Music in Our World: Harmonizing

| August 4, 2016

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Harmonizing – Introduction

 

Read Chapter 10 (attached)

Much of the popular and folk (VERNACULAR) music we listen to is relatively simple harmonically. It often consists of only tonic, dominant, and subdominant chords in various combinations to create a repeating harmonic/ chord progression that a melody is played or sung over. Usually it is diatonic, and modulation is the exception rather than the rule. (Remember La Bamba?)

The tonality is established in the beginning, and remains clear and unchanging throughout the song.

 

Vocal harmonizing can either be composed (prearranged) or improvised on the spot, depending on the skill of the singers. The 2 songs we will listen to in this chapter were recorded in a studio, and are prearranged. But the rehearsals of these songs prior to recording probably had much experimentation to explore the best harmonization possibilities.

When a song has the same melody for each of its verses, and the same melody (typically different from the verse melody) for each of it’s choruses, it is considered to be in Strophic song form. Most popular music today is strophic. In a strophic song, the chorus usually has the same repeating words as well a repeating melody, and each verse typically has new words to further the story. It’s sort of like a book where each Verse is a different chapter in your story, and the Chorus reinforces the main theme again and again.

 

Harmonizing – Activity #1

 

Click on the following link to listen to: This Land is Your Land

 

I wasn’t able to include the link, but anyone on youtube.com should be ok.

 

The chord progression in this song is:

 

IV I V I IV I V I

 

I =Tonic

IV =Subdominant

V =Dominant

 

Each chord is held for 1 measure (4 beats), making up an 8 bar phrase that repeats throughout the song.

 

As you listen again, notice:

 

First Chorus (CH), full vocal harmonization, antiphony between vocals and harmonica

 

First Verse (V), heterophony between male and female vocals singing in octaves, at end harmonization leading into CH, harmonica fills continue.

 

Second CH, full vocal harmonization as in CH 1, without harmonica

 

Guitar solo over same chord changes, restating the melody with variations. Banjo Accompaniment.

 

Second V Pete sings a harmony rather than the melody for first half, then sings melody second half leading into CH

 

Third CH, full vocal harmonization

 

Harmonica solo over same chord changes, guitar and Banjo Accompaniment.

 

Third V, Pete ad-libs phrase first half, and sings second half in octaves with woman. Harmonica gives upbeat accompaniment to give different feel.

 

Fourth CH, full vocal harmonization, lead singer sings variations over harmonization

 

Fifth CH, repeat of CH for emphasis

 

Read analysis pg. 194-195

 

Try to analyze it further. (no work needed here)

 

→Meter? Does each section have a clear meter? Subdivisions? Syncopation? Does the tempo change?

 

→Texture? Is there a melody? Is there accompaniment? Is there antiphony? What kind of texture do you hear?

 

→Instrumentation? Which instruments do you hear?

 

→Phrasing? Are there phrases that repeat? Are they balanced or unbalanced? How would you describe the phrases?

 

→Melodic Characteristics? Describe the melody. Conjunct or disjunct? Large or small range? Text setting? How does it compare with other melodies we’ve heard?

 

→Form? Are there sections? What delineates the sections? Do they repeat?

 

Instructor analysis attached for This Land is Your Land.

 

Harmonizing – Activity #2

Click on the following link to listen to Bring Me Little Water Silvy

 

I wasn’t not able to include the link, but what’s on youtube.com should be ok.

 

The chord progression in this song is:

 

I V IV I

 

Each chord is held for 1 measure (4 beats), making up a 4 bar phrase. This progression repeats throughout the song.

 

As you listen again, notice:

 

First Chorus (CH), vocal harmonization, homorhythmic

 

First Verse (V), bass part is added

 

Second CH, full vocal harmonization as in CH 1

 

Second V like 1st V, new words

 

Third CH, full vocal harmonization as in CH 1, dynamic swells

 

Third V, lead singer sings solo/variation while background vocals hum. Not homorhythmic, but still homophonic.

 

Fourth V continues in manner of third V

 

Fourth CH, repeat of Third CH, heterophony at 1:57 with bass voice fill

 

Read analysis pg. 198-199

 

Try to analyze it further. (no work necessary)

 

Meter? Does each section have a clear meter? Subdivisions? Syncopation? Does the tempo change?

 

Texture? Is there a melody? Is there accompaniment? Is there antiphony? What kind of texture do you hear?

 

Instrumentation? Which instruments do you hear?

 

Phrasing? Are there phrases that repeat? Are they balanced or unbalanced? How would you describe the phrases?

 

Melodic Characteristics? Describe the melody. Conjunct or disjunct? Large or small range? Text setting? How does it compare with other melodies we’ve heard?

 

Form? Are there sections? What delineates the sections? Do they repeat?

 

Instructor analysis attached for Bring me Water Little Sylvie

 

Answer Question:

Let’s compare and contrast the 2 songs This Land is Your Land, and Bring Me Little Water Silvy.

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