On Classical Music

‘The Half King” by Douglas Adams is, in many ways, inspired by “From the New World” by Antonin Dvorak. The tune resembles the one that serves as an inspiration to it by using a pentatonic scale and syncopated rhythm.  The harmony of the tune is dominated by brass instruments. Dissonance dominates the tune by creating an unstable tension that is resolved in the end. ‘The Half King” has a ceremonial feeling to it. The upbeat tune reminds of official celebrations.

Emmanuel Chabrier composed his famous Habanera for the piano, and the tune was arranged for the orchestra some time after. Because of this, the rhythm, harmony, and the volume of the piece are unusually calm for the orchestral music. Habanera appears to be a piece composed for a small ensemble, and the fact that it is played by the orchestra makes it unusual.  Habanera is influenced by traditional Spanish music (Hinson 80) The slow tempo helps to emphasize the characteristic rhythm.  The cross-rhythm is syncopated, and there is an accent on the upbeat in the middle of the piece.  The time signature of the rhythm is 2/4. The intervals within the melody are both conjunct and disjunct, as they constantly change. The melody goes up and down, unexpectedly enters the higher register, and calms down in the end. Habanera makes the audience peaceful and engaged at the same time by combining slow tempo with strong rhythm. About tempo and rhythm you can read in importance of music essay.

“The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives is composed of simple harmonies. The instruments play at independent tempos (Hitchcock, Wiley &Zahler 440). There are three groups of instruments: strings, a trumpet, and a woodwind quartet. The main emphasize of the tune is the trumpet that is extremely noticeable in contrast to unified clarinet, oboe, and string sections. The contrast in rhythm and melody of different instruments is set to bring a special meaning to the tune. Trumpet stands for “question of existence,” while other instruments are the “answers” that fail to explain the questions of existence.”The Unanswered Question” evokes complicated feelings in a listener. It makes one think about the purpose of life. After the tune ends, it leaves the person to deal with the feeling of melancholia (Baron 40). Such melancholia is explained by the harmonies of the strings. Moreover, the unusual structure makes the tune cosmic and detached.

“Going Home” by Antonin Dvorak is the song that resembles the spiritual music genre. The tune is influenced by the traditional music of Africa and Native American music. The tune has a common time signature. It begins with D-flat major and ends in C-sharp minor. The main theme is a simple, and yet, a broad melody. It is delivered by the cor anglais (Keller). The middle section differs from the rest of the tune because of the C sharp minor passage. The tune has a nostalgic mood that does not feel like a detached one. As the major sections contrast with minor sections, the listener feels absorbed by a feeling of a hopeful melancholy.

“From the New World” by Antonin Dvorak is characterized by pentatonic scale. The rhythms are both syncopated and dotted. The main key of the tune is E minor. The four movements of the tunes are entirely different, with each of them comprising a separate work(Service). The abovementioned “Going Home” is the song based on the second movement. The first movement has a form of sonata and a slow tempo. The third movement has a distinguishing A-B-A form. Finally, the last movement returns to the form of a sonata. “From the New World” cannot be boiled down to a single feeling because of its complexity.

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