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Dynamics

Rhythm
Context
Structure
Melody
Instrumentation
Texture
Harmony

Area of Study 1: Western classical music


Set work 1: G.F. Handel: Chorus: And the Glory of the
Lord from the oratorio Messiah
Context

Composed by GF Handel in 1742


It is the chorus in the oratorio Messiah
Structure of an oratorio: recitative, aria, chorus
Part of the Baroque era (1600-1750)
Performed in a charity concert in Dublin to help the poor prisoners of the city
Promises that Christ will come to save the world
Has a hopeful and joyful mood
Features of Baroque music seen in And the Glory of the Lord
Ornamented melodic parts
Establishments of major/minor keys as opposed to modes
The use of diatonic chords
Basso continuo accompaniment

Different musical textures: monophonic, homophonic, polyphonic


There is a prevalence of one mood throughout the piece
Contrasting of loud and soft dynamics

Melody
Made up of 4 contrasting ideas
And the glory of the Lord

Altos come in first

The first 3 notes outlining an A major triad are followed by a stepwise scale
ending.

Words are mainly syllabic (one note per syllable)


Shall be revealed

Two one bar descending sequences.

revealed is melismatic (several notes to a syllable)


And all flesh shall see it together

A repetitive motif with 3 statements of a descending 4th idea (a rising leap of a


4th followed by a scalic descent of a 4th)
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken it

Long dotted minim repeated notes.

The parts imitate each other

Voice parts are doubled


Uses ornamentation

Texture

Monophonic with a single line of vocals from bars 11-13


Imitation in the contrapuntal sections from bars 17 and onwards
Homophonic with a four part choir from bars 33-38
Doubling of parts on bar 51 during for the mouth
Contrapuntal (polyphonic) with two ideas together from bars 110-113
Instruments often double the voices

Rhythm
It is played in allegro
In 3/4 time throughout the piece
Uses hemiolas (using tied notes to give a feeling of 3 bars of duple meter)

Harmony

Tonality: A major
Modulations: A major, E major, B major, A major
Major throughout to portray a joyful mood
Uses diatonic chords (only notes belonging to the key)
Dissonances are created by suspension (a chord containing a dissonant note which
then resolves into a harmony note) and ornamentation
Most of the cadences are perfect, but there is a plagal cadence at the end

Dynamics
There is a contrasting of loud and soft dynamics throughout the piece

Instrumentation
Violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello, double bass, harpsichord, oboes, bassoons, SATB
vocals
The strings double the voice parts
Continuo accompaniment by cello, bass and harpsichord

Set work 2: W.A. Mozart: 1st movement from


Symphony No. 40 in G minor
Context
Composed by Mozart in 1788
Part of the Classical era (1750-1830)
Movements of a symphony: fast and in sonata form, slow, minuet and trio, fast and in
rondo/sonata/theme and variation form
Mood is exciting, serious and dramatic
Features of Classical music seen in Symphony No. 40

Well balanced question and answer phrases of equal length

Mostly melody dominated homophony

Symmetrical structure

Strong sense of tonality

Structure
Written in sonata form

(no introduction)
Exposition
First subject in the tonic key
Transition where the music modulates
Second subject usually in the relative/dominant key
Repeat
Development
Develops ideas from the first and subjects subjects
Constantly modulates
Recapitulation
Recaps the first subject in the tonic key
Transition
Second subject in the tonic key
Coda in the tonic key, developing the first subject

Harmony

Exposition
First subject: tonic Gm
Transition: modulating from Gm to Bb
Second subject: Bb (relative major)
Codetta: Bb
Development
Modulations: Gm - G#dim7 - F#m - Em - Am - Dm - Gm - C - F - Bb
Recapitulation
First subject: Gm
Transition: Gm - Eb - Fm - Eb - Gm
Second subject: Gm
Coda in Gm
Longer than the codetta in the exposition to reinforces the G minor key
Uses frequent perfect or imperfect cadences to emphasize the key

