Click below to hear our assembly song of the week.
Click Here to learn how to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" well. (2:43 min.)
Featured Composer of the Week:
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Austria 1756 - 1781
SPECIAL GUESTS: The String Quartet from ASO This week the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO) String Quartet from Little Rock will visit our school on Thursday to present a special program. They will teach us about string quartets and the music form called fugue. There will also be a 'petting zoo' where students will be allowed hands on time with the instruments. Our lessons this week will be designed to help prepare students for this event.
Listening Example: "Eine kleine nachtmusik" (A Little Night Music)
A string quartet
Our composer for this week is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart was an Austrian composer of the Classical period. Classical style music is generally light and graceful, with tuneful melodies that are easy to remember, and simple harmony. While the music may express different moods and emotions, it is usually done in a restrained and controlled manner.
Mozart composed in many musical genres, including works for keyboard, solo instruments, operas, symphonies for orchestras, and string quartets.
On Thursday, we will have a string quartet visiting our school. This group is part of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra from Little Rock. It will be helpful for us to know something about string quartets. They were popular in Mozart’s time, and they are still popular today.
Cello viola violin 2 violin 1
As the name implies, string quartets are groups of four stringed instruments from the violin family. These include two violins, one viola, and one cello. String quartets can play music that is written in the form of a symphony that an orchestra would play, except the music has been re-written so that it can be played by just four instruments. Because they are all in the same instrument family, their sounds blend together nicely.
LISTEN FOR . . . String quartets can be compared to the voices in a choir. The term ‘voicing’ can refer either to actual voices or to instruments. The two violins are the highest sounding instruments. The viola (about two inches longer than the violin) sounds a little lower, and the cello is the lowest. The violin parts are called violin 1 and violin 2. This means that violin 1 usually plays the melody like a choir soprano would sing the melody. Violin 2 and the viola play the harmony, the way choir altos and tenors would sing harmony parts. And the cello plays the bass [base] line, just as bass singers sing the lowest notes. And sometimes music is written so the parts are swapped between the instruments.
MUSIC LISTENING LINK Our listening video is Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik [Ina-Klina-knocked-moo-zik]. In English, this means “a little night music”. Notice how the performers interact with each other as they express the emotion within the music. [The first section ends at 1:47.]
Listening Example: "Eine kleine nachtmusik" (A Little Night Music)
Mozart was a young music prodigy. This means he was an extremely talented child who could play the violin and harpsichord perfectly. (Image from the film Amadeus.)
Mozart had begun composing music by the time he was five years old. By age twelve, he had written an opera!
Leopold Mozart with young Wolfgang and his sister, Nannerl
Mozart had a talented and ambitious father who helped his son develop his musical skills. Mozart’s father toured with his son to promote him in the royal courts of Europe. The young prodigy performed for kings and queens in Vienna, the capital of Austria. At that time, Vienna was the musical center of Europe.
Mozart and his father at the court in Vienna, Austria
Mozart and his sister, Nannerl, played duets for the Empress Maria-Theresa of Austria.
They traveled to Paris, the capital of France, where Mozart performed for Prince Louis Bourbon, the future king of France; and to London, the capital of the British Empire. Mozart had a strong love for music and enjoyed performing in public. He impressed his audiences with his music and his fun-loving spirit.
Can you see young Mozart seated at the harpsichord?
Mozart composed twenty-three string quartets. Six of these, published in 1785, are call the “Haydn” [high-den] Quartets because they were dedicated to the composer Joseph Haydn, who is known as the creator of the string quartet. These works are considered the best of Classical string quartets because they contain some of Mozart’s most melodic writing and refined compositional thought.
Franz Joseph Haydn, the "father of the string quartet"
Balance and Symmetry in Classical Music An important characteristic of classical style music is symmetry and balance, as you’veseen in the art examples today. Mozart was good at using this technique in his compositions. The opening theme in music, call Section A, will be followed by contrasting music, called Section B. It may have a different melody, rhythm, or mood. The music will then return to the opening A Section to end the piece.
A B A Theme is introduced Contrasting section Theme returns
LISTEN FOR . . . Yesterday we listened to the A Section of “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”. Today we will hear the B Section, followed by its return to Section A. Section B is not as long as Section A. As you listen, consider which element of music provides the most contrast: melody, rhythm, or mood. [1:48 – 2:32]
Click below to watch a short demonstration of the instruments in a string quartet. (2 minutes)
Listening Example: Art of Fugue - Contrapunctus 3
Yesterday we learned that one of the characteristics of classical style music is in its structural form: balance and symmetry. This is combined with tuneful melodies and simple harmony. Today we’re going to study a form of music written by Mozart that is completely opposite of these classical elements: the fugue [fewg or fy-OOG].
