‘Classical Symphony’ – Prokofiev: Second Movement

Rehearsal Numbers 2 to 5, second movement in Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony contains these key rhythmical features/elements;

  1. the frequent use of sixteenth notes
  2. syncopation
  3. conjunct motion between notes
  4. staccatos and pizzicatos

The entire piece being a Neo-Classical piece, the above features are thought to be popular rhythmic features in Neo-Classical music.

Mostly throughout the entire movement, staccatos are frequently used. This can especially be seen at rehearsal letter number 3 (or from measure 18 – 27). These staccatos throughout the piece give the sweet feeling, just as it is listed “molto dolce” at bar 5. In addition, the syncopations adds up to the mood of the second movement; a Larghetto being a movement with a slow tempo, before the third movement having a faster tempo (Non Troppo Allegro). Bars 16 – 18 have syncopation in use with the flutes and strings. These syncopations are made by the notes having slurs, while another instrument playing in staccato. One of the changes that happens from rehearsal letter 2, is how the notes are more disjunct, seen with the flutes and first violins at measure 16 – 18. They still use sixteenth notes, although have bigger leaps in intervals. This movement is in fact filled with steps and sudden leaps all the time, which makes the melody line conjunct. One of the other main features of the conjunct melody are how the string section pluck their strings (pizzicato) in many parts, such as from rehearsal letter number 3 (bar 20 – 26). In addition, bar 20 and 21 is where the melody phrase cross over the bar lines. Conjunct motions are not thought to be normal in Classical music, thus it makes sense that Prokofiev’s piece is written in the style of Neo-Classism.

TOK Essay Practice: Introduction to History and Ethics

“We see and understand things not as they are but as we are.” Discuss this claim in relation to ethics and history.

When looking back at  historical events, especially ones that did not produce the best situations, we often have a perspective where we regret decisions made in the past. History being the studies of past events, we are able to see the aftermath and outcome, as well as evaluate those with our logic. However, the way we study history is in fact, somewhat biased. “We see and understand things not as they are but as we are.” This statement focuses on the subjectivity and objectivity of how humans perceive the surroundings. The “we” being an indication of our own perspectives, and “they” expressing the other side of a story that could be the truth in past events.

The two Areas of Knowledge that are applicable for this statement are History and Ethics. “History is written by victors”, a quote by Winston Churchill explains the main inquiry we raise for this area; how can the past events we know differ from the actual truth? Ethics, on the other hand is the study of morals. This area asks if we will ever know what is ‘correct’ or ‘wrong’ in certain situations. When learning historical events, the way we see and understand  will be based on our morals. These morals being based on emotions such as nationalism, can be one of the key factors to how we perceive history.

As a personal opinion, this statement can be supported through the two areas of knowledge, History and Ethics. Since our morals are mostly based on our experience, surroundings, and emotions, these can create bias or ethnocentricity. Bias can effect both of the areas, and will most likely support the statement. In history, why are some events featured more than others? However some historians claim that history is subjective, due to its use of the primary sources. Which makes us think; is it morally ‘correct’ to take out minor events that are thought as ‘insignificant’?

 

Code-Switching

  1. How is language used as an instrument to show social, racial, and class differences in various texts?
This video centers its topic fully on code-switching, especially with the register of African-Americans against the register of White Americans.
Language here is used to show social, racial, and class differences. Since the two speakers in the video are biracial (White and African American), they express these two races with a humorous approach. They’re normal register sounds more like the White Americans. However since they are usually considered as African Americans, they say that they are able to “adjust their blackness”. As a social status, they code-switch to the African American register when trying to empower their identities, trying to  “terrify white people”. People who have two or more different cultural background will often be able to code-switch, finding the best language style for  certain situations. In addition, this video conveys how language is used in identifying race. Different races have different dialects and registers. Along with this we can also say that the language we use is a part of our culture; the way we think is based on the language we speak. Both of the speakers in the video show how they code-switch to the African American dialect, and this certainly does change the way they react to each other, or changes their attitudes. Since African Americans have stereotypes of gangsters, rappers, or other figures that are much more casual than the stereotypes of the white. Sometimes they happen to be portrayed as an evil  character or a lower class, due to the history America has between races. However time has past from then, and people are accepting different cultures as globalization becomes the norm. The two speakers in the video take a comical approach to this slight discrimination; accepting, and seeking acceptance by turning it into humor.

