruments that play the main melody and have prominent solos:
Trumpet (Miles Davis) / Alto Saxophone (Cannonball Adderley) / Tenor Saxophone (John Coltrane)
The RHYTHM SECTION provides harmonic and rhythmic backing (pianist has a short solo):
Piano (Bill Evans) / Bass (Paul Chambers) / Drums (Jimmy Cobb)
Instrumental Techniques
1. Snare drum is played with wire brushes at the start
– switches to sticks later on.
2. Bass plays pizzicato (plucked) throughout.
3. Trumpet is played with a Harmon Mute for the Head.
4. Piano plays tremolo at the start then begins comping
(accompanying with chords and short melodic ideas)
- Jeff Buckley (Folk-rock)
Voice techniques
Falsetto – singing above normal top register
Scoops up to notes (also known as portamento)
Screaming at points
Typical verse chorus-structure, with a guitar solo towards end.
Intro is repeated after the choruses (link).
Folk-rock feel. ‘Grace’ was Buckley’s
debut album released in 1994
Tempo & Rhythm
Steady 12/8 tempo
Unusual as most pop songs in 4/4
It feels faster though as the guitar plays
semiquaver runs at the beginning.
Melodic/Musical Devices
Four main riffs in the piece:
Made up of semiquavers – played by electric guitar in intro
In the verses electric guitar plays broken chords
Acoustic guitar plays rhythmic, percussive riff in verses and choruses.
In final section both guitars play a fourth riff.
Wide vocal range and falsetto used at points.
Verse 1:
the vocal line is almost all in stepwise movement and uses melisma (multiple notes to one syllable).
Intro - Verse 1 - Pre-chorus - Chorus Link - Verse 2 - Pre-chorus - Chorus Middle 8 (presents some contrasting material)
Link - Verse 3
Outro (Climax of the piece - it is based on repetitions of the
chord sequence F, E minor, E flat7 taken from the chorus).
Tonality and Harmony
Unusual chord progressions – harmony is non functional.
Looks tricky but actually very simple on the guitar.
Uses technique of moving the same chord shape up and down the fretboard, while keeping one or more strings open as a drone.
Guitar uses drop D tuning – the lower E string is tuned down to the note D to give a darker feel.
Most sections have a tonal centre of E but Buckley uses a wide variety of chords that do not belong to one particular key.
Electric guitar
Acoustic guitar
Bass guitar
Drum kit
Quiet in intro
Volume increased by adding more
instruments (thickening texture)
Electronic effects
Delay – creates an echo effect (repeats the note)
Flanger – creates a swirly sound (added in the studio)
Distortion used on one guitar
Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?
- Moby (Electronica)
Dance music is technology-based with the DJ playing
an important role in mixing and presenting tracks.
Intro – Piano only
Verse – Male singer, percussion, bass, string synthesiser, syncopated piano chords
Chorus – Female singer, new chord sequence
Verse – Male singer and second vocal line (use of repetition)
Chorus – Female singer, no piano or percussion. (Piano & percussion repeat when return).
Verse – Male singer, no piano or percussion.
Context and Background
Moby is a DJ, singer-songwriter and performer. He plays keyboard, guitar, bass
guitar and drums. He has written popular dance music tracks which sample music
from other songs. This piece uses two samples of 1950s gospel music. Both are
taken from a song called King Jesus Will Roll All Burdens Away. The surface noise of
the samples has not been removed. Moby did not want the music to sound sterile.
Themes, Tonality & Harmony
Use of two eight-bar themes, A and B. There are two versions of theme B (Bx &
By). The first sample is a male singer, uses the words ‘Why does my heart feel so
bad?’ and is based on the chord sequence: Am, Em, G, D.
The percussion part uses rhythms from the Roland TR909 drum machine plus a sampled
hip-hop break-beat (drum solo).
• A sample is a digitally recorded fragment of sound - it could be a guitar riff, a line
from a song chorus, or the sound of running water.
Looping is where a short sample is repeated over and over again.
Delay refers to any type of effect that adds a delayed
version of the original signal, to create effects such
as reverb or echo.
The second sample is a female singer and uses the words ‘These open doors’.
Both samples are looped. Each B theme is also eight bars long, made by looping
a 2 bar phrase. They use the following chord sequences;
A minor
A minor
EQ is short for equalisation. It is the lessening or
boosting of different frequencies.
