Theme & Variation in Music

All songs start off with themes. Themes are basically the genres or the moods of the piece of music. When composing a piece of music, composers are usually inspired from their emotions and feelings, and then create music that relate to these moods. So for example, the most famous song from Jaws is made so it sounds scary, as that is it’s theme. Themes can be effected by changing up some certain parts of the composition. This is called variation. Variation can make a happy song sound sad and moody, or can change a very peaceful song into a song that wants to make everyone get up and dance. There are many different ways that people can change pieces. Some of these include changing the key, rhythm, tempo, dynamics, etc. This is seen in Mozart’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star variations, in which he plays the same main song over and over again (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) but each times he changes up the song, by playing a bass line, or a different part underneath the main song. I think that it’s pretty cool how music can sound so different just because of a couple of tweaks. I think that the biggest change that can be made to a piece of music (without completely changing the song) is changing the key, or going from major to minor (and visa versa). Because theme is a big part of music, and effects the way that the listeners feel about the song. So when the key is changed from major to minor, typically the song’s theme will be the opposite of what it was, but still sound familiar. And I think that’s really cool how that can be done.

“What is Music?”

What is music?

In the dictionary, music is defined as: an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and colour.

And that definition really does explain what music is but honestly it feels like so much more than just that.

Music to me is just such a big part of my daily life and I don’t know what I would do without it. Music has the ability to cheer me up, or make me incredibly sad. There’s so much different types and genre’s of music that can move me different ways. While my typical genre to listen to within my free time is alternative or punk, I can find myself be effected by classical music. Music is so influential in many different ways, and I don’t know what I’d do without it.

So what is music? While logically it’s just rhythm, beats, and pitches, you can’t just define it like that. Music effects the way people feel, and they way that they think. Music is a big part of my life, and can definitely change my day upside down. Music is all the good in the world put into rhythm and instruments and pitches and it’s just truly amazing how people are to convey so much into a musical piece.

Eras Reflection – how Western Classical music changed over time

In music class, we had split into two groups of four, and within this group we had to split up the eras–baroque, classical, romantic, and 20th century. I personally did the romantic era, and it was interesting to really understand the differences between all the eras, because I didn’t know so much about it back then. The main aspect that we needed to focus on in this project was the orchestra, and how it grew over time. We then had to choose the two best composers in our era, and choose the best one, and then we had to choose the best composition of that era.

But how did music change over time?

Well it mainly started in the baroque era, from the 1600’s to the 1750’s.  The characteristics of this era is the long flowing melodic lines, and using ornamentation such as trills and turns. There’s contrast between loud and soft, and two or more melodic lines were combined. Forms that were used in the baroque era were concertos (concerto grosso and solo concerto) and orchestral suites, such as minuets, gigues, and gavottes. The most well known composers of that era were Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederic Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi. And I have to say the most well known composition was The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi. Another piece that I think is very well known is the Messiah, especially Hallelujah, by Handel.

Next was the classical era. The classical era was very structural, and they liked to follow the rules. The most common form was the sonata form. In the  classical era they focused on the rhythms, and they dynamics. The famous classical era composers include Ludwig van Beethoven, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I think that the most famous piece was Ein kline nacht music from Mozart. It’s a piece that I know very well just from the first couple of notes. I think that Minuet by Bach/Christian Petzold is also very famous.

After the classical era, was the romantic era. These two era’s overlapped a lot, and are very similar. The difference is that the romantic era focused more on their emotions whether than the structure, which was kind of the opposite for the classical era. The forms are similar to the classical era’s forms though. In the romantic era they focused more on the dynamics, so the dynamics in music is all over the place, and may not exactly make sense. The famous romantic era composers are Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Frédéric Chopin, and I think that the most popular piece was The Nutcracker Suite, because it includes so many recognisable songs in it. The other piece that I think is very popular is The Blue Danube, by Johann Strauss II. I didn’t include him in my top 2 composers because I feel like he only made one hit song.

And lastly, the 20th century era. Because of the involving technology, it became easier to create music. The rhythm in music because very complex, and people explored timbre. They didn’t use as much form, and it was easier to show and share their music to everyone. I think that the most famous composers are Maurice Ravel, and Jean Sibelius, and the most well known compositions coming from them, Bolero (Ravel) and Finlandia (Sibelius).

