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Listening Gallery: Musical Emphasis

Module by: Anthony Brandt. E-mail the author

Note:

Please note that you must have the most recent copy of Macromedia's Flash plugin installed to play the musical examples.

Problem 1

How is the phrase “Remember me” rhetorically reinforced in Dido’s aria from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas?

Duration: The words are repeated.
Change: New instruments enter.
Extremes: The singer reaches her highest note.
Extremes: There are the longest pauses in the vocal line.

Problem 2

How is the following line of text rhetorically reinforced in Charles Ives’ Charlie Rutledge? Check all that apply.

“While Charlie Rutledge makes the third to be sent to his grave caused…”

Duration: The singer’s words are drawn out more gradually.
Duration: The singer’s words are repeated.
Change: The singer changes from speech-like to full-voiced singing.
Change: The singer is briefly left alone for the first time.
Extremes: The voice reaches a high register, while the piano sinks to its lowest register.

Problem 3

How is the following line of text rhetorically reinforced in Charles Ives’ Charlie Rutledge? Check all that apply.

“Beneath poor Charlie died”

Duration: The singer’s words are drawn out more gradually.
Change: There is an extreme change of density.
Change: There are changes of speed both before and after the text.
Change: There is a change of texture. Instead of every syllable of the singer being synchronized with the piano, she singer is left alone to sing a portion of the text.
Extremes: “died” is the longest sustained word in the song.

Problem 4

In John Harbison’s Simple Daylight, which phrase is treated as the climax of the song?

”All but inarticulate cry”
”Spoken over and over”
”Wakes me”

Problem 5

In Problem 4, how is the climax created?

Duration:.The words are sung as longer values.
Change: The rhythmic flow is interrupted.
Change: Leading into this passage, the piano’s accompaniment becomes gradually more thicker, eventually reaching an extreme..
Extremes: The voice reaches her highest note.
Extremes: The piano plays in its highest register.
Extremes: It is the loudest passage in the song.

Problem 6

In the following excerpt from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, the intricate, boisterous opening section gives away, after a brief pause, to a contrasting section initiated by a lyrical cello melody.

Later in the movement, both sections return. Which return is more strongly rhetorically reinforced—that of the opening section or the contrasting one?

The opening section
The contrasting section

Problem 7

In Problem 6, how is this return is more strongly rhetorically reinforced?

The weaker return overlaps with the preceding section; the stronger return has a clear beginning, preceded by silence.
The stronger return is emphasized by being played higher and louder.
The weaker return is played in a much lower register.
The weaker return presents only fragments of the original theme; the stronger return is more literal and complete.
The weaker return is played at a much slower speed.

Problem 8

After a slow introduction, Bela Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra introduces an agitated string melody. This leads to a contrasting theme, played by the oboe with a delicate string and harp accompaniment.

In the second excerpt, the contrasting theme will return. How is its return rhetorically reinforced?

Duration: In preparation for the return of the contrasting theme, the music becomes very repetitive.
Duration: The rhythm holds dramatically just before the contrasting theme enters.
Change: There is a huge build-up in volume, followed by a dramatic drop-off.
Change: There is a huge build-up in density, then a huge drop-off.
Change: There is a change of primary instruments, from brass to solo wind and strings.
Change: There is a change from multiple ideas simultaneously to a single idea.
Change: The pulse is relaxed when the contrasting theme returns.

Problem 9

Listen to “Orpheus Weeps” from Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Orpheus.

Which of the following sound clips do you consider to be most strongly emphasized throughout the movement?

Sound Clip A
Sound Clip B
Sound Clip C

Problem 10

In the most emphasized sound clip from Problem 9, what is the principle means of emphasis?

Duration
Change
Extremes
Strong Rhetorical Reinforcement

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Musical Examples
  1. Henry Purcell, Dido’s aria from Dido and Aeneas
  2. Charles Ives, Charlie Rutledge
  3. Charles Ives, Charlie Rutledge
  4. John Harbison, Simple Daylight
  5. John Harbison, Simple Daylight
  6. Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 4, I
  7. Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 4, I, return
  8. Bela Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, I, first excerpt
  9. Bela Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, I, second excerpt
  10. Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, full movement
  11. Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip A
  12. Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip B
  13. Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip C
Henry Purcell, Dido’s aria from Dido and Aeneas
Henry Purcell, Dido’s aria from Dido and Aeneas
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Veritas 7243 5 45605 — Susan Graham; Le Concert d’Astrée; Emmanuelle Haïm
Charles Ives, Charlie Rutledge
Charles Ives, Charlie Rutledge
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Etcetera 1020 — Roberta Alexander, Tan Drone
Charles Ives, Charlie Rutledge
Charles Ives, Charlie Rutledge
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Etcetera 1020 — Roberta Alexander, Tan Drone
John Harbison, Simple Daylight
John Harbison, Simple Daylight
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Archetypes 60104 — Karol Bennett, John McDonald
John Harbison, Simple Daylight
John Harbison, Simple Daylight
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Archetypes 60104 — Karol Bennett, John McDonald
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 4, I
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 4, I
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Deutsche Grammophon 103409 — Pierre Boulez; Vienna Philharmonic
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 4, I, return
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 4, I, return
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Deutsche Grammophon 103409 — Pierre Boulez; Vienna Philharmonic
Bela Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, I, first excerpt
Bela Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, I, first excerpt
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Deutsche Grammophon 103116 — Pierre Boulez; Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Bela Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, I, second excerpt
Bela Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, I, second excerpt
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Deutsche Grammophon 103116 — Pierre Boulez; Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, full movement
Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, full movement
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Chandos 7120 — Neeme Järvi, conductor; Royal Concertgabouw Orchestra
Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip A
Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip A
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Chandos 7120 — Neeme Järvi, conductor; Royal Concertgabouw Orchestra
Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip B
Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip B
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Chandos 7120 — Neeme Järvi, conductor; Royal Concertgabouw Orchestra
Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip C
Igor Stravinsky, “Orpheus Weeps” from Orpheus, Sound Clip C
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Chandos 7120 — Neeme Järvi, conductor; Royal Concertgabouw Orchestra