Listening Log Week 2: Symphony No.40 in G Minor, first movement (W.A. Mozart)

Also called as the Great G minor Symphony, this symphony was originally composed in 1788. Mozart composed this symphony to perform in England, however this never really happened. The symphony includes an orchestra of one flute, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, and strings. Originally in 1788, this symphony did not include the two clarinets. Although sometime after the trip to England got cancelled, Mozart chose to add two clarinets in the orchestra. This symphony is one of Mozart’s most famous symphonies, although it is not clear whether Mozart actually ever performed it.

The first movement of this symphony is in the Sonata Form, which includes the Exposition, Development, and the Recapitulation. Throughout the entire first movement, the music is homophonic, in the tempo of Allegro, and in a duple meter. The Exposition being the introduction of themes, forms the basis of the entire movement. (o:00) on track 13 is where the first theme is introduced by the violins, along with the violas playing in a agitated way. The clarinets come in at (0:16), introducing the listeners to the bridge. The bridge starts at (0:24), where the theme is restated by the entire orchestra. This time, the theme is played much louder in forte, as well as the strings rushing through. At (0:50), there is an obvious end to the bridge, where the orchestra plays the note in unison. Track 14 starts with a statement of the second theme. The violins are playing the theme in mezzo piano, while there is a call and response with the woodwinds. From (0:24), there is a crescendo, as well as the violins taking over the melody, ascending. After reaching its high point, the strings are descending in scale, where it reaches (0:37). This is where the first theme is restated  by the woodwinds and strings. The strings alternate their dynamics from soft to loud, as the woodwinds and strings are responding to each other. (0:55) is where the exposition ends, starting with the strings rushing down the scales, followed by an emphatic ending with a chord in unison.

Track 15 covers the Development of the Sonata Form. The very first theme is reintroduced at (0:00) by the violins, with a newly combined harmony. (0:14) wakens the listener by the sudden crescendo leading up to forte. Here, the very first theme is played by the violins, also responded by lower violins. After the forte, there is a sudden drop in dynamics, where the violins and woodwinds play a phrase of the theme in piano. The violins play the phrase, then the woodwinds respond to the violins with the same phrase. At (0:53), the woodwinds changes this response to a three-note motive, which gives an unresolved sound to the phrase. However at (0:59), there is a sudden forte, where the descending three note motive is traded back and forth by the violins and the lower strings. This could be said as the climax of the Development, which hints the end to this section to the listeners. For the ending of the Development, there are no strings, giving a change in sound and dynamics. At (1:08), the flutes and clarinets again trade these three note motives, while descending in scale. This leads up to the Recapitulation; the final section of the Sonata Form.

The Recapitulation on track 16 begins with a restatement of the very first theme with violins. This is answered by the woodwinds. The woodwinds respond to the violins with louder chords. After creating tension, at (0:24), the violins repeat the theme once again. The woodwinds ascend, which introduces the listeners to the bridge at (0:35). This part is played in forte, where the violins ascend in scale with the three motives, while the lower strings create the homophonic texture. At (0:40), the strings rush through the scales, giving a strong ending in unison once again. This marks an ending, although brings back the second theme one more time before the Recapitulation ends. At (0:00) of track 17, the second theme is played by the violins with slurs in mezzo piano, while the woodwinds respond. At (0:24), the strings become louder with a crescendo, and also ascends in scale. When the strings hit their high points, they start to descend. However the lower strings ascend in scale, then rush down the scale once again,  leading to (0:42). This is where  the rhythmic motives from the first theme is used for the strings and woodwinds to call and respond again. They also alternate from loud to soft, bringing back the listeners to a section from the Development. At (0:58), the strings respond to the woodwinds with the three note motives, this time in forte, leading up to the Coda in track 18.