Instrumentation
Violin 1, violin 2, cello, double bass, 1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 1 horn
in Bb, 1 horn in G
No trumpets or timpani were used (which was unusual in classical era orchestras)

Dynamics

Exposition
First subject is quite with a few loud cadences in the middle
Transition is loud
Second subject starts quietly but increases in volume towards the end
Codetta contains contrasts of loud and soft dynamics
Development begins and ends quietly but has a long loud section in the middle
Recapitulation is similar to the dynamics of the exposition
There are clear contrasts between forte and piano throughout the piece, without many
crescendos or diminuendos

Rhythm
The piece is played as molto allegro (very fast)
It is in 4/4 time

Melody
First subject: 3 note motif
Transition: loud and confident rising leaps between notes of chords to prepare for the
entry of the second subject
Second subject 1
Second subject 2: violins play chromatic ascending quavers and then a scalic descent

Texture
Mostly homophonic
There is a section of polyphonic counterpoint in the development
Melodies are often doubled in octaves

Set work 3: F. Chopin: Piano Prelude No. 15 in D flat


major, Op. 28
Context
Chopin composed the Raindrop Prelude while he was at a monastery in Valldemossa
in 1838
It was nicknamed "Raindrop" because it was written during a storm. The repeated A
flat and G sharp quavers throughout the piece represent the rain
Part of the Romantic era (1830-1900)
Features of Romantic music seen in Raindrop Prelude

Expresses feelings and emotions using tempo rubato


Melody lines are longer and more developed
Strong dynamic contrasts
Virtuoso passages with high technical demand

Structure
Ternary form: ABA
Final section is shortened and ends with a codetta
Section B in this piece is longer than usual and it contrasts with section A by
modulating key to C# minor
The coda introduces a new melody
All the sections are unified by the repeated dominant quaver pedal notes

Melody
Section A

Melody in the right hand

Cantabile (in a singing style)

Contains ornaments, acciaccaturas, appoggiaturas, turns, and chromatic


scales

Four bar phrases that are repeated with variations


Section B

Melody in the left hand

Has a narrower range

It is based on four and eight bar phrases that are sometimes repeated
Codetta: a new melody line is introduced in the codetta

Rhythm
Section A

Left hand quaver pedal

Right hand melody consists of dotted rhythms and some syncopation


Section B

Right hand quaver pedal

Left hand melody consists of crotchets and longer notes

Harmony
Section A

Db major tonality

Moves to the dominant and relative minor key before modulating back to the
tonic
Ends with an imperfect cadence
Section B
Begins with C# minor (the enharmonic change of Db major)
Ends with an imperfect cadence

Texture
Section A

Homophonic texture

Right hand melody accompanied by the left hand dominant quaver pedal
Section B

Homophonic texture

More chordal and thick

Quaver accompaniment is changed to the right hand, with the melody in the left
hand

Texture is thickened by octave doubling


Codetta: there are two monophonic bars at the start of the coda

Instrumentation

Piano
The middle range of the piano is used in section A
The bass register of the piano is used in section B
Not as demanding as some of the other Romantic era piano pieces
Uses rubato (bending the rhythm in order to play emotionally)

Area of Study 2: Music in the 20th


century
Set work 4: A. Shoenberg: Peripetie from Five
Orchestral Pieces

Context

Composed by Shoenberg in 1909


Shoenberg also invented serialism, based on 12 tones. Peripetie is atonal not serial
Peripetie is an expressionist piece (early 20th century)
Features of expressionist music seen in Peripetie
Atonal
Each piece expresses one intense emotion
High level of dissonance
Instruments play at the extremes of their ranges
Extreme contrasts of dynamics
Uses timbre of instruments to contribute to melody (e.g. pizzicato)
Pieces are short
Large orchestra

Melody
Primary voice (hauptstimme) and secondary voice (nebenstimme)
Melody is passed from one instrument to another, adding timbre and texture to the
melodic line (klangfarbenmelodie)

