Analytical Techniques

 

Lecture:  Traditional Analysis


 

 

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Traditional Analysis 

 

 

 

There is a difference between analysis and description.  To label a I chord is description - to evaluate the function of a harmonic phrase is analysis or to determine how the composer uses a particular chord in a particular way.  Ever listen to BB King?  Notice how he returns to a tonic chord more often than other blues guitarists.  Description is assigning a "I chord" each time BB goes to tonic.  Analysis is noting that he does it more often than other performers in his genre.  Description is important to get to the analysis.  Analysis really tells you where the music is coming from and what makes that particular piece or composer unique.  Sometimes we have to do a lot of describing to figure out what is noteworthy.  Drawing out the noteworthy items is the goal of analysis.

But first . . .

the descriptive and a review of those things to describe

 

Here are some of the Biggies to describe:  Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Texture, Form

These are not the only things, but are primary categories

 

 

 

RHYTHM
  • Meter and metric structure

  • Rhythmic motives and patterns

  • Syncopation

  • Diminution, augmentation

 

MELODY
  • Scale on which the melody is built (major, minor, modes, other scales)

  • Non-harmonic tones (see table below)

  • Phrasing

  • Sequential melodic material

  • Melodic motives

Note:  Non-harmonic tones, non-chord tones, decorative pitches are synonymous terms.

When analyzing non-harmonic tones, circle them and use the abbreviations to identify

Classification of Non-Chord Tones

Non-Chord
Tone Name

Abbreviated

Approached
by

Resolves by

Type

Passing Tone (unaccented)

PT

Step

Step in same direction

Unaccented

Passing Tone (accented)

  >

PT

Step

Step in same direction

Accented

Neighboring Tone (unaccented)

NT

Step

Step in opposite direction

Unaccented

Neighboring Tone (accented)

  >

NT

Step

Step in opposite direction

Accented

Neighbor group or Changing Tones

CT

Step

(two notes: one above and one below chord tone) resolves by step in the opposite direction

Unaccented

Appoggiatura

App

Leap

Step

Accented

Escape Tone

ET

Step

Leap in opposite direction

Unaccented

Suspension

Sus

Same tone

Step down

Accented

Retardation

Ret

Same tone

Step up

Accented

Anticipation

Ant

Step or Leap

Same tone as following note

Unaccented

Pedal Point

Ped

(none)

(suspension of the same tone throughout)

Both

 

HARMONY
  • Roman numeral and figured bass analysis to show harmonic progression, chord quality, and inversions

  • Identification of cadences

TEXTURE

Texture includes the number of voices in the piece, the configuration of the voices, and how they interact.

  • Monophonic - single melody with no accompaniment

  • Homophonic - melody with accompaniment

  • Polyphonic - multiple independent voices

  • Homorhythmic - multiple voices with similar rhythmic material in all voices (like a hymn)

  • Heterophonic - two or more voices simultaneously performing variations of the same melody

Continue your review of texture at this link.

FORM

To describe form in music, you are simply observing repetition, contrast, and variation.  It is common to use letters to designate sections.  Here are some typical forms:

  • Binary - two contrasting sections (AB)

  • Ternary - three sections (ABA)

  • Rounded binary - three sections, the A section returns, but in a shorter form (ABa)

  • Rondo - between each section, the A section returns (ABACABA or ABACA, there are multiple possibilities)

  • Strophic - using the same melody for each verse (AAAA)

The form of a typical popular song might be Verse 1 (A), Refrain (B), Verse 2 (A'), Refrain (B), Bridge (C), Refrain (B)

The A' indicates that it is not exactly the same, but uses the same material.  Often, only the words are different, but the instrumental accompaniment may also be slightly different.

There are, of course, more complicated forms, such as Sonata Allegro form.  However, even the more complicated forms are still based upon repetition, contrast, and variation.

Continue your review of form at this link.

BEYOND THE BIGGIES

There are certainly other considerations in traditional analysis.  Don't forget

  • articulation
  • dynamics
  • timbre

  

 

Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson