Music Appreciation Essay
Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture was a very interesting song; there were many changes through out the piece. It started out sounding like a battle symphony where Tchaikovsky used the instruments to make a choppy sound, which reminded me of a march, as well as gun sounds. He has a great use of crescendo at the beginning. Along with increasing the sound level he also increases the tempo and brings the piece into a dramatic point as all of the instruments join. This includes many different types of instruments: orchestra, woodwind, and percussion. This composer also has a great use of repetition, in the first minute of the song he repeats small sections with the same instrument, but as the song develops he makes this more complicated and repeats longer sections and changes instruments each time. I really like this style because it allows the listener to hear each instrument individually, which is rarely done in a song. Drums are used to keep the beat in this section of the piece, which makes the battle feeling stronger and alludes to a heartbeat sound. But it is really the trumpets that stand out in the song and give the beginning of the battle presentation. After the repetition involving different instruments the song begins a decrescendo, this is a great transition into the next big change in the music. A dramatic shift happens and the music turns into a soft, smooth melodic tune that you would dance to at a ball. There is the use of a tiny bell sound that lightens the mood. The notes in this section are much longer and smoother than previously. Also, the woodwinds were taken out during this section and we only hear orchestra. I did not particularly enjoy this song until it transitioned in such a dramatic way; I have never heard such a transition in a piece where it goes from a battle theme to a ball dance theme.
This section is very relaxing when compared to the pervious part. We then transition into the third section and the tempo speeds up, the instruments still include the orchestra and a tambourine was added. The music quickly becomes quiet with a long pause and returns to the sound of the trumpet just like in the beginning of the piece along with the orchestra. There is a great crescendo and all of the instruments join in together, to me this section really clashes due to all the different sounds. This is where the gun shot sound comes in. All of the instruments join in a long scale that continues to decrescendo as the tempo slows. This is a simple part to write but I believe it is a very good part because it makes all of the instruments really need to work to stay together because it would be very obvious if one were a note off on the scale. As the scale ends the instruments instantly come to a loud crash. There are so many bells and trumpets and other instruments playing that it is hard to distinguish what is going on. This part is very repetitive with all of the instruments playing. The song then changes into a faster tempo and I recognize this tune from somewhere else, it is the trumpets and drums mainly playing until the cannon sound returns once again, and we come back to the battle scene. The is a very big, dramatic scale leading into the large bell sounds as the song is ending. All of the instruments then play the same half notes with short pauses between them and end with a long note to finish of the song. Overall, I really enjoyed this piece it was very interesting to listen to and hear all the different ways that the composer switched up the mood in the song.
Mozart Don Giovanni Act 2 Finale Part 2 Commendatore Scene is a great piece of opera, and I usually do not like opera. This part of the opera takes place in Don Giovanni’s dining room, he is having a feast made for a king when Donna Elvira arrives to tell him that she is no longer mad at him, but he questions why she isn’t and it is because she now pities him. She then asks him to change his lifestyle, but he refuses to and laughs claiming that women and wine are the necessities of mankind. She angrily leaves and then you hear her scream. Don Giovanni tells Leporello to find out why she screamed. He then leaves and comes back frightened as well and jumps under the table. He tells Don Giovanni that the statue he invited from dinner has arrived. Don Giovanni meets him at the door. The statue tells him to repent for his sins, but just as before he refuses. When he does this a flash appears and the Earth below them opens and the statue pulls him down to hell. When Donna Elvira arrives on the scene the tempo is quick with light music showing the excitement and turn of events, but when she is asking him the important question of changing his lifestyle the music quiets down because he wants you to hear what she is saying to him. Then during his answer the music crescendos as he pokes back at her and gets down on his knees as well. Then as the discussion continues the music is played as the characters speak and stopped when they stop speaking. At the end of their argument they are holding each other and both singing at the same time and while they are doing this music crescendos with their argument to make it more dramatic. Then when she leaves the room and screams the tempo speeds up and gets loud for a second when Leporello screams. When he is explain what is going on to Don Giovanni the tempo increases to its greatest point showing fear and anticipation.
When Leporello stomps on the ground to imitate the steps of the statue the music mimics him as he does it, which adds to the effect. We then hear the great set of knocks at the door accompanied by the whole orchestra and woodwinds. As the flash occurs all of the instruments are playing loudly in a sort of frantic way. There then is a long pause before they all come back in together dramatically as the statue enters. The music quiets as the statue begins to talk and this makes his voice sound very loud and booming in a scary way. It then turns to just the orchestra playing this Halloween type of tune that gives off a scary, creepy feeling. As the statue talks again the music quiets, I really like how the composer does this because it really sets his voice apart from the others. As he continues to speak the music in the background does a little scale heightening the anticipation. This continues quietly as they argue back and forth. The music quiets right before the statue makes his big announcement of why he came and they comes back in with a loud burst when he begins to speak. As the statue speak the music gets louder and as he stops speaking it grows quieter to show his authority. When Don Giovanni is answering the music goes back to the orchestra making the Halloween type of music. As they are holding hands the music cuts in and out, playing when Don Giovanni is talking and stopping when the statue is. This music crescendos as the Earth opens beneath them and does not stop until the play does getting louder and deeper in sound as it goes.
Wagner’s Die Walkure “The Ride of the Valkyries” is a very familiar piece to most people because it is used in many other things. The leitmotif is what is so memorable in this song and what has been used so many times. The purpose of the leitmotif is to have a consistent sound that listeners will remember because it continues to repeat over and over again. A motif is very important because it creates a theme, it then links this sound to the story and when people hear this again they will think back to what was going on. This leitmotif has been used for so many different movies and played by so many people. I think the leitmotif is a great way to make a piece stand out, generating a common theme and repeating it over and over will stick it into the listeners minds and they will anticipate and expect it to come and when they are correct it bring a sense of joy. I like the idea of using this type of form; I believe it is very powerful and effective.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 is my favorite of all of his songs. This is another example of a great motif. The first four notes of this piece set the stage for the rest of the song. It is three short notes (G) followed by a longer note (Eb). The time signature is 2/4 and there is a quarter note rest at the beginning of the bar. This was actually used in World War 2 as ‘dot-dot-dot-dash’ for ‘V’, which stood for victory. This is a very widely known set of four notes. The best part about this piece is the fermata that Beethoven put in the opening because it is an indefinite hold which means that the conductor can hold onto the note as long as he wants.