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GKU 1063

INTRODUCTION TO BASIC MUSIC

RICHARD WAGNER: LOHENGRIN – PRELUDE TO ACT III

Lohengrin, is an opera in three acts which arranged and composed by Richard Wagner
with the first performed in 1850. Act 3 is one of the famous scene in expressing the feel of
elegance and accompanied by beauty aura in the wedding march as the romance melody may
sweetened the rhythm.

In this music excerpt, Richard Wagner had used a wide range of dynamic contrast to
make up the wedding march with a feeling of brave and hope. The prelude starts with full
orchestra, delivering full energy to audience for expressing the strong feeling of glory and
pleasure. It is played with the strong emphasis of beat and a very loud volume (fortissimo, ff)
by string section which violins are the most noticeable in playing the melody part. The dynamic
change is crescendo. Besides, the crashing of cymbal is used for occasional accents with the
melody. As an audience, the excitement along this phrase of music is tangible. Then brass
instruments come in as melody, making the tone colour. The fast and exciting rhythm is more
likely to make the footstep dance in an excitement way.

However, a contrast melody is made at the time interval of 0.26. The prelude now is
played with brass section (trumpet, horn, trombone and tuba) and cello for melody while strings
are playing the counter melody with running notes. The accent and strong force on every music
note played makes the melody full of mysterious and nervous, making the audience keen to
know more about the story, as something important is going to be announced. If we go behind
the story of this opera, it is probably describing the opera story where Lohengrin helped Elsa
to beat Count Telramund in the combat.

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INTRODUCTION TO BASIC MUSIC

After that, at the time interval of 1.13, by using the triangle to help in change of meloday,
the opera is played with full orchestra again. String section and cymbal crashes are significant
in conveying the celebration of victory from Lohengrin, as it was just a short timing of melody.
At 1.25, with a sudden change of dynamics into piano (p), the opera is now played in soft pitch
by woodwinds family. The solo part was first played by flute, then continued by flute and last
is clarinetist. The repeated soft melody is tended to deliver the romantic sense between both
main characters. As we know, the intonation in tone color of solo player is important when
they are countered by the others. The difference of pitch between solo instruments and the
others can attract the audience to pay full attention on them.

After that, at the time of 2.16, the opera shifted to an exciting rhythm which is similar
from the intro of the excerpt. This bring the story to the climate as reflecting myth after the
glory which the myth is no one knows where Lohengrin goes after he leaves on boat. At 2.52,
the opera is played by brass instruments with the dynamic of crescendo. Prelude to Act III
ended in a sudden way to leave some imaginary space for audience to continue the story. In
our opinion, the overall song is grand and spiritual, which suitable to be play in big occasion
such as wedding or any formal ceremony.

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GKU 1063
INTRODUCTION TO BASIC MUSIC

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN – PRELUDE IN C MINOR (OP. 28, NO. 20)

Prelude in C minor, Op. 28, No. 20 is a short music piece for piano, which only consists
of 12 bars in 4/4 time signature. On the right hand, a slow majestic of crotchet chords is played
within 3 to 4 different music notes, meanwhile against crochet octave in the left. The tempo of
this musical excerpt is largo, with a range of 40 – 60 beats per minute. Besides, this piece can
be separate into 3 phrases which each phrase has 4 bars.

In this piece of music excerpt, the mood of this song make listeners overwhelmed in an
upset and emotional situation such as the loss of their beloved person or in a funeral this piece
of music is played. One of the group members pictured himself in his friend’s funeral, carrying
a coffin and thinking back all the memories with the person inside the coffin in heavy steps
and sorrowful feeling.

At the beginning, the music plays broadly with a dynamic of fortissimo (ff) and a slow
pace. The heavy chord by piano gives an oppressive sense of despair which is played by lower
pitched-key. Low pitches can intensify the sadness of the funeral march. He has a strong feeling
of unwilling to let go the person who is dead. After 4 bars, a sudden change of dynamics to the
next phrase with piano (p) and soft compared to previous phrase. When memories recalled,
good memories bring happiness, however he regret all the things he did not have a chance to
do with his friend again.

On the last 4 bars, the rhythm is same as the previous phrase but with a lower volume
(pianissimo pp). The pitch is changed to higher-pitched key, which able to change the melody’s
emotional impact from depressing to a peaceful aura. Right here, he realized that life and death,
not only cannot be avoided but also cannot be escaped. The tempo of song is ritardando (rit.)
and crescendo when it is almost the end. Lastly, it ends with a soft semibreve. However, all
those good moments will be the memories he chose to hold onto.

This indicates that the dynamic of Prelude in C Minor is gradually get softer
(decrescendo) all along the song. Although the tempo is very slow, by using the dynamic
technique, audiences can feel the expression of this simple music piece deeply. Moreover,
along the song, it has a strong sense that the song writer was no longer tough to overcome all
the life obstacles. His heart now was too fragile to experience a roller-coaster life. The constant
fluctuation of emotion in the prelude reflects that it was too sensitive to go through extreme
emotional ups and downs.