Different Types of Minor Scales

There are three types of different scales. The common scale, which is basically the default scale is the natural scale. It’s the simplest scale, and is the automatic scale that people will play. People get to the natural minor of the major scale by moving down three half-steps.  The pattern of the natural scale is whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole, whole. But, often when artists wanted to include tension and relief in the song, they had to change the seventh note by a half-step. Therefore, this created the harmonic minor scale. The pattern of this is whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole, whole, half, half. But, the harmonic scale created a problem. When singers sang this, it made the transition from the sixth note to the seventh note–as there are three half steps–awkward. It was hard to sing, as often it would seem out of tune, too big of a jump between notes, and wasn’t entirely smooth. So in order to get rid of this, they made the melodic minor. This minor scale raised both the sixth and seventh notes by half a step. The pattern was whole, half, whole, whole, whole, whole, half. All of these scales have their reasons for being good and bad.

Pop Music Shift from Major to Minor-Reflection

It’s actually quite interesting to see the change from major to minor over time. I don’t listen to pop music that often myself, but whenever I do, I always find it too cheery and happy for my liking. So naturally, I would assume that they’d be in the major tones. But it’s interesting to read about how the ‘disney stars’ try to start using minor tones because it makes them seem mature, that they’ve gone past that pre-teen type of music. The article mentions a lot about having lighter, happier, songs when the world has gotten down in some sort of way. I have never exactly thought about it like that, and I’m not sure if I really will. When I’m feeling down, I typically ‘sing a sad song to turn it around.’ I always think that the type of song is about whatever had happened to that person around that time, e.g: that song was a sad song because they just broke up with their significant other, etc. There were things that were included in the article that I noticed, such as the length of songs. I remember just for a couple of years just wondering why the songs had suddenly moved from three minutes to four.

The article overall was very interesting, and I learnt plenty of new things. It quite interesting to see how and why the tones in songs have changed over time.

5 Moods- Music Assessment

For me composition is extremely hard for me, as I understand what has to be included, but when it comes to making the music I don’t know where to start. My first song (found here) was a slow moving piece, just like the majority of my other compositions since that seems to be easier for me. I guess when listening to the song seems like something you’d hear in the ending of the scene, where it’s kinda a happy ending but so much was lost (if that makes sense.) For this kind of scene, the music has to be slow but strong. The song would be more smooth than jumpy. I think that I did well with the song as it does work with those rules. The piece started out soft, but in the end it was slightly louder, making it seem strong. The notes were really held out long, and were very smooth. The choice of instruments were important of course, so I chose the softer, more emotional instruments.

My second song (found here)was really going for the mood of a kinda happy sort of scene. This scene would be something you’d hear perhaps at the end of the war. Songs like that would normally be loud, and often would use some sort of brass instrument. I think that it could be either fast or slow, depending on how you’d want to do it. I think that I was able to do this. With my song I used mainly trumpets, with the background of violins. The song wasn’t the fastest, and was in fact kinda slow. The song was in major, showing the happiness of the situation.

The third song is scary, (found here) which is definitely one of the easier songs to do. Scary, naturally usually has to start from a soft, low tune, and gradually get louder, and higher and then BAM. I did that, and in order to give it the scary feeling, I used two half notes (eg C&C# at the same time,) going up by a half note each time, until the finale. I went soft to load, gradually, while the ending was a mash of random notes, loudly and suddenly.

My fourth song is very close to the first (found here), but I think it’s something you’d hear in perhaps a slow death scene. It may actually seem too happy for that, but that’s the sort of feel. It’s slow, with only one instrument as the melody, and the piano as the chords in the background. The song is soft, as it needs to be for a death scene.

My last and final song (found here) is something I made up really quickly. I feel like it’s something you’d hear perhaps on a children’s show where the train or transportation is running along. So this would have to be a fast pace, using happy chords. I feel like this piece works specifically towards a childish feeling because of only using one instrument, the piano, making things light and easy to understand.

I think when writing a song for a scene, when you think you’re done, you have to sit back, and imagine the scene playing, when the music is happening. Because then you can tell if the song works for the scene or not.

Music Solo

My Solo for music 🙂Emily De Ruyver-Solo

Reflection

I learned how to play the simple notes of the saxophone, b,a,g,f#,f,c,d,e. I learned how to clean the saxophone, to build it. I already knew how to read notes and rhythm though. I try keep the timing with everyone else, and I count the rests in my head, just to see the beat. I practiced at home, and cleaned my instrument.

My musical skills improved a lot. The most challenging this is just learning how to play a new instrument. But because of the similar fingering to the clarinet and just practicing a lot I got over it quickly. But I still do have some problems, and I have a lot of other notes to learn. I enjoy playing with everyone else because it just seems amazing to make music that professionals do. In the future I would love to get better at the sax, and perhaps even learn how to play another instrument… Perhaps the flute or another woodwind instrument…