The tracks were written and played by Moby, then recorded and mixed at his home studio.
The equipment used includes synthesisers, a sampler and drum machine (Roland TR909).
A synthesiser is a device which generates sounds electronically.
A sampler is a device that can take any sound that is put into it, process it and play it back.
The Roland TR drum machine was one of the first to have programmable rhythms.
Characteristics and theme variation techniques:
• links to the club scene
• layered textures
• extensive use of samples and loops
• changing the texture - adding and taking away instruments & voices
• adding a synthesiser countermelody
• adding electronic effects eg delay and heavy EQ, reverb.
Skye Waulking Song
– performed by Capercaillie (Folk Music)
12/8 time signature
Use of Scotch snap (a short accented note before a longer one)
• Opens with an 8 bar instrumental introduction.
• Eight verses (2 phrases per verse).
• Two refrains used throughout after each verse.
• Ends with a fade-out instrumental.
Purpose and style
A waulking song is a work song, sung by women workers processing cloth. This piece
is from a collection of Gaelic folk songs compiled by the folklorist Alexander
Carmichael. 'Chuir m’athair mise dhan taigh charraideach' (Skye Waulking song)
translates into English as 'My father sent me to the house of sorrow'. Capercaillie are
a Scottish band who combine traditional Gaelic folk music and elements of rock music.
Their sound is a fusion of the two styles and could be described as Celtic rock.
The song combines folk and rock instruments. The (amplified) instruments associated with rock music are:
• synthesiser
• Wurlitzer piano
The Wurlitzer piano is a keyboard instrument without
• Bass
strings. The sound is produced by a combination of steel
• drum kit
reeds, hammer action and an electrostatic pickup system.
Melody/Vocal line
Like many folksongs, the melody is pentatonic.
Major pentatonic on G: - G A B D E
Phrases 1 and 2 are harmonised with a chord of G.
The refrains contrast and are harmonised with chord Em or C.
Rhythmic devices
The gentle cross-rhythms in the hi-hat cut
across the normal divisions of the beat in 12/8.
Gaelic influences include:
• the compound time signature
• the pentatonic vocal line
• the use of a refrain
• the use of nonsense words in refrains
• the narrative element – the song tells a story
• the use of a Scotch snap rhythm on the words 'O hi a bho ro hu o ho‘.
The (acoustic) instruments associated with folk music are:
• violin (fiddle)
• accordion
• pipes
• Bouzouki
The bouzouki is a Greek long neck
lute played with a plectrum. In
recent years it has been used in
traditional Scottish and Irish music.
Tonality and Harmony
• Key of G major, but a modal feel (no use of chord V – D)
• Based around three chords – G, Em, C.
• Use of pentatonic scales (5 notes).
• The ending alternates chords C-G, (effect of plagal cadences)
never having settled on a dominant chord in the entire song.
Rag Desh
(Indian Raga)
Only a handful of players.
Most instruments are
played while seated on the
floor. There are usually
three elements: soloist,
percussion, drone.
1. The Alap;
Sitar introduces the raga & improvises
freely. No beat or pulse. Tampura
drone accompanies.
2. The Jhor;
Music speeds up a bit & becomes
more rhythmic. Still sitar & tampura
only. More steady feel.
3. The Jhala;
Faster & more exciting. Tampura &
sitar improvise around the melody.
4. The Gat (instruments only) or
Bandish (+song);
Music really takes off. Tabla comes in.
A pre-composed piece is played.
Improvisations turn into Q&A.
Purpose and Style
Ragas are patterns of notes but are different to a Western scale or melody. Each rag has a particular ascending
and descending pattern and is associated with a different time of the day, season, mood or special occasion.
Rag Desh is a late evening rag associated with the monsoon season. In Indian music a system known
as sargam is used for naming the notes: Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa. The tonic, or ground note, is Sa (this is
heard in the drone). Two other important notes in Rag Desh are Pa and Re.