The Coda on track 18 starts off with strings playing eighth notes down the scale. However the strings rises few notes at certain points. After the descend, the strings and woodwinds slowly ascend at (0:06). The notes are also echoing amongst the strings as well. These chords are played in forte, increasing tension, and resolves with the chords played by woodwinds in piano at (0:10).  (0:12) is where the first theme is played again, but this time slower, in ritardando. The theme is answered by the strings and woodwinds at (0:22), which plays in forte, introducing the end to the movement. The Coda ends with the tonic, third, then tonic once again. The woodwinds play an octave higher of the strings for cadence.

Listening Log Week 1: Symphony No.94 in G Major (F.J. Haydn)

The “Surprise Symphony” by F.J. Haydn was composed when Haydn had visited London in 1791. This symphony being one of the London symphonies was also first performed there in 1792.

The second movement of this classical symphony, has a tempo of Andante formed by various instruments, many of them used frequently for orchestral pieces. Since this is the second movement, it is likely that the movement before (first) would have been in a faster tempo, and in Sonata form. And if we were to predict the third movement, it would be in a medium tempo, formed in a Minuet-Trio form. For instrumentation, this symphony includes flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets, first and second violins, violas, cellos, basses, and the timpani. The symphony also includes harpsichords, which is interesting, since harpsichords were used frequently during the baroque period. The classical period usually had the piano replacing the harpsichord, although this symphony brings back the usage of harpsichords.

The second movement of this symphony is composed in C major, which would be a subdominant key. The time signature is in 2/4 time. Just like many other classical symphonies, this symphony has a homophonic texture, right from the beginning. It has a duple meter, with a Theme and Variations form. This form introduces a theme or a main melody at the beginning, and continues on with different variations of the theme. At (0:00), the very main theme is introduced. This theme is first played in staccato, only with the first and second violins. This theme  consists of two sections of 8 measures, which is also often in classical symphonies. The first “surprise” can be heard at (0:32), where all the instruments play an accented chord with a sudden fortessimo. These “surprises” are said to be for listeners who found slow movements  boring. One of the things that enhances the “surprise” is how the measures before are played in pianissimo.  At (1:07), the theme is decorated into the first variation with a higher pitched countermelody played by the violins. The second variation at (2:14) is played in C minor, along with the timpani and the trumpets. These changes to the minor keys often happened in classical symphonies. By playing in minor keys, the change in the music still maintained tonality and consonance, which was a common factor for the classical age. However, this variation also includes the violins playing the theme in major. In addition, in order to increase the “surprise” to the change, the dynamics are again at fortessimo or forte in staccato. (3:23) on the time introduces the third variation to the theme. With the third variation, the rhythmic values to the theme is changed. The eighth notes are doubled to quarter notes, played by the oboes. At (3:39), this returns to the regular rhythm with the oboes and the flutes, in mezzopiano or piano, in staccato. Finally with the fourth variation at (4:29), woodwinds, brasses, and the timpani plays the theme in fortessimo, introducing an end to the movement. From (5:10 – 15), the instrumentation has a crescendo, giving anticipation for a cadence. However, from (5:15 – 20), there is a decrescendo, making the listeners expect longer notes from then on. (5:21) is where the instruments have an accented fortessimo, reminding the listeners of the “surprise”, once again. At (5:32) , we hear the violins chromatically descending. The orchestra plays an extremely dissonant chord at (5:45), and stresses on it, giving the feeling of suspense and climax. This dissonance is resolved at (5:54), where the oboes and the entire orchestra plays the final theme. Finally, at (6:19), the second movement hits a cadence, expressing the end to the second movement. 

 

How Can Language Empower or Disempower People?

As we are living in a modern world filled with cultural diversity, technological advancement, and many other factors that can impact our perspectives, the language we use can also change the way we communicate with others. How can language empower or disempower people? This can be answered by exploring the two texts, “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema“, a study of anthropology written by Horace Miner (Text A) and “The Clash of Communicative Strategies in Australia“, (Text B) a blog post by Olivia.