Harmony

Tonality is atonal
Uses a hexachord (set of 6 pitches) for harmonic and melodic material
Hexachords create dissonance
Lots of chromatic harmonies (using notes not belonging to the key)

Rhythm
Tempo is sehr rasch (very quick)
Uses triplets, sextuplets, demisemiquaver bursts to make the tempo seem faster
The tempo changes frequently and is rhythmically complex

Texture
Texture is sparse
Texture is polyphonic contrapuntal, several musical ideas are overlapped

Dynamics

The dynamics change dramatically and frequently


There is an extreme range of dynamics

Structure
Free rondo form: ABACA
Different sections are based on treatment of ideas instead of keys

Instrumentation
Uses a large orchestra
Uses extra instruments including: cor anglaise, piccolo, bass clarinet, 6 horns, 4
trombones, cymbals, gong, bass drum, xylophone
Instruments play in a very wide pitch ranges
Uses devices that alter the timbre of the instruments (e.g. mute, tremolo, pizzicato)

Set work 5: L. Bernstein: Somethings Coming from


West Side Story
Context
Composed in 1958
Somethings Coming is the third musical in West Side Story
Features of West Side Story

A tragic and violent theme

Fusion of classical and jazz music

Focus on contemporary social problems

Rhythm
Some sections in fast triple meter (3/4) and others in fast duple meter (2/4)
Crotchet = 176
Pushed notes, notes that are brought in early than the main beat, creates anticipation
(e.g. could be, who knows)
Short notes in the vocals which are often syncopated
Cross rhythms (e.g. or whistling down the river)

Harmony

Tonality is in D major with 2 sections in C major


Harmony is tonal but the chords contain added 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th
Contains blue notes which are flat 3rd, 5th, 7th (e.g. C natural)
Uses a augmented 4th interval throughout the musical

Melody
Uses short rhythmic riffs to set a breathy and excited mood (e.g. something due any
day)
Vocal part is a tenor voice
Some sections have a quiet whispered tone
Combination of snappy short phrases and long sustained notes (e.g. coming to me)
Word paintings (e.g. cannon balling down through the sky, the air is humming)

Instrumentation
Clarinet, saxophone, 2 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, 7 violins, 4 cellos, 2 double
basses, drum kit, percussionists, piano, electric and acoustic guitar
Some woodwind players double up
The bass plays a 3 note ostinato

Structure

Introduction
In 3/4 time
Section A
Section B
Changes to 2/4 time
Section B1
Section A1
Back to 3/4 time
Outro (fade out)

Set work 6: S. Reich: 3rd movement (Fast) from


Electric Counterpoint
Context
Composed in 1987

It is a minimalist piece
Features of minimalism seen in Electric Counterpoint

Drones: a long continuous note

Pedals: a single repeated note

Ostinato/loops: repeated musical ideas

Cells: the shortest musical ideas

Phasing: two almost identical parts go out of sync with each other and
gradually come back into sync again

Metamorphosis: gradually changing from one musical idea to another

Layering: adding new musical parts one at a time

Rhythmic displacement: varying the notes to be accented in a musical phrase,


or starting the same phrase in a different part of the bar (used in Electric
Counterpoint)

Instrumentation
1 live guitar, 7 pre-recorded guitars, 2 pre-recorded bass guitars

Rhythm

The piece is in triple meter (3/2)


The piece changes between 3/2 and 12/8 in section B
Crotchet = 192
There are cross rhythms and syncopation

Structure
Section A

The guitars are layered in, starting with a one bar ostinato

Note addition and rhythmic displacement build up the ostinato

Guitars play a 4 part canon and the live guitar plays the resultant melody (a
melody based on the combination of notes played on the other guitars)

Bass guitars enter, playing a 2 bar ostinato

Live guitar changes the texture by playing percussive strummed chords


Section B

Key shifts between C minor and E minor

Meter of the live guitar changes between 3/2 and 12/8

Piece ends with a crescendo to a final chord

Texture

First section begins with a sparse texture with one guitar


The instruments are layered in until there are 5 parts
The parts are imitative
They play a 4 part canon with the live guitar playing the resultant melody
The texture is mostly polyphonic contrapuntal
The guitar parts are separated with panning (making instrumental sounds come from
different speakers)

