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Unit 3 Assignment 1 Listening Guide

The first listening guide piece I chose for this assignment was listening guide 51 “Wheat Song” which is from an Egyptian film song. The second listening guide I chose is listening guide 53 “Samoan Moon” a Hawaiian song. These two pieces are very different from each other. They represent the cultures they are from by the types of instruments used, the types of singing and the cultural traditions they each have. Even though they have many differences these songs are very similar as well which I will explain in more detail later on.

The first piece composed by Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab and contains instruments like the piccolo, three large tiran which are frame drums, quanun, six violins, cell, bass, piano, and the Cairo Opera choir. This piece is an example of an Egyptian strophic song with refrains called the ughniyah. It combines traditional instruments from Arab and Western parts of the world. The beginning of the piece starts with an instrumental introduction and the texture is homophonic for its very similar or exact rhythm but slightly different melodies.

We first hear the frame drums, which are accenting beat 1,3,5, and 7 in an eight beat cycle, which is known as an ‘iqa mashmudi kabir. This cycle is repeated three times and on the fourth cycle a piccolo comes in on the fifth beat playing the melody. The piccolo’s melody comes from the famous Chinese flute solo from Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. At the end of the fifth cycle the strings join in with a response to the piccolo’s melody. Leading up to the entrance of the singers the piccolo and strings go back and forth in a kind of call and response melody.

As the piece gets closer to the entrance of the tempo, which was initially determined as a moderate intensity, the instruments accelerates in the refrain, which is set at a duple meter. Krakoviak is the duple meter used in this piece and is also known as double time. What makes this piece strophic can be primarily found in the words the choir sings. The layout of the lyrics goes verse 1, refrain, verse 2 refrain with various phrases mixed into each verse.

This strophic layout is very similar to a lot of pop music in the United states. Many times the structure is laid out as verse one, refrain, verse 2 refrain and so on. Very similar to the first piece the format of the second song Samoan Moon is a strophic piece that begins with an instrumental interlude. If you look at the lyrics, you can see a repetition of the refrain where the singer sings “back home, across the sea, that’s where I long to be” followed by a different location in each verse where the singer longs to be.

This song is in a moderately slow triple meter and is considered to be a homophonic texture for moving in the same rhythm with different pitches. This is shown in the piece by the way the steel guitar and the ukulele are playing two slightly different phrases over top of each other but their rhythms are are generally moving together through the song with slight variations in tempo. When the singers come in the singers provide the base line and inner harmonics to the melody. The instruments used in this piece are the lap steel guitar, which produces various slides and harmonics, and vocals.

Some of the vocal techniques used are a form of yodeling, which is produced by the singer intentionally producing a break in her tone as she switches from their diaphragm to their head voice. In the beginning of the piece the guitar plays a harmonic arpeggio, which is a broken chord that is ascending in this case to higher pitches. Throughout the instrumental section the triple meter is even further subdivided into triplets in 9/8 meter. Once the singers join in a descant is formed and is considered an ornamental melody sung over the top of the main melody.

In this case the descant is sung using vocables and yodeling. Between the two pieces there are many similarities and differences. Some of the similarities between the two pieces is that they are homophonic in texture and the format of the pieces follows the strophic verse refrain format. They both start with instrumental introductions that pave the way for singers to come in and they both have moderate tempi. However, there are many differences between the two pieces. For instance, the meter in the first piece I discussed follows a duple meter, which is represented in multiples of two.

In piece one the meter follows an eight beat pattern. In contrast, the second piece follows a triple meter that is subdivided into triplets or three notes per beat. The instruments used in both of the pieces are very different as well. In the first piece a combination of Arab and western instruments are used. An example of the Arab instruments would be the Quanun, which is very similar to the zither used in this piece. In the second piece, the performers use instruments like the steel guitar. Another major contrast between the two pieces is the style of singing used.

In the first piece the performers sing the vocables “ah” throughout much of the refrains. In the second piece the performers use a variety of different vocal techniques including yodeling, which is very popular in parts of Europe. Listening guide 53 and listening guide 51 are great representation of the different cultures they come from. In listening guide 53 the ukulele which I have come to recognize as a popular instrument in Hawaiian culture is one of the first instruments you hear in this song.

In listening guide 51 you can hear the combinations of two different styles of music (Arab and western music) showcased in this music. During the Egyptian film Latsu Malakan this music was used to reflect emotion and memory to the viewer on the times when peasants and Egyptians had to harvest wheat. This piece is an example of how music brings memories and emotions to listener. The music in both these pieces are very different but they help convey an idea of the culture and environment they come from.

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