When we read a certain text, the way we perceive the information given is different within each and one of us. The main purpose to Text A would be to have the readers question the logical understandings or set in stone rules we always had. Miner describes the Nacirema (or just ‘Americans’ backwards) as these “North American group”, in order to have the readers view themselves from a third person perspective. Readers do not notice that the crude culture or actions by the “Nacirema” is just describing Americans with a negative tone. On the other hand, Text B is a blog post with its aim to the point. The writer discusses the clash of language and culture between the Standard Australians (SAE) and the Aboriginal Australians (AbE). The purpose of this text is to introduce this ongoing issue or segregation (hence the website name) to the readers. In addition, the target audience for this post would be any readers who are interested in the topic of cultural diversity, or cultural bias. Likewise, the target audience for Text A would be readers who are interested in culture differences. It would mainly be targeted for students, teachers, or educators who are studying the topic of anthropology, or social sciences.

Text A and Text B share many common topics. One of them is how they express ethnocentric views. The main cause of having different views on some cultures can be due to ethnocentricity. When a person is thinking in a ethnocentric way, it means that the reader is basing its own culture as the center of logic. Ethnocentrism is the evaluation of other cultures according to the standards of your own culture. Text A takes a reverse view of the Americans, studying the behaviours or rules they’ve always had and unquestioned. One of the most disempowering idea Miner brings up is how hospitals are used in modern society. “No matter how ill the supplicant or how grave the emergency, the guardians of many temples will not admit a client if he cannot give a rich gift to the custodian.” (¶ 14) In our world today, this rule is a logical rule; we pay doctors and hospitals to cure our illness. However, when taking out our logic or ethnocentricity, we start to see the inhumane act hidden. If hospitals are a place to save lives, wealth should not matter when accepting patients. In addition, the way Miner describes American culture has an extremely negative tone, disempowering the readers. “The use of these objects in the exorcism of the evils of the mouth involves almost unbelievable ritual torture of the client.” (¶ 11) Miner describes how a patient is cured at the dentist, using words such as “evil”, “torture”, or “exorcism”, which gives off a cruel image of Western culture. 

On the other hand, Text B compares the SAE and AbE, as well as tackling the difference between these two cultures. Text B empowers the SAE, while disempowering AbE. This can be seen by how the blog post comments on the lack of power of the AbE; “Aborigines have found that the easiest method to deal with White people is to agree with whatever it is that the Anglo- Australians want and then to continue on with their own business. ” (Liberman249). Here, it shows how the AbEs have given up on trying to communicate with the SAEs, which means that the language currency of the AbEs are decreasing. It is also said that the AbEs have used code-switching in order to suit the SAEs way of speaking english. The post also describes how such misunderstandings can cause an AbE speaker to admit a crime they were not responsible of, at a court of law. This means that even a small difference between the two can be the cause of an unintended crime.

Both of these texts describes the pros and cons of our usage in Language. Text A focuses on cultural bias, ethnocentricity, and how language determinism can alter or persuade the readers mind in discriminating a certain culture. Text B also shows what cultural bias can cause, and how one language can be disempowered by the other. Throughout the two texts, we can see how language can be a very significant factor in communication. If we reduce cultural bias and over ethnocentrism, we would be able to accept other cultures and languages, just as they are. The first step to this would be to actually get to know the diverse cultures around the world.  

 

 

TOK Blog Post: Arts and Mathematics

Art and Mathematics both can be seen to convey knowledge through the intentional use of symbols. Now that you have taken a brief but focused look at each of them, in which ways do you feel they are similar and different?

In order to discuss the relations between Mathematics and Art, one must clearly define what a creation of Art is, as well as how Mathematics can be portrayed in various perspectives.

