Senior Project Research


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Senior Project Research

  1. 1. Keller VandeBogertMrs. TilleryAP LiteratureNovember 18, 2011 Senior Project Research Paper Music has been a part of human life for many millennia and has evolved in many waysinto the many genres that are offered now. Composing music is universally viewed as an art,many times requiring very precise and sometimes mathematical technique, but also needing theaddition of the intuitive feelings of the composer himself. Creating an instrumental may requiresome knowledge of musical history and its various composers over the centuries, composingbased off of musical genres, as well as the knowledge of how to actually formulate a meaningfulcomposition. The history of musical compositions is fairly predictable, with the earliest pieces beingextremely simple and becoming more and more complex as the ages progressed with thefounding of music theory (Although some modern-day music styles are clearly a regression fromthe much more complex styles of earlier times.) “After the collapse of the Roman Empire….thenewly emerging Christian Church came to dominate Europe….It was during this time that PopeGregory I is generally believed to have collected and codified the music known as GregorianChant…” (Music History 102) Although not very popular today, most people have heard aGregorian chant and would recognize one fairly easily. They consist of chanting and are almostall some kind of psalm praising God. This is the main reason the church allowed this type ofmusic. “Gregorian chant is monophonic, that is, music composed with only one melodic linewithout accompaniment.” (History of Music) Put simply, the singers of these pieces are all
  2. 2. singing the same notes at the same time, giving a powerful effect. Conversely, this shows howlittle the composers, who are virtually unknown, knew how to coincide different melodies at thesame time to produce a more harmonized effect. Gregorian chants are perhaps some of the mostsimple yet effective compositions made. “Polyphony is music where two or more melodic linesare heard at the same time in a harmony. Polyphony didnt exist (or it wasnt on record) until the11th century.” (History of Music) Polyphony during the Middle ages came a bit later than theGregorian chants, showing the progression of musical taste during the era. These pieces, similarto the chants, are sung by choirs and mostly for religious ceremonies in churches. It was later,during the Renaissance, that polyphony was truly mastered by such composers as Giovanni daPalestrina. “…the Baroque period saw composers beginning to rebel against the styles that wereprevalent during the High Renaissance.” (Music History 102) The Baroque period was whenentirely instrumental tracks began to become popular. Composers of this music were oftenemployed to compose their music at courts. Johann Sebastian Bach is an example of this. “Theability of music to express human emotion and to depict natural phenomena was truly discoveredin the Baroque period.” (History of Music) It is safe to say that music made purely for emotionaleffect started during this time period. This is most likely because of the fact that many of theBaroque composers had to create music for specific occasions for the king. This forcedcomposers to think about their music and use how they feel to make a piece sound the way theywant it to. “With the rise of purely instrumental music in the Baroque Age, there also arose aflowering of instrumental forms and virtuoso performers to play them.” (Music History 102)This rise of extremely skilled players was the spark that lit the fuse for many purely instrumentalvirtuosos to come. For every instrument there was a virtuoso, and nothing about that has changedin the centuries that came along. “As implied by the term classical, the music of this period
  3. 3. looked to the art and philosophy of Ancient Greece and Rome - to the ideals of balance,proportion and disciplined expression…Composers of the Classical era deviated from theevolution of their predecessors - their music had a considerably simpler texture.” (History ofMusic) The coming of the classical era was almost ironic because these previous pieces ofimmense intricacy and complex polyphony soon became outdated. This new style of musicbecame simpler and gave rise to huge names such as Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. This stylewas still emotional as shown by such pieces as “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven, but was muchmore restrained, and simpler, many times employing the use of only a single instrument. Afterthe Classical Era came Romanticism. The irony of this genre was the movement towardunrestrained emotion and much more intensity. “The Romantic era was a golden age forvirtuoso performers…Because so many of the authors of this period were such virtuosos, themusic that they wrote is also very demanding in its technical execution.” (History of Music) Thisshows that music was becoming much more intense and demanding in technical ability. Modern-day instrumental “shred,” or virtuoso styles, are heavily influenced by this era in music. Thesemany changes in musical preference and complexity have molded many modern-day players ofmany instruments, including the electric guitar. Modern guitarists range in style greatly and are great influences to many upcomingmusicians. Instrumental and solo guitar playing can range greatly from extreme shred styles likethat of Rusty Cooley and Jeff Loomis, to eccentric and melodic styles like that of Steve Vai orDaniele Gottardo. There are many styles of guitar playing and a poster-boy guitarist for everyone of these styles. “Shredding is a subjective term, but has more or less come to describe a styleof lead electric guitar playing that is characterized by speed, technical precision, flamboyancyand aggressive yet creative virtuosity.” (The History of Shredding) Many critics of shred can
  4. 4. argue that shred lacks a personal touch or feeling from the artist, but so many styles of guitar canbe put under shred that it is impossible to prove this. Shredding is an art of mixing speed andmelody perfectly. Guitarists like Paul Gilbert, Jeff Loomis, or even Yngwie Malmsteen canformulate intense pieces that are far from emotionally lacking. There are other guitar styles aswell, such as Classical guitar. Classical guitar is a much older style and its major difference fromother guitar styles is the fact that it does not use a guitar pick. (Classical Guitar Technique)Classical guitar is extremely different from shred because it is entirely acoustic and often muchslower. This, however, does not make it any easier. “Some experts believe that if you can playthe classical guitar to perfection then you can play any other type of guitar from rhythm to lead.”(Classical Guitar) Playing classical guitar uses techniques that are entirely different from manyother types of guitar, but it will give the experience needed to play any other style. Examples ofplayers that have mastered classical guitar are Andres Segovia, Christopher Parkening, andFernando Sor. (Classical Guitar Artists 1) Most styles of guitar borrow from each other greatly.Melodic and shred guitar both use heavily classical elements and styles such as Jazz Fusion usefundamental shred techniques, so creating a musical piece out of just one style would also beborrowing from many other styles at the same time. Musical pieces are made every day, but whether or not they are truly meaningful is alegitimate question. Making a piece meaningful means taking a bit of everything and putting ittogether perfectly – simplicity, intricacy, sadness, darkness, and happiness, all together.“Modulation enables limitless harmonic and melodic variety while preserving unity. Asuccessful modulation provides the brain with a new orientation of tones and chords, a leap intoa musical parallel universe.” (Modulation: the soul of the Western Tonal System) Keymodulation is when the key of a song changes. Modulating keys can add lots of variety to a song
  5. 5. and keep it from getting redundant. Changing keys gives a listener the feeling that somethingimportant has happened, the song has made a sudden turn, which, in turn, keeps thingsinteresting. Also, most songs have a basic, set structure. Most songs follow a basic pattern thatconsists of a verse and some kind of refrain, with maybe an instrumental solo in between. (SongStructure 1) An instrumental will not have any lyrics, though, so the instrumental part must feellike a verse. A refrain is the same thing as a chorus, which is some kind of repeat, something togo back to that keeps the song in unity, and the solo is some kind of switch in the song, almostlike a key modulation, but not as drastic. Almost every single famous or “meaningful” songfollows this basic structure, so it must have an impact on how well a person enjoys it. For thesolo, basic shred techniques would be utilized. The most common techniques used in shred guitarare legato, tapping, alternate picking, sweep picking, economy picking, and string skipping.(Shredding. Pt 1 – Fundamentals) These techniques would give the song larger range of soundsby using all of these techniques. Incorporating all of these songwriting elements would make thesong become much better just by using correct structure and more advanced techniques foradvancing the song. All in all, music is an art form, and like pretty much every other art form, it evolves overthe ages into something completely different from what it was when it first started out. Humanshave gone from basic percussion to voice choirs to complex, polyphonic, multi-instrumentorchestras. Music is still a fairly easy thing to create, but it is difficult to make a memorable andlong-lasting masterpiece like composers such as Bach or Beethoven have created. In order tofully utilize musical potential, though, a perfect mix of musical technique and emotional insighthas to be employed by the composer.