Harmony
Modal: the piece uses E aeolian mode
Tonal ambiguity: it is uncertain whether the piece is in E minor or C major until near
the end

Area of Study 3: Popular music in


context
Set work 7: Miles Davis: All Blues from the album
Kind of Blue
Context
The album was recorded in 1959
It is a type of modal jazz. The solos are based on modes instead of chords, leading to
longer and freer improvisations

Rhythm
The piece is in compound duple time (6/4)
Uses swung rhythms, syncopation, triplets

Syncopations are notes accented off the beat

Harmony
Mode: myxolydian G
12 bar blues chord progression G7 - G7 - G7 - G7

C7 - C7 - G7 - G7

D7#9 -

Eb7#9 - G7 - G7
There are altered/extra notes added to the harmonies in bars 9 and 10 G7#9: G, B,
D, F, A# (altered note is A#)
D7#9: D, F#, A, C, E# (altered note is E#)
Contains blue notes which are flat 3rd, 5th, 7th (e.g. F natural)

Structure
Intro

Drums play with brushes

Bass plays riff 1

Piano plays a trill in thirds


Head 1: based on a head (main melody) with variations of the head over a 12 bar blue
progression

The trumpet is muted


Link: there is a 4 bar riff that introduces each section
Head 2
Link
Trumpet solo (Davis)

Trumpet mute is removed

Piano comps chords underneath the solo

Solos are based on riffs, arpeggio ideas, scales, modes, clever rhythmic
development
Link
Alto sax solo (Adderley)
Link
Tenor sax solo (Coltrane)
Link
Piano solo (Evans)
Link
Head 3
Link
Head 4
Link
Outro

Instrumentation
Frontline instruments

Trumpet (Miles Davis)


Alto sax (Julian Adderley)

Tenor sax (John Coltrane)


Rhythm section

Piano (Bill Evans): provides chordal accompaniment throughout the piece.


Uses trills to add interest

Double bass (Paul Chambers): plays riff 1 as an ostinato pattern throughout the
piece using pizzicato

Drum kit (Jimmy Cobb): highly syncopated snare drum part and a stead beat
on cymbal. Variation in how the cymbal is hit changes texture and
dynamics

Set work 8: Jeff Buckley: Grace from the album


Grace
Context
Grace was released in 1994 in the album Grace
The song has a sad and tortured mood

Structure

Verse chorus form


Intro: part A + part B
Verse
Pre-chorus
Chorus
Link: part A + part B
Verse 2
Pre-chorus
Chorus
Middle 8
Link: part A + part B
Verse 3
Outro

Harmony
The tonality is ambiguous in the beginning until half way through the first verse

The key of E minor is established half way through the first verse
Harmony is often chromatic and dissonant, caused by open guitar strings clashing
with the chords
Chords

Link part A: Fm - Gm - Em

Link part B: D A/D - D A/D - D A/D - D G5/D

Verse: Em - Em/F5 Em - Em - Em/F5 Em - Em/Eb5 - Em - F5 Em - Em/Eb5 Em

Pre-chorus: Em F#dim G6 A6 - Bm A6-9 - Em - Em F#dim G6 A6 - Bm A6-9 Em

Chorus: Em/F5 Em - Em/Eb5 - Em/F5 Em - Em/Eb5


There are sometimes more than one key in a chord because the power chord is
played with open drone strings (e.g. Em/F5 is played using a Em power chord,
leaving F5 strings open)

Instrumentation

2 guitars (Gary Lucas, Jeff Buckley)


Power chords
Drop D tuning
Electric guitar plays high in its register
Vocals (Jeff Buckley)
Falsettos
High pitch
Vocal sliding (glissando)
Vocalization: wordless singing
Wide range: exceeds 2 octaves
Bass (Mick Grondahl)
Drums (Matt Johnson)
Cymbal splashes
Kick and snare drums keep the basic beat

