North American Composers: Musical Style and Works Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in North American Composers: Musical Style and Works Deck (97):

Genre of Coulthard's The Contented House:

orchestral music


What does Reich emphasize in his minimalist works?

- the process of change
- slow evolution of melodic, harmonic, and contrapuntal features (ex. "Drumming")


Who wrote Sondheim's song lyrics?

he wrote them all himself


meter of the 2nd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

regular alternations of 3/4, 5/8, 4/4


Describe the "Rehearsal Section Ff" of Coulthard's The Contented House:

- marked A tempo, poco a poco crescendo
- original progression returns in strings in an expanded form, complemented by the woodwinds
- clarinets gently cascade downwards, alternating 3rds and 6ths, marked delicately by triangle
- flutes and violins join in final reminiscence of the folk song
- closing measures marked morendo; strings and French horn die away


Who did Reich collaborate with?

American jazz, rock, hip-hop, and performance artists such as:
- guitarist Pat Metheny
- new wave performers David Byrne (Talking Heads)
- Brian Eno (Roxy Music)
- singer/composer Laurie Anderson
- wife Beryl Korot


Irony of the 2 characters in Sondheim's My Friends:

one is singing/dreaming about love, while the other is singing/dreaming about death


book (dialogue) of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Feet Street by:

Hugh Wheeler


meter of 1st movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:



Mood of Coulthard's The Contented House:

serene work resembles film music and displays Coulthard's more conservative, accessible style


Sondheim was an exponent of didactic theater. What is this?

theater that is meant to "instruct" an audience, raising their awareness of socio-political issues


How does Coulthard's works show nationalism?

works often use quotations from Canadian folk music (ex. Canadian Fantasy, The Pines of Emily Carr)


Where was Reich born and what effect did it have on his music?

- born in NYC, grew up in LA
- absorbed the musical culture of both American coasts


Electric Counterpoint demonstrates Reich's contemporary influences such as:

- jazz
- rock
- world beat
- minimalism
- electronic manipulation


meter of Sondheim's My Friends:

3/4 but with frequently changing meters


Tell the general story of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Feet Street

- story of a man's all-consuming thirst for justice
- Sweeney Todd, a barber in Victorian-era London, is determined to kill the sinister judge who destroyed his family
- meets landlady Mrs. Lovett. Together they form an unholy alliance
- Sweeney uses his barber's razor to "dispatch" all who get in the way of his vengeful quest
- Mrs. Lovett is more practical; she grinds up the remains of Sweeney's victims...has a meat pie shoppe
- ultimately, Sweeney Todd gets his revenge at an enormous cost to himself and those who love him


Growing up, Sondheim was greatly influenced by who?

Oscar Hammerstein: famous lyricist, close family friend


Describe the 2nd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

- attack from opening movement; maintains sense of strong drive, though tempo is moderate
- solo guitar joins; generally plays upper lines
- gentle, lyrical character with broad phrases
- from the initial reduced texture, additional voices are added canonically, building in density until all instruments are present
- shifting meters and constant syncopation are the rhythmic hallmarks


tempo of 1st movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

fast (quarter=192)


Years of Steve Reich



Who frequently employed leitmotifs, developing them as the story unfolds?



Describe the introduction of Coulthard's The Contented House:

- tempo: Poco lento, semplice con teneremente
- opens p with serene, homorhythmic passage in the strings played motto legato; supported by French horns
- influence of Aaron Copland evident in the quiet, searching quality of the string writing
- frequent tempo changes throughout this short movement impart a warm humanity to the sound


Meter of Coulthard's The Contented House:

changing meters


Describe Sondheim's quality of language.

- quality of language matches the characters
- the more clever the rhyme scheme, the more sophisticated the character


Genre of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

guitar music


Key of 1st movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

one sharp, implies e natural minor


Source of plot of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Feet Street:

based on the 1973 play "Sweeney Todd" by Christopher Bond (the roots of the legend can be traced back to the late 18th century)


Performing forces of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

solo electric guitar accompanied by 10 guitars and 2 bass guitars (or pre-recorded tape of the accompaniment)


specific summary of Sondheim's My Friends:

- Mrs. Lovett, who is secretly in love with Sweeney, presents him with his gleaming razors: instruments that she has kept hidden all these years in hope that he would one day return from an Australian prison
- In this dark "love duet", Sweeney tenderly embraces these instruments of revenge, while at the very same time (and unnoticed by him), Mrs. Lovett reveals her passion for him


Give 4 musical traits of Sondheim

- rhythmically complex
- perfect union between melody and text
- rich harmonic language with stylistic ties to Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel, Sergei Prokofiev
- master of contrapuntal writing


Who was Reich's Electric Counterpoint written for?

