Twentienth Century Musical Pieces Essay

709 words - 3 pages

Music during the twentieth century and beyond all found their basis and roots in music produced during the areas preceding it. Wozzeck, Pavanne, and Concerto Grosso by Alban Berg, Bill Evans, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich prove to be no different. All three pieces draw on the inspirations left by their predecessors in order to create truly unique and memorable works. Though the pieces are from the same time period, they sound inherently different. This all stems from the fact that each composer drew from dissimilar musical eras and put their own type of improvisation or flares on the work.
Berg draws on stylistic elements of the romantic era opera. In his piece entitled “Wozzeck”, Berg incorporates the use of the romantic ideals of the power of evil, liberation, and the purity of rural life. By doing so, he is able to fit the style content of the period. Berg utilizes major and minor tonal areas rather than a twelve-tone composition. He also integrates atonality throughout the piece in order to express emotions. While Berg shies away from using a tonal center, he uses variations of a note scheme in order to make it easier for the audience to understand and follow the progression of the opera. For example, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica “the tritonal pair B natural and F natural represents Wozzeck and Marie’s melees with one another.” According to the textbook Music Appreciation Online, “By marking key moments with pitches, Berg was able to increase the impact of the libretto within the piece. “ Through his use of Sprechstimme, leitmotifs and extreme dynamics such as tutti ensembles, the composer highlighted plot twists and valuable information.
In addition to Berg, Bill Evans used techniques from musical periods past in order to make a new twist of Gabriel Fauré’s theme entitled “Pavanne.” Though version of the piece I am addressing is indeed improvised by Evans, it was arranged by Claus Ogerman. The work has jazz beginnings and integrates the use improvisation and solos. These twentieth century musical tactics are what put his piece into this era other than just the time period in which it was produced. Ogerman utilizes the instrumentation of Bach by using a classical string quartet, percussion,...

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