Melody

The vocal solo has the melody line


Wide range: exceeds 2 octaves
Vocal sliding (glissando)
Mostly syllabic
Long melismas on some words (e.g. love, fire)

Technology

Synthesizer: fills the gaps between vocal pharases


Overdubbed rhythm guitar part: thickens the sound
Guitar distortion effect
telephone EQ on vocals: gives a harsh, distant effect
Guitar flanger effect: brings out open, droning, discordant notes

Rhythm
The piece is in compound quadruple time (12/8)
Drums keep the pulse: the bass drum on beats 1 and 3, the snare drum on beats 2
and 4
Vocal part uses grace notes, triplets, syncopation
Bass is often syncopated. The dotted quavers sometimes create cross rhythms

Texture
The texture changes as instruments are left out or brought back in
More sound effects on the guitar and strings makes the texture in verse 2 more
complex than verse 1

Set work 9: Moby: Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad


from the album Play
Context
Released in 1999
It is a type of club dance music

Rhythm

The piece is in quadruple meter (4/4)


The meter is ambiguous in the first few bars
The drum kit plays an unchanging loop, emphasizing beats 2 and 4
There is syncopation in the vocals

Harmony

The song is mostly in the dorian mode of A


The harmony is diatonic
It is based on 2 main 8 bar chord progressions

Chord sequence 1 (why does my heart feel so bad)Am - Am - Em- Em - Gm Gm - D - D

Chord sequence 2 (first half of chorus these open doors)C - C - Am - Am - CC - Am - Am

Chord sequence 2 (second half of chorus these open doors)F - F - C - C - F F-C-C

Structure

Verse-chorus structure
Intro: piano enters and instruments are layered on
Verse 1: 8 bar minor chord progression
Chorus: 8 bar major chord progression
Verse 2: 8 bar minor chord progression
Break: all parts drop out for one bar. The delay creates an echo
Chorus
Outro

Instrumentation
The vocals are sampled. They are taken from a recording of a gospel choir in 1953
The percussion sounds (claves, shaker, snare drum, bass drum) are produced on a
Roland drum machine
The bass and string parts are produced on synthesizers
The piano sounds are produced on a digital sound module

Melody
The melody of Why does my heart feel so bad is based on vocal samples taken from
a recording of a gospel choir in the 1950s
He leaves ambient background noise in the vocal samples to help retain their
emotional quality

Technology
Reverb (reflection of sounds off surfaces) gives the impression of space
EQ removes the bass and higher frequencies giving the singing a telephone wire
effect

Delay creates an echo sound

Area of Study 4: World music


Set work 10: Capercaillie: Skye Waulking Song from
the album Nadurra
Context
Released in 2000
The song is sang in scottish gaelic
Waulking is the process of making tweed fabric flexible and waterproff. The waulking
song is sang to keep everyone in time and make the work sociable and fun
The song is a lament sung by Seathans wife, telling of his deeds before his death
Folk songs are passed on by oral tradition

Melody

Melody is sung by the vocals


hi ri motif repeated throughout the piece
The lyrics are improvised
Nonsense syllables are used for the backing vocals to join and and for the main singer
to think of what to sing next

Instrumentation
Traditional folk instruments: accordian, uilleann pipes, fiddle, bouzouki, guitar,
shakers, wurlitzer piano
Modern instruments: synth, acoustic bass, electric bass, drum kit

Rhythm
Meter is 12/8
At the beginning, the time signature is ambiguous but is established by verse 2

Harmony

Tonality is E aeolian mode


Key is ambiguous at the beginning and is established to be E aeolian at the end of the
introduction. The chord sequence is Em - G
Key changes to G ionian in verse 4. The chord sequence changes to C - G - Em - G
Key changes to E aeolian in verse 7 for one verse. The chord sequence is Am7 - Em Em - G
The key returns to G ionian in verse 8. The chord sequence goes back to C - G - Em G
The chord sequence alternates between C - G before fading out

