Music Of The Ages Essay

1371 words - 6 pages

Dies Ire, which translates into “Days of Wrath,” was composed by Thomas of Celano from 1200 to 1265. The composition was sung in Roman Catholic masses for the dead or at funerals, and it depicts what happens to the saved and unsaved once they die. The piece appears to be in G modal – the only accidental I hear is an F-sharp, but the song does not appear to be in major or minor, which was common for pieces in this time period. Thus, this modal key gives the piece a sense of identity in terms of the time period it was written in. The version I listened to was performed by a male a capella group. The texture of the piece is monophonic, with every performer singing the melody without an ...view middle of the document...

The tenor seems to come in last during these sections, and he carries the melody for the majority of the piece. I thought this was interesting because in most of the a capella and church music I have heard, the melody was carried by the sopranos. The tempo of the piece seems to be adagio, and remains constant throughout the piece. The dynamics stay mostly constant throughout the piece, and it is sung in mezzo-forte, dropping down to mezzo-piano at the end of some measures. The piece seems to be in B-flat dorian mode, as I can hear the B-flat, E-flat, A-flat, and D-flat but the piece is neither major nor minor. At one point in the piece, after a long rest, it shifts to C minor for a few measures, then back to B-flat dorian mode. The piece appears to be ametric, with no constant meter prevalent throughout the entire piece.

Musikalische Exequien composed by Heinrich Schutz in 1635 was a piece written for Count Heinrich Reuss’s funeral service. Reuss was a patron of music and he communicated with Schutz about what he wanted in the music for his service. The performing force of this piece is a sixteen person choir made up of eleven men and five women. The tonality of this piece is interesting because I heard just as many B-flats, E-flats, and A-flats as I did B-naturals, E-naturals, and A-naturals, so I could not pick out a specific key for the piece. Even though I could not pick out a key, I think that it is modal.
The piece seems to be split into two parts, both starting with polyphonic duets by two male performers. The females are not overpowered, as there is a polyphonic duet between two female performers in the first half of the piece. The halves are separated by a major chord and a rest, and the piece ends with a major chord as well. The rest of the piece is polyphonic as well, and the tempo seems to be andante. The dynamics change from piano when the duets are occurring, to mezzo-forte when everybody joins in. The two halves end with a major chord that is sung very softly in pianissimo. This piece also has an organ playing the bass line, which was not uncommon in baroque music.

Polish composer Frederic Chopin’s Marche Funebre is a solo piano piece composed around 1837 in France. Chopin composed this piece in response to the Polish uprising against violent acts by the Russians. Even though Chopin lived elsewhere in Europe, he sympathized with the deaths of his countrymen which prompted him to compose this piece. The piece is in ABA format, with the first and third parts in D-flat minor, and the second part in the parallel B-flat major. The first and third parts are the most recognizable parts of the piece, as they are often played at funerals today, and are prevalent in pop culture. These parts are recognizable by the slow (lento)...

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