Listening Log

Black Bottom

  • Composer: Unkown
  • Year of composition: around 1920
  • Performed by: The Charleston Kids
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

Starting out with only the brass instruments, the piece starts with simple harmonics, although shortly after all other instruments are added as well. Due to the swinging rhythm, a syncopated 4/4 rhythm and fast pace the piece has a really uplifting character. One theme which is introduced at the beginning is presented by different instruments over the course of the piece. A short side theme seems to jump in between those sections as well. I especially liked the use of the piano, as it could always be heard clearly in the background even though it was always just used as a “filler” between the introduced themes.

Tennessee Waltz

  • Composer: Patti Page
  • Year of composition: 1950
  • Performed by: Patti Page
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

In comparison to the last piece, this one was much slower and more melancholic. Furthermore it isn’t just purely instrumental, but had a leading singing voice. In the centre of the piece is a short instrumental part echoing the sung melody is heard. I personally found it interesting how the layers of voices were used, as there was always a second voice harmonizing to the leading voice.

Arrabalero

  • Composer: Unkown
  • Year of composition: around 1920
  • Performed by: Orquesta De Osvaldo Fresedo
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

This short piece featured a simple, yet dramatic sounding melody, mainly played by the leading strings. As a side theme, a more cheery and uplifting tune in a major key is used. Again, the sound of the piano stands out clearly, even though it is only meant to keep the rhythm in the background. As with each entry of the main theme a similar instrumentation is used, I personally found the piece somewhat repetitive.

Smoke gets in your eyes

  • Composer: Jerome Kern
  • Year of composition: 1934
  • Performed by: Ross Mitchell, His Band & Singers
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

This warm sound- coloured song has a slow rhythm. Due instrumentation, featuring saxophones, brass instruments, a drum set and a piano as well as the the slow pace, the piece has an incredibly calming, dreamy character. A small choir featuring men and women sings the main melody in octaves. For this piece I found the mix of instruments and voices was used quite effectively, as both parts seemed equally important, even though they didn’t compete against one another and the transition to the centre instrumental part seemed seamless.

Heartaches

  • Composer: Al Bowly
  • Year of composition: around 1920
  • Performed by: Sid Phillips & His Melodians
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

In comparison to the other pieces that I’ve listened to so far featuring a voice, this one had an unusual long instrumental part. There was a leading male voice singing a short tune at the beginning, echoed by a female choir. The following instrumental part only used the trombone as its first voice and repeats the melody from the beginning. Nonetheless, due to the underlying warm and often varying harmonies the piece doesn’t seem to become repetitive.

Anything Goes

  • Composer: Cole Porter
  • Year of composition: around 1920
  • Performed by: Cole Porter
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

This piece is still a well – known classic standard today, originating from a musical with the same name of the title. This time a joyful melody is used throughout the whole piece, accompanied by a single piano. I found the use of the melody quite interesting, as the A part, which appears around 10 times throughout the piece, is a mixture of a building up melody and harmonical structure, leading to a peak point, which is then released with the short phrase “Anything goes”. Overall the use of the dynamics create a really humorous piece of music.

Copacabana

  • Composer: Draius Milhaud
  • Year of composition: 1920
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Wolfgang Weller
  • Listened to: 30.08.2022

Even though two different keys were used for this piece (Bmajor in the right hand and G major in the left), it didn’t sound too disharmonic. Through the steady rhythm of a starting left hand motif, the melody seems to be floating. Interestingly, the right hand seems rhythmically mainly bound to the rhythmic pattern of the left hand. Some contrast is created by two types of melodies; a calmer one where the right hand only plays a single line, accompanied by the rhythmic pattern of the left hand and a more colourful one, where the right hand plays the rhythmic pattern in octaves and the left one the melody.

String Quartet No.5

  • Composer: Darius Milhaus
  • Year of composition: 1920
  • Instrument: 2 Violins, Cello, Double Bass
  • Performed by: Quatuor Parisii
  • Listened to: 30.08.2022

This piece seems like an interesting approach to polytonality, and even though I found it difficult to listen to it initially, I found it really interesting. All four instruments are equally important, combined with the poly-tonality one can get the impression of being drawn from one key to another. When looking at all the melodic lines individually, they actually seem quite bright and colourful, nonetheless, the harmonic interaction with the other instruments create disharmonic interactions. It can also be noticed, that Milhaud often used the same rhythmical patterns for all instruments but time-delayed.

Sarcasms

  • Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
  • Year of composition: 1912 – 1914
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Daniil Trifonov
  • Listened to: 09.09.2022

The piece switches between a very fierce temper in the lower register and a lighter theme, played in the upper register. A melodic line, which stays similar in both parts can always be recognized over the accompaniment. In terms of the notation it is incredibly interesting that each hand uses a different key. Surprisingly, I didn’t have the impression that the piece was becoming too disharmonic and really enjoyed listening to it.

Symphony of Psalms -Third Movement

  • Composer: Igor Stravinsky
  • Year of composition: 1930
  • Performed by: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 09.09.2022

In terms of orchestration, it can be noticed that Stravinsky only used low registered strings, such as the cello and bass, alongside a huge wind instrument repertoire, percussion, and to create an even more unique sound, also two pianos. Thus, the sound colour is incredibly mysterious and dark sounding. I was slighlty surprised by the use of the choir, but found it added another level to the dark themed music.

Verklärte Nacht

  • Composer: Arnold Schönberg
  • Year of composition: 1899
  • Performed by: Emerson String Quartet,
  • Listened to: 26.09.2022

Initially, the piece seems really full of tension, but as it is never really released, it slowly seems to become less and some harmonies even create rather warm sequences. As a basis, Schönberg used a poem about a couple walking at night, under a full moon. The lady confesses that she is expecting a child from someone else, nonethteless, her partner seems to be really understanding and is willing to bring up the child as his own. The piece itself consists of one single movement, which are separated in 5 parts, which demonstrate the changing atmosphere of the couple. Nonetheless, these 5 parts are connected almost seamlessly.

Gurrelieder

  • Composer: Arnold Schönberg
  • Year of composition: 1900 – 1903
  • Performed by: Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Listened to: 26.09.2022

Again, Schönberg tried to set a story to music. This time he used the legend from the middle age about a king “Vademar”, who falls in love with another woman. As the queen becomes really jealous, she kills the other lady.

The piece is parted in three main sections. Whilst the first two sections are mainly carried by the solo voices, the third part also involves a male – choir. The first movement is introduced by the orchestra, followed by 9 songs for the two solo voices. In contrast to this length, the second movement only involves one song. Even though most oft these first two movements are already dissonant, the third one created a slightly more unsettling mood, especially with the male choir. Nonetheless, as a sunrise is described at the end, the mood seems to become incredibly bright again creating a warm end for the piece.