Critical Thinking Stylistic Comparison — Tchaikovsky v. Ellington

1. Choose two movements to listen to from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.  Once you’ve done that, listen to the corresponding two movements from Ellington’s version of the Nutcracker, which are listed below.
Tchaikovsky Tracks                                              Ellington Tracks
1.  Overture                                                          1.  Overture
2.  March                                                              3.  Peanut Brittle Brigade
3.  Coffee/Arabian Dance                                     9.  Arabesque Cookie
4.  Chinese Dance                                                7.  Chinoiserie
5.  Russian Dance                                                6.  The Volga Vouty
6.  Dance of the Reed Pipes                                2.  Toot Toot Tootie Toot
7.  Waltz of the Flowers                                       8.  Dance of the Floreadores
8.  Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy                       4.  Sugar Rum Cherry
2.  Compare and contrast what you hear.  Write down your observations on these characteristics for each work:

  • Instrumentation
  • Rhythm
  • Melody
  • Meter/Tempo
  • Keys
  • Mood of the pieces
  • How the title corresponds to the piece’s musical mood?

3.  Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is a ballet.  Why might Ellington want to compose a jazz version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker?  Consider the venue and the audience.  Where might each version be performed?  What types of audiences does each version cater to?  What might be the specific functions of each piece?
4.  Which version do you like better?  Why?  Please cite musical examples to support your answer.
TOTAL                   = 3 PAGES
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