MELODY: Tuneful and easy to remember? NO HARMONY: Simple chords? NO FORM: Balanced and symmetrical? NO
While Mozart learned a great deal about music from his father, he also learned music by studying the works of great composers before him. One of these was Joseph Haydn, considered the “father of the string quartet”, who was friends with Mozart.
Another great composer whose works Mozart studied was Johann Sebastian Bach, a Baroque composer we studied several weeks ago. Bach was a master at writing fugues and wrote a set of them called The Art of Fugue. We listened to one of Bach’s simple fugues played on an organ. You may hear a fugue played tomorrow by our guest musicians, so today we’ll review how fugues are constructed and what to listen for.
Johann Sebastian Bach
The Structural Form of a Fugue
A fugue is a free-form composition based on one main theme, called a subject. Different “voices” begin to imitate the subject, sort of like the round, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. But remember, a “voice” can refer to an instrument.There are usually three, four, or five voices.
After the first voice plays the subject, it is imitated by the second voice, except this time it is played five pitches higher in the scale. And, it is called the answer. Each time a new voice plays the subject, it is five pitches higher in the scale.
After a voice has presented the subject, it is free to go its own way with different melodic material called a countersubject. This adds variety to the fugue.
Between the subjects there are often short sections called episodes, which can be entirely new material or short parts of the subject.This adds more variety and freshness to the fugue.
Layering all these different melodies on top of each other is called counterpoint, and somehow it all works out. It takes a highly skilled musician to be able to write counterpoint.
LISTEN FOR . . . Our listening example is the third counterpoint from Bach’s Art of Fugue. The object isfor you to recognize the subject. The flat oval shapes represent the subjects and answers. Each time they appear in different colors. The rectangles and small squares represent the countersubject, or secondary melodies. The small circles and "worm" shapes represent episodes, or extra material.
MUSIC LISTENING LINK
Click below to listen to a fugue and see its parts represented. The flat oval shapes represent the subject, or main theme. The rectangles and square shapes represent the countersubject, or secondary themes. The circles and "worm" shapes represent episodes (extra material).
The instrument of a string quartet--the violins, viola and cello--have differences in their size and sound. But they are similar in their construction. At the very top is the scroll with its curl design. Some older instruments have elaborately carved scrolls.
Below the scroll are the tuning pegs where the strings are attached at the top. Most of the string tuning is done by tightening the pegs. The nut is the connector between the peg box and the fingerboard. The nut has four grooves in it that hold the strings, so they are properly spaced. The strings are tuned G, D, A, E from lowest to highest.
Strings are made of different materials, including different metals, synthetic materials and ‘cat gut’ strings made out of animal intestines.
The neck of the instrument is the long wooden piece behind the fingerboard. It carries most of the stress of the strings. Where the fingers are placed along the fingerboard determines the pitch that will be played on a string.
The body is the large part that amplifies the sound of stringed instruments. It can be made of a variety of different woods. Inside the instrument is a sound post running from the front-piece to the back-piece. This post plays a key role in how the violin produces sound, and it supports the structure of the violin from pressure created by tension of the strings.
On the front of the body are two F holes. They are called this because they look like the letter f. When the strings are played, vibrations occur within the body of the instrument, and the sound waves escape through the F holes. When the F holes are directed forward, the audience experiences the best sound from the instrument.
Fine tuners are found at the lower end of the strings. These are a screw that presses down a lever that tightens the string slightly to help keep it in tune.
The tailpiece is what the strings are attached to at the bottom of the instrument, closest to the players chin. It is attached to the bottom of the instrument by a small button on the side of the instrument.
Listening Example: Fugue in E-Flat Major
Mozart wrote variations of string quartets. These include string quintets for five instruments; piano trio for piano and two string instruments; and piano quartets for a piano and three string instruments. String quartets generally follow the same form as a symphony, having four separate movements, or sections. The tempo and character of the movements are
I.Fast and determined II. Slow and calm III. A dance--either a slow minuet or a lively dance piece called a scherzo IV. Fast--a movement that can be any music form, but is often a fugue.
Fugues are oftentimes difficult to follow because the subject, or theme, is unlike traditional melodies that we are used to listening to. Today our listening example is a fugue that is easier for you to follow.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
LISTEN FOR . . . Click below to hear an animated version of Mozart's "Fugue in E-Flat Major" written for piano. The rhythm pattern begins with "pal-pal-friend, pal-pal-friend", followed by a scale that moves downwards for two octaves, or 16 notes. As the fugue progresses, you will hear the scales played in two-part harmony. Of course, it follows fugue form, so there will be counter-subjects and episodes to add variety and interest to the music.
Click below to hear Mozart's E-Flat Fugue for piano played on a pipe organ.
Click below to watch a "piano quartet"--three strings with piano.
Weiner Elementary School, 313 N. Garfield St., Weiner, AR 72479 870-684-2252(o) 870-684-2684(f) (We are not responsible for any content on any page linked from our page)