Structure
Introduction

Fiddle plays a tremolo, piano plays a counterpoint with bouzouki, bass plays
staccato, drums use shaker and hi hat

Tonality is E aeolian
Verse 1: each verse is 3 bars long
Break

Fiddle becomes more prominent


Verse 2

12/8 time signature is established by the vocals


Verse 3
Verse 4

Accordion joins in

Backing vocals do nonsense syllables

Key changes to G ionian


Verse 5

Accordion plays countermelodies


Verse 6
Instrumental

Uilleann pipes solo with the fiddle in a heterophonic texture

Accordion provides accompaniment and melodic doubling


Verse 7

Key changes to E aeolian for one verse


Verse 8

Key goes back to G ionian


Outro

Chord sequence alternates between C and G

Fade out

Texture

Texture starts out sparse with only the synth and fiddle, layering on instruments
Bouzouki and piano play an interweaving melody
Texture is polyphonic most of the time
The texture becomes monophonic when the vocals sing on its own
The texture is heterophonic during the instrumental break

11: Rag Desh


Context
Indian ragas are passed down from one generation to the next with oral tradition
(gharana)
Rag: the set melody on which the music is improvised. It is a cross between a
collection of pitches and a scale. A rag ascends and descends but the pitches
differ in each direction
Raga: improvised music in several contrasting sections based on a series of notes
from a particular rag
Rasa: the mood created by the sounds of pitches in a particular rag

Instrumentation

Tambura: plays drone notes


Sitar: can slide between notes (meend), play rapid flourishes (tan)
Sarod: smaller than a sitar and has 2 sets of strings
Tabla: drums
Esraj: bowed instrument
Bansuri: flute
Sarangi: smaller than a sitar and uses bow rather than plucking
Shehnai: oboe

Rhythm
Tala: a repeating rhythmic cycle played by the tabla drums (e.g. teental 16-beat tala).

Each beat is called a matra


Bols: independent rhythm parts that go against the main beat in a tala. The bols are
used to create syncopation. The rhythms start and end together on the first beat
of the cycle (sam)

Structure
Sections of a raga performance

Alap: slow, unmetered, improvised

Jhor: steady, medium tempo, improvised

Jhalla: fast, virtuoso, improvised

Gat (instrumental) or bandish (vocal): moderate tempo, fixed


Version 1: Anoushka Shankar (sitar)

Alap

Tempo: slow, unmetered

Instruments: sitar

Melody: improvised, some decoration

Gat 1

Tempo: fixed, medium speed, 10 beat jhaptal tala

Instruments: sitar, tabla

Melody: sitar part is fixed and has decoration; the tabla part is
improvised and has ornamentation

Gat 2

Tempo: fast, 16 beat teental tala

Instruments: sitar, tabla


Version 2: Mhara janam maran (voice)

Alap

Tempo: free time, slow

Instruments: sarod, vocals

Bhajan

Tempo: fixed, fast, 8 beat keherwal tala

Instruments: sarod, vocals, tabla, sarangai


Version 3: Benjy Wertheimer (esraj and tabla) and Steve Gorn (bansuri)

Alap

Tempo: slow, unmetered

Instruments: tambura, bansuri, esraj

Melody: tambura plays drone, bansuri and esraj plays melody

Gat 1

Tempo: slow, 7 beat rupak tala


Instruments: tambura, bansuri, tabla
Melody: tambura plays drone, bansuri plays unaccompanied melody
until tabla comes in, after tabla comes in composition becomes
fixed and more agitated with improvisation

Gat 2
Tempo: fast, 12 beat ektal tala
Instruments: tambura, tabla, bansuri
Melody: tambura plays drone, tabla sets fast tempo, bansuri plays
elaborate melody

Set work 12: Koko: Yiri


Context
Released in 2002
Africans use singing as a part of everyday life, rituals, and celebrations
African songs can be used to communicate. Tone language means that the pitch
determines the meaning of the words