The Arts can be one of the most ambiguous areas of knowledge (AOK) one will come across. It can cover a wide variety of activities, such as art as in a piece of painting, a musical piece, all the way to a diary kept everyday. There are many ways in which one can draw the line between what is art and what is not. The Arts can be defined as the results of ones creativity. This is partly the reason why many confuse the difference between what is art and what is not. For example, when looking at a packet of gum, the purpose of the gum is to consume it, rather than studying the colours and gaining entertainment out of it. However, the packet itself, is a form of art. The way the packet is structured, the colours used, and the wrappers covering the gum. Moreover, the creation or the idea of a gum is art itself.

Mathematics can also be hard to identify; especially with the question, is mathematics man made or discovered? These two extremes can be expressed as the Platonist view and the Formalist view. Platonists will argue that the idea of mathematics is produced naturally, not created by humans. For example, the number ‘three’ is an idea that has already been there from the beginning, not a creation. Even if the symbol ‘3’ or the label ‘three’ is produced from our minds, the idea of counting is a discovery. On the other hand, formalists will disagree that mathematics are completely man made. For example, formalists will support their view by saying that maths cannot exist without the mathematicians. Maths is a mental construction, rather than a discovery. Both views hold a understandable reasoning, even though they are two opposites. This is one of the reasons why maths can be difficult to define.

In conclusion, there are many differences between maths and the arts. These differences are very clear, yet sometimes they will overlap with some other views. For example, if maths is a creation of the minds, a result of ones mental construction, will that count as a form of art? The arts can be defined by the results of imagination. A formalist view of the maths can said to be close to the arts. One of the other main difference between the two could be how maths is used to reason the logic, giving the one answer to a question, while art gives a a reason to more than one perspective. The arts can question or reverse the logic, while the maths will set the logic for ones mind.

 

“Ukraine plan to raise import tariffs on range of goods alarms US” – Mini Internal Assessment

Tariffs, are the taxes imposed on imported goods and services. Tariffs are mainly used to restrict trade, creating barriers between countries that import and export goods.

In this article, it reports how as we are facing an economic slowdown around the globe, Ukraine is planning to increase tariffs on more than 350 goods, which includes vegetables, plants, meat, washing machines, and all the way to automobiles.These imports are said to be worth $4.6bn (£2.9bn) in total.

These implications by Ukraine has been a concern to the members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as well as giving concern to the US. By increasing tariffs, some fear the possible knock-on effect on other countries that are restricting trade.

The effect of tariffs on imported goods can be seen on this graph below:

As seen on the graph, imported goods have decreased from Q2 → Q1, as well as Q4 → Q3, due to the price increase from P(World) to P(World) + Tariffs. However, domestic producers have benefited from this. Producers have increased from Q1 → Q3, which means that the unemployment rate has decreased. In addition, the tax revenues for the Ukrainian government have increased, which means that there is an increase in competition against imported goods for domestic producers. The triangle marked “A” indicates the dead weight loss to society (DWLS). In this case, the DWLS is for the producers, who are not capable of producing anymore, due to the price raise. DWLS is the cost produced by market inefficiency. The triangle marked “B” indicates consumers who cannot consume the goods anymore.

In conclusion, the increase in tariff would be a positive change for the domestic producers, employees, economy, and the government. However, if Ukraine increases its tariffs, the foreign producers and domestic consumers will not benefit.

 

GCD Personal Goal

During the summer of 2012, I had an extremely fun experience, and also achieved one of my personal goals. I won “Best Female Vocalist” at the “TAC Talent Search” on May 2012. This competition also included a possibility in winning a record deal with Sony Music Entertainment Japan. Since my hobby is to sing and make music, I have always joined the school Choir, and also had a great time with a band my friends and I were in. Right before school ended in May, our choral teacher suggested some students to join a competition that was to be held at the end of May.

This competition was held at the Tokyo American Club, called the “TAC Talent Search”, open to all students of international schools in Japan. I decided to give it a try, and sent a video of me singing with my band. Even though I was not planning on entering the competition, I thought it would be a good opportunity to know what it is like to be in a competition, and meet new people of my age, having the same interest. I honestly did not think I would win a category in this competition, and when I first decided to take part, my intention was to see what the level of my performance was, compared to students of roughly the same age.

