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MUAR 211 Lecture Notes - Johann Sebastian Bach, Psalm 110, Duple And Quadruple Metre

Music-Arts Faculty
Course Code
MUAR 211
Eric Smialek

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Jan. 9th, 2013 (lecture #2)
Active Listening Practice; Dixit Dominus (Chant Psalm Setting of Psalm 110) /
J.S.Bach, G Minor Fague (1703-1707) / Tchaikovsky, Serenade for Strings: Waltz
(1880) / Steve Reich, Electric Counterpoint (ca. 1987)
Questions: what mood this music creates? Comparison (what makes this piece
different from each other); Chant quiet, scary sound, gloomy moody sound &
melody, religious, incantation, solemn, comforting, human voice involved (tone
colour) / Bach many variations in melody, getting stronger, simple piano melody,
anxiety, themes (arguing, interacting, cyclical), analytical, forward movement,
frequent repetition in melody (easily recognizable), ascending & descending wave
like melody (melodic contour)/ Tchaikovsky Happy, spring mood, song in nut
cracker?, uplifting, different meter, playful & jovial, delicate, dancing, romantic,
violin sounds / Reich simple, many repetitive fast sounds, no feeling nor mood,
shifts (process music), churning, quick, louder, exciting & intense due to fast
repetition, dreamy, static (no dramatic change), unsettling
Communicating About Music: For each listening, consider both means and effect
- How are different elements of music used?
- What kinds of moods are created by them?
Tone Colour (Timbre) characteristic of music that allows us to distinguish music
(descriptive terms of the music ex. Raspy, hollow, bright…)
Some Elements of Music: Rhythm, Meter, Tempo, Pitch, Melody (phrases, etc.),
Harmony (chords, etc.), Consonance and dissonance, Mode (major/minor), Scales,
Dynamics (loudness), Texture, Tone colour (timbre), Instrumentation and
Orchestration, Form
Some Musical Differences
- Dixit Dominus (Chant Psalm Setting of Psalm 110): Entirely vocal, alternates
between monophony and homophony, modal, consonant, non-metrical.
- J.S.Bach, G Minor Fugue (1703-1707): Instrumental, imitative, polyphonic, organ,
powerful sustained melodies, minor, duple meter.
- Tchaikovsky, Serenade for Strings Waltz (1880): Strings, leisurely pace,
lingering melody with start-and-stops, homophonic then polyphonic, triple
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- Steve Reich, Electric Counterpoint (ca.1987): Repetition, unusual use of
ensemble and guitars, pulsing, soft dynamic.
Contextual Differences
- Dixit Dominus: Functions within monastic life, deliberately bare, surprising text.
- J.S.Bach, G Minor Fugue: Virtuosity, solo performance, intellectual, church
- Tchaikovsky, Serenade for Strings, Waltz (1880): Performed in concert hall,
likely commissioned by wealthy patron, later used as the theme for Br.TV
station Channel Television in the 1980s.
- Steve Reich, Electric Counterpoint: Repetition, meditative, unusual use of
ensemble and guitars, musical experimentation encouraged by university
communities and self-conscious awareness of ones place in history.
Active Listening: How did this listening experience feel compared to your usual
listening experiences?
Baroque Context and Style
- Baroque (1600-1750) Early Baroque (1600 ca.1700) Late Baroque
(ca.1700 1750)
- Age of Absolutism: Pomp and extravagance
- Age of Science: System and Calculation
- Architecture, sculpture, painting, and music tend toward emotionality,
exaggeration, extravagance and control, opera
- One can see a desire to restore prestige to the Catholic church (after the
Lutheran Reformation) in the splendor of much European Catholic art
patronage, Bernini, St. Peters Baldachin (1623-1634)
- Bernini, Monument to Alexander VII (1678) super controlled, detailed
- Bernini, Ecstasy of St. Theresa (1646): Depicts dream where an angel pierces
her heart with an arrow; a divine symbol of life intense sculpture
- Literal theatricality: voyeuristic spectators gaze onwards from balconies as we
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