These essays should be centered around your listening experiences. Each essay should consist of at least 300 words. Try to have fun with these responses! Take risks and be creative! Push yourself to discuss the music at hand in the greatest possible detail and to the best of your ability. And please be sure to answer all parts of the prompts. Things to consider— instrumental color, texture, density, articulation… —are helpful suggestions
Question 1 — Revisiting Repertoire
Listen to Hélène Grimaud’s performance of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No. I
listen to Claude Debussy’s orchestral arrangement of Gymnopedie No. 1performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
After listening, address the following questions in an essay (300 words): How does Debussy’s writing transcend the expressive and mechanical capacities of the piano? Conversely, how does Debussy’s writing seem to emulate or echo the pianistic qualities of the original? Consider musical features such as instrumental color, texture, density, articulation, or anything else you are hearing and can describe. How does this significant shift in medium—from solo piano to large orchestra—alter the character, atmosphere, or mood of Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1? Finally, compare Debussy’s arrangement of Satie’s music to Webern’s arrangement of Bach’s Ricercar, discussing at least one approach or facet they share and one they do not.
Question 5 — Two composers walk into a café…
Imagine a scenario where any two of the composers we have explored in the lectures and assignments decide to dine together and chat about music. Write a script (300 words) describing their dialogue following this three-part structure:
Scene 1: Very briefly outline a phone conversation where the two composers deliberate where to grab dinner. Try to imagine a restaurant with a particular ambience and cuisine that would suit both of them based on the aesthetic character of their music. (Only spend a couple sentences on this part!).
Scene 2: Both composers arrive at the restaurant and begin a conversation around a shared musical interest; this could be a very broad concept (e.g. stasis) or something quite specific (e.g. medieval chant). Write out a conversation where both express their shared and differing approaches to this particular topic in their music. At some point, each composer should bring in an example of a specific piece of theirs (one we discussed in class) to illustrate whatever point(s) they are trying to make. The scene concludes with some sort of interruption.
Scene 3: The conversation resumes, and they each begin to chat about a piece of music they want to compose in the future! Based on what you know about these composers, imagine what kinds of musical and extra-musical ideas each composer might want to explore in their new piece. Come up with something whimsical, fantastical, and imaginative, but rooted in the proclivities of the particular composer.
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