At the finals, I sang one of my favourites, “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars. It was a great feeling to accomplish one of my personal goals, while I also got to have an amazing experience on stage! And below is a short video summarising the competition, and also a photo of an envelope I received, which had some tickets to shows.  From this experience, I learnt that practice does make perfect. I used to hate practices because they highlight your weaknesses and you have to put in an effort to change it, which sometimes doesn’t work, and brings your self-esteem down. It had always been a challenge for me. Although since this was an event I never experienced, I practiced a lot; it was probably because I had no idea what to expect. And when the actual day came, I felt so comfortable with the song I was singing, maybe almost too comfortable, that I did not get nervous at all on stage.

The day before the event, we were to attend a workshop by a vocal and stage coach, who taught us how to stand correctly on the stage, where to look during your performance, all these things that made our performances better for the next day. It felt nerve racking to meet all these students who were older than me, and probably better than me, and I was so nervous because I was never good at meeting new people. Although as we went on with practices and trainings, I found out that many of us gave advices to each other on how to make things better, which was great to see. And this got me to overcome one of my weaknesses of being too quiet or shy in a social event; helping each other was the key.

One of the things I did differently through this experience was to step out of my comfort zone, and be adventurous. I am never really the type to challenge myself with new experiences because it scares me a lot, and I get According to one of the judges of this competition, there were hundreds of videos sent. Luckily, I was picked as one of the finalists.  

What Good are Schools?

  • What are the aims of the educations system and of YIS? What, through the aims, are you expected to know?
Since our school provides the IB programme in the last two years of High School, our school bases its aims for the students by the IB programme. Through the IB programme, the school aims to raise well rounded students, who has high quality of education, along with the CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) extracurricular activities. The programme also consists of the Extended Essay, where the students are allowed to explore a favoured topic, and investigate what they question. Through these programmes, the school plants wide varieties of knowledge to the students.
  • What are the ideals of the society that have determined these aims?
These days, society looks more to how the student is being engaged with variety of activities, rather than just looking at their grades. I believe that it is becoming more of an advantage if a student has explored variety of subjects, being a well-rounded person.
  • Where did those ideals come from? On what grounds are they justified?
These ideals are mainly coming from how most people are able to have high quality education. Majority of the students studying already have the knowledge and grades to get a decent job. Therefore I think society is starting to look for a person who is special above all of the good grades.
  • What conflicts can arrise from those ideals?
By being a well-rounded person as the IB and the society wants, I feel that sometimes we learn many subjects, but not one in depth. A well-rounded person can certainly have a positive side, although can also have a negative aspect. And that would certainly be how we don’t learn one topic in greater depth, since realistically speaking, the students know that “it’s not in the syllabus”.
  • What status should be given to:
    • moral/ethical eduction
    • community serive
    • oiliticl education
    • physical education
    • arts education
    • student-driven education
This is probably a hard decision to make on which education is correct, since there is probably no correct answer. Because as much as the students should follow their passion and what they really love, they should also have some knowledge of various subjects. This is because many students aren’t perfectly clear of what they want to pursue in the future. If they decide to change their passion, it is easier for them to do that with a basic understanding of many subjects.
  • How is it decided which of the so-called great works of science  art, literature morality are worthy to be passed on in your school or college?
Since our school is based on the IB program, the IB coordinators are probably the ones who decide what subjects and what learning outcomes we gain. However I think it would be great if we can have a say in what we learn, for example being a part of the process in making the syllabus that we base our study on. Although in a sense we already have a lot freedom in what we choose to study, since we select which subject to study.
  • If you could design a school, what would it look like?

I am actually satisfied with what our school provides, even though we have a lot to learn and study. Since while I am writing my CAS reflection I actually notice how I learnt many things, and how I have reached many of my goals. Although just like the video we watched, I also think that is is good to have a student-led curriculum, since it lets the students to follow their passions. Therefore I think it would be best to keep our school’s program, but also to have a student-led project, where we can plan everything from the beginning just by ourselves.