Analysis Question with Sample Responses 5: Special Two

Analysis Question with Sample Responses 5: Special Two


A much stronger response!

This is what can happen when a student takes on feedback, does the suggested reading and has another go! 


Listen to the first 1 minute 12 seconds

Thank you, anonymous,  for this response and permission to publish it! 


Question: How does tone colour and articulation create character in this work? 


How does tone colour and articulation create character in this work? (4 marks)

  • Overall, this piece has a melancholic character that becomes more wistful in the chorus.


  • The vocalist uses fairly legato articulation through use of some vibrato, as well as lengthening decay by “throwing away” the ends of her phrases with downwards bends. This creates a sense of somberness and regret. She sometimes even speaks the last words of phrases, such as “lost” and “fight” to further accent them and draw attention to the regretful mood. At the very beginning of the piece she uses a glottal effect to begin the word “I’ve” with a crisp attack, creating a very brief sense of staccato which contrasts with the uses of articulation to follow afterwards. This brings more attention to the long decay and therefore emphasises the melancholic character.


Jenn Gillan:  Wow, this is much better!! I don’t think somberness is as strong as saying “creates a somber and regretful mood” but your connections are much better. Try not to change character words too much becase it can be confusing and appear as if the character has changed. If it has changed you need to locate your example and say what has changed the character. You can further describe bends saying:

  1. How far they go down – just a little or a long way
  2. Whether they bend down onto another pitch or are, as you say ‘thrown away’ and therefore do not end on a specific pitch.
  3. If they encompass other forms of decay such as aspirate decay, sudden or gradual
  4. The speed of the bend – is it elongated or fairly short

Given this is a tone colour question too, bringing in tone colour would be an easy add here too.


  • The use of sustain pedal on the accompanying piano lengthens the decay of each chord, which complements the articulation of the vocalist and further enhances the character.


Jenn Gillan:  GREAT! A reason for articulation! Did you notice the change in piano articulation on the words “once again” ??


  • The vocal line has a rich, mellow tone colour as the female vocalist sings in a comfortable low-mid register, and this supports the melancholy of the work.


Jenn Gillan:  Sometimes this is on the slightly uncomfortable lower register which gives a less supported effect which feeds into character I think. Remember the overall approach to tone colour can help create character.  Changes in tone colour are subtle and expected. This works with your suggested character more than if it was sudden unexpected tone colour change from one extreme to another – which is more likely in a more aggressive or energetic character.


  • When the vocalist “throws away” the ends of her phrases on words like “days”, “rays” and “fades”, her tone colour becomes more aspirate due to the low register she momentarily shifts to. This adds to the melancholy by creating a sense of storytelling.


Jenn Gillan:  This is great – just what I was suggesting before! I would leave out the “sense of storytelling” comment though. I don’t think it adds anything.


  • The chords on the piano are generally played in a middle register, giving them a bright yet rich tone colour. This tone colour becomes harsher when more pressure is put on the keys during the turn-around of the chord progression, slightly contrasting with the more mellow tone colour of the vocal line. This subtle contrast adds a hint of drama and increases the energy within the piece, starting to shift the character towards becoming more wistful.


Jenn Gillan:  Again, great.  I don’t know what a change in character from melancholy to wistful looks like, they seem fairly similar to me… Maybe you could have said “an increased sense of or decreased sense of” instead.  Or “…an intensification of this mood is created through…” instead.


  • When the lower and higher vocal harmonies are added in the chorus, the piece gains more energy and the character becomes more wistful. The lower harmony, due to the lower register it is sung in, has a more smokey tone colour while the higher harmony is airier (again due to register).  The addition of these tone colours, as well as the ringing tone colour of the hi hat, heightens the sense of energy.


Jenn Gillan:  When you say due to register – state which! Some articulation points left out here and I’d always use two tone colour words but this is almost a different student writing.  Congratulations, it’s a vast improvement!