The sitar
• is a long-necked plucked string instrument
• is played by plucking the strings with a metal plectrum
• has six or seven main strings
• twelve or more sympathetic strings
The sarod
• plucked string instrument with a large wooden plectrum
• is shorter than the sitar and has no frets
• plays ornaments by sliding up and down the strings
The sarangi
• is a fretless bowed instrument
• three main strings
• as many as 36 sympathetic strings
The esraj
• a bowed string instrument
• played sitting on the floor like the sarangi,
• frets with a number of sympathetic and drone strings.
The bansuri
• a bamboo flute with no keys.
Solo / Improvisation
The length of a piece is not worked out beforehand.
Starts out in a calm mood, gradually gets more exciting
as the tempo and rhythmic complexity increase.
The end of an improvisation is shown by playing a tihai.
A tihai is a short phrase played three times.
• A note held (or repeated)
• States the tonic note, Sa.
• Traditionally played on a tanpura
(now often an electronic box).
• Marked by hand claps and waves.
The Tal
• Repeating rhythm pattern played by the tabla.
• It usually has between six and sixteen beats.
• The first beat of the cycle is known as sam.
The tanpura
• stringed instrument
• fewer strings (usually four)
• no frets.
The tabla (Pair of drums)
• dayan – small drum on the right, quite high in pitch
• bayan – large drum on the left, played with the heel of
the hand, pressed into the drum to change the pitch.
Techniques (Track 1- Anoushka Shankar)
Sitar and Tabla. Pitch bending, Note sliding.
Microtonal intervals. Call and response
between instruments.
Techniques (Track 2 – ‘Mhara Janam Maran’)
Singer, Sarod, Sarangi, Tabla, Indian cymbals.
Instrumental interludes. Vocal ornamentation
and melisma.
Techniques (Track 3 – Rag Desh)
Bansuri, Esraj, electronic box, Tabla. Echoing
and response between parts. Repetition,
cross-rhythms, accents.
Yiri – as recorded by Koko
(African Music)
The leader of the group signals the initial
tempo and rhythm of the piece, then
controls changes of dynamics and texture.
Purpose and musical style
Singing is a vital part of everyday life and is heard at religious ceremonies, rituals and celebrations
– everyone takes part. It is an oral tradition – passed on by mouth and never usually written
down. The group Koko are from West Africa – the leader sings and plays the balafon. African
drums were used to send messages from one village to another before telephones.
Balafon – similar to a xylophone (there are two – the second is lower in pitch).
African drums:
- Djembe – played with hands
- Donno - hour glass shaped ‘talking drum’
- Dundun – double headed drum played with sticks
1. Solo balafon
2. 2nd balafon joins in
3. Drums join in
4. Chorus 1 – voices in unison
5. Short instrumental break
6. Chorus 2 – voices in unison
7. Call and response vocal sections with instrumental breaks
8. Chorus again
9. Coda - 5 repeats of a riff with short, dramatic rests and a final bell ‘ting’
Rhythmic devices
Ostinati – small, repeated pattern (on Balafon and drum)
Polyrhythmic – many different rhythms occurring in different layers
Cross-rhythms – rhythms that ‘cross’ the beat (i.e are very syncopated/off-beat)
Melodic/Musical devices
Melodies are usually organised within a scale of four, five, six, or
seven notes. They tend to use small melodic intervals (lots of
2nds and 3rds) and often use recurring patterns and descending
phrases. Unison and Call and Response in vocal sections.
Common features of African Music
Cyclic structure
Drum ostinato – between them, drums play a relentless,
one-bar pattern based on the rhythm quaver-semiquaversemiquaver, but occasionally drop out of the texture to
create variety. The drums are at different pitches and
include djembe, talking drum and dundun.
Vocal line – at first the singers are all in unison, but later sing in a
call and response style. This includes a solo ‘call’ (improvised),
answered by a chorus (again in unison). The same music is used for
each verse, with slight variation to fit the different lyrics. The vocal
melodies are based on a pentatonic scale.
Polyphonic textures
Drumming techniques:
Playing with the hands on the skin
(different sounds are made if the fingers are open or closed)
Damping the skin when playing
Playing with hands on the wooden edge of the drum
Using sticks.
Balafon ostinati – at various pitches according to the size of the
instrument – in combination, these produce a complex polyphonic
texture. The patterns are based on the key of Gb. The piece starts
with a solo balafon (monophonic texture) - the second joining in
after about 20s. They also have short, improvised breaks in
between the sections that feature fast tremelos etc.