Analysis Question three with sample response I: Cat Empire Wine Song

Analysis Question three with sample response I: Cat Empire Wine Song

Question: Explain how dynamics and blend and balance of instrumental voices are used to contribute to expressiveness in the following work: Cat Empire, Wine Song
* Please only analyse the first two minutes
  • Having both the piano and the male vocal in the foreground of the texture creates a sombre character. This is because both instruments have a high tessitura. This results in bright tone colours and an equally loud dynamic in both instruments.

Jenn Gillan: A little more connection between your example and your character is needed here. If you had said there was a joyous or energetic character I would have believed you because you mentioned the high tessitura, loud dynamic and bright tone colours; all things associated with joyous or energetic characters. However, these are not immediately associated with a sombre character. The examples need to be obvious in how they link to character.

  • An inconsistent dynamic is created by the continuous changes in instrumentation throughout the piece. The full drum kit and percussion in particular when they come create a surge in the overall dynamic. This is due to all the different tone colours that come from each of the instruments different pieces, from the dark, booming tone colour of the kick drum, to the hollowness of the bongo’s. When these all come together it creates a character of excitement. The sombre character of the quieter sections juxtaposes this.

Jenn Gillan: I like that you have not only mentioned the dynamic but how it is caused – through changing instrumentation and tone colour. You have also acknowledged that there is a change in character, which many of my students tend to ignore initially. A little more detail on how they ‘come together’ would strengthen this. This could be done quickly through a quick sketch of layers or lines showing increase of dynamics etc.

  • Artificial instruments such as the high-pitched instrument playing descending glissando’s makes for a very rich, busy texture when jammed in with the rest of the instrumentation. This in effect creates a busy foreground resulting in the character of excitement.

Jenn Gillan: ‘jammed in’ could be expressed with a little more sophistication. Maybe overlays or similar word? “Busy texture” the same. The word busy is not usually associated with texture. Is it polyphonic maybe? A glissando may make the texture appear thicker but are there extra layers of melodies or is this part of the main melody? It’s a little unclear here.

  • Use of rhythmic unison between much of the instrumentation in the section with the polka like rhythm and accelerando creates staccato jolts in the dynamic. This results in a feeling of tension.

Jenn Gillan: Does accelerando create staccato jolts? Or is the character created by this rhythm enhanced by the articulation and change in tempo? Again, a little more expanding here needed.

  • Use of Dixieland style growling trumpet playing a counter melody in the forefront of the texture creates a feeling of excitement due to the busy texture that it creates.

Jenn Gillan: Again, watch ‘busy texture’. Polyphonic?

Overall: Some good linking of examples to character, though some were more successful than others. In terms of blend and balance, those in the foreground were well described but other layers were left out. Watch your description of texture. I was pleased to see your mention not only of dynamics but how dynamic change is achieved.