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GKU 1063
INTRODUCTION TO BASIC MUSIC

THE FIREBIRD, SCENE 2 – IGOR STRAVINSKY

With a holy and grand opening, French horn plays the slow and soft melody which is
repeated in a low volume (piano, p). The melody of the French horn impress the harmonious
and melodious feeling like placing the audiences in a fantasy world. At 0.30, once the volume
is decrescendo, with the support from harp, it brings violins come in by playing higher pitch,
followed by flutes to play the counter melody. The dynamic change is crescendo as more and
more instruments like brass and percussions come in. At this moment, audiences can imagine
themselves in the heaven but surrounded with a lot of angles. The volume become even louder
(fortissimo ff) when violins and flutes plays at a higher pitch, making the tone color to be
brighter. A feeling of belongingness from the heart prompts people to save and protect our love
from the danger.

After that, at 1.12, the hit by timpani and continued by rolling are emphasizing in
changing the mood of song. Therefore, at 1.28, the tone color has changed, especially the
dynamic reflects a huge different from fortissimo (ff) to pianissimo (pp) makes people feel
creepy on the environment. However, an instant crescendo and sudden change of melody by
violin’s running notes occurred again at 1.33 and followed by the full orchestra to play together
in a forceful way to accent the note. With the help of timpani and triangle, the music is reached
to the climate and bring up the excitement to the atmosphere. Audiences will have a sense that
something big is going to happen. One of our members could link this image as a prince wanted
to save a princess who is suffered from curse. The prince decided to risk himself to save the
princess.

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At the last part, the orchestra applied sforzando (sfz), which play in strong and sudden
accent on the notes that brought up the ending with an outstanding dynamic and articulation
too. The unison of every instrument ended the song with a usual powerful long note. Moreover,
cymbal clash, rolling of triangle and timpani also highlighted the end of story – The prince
finally break the curse and the princess is safe. It is just noticeable that there is a repetition of
melody in The Firebird music piece. However, Stravinsky used the dynamic of music for
delivering colourful and contradistinctive imagination to the audiences.

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GKU 1063
INTRODUCTION TO BASIC MUSIC

DUKE ELLINGTON – C JAM BLUES

The C-Jam Blues belongs to the type of jazz in music. This song could be described as
a vehicle for jazz instrumentalist to show their improvisational skills such as articulation –
staccato and accent. The tempo of this song is light and moderate fast while the dynamic of
each instrument solo is mezzo forte (mf).

It starts with a repeated-note melody played by piano, with the assist of double bass
which is pitching the beats. Although the melody of piano impresses the people with its
pleasure feeling, 16 seconds repeating rhythm may makes audience to feel bored and dull on
the music. However, a contrast appeared as surprise at the time interval of 0.17, an interesting
repeated melody played by saxophone turns the light on. With the repeated saxophone melody,
audience could reach the sense of relaxation and enjoy the beats.

After that, it is followed by 6 solos of musical instruments and each of them was
performed under the accompanied of rhythms session. The playing sequence was violin at 0.33,
muted cornet at 0.54, tenor saxophone at 1.15, muted trombone at 1.57 and lastly clarinet. The
muted cornet play in a singing-like way by controlling the way of buzzing (embouchure), while
the solo of tenor saxophone, trombone and clarinet gave the swing feel.

Before it comes with the combination of full band, the funky drum kit solo made
audiences ready to the next level of experience in this music excerpt. Lastly, the dynamic of
fortissimo (ff) with a lively tempo is played by the combination all instruments brought the
performance come to a delightful end.

C Jam Blues transform the mode of music from simple rhythm to catchy and enjoyable
which could urge audiences to step into the dance pool. One of our members imagined the
scene of how her father flirts with her mother in the 50’s with this alive melody. The jazzy feel
of this piece creates a platform to the audiences especially the elders back to their generation
where this genre of music is one the trend at the old times.

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CONCLUSION

From these 4 musical excerpts, it is obvious that the arrangement of music in each of
them, are experiencing of repetition on melody. However, the arrangers are applying the
dynamic technique to create different expression in each of music and made the songs more
interesting to listen. This proves that the application of dynamic in a song is essential with a
skillful method.

Besides, Lohengrin and The Firebird have the similarity in the songs which are played
with a full orchestra and there is a must to lead by a conductor. Although these two music
excerpts are performed with different number of players and music instruments, audiences able
to undergo the same delight in the sound effect. On the other hand, Prelude in C Minor can be
only plays by solo piano, duet or more are not suitable for this funeral march. C Jam Blues is
played by an ensemble band, which consists of solo players with several types of music
instruments. From the types of performance, it has a significant on sound effect to audiences
when they are listening to the music pieces.

Lastly, each of the music excerpts also convey different messages to the audiences as
mentioned in the report before. As Lohengrin and The Firebired are played by full orchestra,
audiences may feel the majestic and impressive of the music. Moreover, these two music
excerpts also reflect romance scene to the audiences. However, prelude by Chopin has a big
contrast with C Jam Blues in expression of feeling. Since Chopin was arranging an emotional
funeral march but Duke Ellington came out with a funky and entertaining music.