Analysis of Duke Ellington The Great Paris Concert Performer

Listening Skills and Identification of Musical Elements: In this section, I will be describing the music I encountered in the overall performance by highlighting different musical elements including rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, and form. “On the Sunny Side of the Street” The piano introduces with a fast-upbeat tempo for a few seconds, but as Johnny Hodges enters on the saxophone, we begin to hear the pace slow down. The piano continues throughout the composition with the role of offering the tonal background.

Although the tempo becomes slow, it evokes a calm and peaceful feeling foreshadowing what was to be a great solo performance by Jonny Hodges. The motion of this particular melody is conjunct as it occurs in step intervals. As time progresses and instruments are introduced in the background, the speed increases to a more moderate tempo. The consonant harmony of this piece brings about a pleasing sound.

At first the melody is played in a slightly different version by other instruments and holds a steady tone, then it begins to follow the melody exactly.

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We hear three different pitches being performed at the same time, which brings about the harmony in this piece. “The Star-Crossed Lovers” The slow tempo of this jazz ensemble brings about a romantic setting and feeling which is indicated by the song’s title. The song begins with Ellington on the piano, and after a moment of silence, Johnny Hodges enters on the saxophone with an ascending phrase. The rest of the band then enters with the beautiful, yet complicated melody.

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Love and tragedy are depicted in this moving piece. The timbre of this piece is present in the arrangement, with the intentional combination of instruments used to create a moving piece. The motion of this particular melody is a combination of conjunct and disjunct as the movement follows both step and leap intervals. “Rockin’ In Rhythm” (3:49) I noticed many things in this piece, which just makes me realize how great of a musician Duke Ellington was.

He was known for allowing his musicians to shine in solos, and we got a taste of his genius in this song. Even though it was for a short period of time, we got a taste of individual talent on the clarinet at around 1:29. This upbeat and lively tempo piece was by far my favorite. The fast, up-beat tempo remains constant throughout the ensemble which sets the overall tone. The song moves in step intervals, where consecutive tones are close in pitch providing us with conjunct motion. Although there is huge variety of tonal color present, it is easy to identify the instruments in this piece by identifying each of their unique timbre. Another element that I would like to highlight is the texture of this piece. This movement of this song is conjunct motion as it progresses in step intervals, rather than skips or leaps. The same melody is being performed slightly different by each instrument; here we hear each performer adding their own embellishments.

The trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, and piano all perform the song with a slightly different rhythm and tempo from each other. Therefore, we can conclude that this is a form of heterophonic texture. “Satin Doll” This instrumental ensemble begins with Ellington on the piano, setting the tone for the entire piece. The same melody is performed by all instruments for the entire two minutes highlighting this piece’s monophonic texture. The saxophone follows the melody provided by the piano, and so too does the rest of the instruments. The melodic movement is almost completely with just a few skips. It is easy to identify that this piece was composed in AABA form as the verse came twice before the bridge. Similar to the melody, the rhythm remains constant throughout the entire piece with little to no variations as it progressed.

Although there are temporary changes to F and G major, the song is mostly played in C major. It was a nice way to end this great concert off with this catchy musical composition. Section 2: Connecting Musical Sound to Cultural Meaning and Personal Experiences All of these songs performed in this concert are compositions of the great jazz musician, Duke Ellington. Ellington is known for showing the unique backgrounds, talents and musical styles of his bandsmen. The wide variety of instruments used in this concert contributed to a great experience of a foreign genre. With connecting musical sound to cultural meaning, I will be elaborating on the 4 compositions from the previous section, highlighting each individual song’s background and the feelings they evoked. “Rockin’ In Rhythm” This jazz instrumental was performed by Duke Ellington and was first recorded in 1931 at the Cotton Club.

The talented clarinet and saxophone player, Harry Carney is credited as a co-writer for this song. As I mentioned before, it was very common for Ellington to integrate work from a member of his orchestra and develop it into his own. Apparently, Harry Carney left home at the age of 17 to join Ellington’s band and was the longest serving member. This opening piece definitely set the mood for what was to come in the rest of the concert. Usually, the music you choose to listen to at a given moment depends on your mood. However, I am a person who prefers to listen to upbeat music, which explains why this was my favorite. It is important to note that Ellington played a major role in the evolution of the jazz genre which automatically places cultural importance to all compositions performed in this Great Paris Concert, including ‘Rockin’ In Rhythm.’ “On the Sunny Side of the Street” The attention during this performance goes to Johnny Hodges. This jazz instrumental, written by Jimmy McHugh, was released in 1930. It has been covered by many great musicians such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Benny Goodman. I really enjoyed the sound of this piece as it brought immediate happiness.

The intentional combination of these instruments definitely placed me on the sunny side of the street. Whenever I am in a dull mood, I will rely on this instrumental ensemble to uplift me. It is important to note that Ellington played a major role in the evolution of the jazz genre which automatically places cultural importance to all compositions performed in this Great Paris Concert, including ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street.’ “The Star-Crossed Lovers” The Star-Crossed Lovers’ is a ballad, a sung poem or verse, depicting the story of Romeo and Juliet. The majority of the melody was portrayed by Johnny Hodges’s alto saxophone. Even before the music began, I had an idea of what kind of melody it would have, just by the title. A sense of romance immediately dawned over me when I pressed play, which made me think back to the Module: Make Love, Not War. In this module we examined the expression of love and how different aspects of love could be portrayed musically.

This jazz instrumental filled my heart, as it made me reflect on how beautiful life is amidst the darkness, offered by the movements. It is music that I can connect with that stays with me. The cultural role that this piece plays can be immediately directed to literature, as we see how it depicted a well-known love story. “Satin Doll” This song was an already established instrumental piece before the lyrics were added by Johnny Mercer 5 years later. Ellington wrote the song for his common-law wife, Evie Ellington. There is speculation that Billy Strayhorn, Ellington’s band member, wrote the original lyrics about his own mother. It is important to note that Ellington played a major role in the evolution of the jazz genre which automatically places cultural importance to all compositions performed in this Great Paris Concert, including ‘Satin Doll.’ Section 3: Conclusion This concert provided a very unique experience for me, as this was my first encounter with jazz music.

I was very skeptical of critiquing this concert, as I knew that it wasn’t my taste of music. I knew that I had to keep a positive mind about it because I had the opportunity to indulge into someone else’s favorite genre. After listening to the entire 22 track album/concert, I can definitely admit that jazz is underrated. It gives you a feeling that no other genre brings about. The performance of “Rockin’ In Rhythm,” foreshadowed what was to come in the rest of the set, an unfamiliar musical experience for me. Duke Ellington is an outstanding musician, but it was the individual talent of his bandsmen which I believed helped to create this memorable concert. Even though, I was unable to tie musical performances to body postures and movements, in the absence of visual aid, I was able to hear the band enjoying themselves. Listening to Ellington and his orchestra definitely touched my heart and mind in an exceptional way. I have always wanted to play an instrument and attending this concert may just have given me the push I needed. It is amazing how I was able to experience a whole new genre of music in a short period of time, that will now be a part of my life from here on out. I really look forward to attending real life jazz concerts as I now know what to expect. I would highly recommend my friends and family to attend such concerts, as it will open their minds to other important genres. It is through these experiences that allows me to appreciate music as a whole. **For clarification, I asked Professor Barlar if I could use the main playlist of 30 songs for this concert as there is no longer one long video and she gave me the go ahead.

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Analysis of Duke Ellington The Great Paris Concert Performer. (2022, Jan 10). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/analysis-of-duke-ellington-the-great-paris-concert-performer-essay

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