Sample response to question posed on the VCE Music Student Support Facebook page.
Question: How does tone colour and articulation contribute to creating the character of this work?
* Please only analyse the first 1 minute exactly.
- Syncopation in the chorus adds to the playful character of the piece.
Jenn Gillan: Syncopation is part of rhythm. A good point but it doesn’t answer the question.
- The articulation in the drums contrasts the long legato notes in the vocals adding to the playful character.
Jenn Gillan: Great that you talked about contrast but you didn’t say what the articulation of the drums was. Try to use the words ‘attack’ and ‘decay’ to describe how the notes begin and end.
- While the drum beat is very steady and holds the tempo, the vocals use ties and syncopation to add to the playful character expressed throughout the piece. The contrast in pulse adds to the creativity of the character.
Jenn Gillan: Again, this is a rhythmic point that is a great point but not related to the question.
- The choice of various instrumentation shows the creativity of the piece while staying playful due to be articulated very lightly
Jenn Gillan: “articulated very lightly” is probably a bit over generalised. What does this mean for attack and decay? It will mean something different for different instruments depending on other factors such as technique. Also “choice of various instrumentation” is again too general. What is the instrumentation? What are the tone colours created by this instrumentation? Answering those questions will address the exam question.
- Bass lines in the background create depth the piece, but when in conjunction with the fast runs in the middle 8 an obvious playful character is expressed.
Jenn Gillan: This is a great point and describes contrast well… but you don’t mention any tone colour words to describe the bass, say what instrument plays the fast runs or how it contrasts. If through rhythmic this is not a point that’s addressed by the question. If tone colour you need to state the instrument and tone colour.
- Synthesiser during the middle 8, playful character to the piece which expresses creativity by their fast runs and joyous tonality.
Jenn Gillan: Again, make sure you’re mentioning the tone colour or articulation of this to answer the question. Good locating your example though. Also ‘joyous tonality’ maybe a little simplistic. What makes a tonality joyous? In VCE it has to be more sophisticated than just being in a major key.
- The very spacious beginning to the piece with synth creates a playful character.
Jenn Gillan: …through ____ ____ tone colour and ___ ___ articulation.
- Instrumentation in the piece is in the foreground while the vocals are in the middle ground of the piece, being a focus point but not the main focus, which creates creativity adding to the expressive character.
Jenn Gillan: What instrumentation is in the foreground? Be specific. Make sure you mention tone colour and articulation. Without this, you haven’t answered the quesiton.
- The bright tone colour of the piece adds to the playful character with light and fast articulations in the higher pitched instruments.
Jenn Gillan: Yay! Tone colour word!! I would recommend using two tone colour words then stating the instrument to have a more complete answer: “The bright, ringing tone colour of the synthesiser while playing with legato lines yet with some separation between each note helps create a playful character” is more comprehensive.
- In this piece the lower to the? tonality of the instrument, the slower each beat is. For example the lighter percussion at the beginning is very light and fast but as the piece moves the heavy bass beat is slower and only plays quavers at the most.
Jenn Gillan: Articulation? Tone colour?
- Heavy articulation in the bass drum in contrast to the light high-hat creates a playful character
Jenn Gillan: It’s a little unclear here as to whether you’re discussing tone colour or articulation. Use ‘attack’ and ‘decay’ to be more specific with articulation descriptions.
- The harmonies in the vocals are very bright, and having the harmony above and not below the melody adds to the light and playful character.
Jenn Gillan: ‘bright’ – do you mean tone colour?
- Ending the piece with a fade out rather than block chords like found in most modern day music keeps the playful character alive even though the song has finished.
Overall: Great links to character all the way through and some wonderful references to things you heard that were contrasting. Just some vocabulary work needed on tone colour and articulation – use the words attack and decay more and use two words to describe tone colour to round out your answer. Be careful that you don’t go off topic. I have asked one of my students who is prone to doing this to write the key elements of the question (in this case character, tone colour and articulation) on a piece of paper and have it in big in front of him when he writes his responses so he doesn’t go off topic. Maybe try something like that? Thank you for your response.