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Sound Pitch, Dynamics and Tone Color Performing Media Voices and Instruments Pitch is the relative highness or lowness that we hear in a sound. See Oh You * Can Say } The pitch of sound is decided by the frequency of its vibrations – that is, their speed. } } The faster the vibration, the higher the pitch; Smaller objects vibrate faster and have higher pitches. } The slower the vibration, the lower the pitch. Larger objects vibrate slower and have lower pitches. A sound that has a definite pitch is called a tone. Two tones will sound different when they have different pitches. } The “distance” in pitch between any two tones is called an interval. do ti la sol fa mi re do } Notes separated by an octave sound alike. } Degrees of loudness or softness in music are called dynamics – our second property of sound. A performer can emphasize a tone by playing it more loudly than the tones around it; this is called a dynamic accent. Term Abbreviation Meaning pianissimo pp very soft piano p soft mezzo piano mp moderately soft mezzo forte mf moderately loud forte f loud fortissimo ff very loud } The following notations indicate gradual changes in dynamics. Symbol Term decrescendo or diminuendo Meaning gradually softer crescendo gradually louder The quality that distinguishes different tones playing at the same dynamic level is called tone color, or timbre (pronounced tam’-ber), our third property of sound. Tone color is described by words like bright, dark, brilliant, mellow and rich. Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, "music dramas"). His compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs— musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. Wagner's writings on race and against Jews reflected some trends of thought in Germany during the 19th century; however, despite his very public views on Jews, throughout his life Wagner had Jewish friends, colleagues and supporters. Wagner's operas, writings, politics, beliefs and unorthodox lifestyle made him a controversial figure during his lifetime. Following Wagner's death, debate about his ideas and their interpretation, particularly in Germany during the 20th century, has continued. Richard Wagner May 22, 1813 – February 13, 1883 Pictured, Wagner in 1871, aged 58 Lohengrin, Prelude to Act III (1848) Louis Armstrong, nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an "inventive" trumpet and cornet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance. With his instantly-recognizable gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer, demonstrating great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also skilled at scat singing (vocalizing using sounds and syllables instead of actual lyrics). Renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice almost as much as for his trumpet-playing, Armstrong's influence extends well beyond jazz music, and by the end of his career in the 1960s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general. Armstrong was one of the first truly popular AfricanAmerican entertainers to "cross over", whose skin-color was secondary to his music in an America that was severely racially divided. He rarely publicly politicized his race, often to the dismay of fellow African-Americans, Louis Armstrong but took a well-publicized stand for desegregation during the Little Rock Crisis. His artistry and personality August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971 allowed him socially acceptable access to the upper Hotter Than That (1927) echelons of American society that were highly restricted By Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five for a black man. } Voices } Musical Instruments Men’s vocal cords are longer and thicker than women’s, and this difference produces a lower range. The following are the most basic voice ranges: Women soprano mezzo-soprano alto (contralto) Men tenor baritone bass An instrument may be defined as any mechanism – other than the voice – that produces musical sounds. The six broad categories of instruments discussed in this objective are classified as western instruments: String, Woodwind, Brass, Percussion, Keyboard & Electronic String Instruments Violin Cello Double Bass Viola The violin, viola, cello and double bass form the symphony orchestra’s string section. They differ in size, range and tone color: the violin is smallest and has the highest range; the double bass is largest and has the lowest range. For symphonic music they are usually played with a bow – a slightly curved stick strung with horsehair, but they may also be plucked. The harp has forty-seven strings stretched on a triangular frame. The harpist plucks the strings with the fingers of both hands. The guitar has six strings, which are plucked with the fingers of the right hand. The woodwind instruments are so named because they produce vibrations of air within a tube that was traditionally made of wood. They have little holes along their length that are opened or closed by the fingers or by pads controlled by a key mechanism; this varies the pitch by changing the length of the vibrating air column. } The piccolo, or small flute, is half the size of the flute and plays an octave higher. The piccolo’s high register is shrill and whistle-like. } The flute has a high range and is very agile; it can produce rapid successions of tones. Its tone is full and velvety in the low register and bright and sparkling in the upper. Clarinet The clarinet can produce tones very rapidly and has a wide range of dynamics and tone color. Saxophone The saxophone has a single-reed mouthpiece like a clarinet’s, but its tube is made of brass. Its tone is rich, husky and speech-like. Oboe The oboe has a nasal, intense, expressive tone. Bassoon The tone of the bassoon is also nasal, but has a lower tone. Brass Instruments Trumpet French Horn Tuba Trombone From high register to low, the main instruments of the orchestra’s brass section are the trumpet, French horn, trombone and tuba. The brasses are played by blowing into a cup – or funnel-shaped mouth-piece. Vibrations come from the musician’s lips and are amplified and colored in a coiled tube that is flared at the end to form a bell. United States Marine Band Quintet • Pitch is regulated both by varying lip tension and by using slides and valves to change the length of the tube (the longer the tube, the lower the pitch); • The trombone uses a slide which is pulled in or pushed out; The trumpet, French horn and tuba have three or four valves to divert air through various lengths of tubing. • Percussion Instruments Most percussion instruments are struck by hand, with sticks, or with hammers, though some are shaken or rubbed. Percussion instruments of definite pitch produce tones; those of indefinite pitch produce noise-like sounds. Definite Pitch Timpani Glockenspiel Xylophone Celesta Chimes Indefinite Pitch Snare Drum Bass Drum Tambourine Triangle Cymbals Gong Percussions of Definite Pitch • • • • • The timpani are the only orchestral drums of definite pitch. A calfskin or plastic head is stretched over a copper, hemispherical shell. The pitch of the timpani is changed by varying the tension of the head. Screws around the shell’s rim are tightened or loosened by hand or by a foot pedal. The metal bars of the glockenspiel are struck with two hammers to produce a tone that is bright and silvery. The xylophone consists of a set of wooden bars which are struck with two hard hammers to produce a dry, wooden tone. The celesta (left) looks like a small upright piano, but its sounding mechanism is like a glockenspiel’s. Metal bars are struck by hammers that are controlled by a keyboard. It’s tone is tinkling and graceful. Chimes (right) are a set of metal tubes hung from a frame. They are struck with a hammer and sound like church bells. Percussions of Indefinite Pitch The dry rattling sound of the snare • • • • • • drum is produced by the vibration of snares-strings, which are tightly stretched against the bottom head. The bass drum – the largest of the orchestral drums – is almost 3 feet in diameter. The tambourine is often used to create Spanish or Gypsy effects. The player shakes it or strikes its head with the knuckles. The triangle is struck with a metal beater and makes a tinkling, bell-like sound. Cymbals are round brass plates. They are usually struck together with a sliding motion, and their sound penetrates like a sharp crash. When struck by a bass drum’s stick with a soft head, the gong produces long-lasting sounds that can seem solemn, mysterious or frightening. The piano, harpsichord, organ and accordion are the bestknown keyboard instruments. Though quite different from each other, each has a keyboard which allows several tones to be played at once quickly and easily. The piano was invented around 1700 and mechanically perfected by the 1850’s. It produces sound through vibrating strings held under tension by an iron frame: striking a key causes a felt-covered hammer to hit a string (the harder the pianist strikes the key, the louder the sound); releasing the key causes a felt damper to come down on the string and end the tone. Piano Facts: • 88 keys • Broad dynamic range • Pianist can play many notes at one time. Harpsichord The harpsichord was important from about 1500 to 1775 (when it was gradually replaced by the piano) and has been revived in the twentieth century for performance of early music and in some new works. It has strings that are plucked by small wedges called plectra, controlled by one or two keyboards. The pipe organ was most prominent from 1600 to 1750 (when it was known as the “king of instruments”) but is still in wide use today, particularly in religious services. It has a very wide range of pitch, dynamics and tone color. The pipe organ controls valves from which air is blown across or through openings in the pipes; different sets of pipes – each with a particular tone color – are brought into play by pulling knobs called stops; dynamics are changed by adding or reducing the number of pipes, moving from one keyboard to another, or opening and closing shutters around some of the pipes. The accordion has free steel reeds controlled by a treble keyboard with piano keys (played by the right hand) and a bass keyboard with buttons (played by the left hand). Air from a bellows makes the reeds vibrate. Electronic Instruments – produce or amplify sound electronically Synthesizers are electronic systems that can generate, modify and control a huge variety of musical sounds and noises; they give the composer complete control over pitch, tone color, loudness and duration. Sampling places brief digital recordings of live sounds under the control of a synthesizer and allows the producer to modify or manipulate the sound according to his or her own creative purposes. MIDI stands for Musical Instrumental Digital Interface.