Below is a complete analysis of the A2 Music work On the Waterfront (1954): Symphonic Suite (opening) looking at all the elements of music with some taster questions at the end. Feel free to skip to the parts most relevant to you.
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- On the Waterfront is piece music which has been taken from a film and adapted to orchestral music to be played to an audience (film music to orchestral music).
- On the Waterfront was is a dark film because it is about the story of a lonely individual. We can expect the music to be along the same theme.
- The texture at the start (bars 1-5) is monophonic.
- There is a two part canon from bars 7-12.
- The texture moves to homophonic at bars 13-17. It then moves back to monophonic after that playing in octaves.
- The dynamics and texture drops at bar 62.
- There is a homorhythmic tutti (all in) at bar 78 with a forceful bitonality of G, C sharp and now D. It is homorhythmic for 10 bars.
- The texture turns homophonic at bar 85.
- The harmony is dissonant which is clear from the blues scale used creating a non-functional harmony.
- There is dissonance at bar 16 in Trumpet 1 and Harp of a semitone (F flat and F).
- Tritones are present during bars 24 -31 of the G in the Piano and C sharp in the Timpani 2.
- The Percussion, when entering at bar 32, is dissonant because the score does not state any pitches.
- There is an augmented 5th interval in the Horn 1-4 part at bar 106.
- There is a chordal tritone in the strings at bar 108. Violin II is playing a sustained chord of B major while Violin I is playing F major. F-B is an augmented 4th. The sustaining chords creates dissonance throughout the Coda.
- The Horns at bar 108 features a tritone of G and C sharp.
- The tonality at the start follows the blues scale starting on F. This scale is F, A flat, B flat, C flat, C, E flat and F. It is the G flat in bar 5 in the Horns in F which makes a blue scale.
- There is a very blues moment on the first beat of bar 11 where there is a C flat being played by the Flutes and a B flat being played by the Muted Trombones. This is a semitone difference providing a large clash and dissonance.
- The tonality at 24 is hitting towards G major due to the reoccurring B natural.
- At bars 42-53, the blue scale has changed from being on F to now on G.
- There is an atonal tonality from bar 72.
- Bars 110-111 is extremely dissonance. The build up of texture from the canon of parts creates unnerving tension and anticipation for a climax (which is the short demi-semi and semi chords).
- The Coda feels like it is coming to an end. However, this is no finishing cadence.
- The piece finishes on short staccato chords by every part but the strings which are playing sustained tritones extremely quiet. This creates a contrast in dynamics due to the chords being played ‘fff’ and string’s chords being played ‘ppp’.
- There is an emphasis on wind instruments used giving the piece similarities to jazz music.
- There is a Clarinet and Alto Saxophone in E flat. This means the instrument is transposed a major 6th lower.
- The instruments in B flat such as the Clarinet 1 and 2 and the Bass Clarinet (which is an octave lower than the normal Clarinet) will sound a major second lower than printed in the score.
- The Horns in F sound a perfect 5th lower than printed in the score.
- A ‘con sord.’ is present at bar 7. This is to tell the Trombonists to play with the mute.
- At bar 20, it is just the Piano and Timpani playing.
- The wind instrument’s tessitura is high at bar 54. This is where the climax of the piece is. The climax is based on the crotchet/minim idea which has been shortened. Therefore, the climax can be seen to be a diminution of bars 42-53 playing a 3rd higher.
- There is a fugue-like canon in bar 1. This will be used throughout the piece.
- The Horns in F at bar 1 features a minor third leap from C to E flat. The minor third interval as an important motif of this piece as it is the interval used in the fugal idea.
- The melody is finished major at bar 6 from the E natural in the Horns and B natural in the Trumpets (signifying the melody finishes in C major).
- The opening theme is played in canon between the Flutes and Muted Trombones at bars 7-12. This is a two part canon.
- The minor third leap reappears at bar 13 in the Oboes and Trumpets.
- There is a pedal note in the Clarinet and Harp at bars 13-16 providing minor syncopation.
- The beginning of bar 20 is a contrast to that of previous bars. This is because it is representing the New York docks now.