Instrumentation
Balaphone: a type of xylophone with bottle shaped gourd resonators
Talking drums: drums that can produce a wide range of tones by using different
playing techniques (e.g. striking the head in different places,)

Djembe: goblet shaped drum played with the hand

Donno: small hourglass shaped drum held under the arm and played with the
hand

Dundun: bass drum played with sticks

Structure
Introduction

High pitched balaphone improvised solo playing at a soft dynamic level

Monophonic texture
Balaphone ostinati

High pitched balaphone plays an ostinato

Low pitched balaphone joins in playing a similar ostinato, but with a few
different notes. This polyrhythm creates a heterophonic texture
Drum ostinati
Large talking drum, small talking drum, and djembe come in, playing a simple
ostinato
Djembe fills create syncopated rhythms
Chorus A1
Voices enter in unison
Melody is short, simple and repetitive
Instrumental break
Voices drop out
High pitched balaphone plays solo
Chorus A2
Instrumental break
Low pitched balaphone plays solo
Solo with choral responses
A solo voice calls out a Yiri shout
Vocal response from the choir in unison
Instrumental break
New melody for the balaphone solo
Chorus B1
Full choir in unision singing the Yiri shout
There are some short instrumental interjections
Call and response between voices and instruments
Instrumental break
Balaphone melody playing riffs with variations
Chorus A3
Full choir in unision singing the Yiri shout
There are some short instrumental interjections
Instrumental break
Coda

Rhythm:
Yiri, like many other traditional African pieces uses complex rhythms played by the
drummers to create polyrhythms, using stresses that conflict with each other and the
steady constant beat creating cross rhythms. The vocals use a rhythmic pattern of
semiquaver-quaver-semiquaver.

Context:
African music is founded on oral tradition, and therefore has no musical notation. The
performance consists of a master drummer directing other drummers and percussion
instruments. Singing in Africa is a vital part of everyday life and is seen at religious
ceremonies, rituals and celebrations. The songs provide a means of communication.
African languages are tone languages, the pitch level determines the meaning of the
words. Therefore the melodies and rhythms can be made to fit in pitch outlines to match
the meanings and the speech rhythms of the words and the song.
Structure:
Yiri starts with an introduction, which begins with a balaphone improvised solo.
Instruments are gradually layered on until chorus A1 where the vocals join in in unison.
There is a short instrumental break where the balaphone plays a solo. Then the voices
come back in in chorus A2. There is more balaphone melody before there is a vocal
solo with choral responses. After an instrumental solo, chorus B2 consists of the full
choir singing Yiri in unison with short instrumental interjections. There is a chorus A3
which has the full choir again in unison before the coda, which concludes with a single
ting on the bell.
Melody:
The main melody in Yiri is sung by the vocals. The melodies are short and simple and
often repeated over and over again. The vocals use the basic structure of call and
response, where one singer sings a solo line and the rest of the group makes a vocal
reply. Also, the performers often improvise new melodies while the other singers
continue the old melody.
Instrumentation:
Yiri is performed by vocals, a balaphone (xylophone), djembe, and donno and dundun
talking drums. A talking drum is a drum with which a wide range of tones can be
produced by striking the head in different places. The dundun is the bass drum played
with sticks, and the donno is a small hourglass shaped drum held under the arm and
played with the hand. The talking drums play a drum ostinato throughout the piece. The
balaphone is a type of xylophone except it has bottle shaped gourd resonators. It plays
a balaphone ostinato throughout the piece.
Texture:

Like other African music, Yiri uses polyrhythmic texture, a texture made up of many
different meters. However, some parts of the music like the introduction is monophonic
while other parts is heterophonic, several parts play the same melodic part but with
slight differences in pitch. The texture is layered on gradually.
Harmony:
The first 3 vocal phrases begin on the tonic and end on the dominant. The last 2 vocal
phrases begin on the dominant and end on the tonic.