final project rough draft

final project rough draft - Maria Vaccaro December 2 2010...

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Maria Vaccaro December 2, 2010 Final Project: A Study on the Influence of Jewish Folk Music on Shostakovich Shostakovich was arguably one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. His riveting, emotional music has been both worshipped and forbidden because of its dissonant, formalist style. Shostakovich was admittedly influenced by much Jewish music, especially the klezmer, written in response to the Holocaust and the oppression of the Jews. He appreciated this music because it fully explored both the ecstasy and despair of human life; he too incorporated these strong emotions and experiences into his work. Jewish themes emerge in several of his most famous compositions, including his Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor (specifically, movement IV. Alegretto) and String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor. Both of these pieces contain characteristics of Shostakovich’s works and of Jewish klezmer music. Klezmer music is characterized by very expressive melodies following the traditional style and chord progressions of Jewish folk songs. This includes a typically harmonic minor key, ornamental embellishments such as trills and turns, occasional dissonance, and syncopation. Different sections of a piece can change from a minor key to a major key and back again. In some klezmer pieces, the musicians do not follow a strict beat; this gives the music a lilting sound. Traditional Jewish music is based on a tetrachordal modal system and features chiefly syllabic form. The lively, quick nature of the music has caused it to often be associated with dance. (Feldman) Instrumentation in older klezmer music included one or more violins, sometimes a clarinet, tamborines or
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drums, and a dulcimer or guitar; more modern pieces include piano and brass as well. These instruments are played to imitate the human voice, with variations on weeping and laughing. Klezmer also traditionally includes at least one voice; the klezmer is usually sung in Yiddish. The vocal aspect of this genre of music is very important to the composers, the musicians, and the audience; the words make the music come alive and hold more meaning. (Idelsohn) The Klezmer piece Rumanian Fantasy #3 by The Klezical Tradition, a Klezmer band, exhibits some of these characteristic traits. For example, the piece begins in a minor key with a violin solo and piano accompaniment, later changing to a major key and then back to the original minor key. Both the melody and accompaniment include many ornamental embellishments, such as repeated broken sixths in the piano accompaniment, and trills and turns in the violin melody. The music is structured in measures of one, and
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final project rough draft - Maria Vaccaro December 2 2010...

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