- At bar 17 in the Clarinet and Bass Clarinet parts, they are playing fragments of the theme in subtone (very quietly).
- There is a perfect 4th interval at bar 26 in the Timpani 2. The F sharp of Timpani 2 and the B flat in the Piano also is an augmented 5th. Again, creating dissonance and a bitonality: the G and C sharp are at the tonal centres.
- The Alto Sax solo starting at bar 42 is very ‘jazz-like’. This is because during the solo, the three percussions come together to form a riff (repeating phrase) and that is uses a blue scale on G. At bar 44, the melody has a falling 4th which is a motif of this piece.
- The cadential Alto Sax motif first appears at bar 52.
- The cadential Alto Sax returns at bar 64 and is developed by the Oboes, Clarinets and Violin I and II.
- There is a falling 4th in the Bassoon part at bar 66. This is a variation from of the Alto Sax from bar 44.
- Violin I and II are playing in unison at bar 88 a semitone apart (creating dissonance). The first Violin has the melody copying is from the Alto Sax at bar 42.
- Bar 91 has most instruments playing a semitone up or down and then to unison.
- At bar 98, Violin I and II start in unison and then clash. This is a reverse of bar 88 which builds tension from the progressing discordant feel.
- At bar 105, the Clarinets are trilling, Trumpets are flutter tonguing, drum is rolling and Violins tremoloing - there are lots of different tremolos from different instruments. This helps to add tension.
- The Coda (bar 106) starts with a repeating motif from bar 52 in Alto Sax which is playing over sustained pianissimo (very quiet) chords in the strings.
- There are repeating chords during the Coda at bars 108 to 113 (the end).
Rhythm and Metre
- The crotchet/minim rhythm at the very start of the piece will become to become a feature of this piece with it’s low level of syncopation.
- The time signature changes at bar 3 to 3/4 (three crotchet beats to a bar) and then back to c (four crotchet beats a bar). This change can be described as going from quadruple to triple and then back to quadruple time.
- ‘Presto barbaro’ means to have a tempo of being ‘fast and barbaric’ at bar 20.
- The time signature moves to (c/) 3/4 at bar 20. This is a two time signature which means the time signatures will rotate every bar (e.g. 2/2 then 3/4 then 2/2 and so on). This creates anticipation because it is a dramatic change to the time signature.
- The crotchet/minim rhythm has returned at bar 42 in the Alto Sax but this time varied to a quaver and sustained note of the value of 5 beats.
- The crotchet/minim idea is varied again at bar 52 in the Alto Sax. The first note has become shorter and into a pair of notes.
- The meter at the start of the Coda at bar 106 is c (4/4).
- The piece starts with the main motif of the piece.
- The Fugal starts at bar 20 - the counterpoint is extending to a fugal style.
- The varied percussion section reflects the jazz style of the music.
- The Alto Sax solo of bars 42-54 has the melodic structure of 12 bars blue. The only difference is that there are no blue chords.
- The Coda starts at bar 106 and features an ‘Adagio’ (decreased tempo).
- (a) Bars 1-6. This has the introduction of the minor 3rd and triplet rhythms with a solo Horn.
- (b) Bars 7-12. Repeats the first theme from (a) with a two part canon.
- (c) Bars 13-19. Two part Trumpets over F pedal.
- (a) Bars 20-39. Percussion fugal section. Melodic idea of fugal theme comes from the minor 3rd interval in opening two notes of piece.
- (b) Bars 40-53. Two bar riff in percussion. The woodwind plays loud version of Alto Sax solo here.
- (c) Bars 67-77. New and quieter section. Based on the descending three note motif which builds to a climax.
- (d) Bars 78-87. Fortissimo tutti based on fugal theme which is all in homorhythm.
- (e) Bars 88-105. Suddenly quiet again. Riff continues on snare drum leading to the return of fugal theme.
Coda (Adagio). Bars 106-113 (end).
- (i) homophonic - Bars 13 - 17 and bar 85 onwards.
- (ii) monophonic - Bars 1 -5.
- (iii) two-part counterpoint - Bats 7 - 12.