American jazz guitarist Pat Metheny


key of the 3rd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

one sharp (D Mixolydian mode suggested)


Key of the 2nd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

4 sharps


Reich had frequent award-winning collaborations with respected choreographers, including:

- Alvin Ailey
- Maurice Bejart
- Jerome Robbins


Describe Section A of Sondheim's My Friends:

- marked p and semipro dolce
- opening 4 notes of the melody are an inverted fragment of the "Dies irae" (Latin for "Day of Judgement"), a chant taken from the Catholic mass for the dead. Quotations of the "Dies irae" occur throughout the score
- minor-tinged melody begins in the low register and builds upward with emphasis on the words "friends" and "home"
- with his razors he will act both as judge and executioner over those who have wronged him


Where did Reich study?

Juilliard School


Describe Section A' of Sondheim's My Friends:

- duet proceeds a half step higher than before
- Sweeney repeats his opening melody warm and caressingly, oblivious to Mrs. Lovett's declaration of love
- Mrs. Lovett's countermelody is rhythmically more active, suggesting her skittish, chattering nature, as well as her tentativeness in declaring her feelings for Mr. Todd
- on the words "warm in my hand" and "splendours you never have dreamed all your days..." their voices join in unison
- Sweeney chillingly likens the drops of blood to "precious rubies"
- finally, he proclaims, "my hand is complete again!"


tempo of Sondheim's My Friends:



When did Reich's career unfold alongside who?

- early 1960s in NYC
- alongside other minimalist pioneers such as La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Phillip Glass, and John Adams


Historical context of Coulthard's Canada Mosaic:

commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for a tour of Japan in 1974


Describe the "Rehearsal Section Dd" of Coulthard's The Contented House:

- marked dolce, oboe quotes a fragment of the folk song "A la claire fontaine", answered by softly pressing strings (frequent use of tenuto markings)
- marked dolce espressive, flute plays extended reference to the folk melody, answered gently by strings
- music builds to climax (only mf), orchestral density increases, ascending strings and woodwinds are punctuated with woodwind trills, timpani roll, and majestic crash of cymbals


tempo of the 3rd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

fast (quarter =192)


Who had an affinity for complex, challenging issues?



Describe Sondheim's form

- rejected the standard AABA song form
- experimented with novel, even through composed forms


What are the 3 main ideological objectives of Canada Mosaic, identified by Coulthard herself?

- use of Canadian folk songs from different parts of the vast country
- to create an image of Canada through her music, both the ethnic groups and varied scenes
- to relate both the people and the scenes to her own childhood memories


How is unity achieved in the 3rd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint?

- through melodic motive relationship: principal motives constructed from similar melodic intervals and their inversions


year of composition of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Feet Street:



What was Reich awarded in 2009, and for which work?

- Pulitzer Prize
- "Double Sextet"


Give 3 musical characteristics of Reich's Electric Counterpoint.

- virtuosic showcase
- energetic musical lines weave in and out as the texture builds and decreases in density
- joyous spirit


What type of style did Reich create?

his own personal style of minimalism, merging popular, classical, and technological elements


Year of Coulthard's The Contented House:



specific form of Sondheim's My Friends:

A (solo), A' (duet)


Key of Coulthard's The Contented House:

F Major


Name the 7 movements in Coulthard's Canada Mosaic.

- Lullaby for a Snowy Evening
- Mam'zelle Quebecoise
- D'Sonoqua's Song
- Harbour Sounds
- The Contented House
- Billowing Fields of Golden Wheat
- Happy New Year


Which Coulthard work are we studying?

"The Contented House" from "Canada Mosaic"


Describe Sondheim's characters.

- music is inseparable from the characters and the action, not often heard outside of its dramatic context
- multi-dimensional characters with neuroses and indecisive traits


Tempo of the 2nd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

slow (quarter=96)


Who influenced Jean Coulthard?

- Ralph Vaughan Williams
- Bela Bartok
- Aaron Copland
- Arnold Schoenberg


What are 3 things that Coulthard experimented with?

- serialism
- aleatoric procedures
- electronic music


What is Sondheim's "My Friends" inspired by?

the French "Grand Guignol" tradition of theatrical horror, mixed together with broad comedy


Some of Reich's compositions feature "phrase shifting". What is this?

slowing down and speeding up tape loops to create a constantly evolving musical density (ex. "Come Out")


Performing forces of Coulthard's The Contented House:

large orchestra with expanded percussion section


For more than 50 years, who has played a leading role in redefining the Broadway musical?

Stephen Sondheim


How is Sondheim a realist?

- In the stage work genre, love and happiness should be guaranteed, where an unrealistic version of life is depicted
- in his rich legacy of stage works, Sondheim replaces sentimentality with emotional intensity


What neo-Romantic characteristics are shown in Coulthard's musical style?

- lyricism
- lush harmonies
- emotional intensity


What did Reich study and how did it influence his compositions?

- African drumming at the University of Ghana: incorporated its rhythmic complexity into his compositions
- Balinese Gamelan music: absorbed into his formal and harmonic procedures


Who developed the "concept" musical and what is it? Give an example.

- Sondheim
- all elements of the work are integrated to suggest a central thematic image or idea
- ex. the Kabuki (Japanese theater) inspired "Pacific Overtures"


Source of text of Coulthard's The Contented House:

original French Canadian folk song "A la claire fontaine"


Reich's works were often brimming with what characteristic of minimalism? Give an example.

- motoric drive
- ex. "Six Pianos"


Sondheim was inspired by a wide array for sources including:

- films
- plays
- history


Year of compositions of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:



General structure of Coulthard's Canada Mosaic:

7 movements


Describe Sondheim's story lines.

- not always logical or linear
- fusion of fantasy with reality


Describe the "Rehearsal Section Ee" of Coulthard's The Contented House:

- passage restores the gentle mood
- clarinets trace parallel 6ths in a gently cascading passage; triangle enhances the shimmering effect
- fragment of "A la claire fontaine" recalled by the flute


What was Sondheim able to do in creating one of his most complex and riveting scores in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"?

elevate the tragic tale of a vengeful barber to operatic heights


lyrics of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Feet Street by:

Stephen Sondheim


What was Reich's principal instrument?

- Percussion
- often premiered his own works


Describe the 3rd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

- movements are linked: attacca employed
- strummed chords enter, creating a striking effect after single note
- contains more variety and contrast than other movements
- sudden modulations back and forth from 1 sharp to 3 flats
- final section has 5 voice texture with dramatic crescendo to mf conclusion on the interval of a 9th
- relentless energy maintained until the final notes, a characteristic of Ghanaian drumming tradition


General structure of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Feet Street:

2 acts


key of Sondheim's My Friends:

modal (melody opens in B flat Dorian)


Years of Steven Sondheim



Where did Reich draw his musical style from?

European classical and non-Western popular music sources, electronic innovations


meter of the 3rd movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:



General structure of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

3 movements


Describe the introduction of Sondheim's My Friends:

- marked misterioso and p
- undulating 3 note ostinato is heard over sustained open fifths (Eflat- B flat- F) in the bass, establishing the solemn mood
- delicate chimes sound to suggest the glint of the deadly blade
- this "safety" passage is repeated by the orchestral until cued that the actor is ready to begin


Years of Jean Coulthard



Describe the 1st movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint:

- singular relentless tempo with uninterrupted momentum
- brief, syncopated motives, dance-like and delicate, emerge from the initial density, now a sparse texture
- sudden contrast is striking to the listener
- modulations; key signature changes to 3 flats
- repeated notes are joined and layered by 2nds, 3rds, triads
- massed aggregate chords result, mildly dissonant, static harmony


Specific form of Coulthard's The Contented House:



Reich's Electric Counterpoint pays homage to what?

the Baroque art of counterpoint


Name 3 commissions that Coulthard completed for leading Canadian performers.

- the Duo Sonata for Violin and Cello (Tom and Shauna Rolston)
- Piano Sonata No. 2 (Jane Coop)
- song cycle Spring Rhapsody (contralto Maureen Forrester)


Name a award that Coulthard won.

Officer of the Order of Canada


In what ways is Coulthard's The Contented House an example of neo-Romanticism?

- heightened emotionalism
- individualism
- nationalism
- modal/tonal harmony
- lush textures


How was Coulthard's interest in pedagogy demonstrated?

in pedagogy works for both piano and violin


What is one of Sondheim's finest achievements that came early in his career?

invited by Leonard Bernstein to write the lyrics for "West Side Story"


what minimalist characteristics are immediately evident in the 1st movement of Reich's Electric Counterpoint?

- limited harmonic movement
- hypnotic repeated motives
- slowly changing dynamics crest and recede


Genre of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Feet Street:



Who had popular appealing style?