Homework assignment, MUS 212 Spring 2016

 

Students were asked to add Roman numerals to a short piece by Robert Schumann, and then answered additional questions.

 

1. Of the two time signatures, which do you think an audience member is more likely to feel? Why?

 

summary:

- lots of 'the audience will feel' (cued to say that by the question)

- and lots of 'feel' more generally, without explanation

- waltz

- pulse/pulses

- triple grouping

 

individual responses:

the audience will feel pulses in groups of three, which is more associated with 6/8. It is more common to feel 2/4 time subdivided into duples.

 

because the triplets just feel like eighth notes in compound meter. The flow is more than just one, two; it's waltzy

 

because the triplets are commonly associated with that time signature. The phrases feel like 6/8 rather than 2/4

 

because of phrasing in groups of three

 

because the song has the pulse of a waltz

 

I feel the group of three is more prominent in the piece in terms of 6/8

 

the audience will more likely feel the piece in 6/8 because triplet figures make up the majority of the melodic and accompaniment material, giving it a waltz-like feel

 

since the triplets are constant throughout the piece, and the rarer duplets stick out because of this

 

2. Schumann's use of accents is also somewhat jarring, to the point where a listener might not always hear the notated barlines. Listen to the piece once without the score, and once with it. Then, write a few sentences comparing your experiences.

 

summary

- explicit instructions in the question to listen without the score and then listen with the score (so hearing alone, and then hearing and sight)

- 5 of 8 referred to these two experiences

- generally more specific answers than the previous question, where they weren't specifically cued to listen (although they were asked to take on the perspective of an audience member, where listening is assumed)

- and more reference to the specific features of meter, even when that wasn't necessarily part of the question

 

individual responses:

oftentimes the downbeat of what is heard in a measure is notated as being in beat two of the 2/4 measure. entire phrases are offset like this. he often does this by extending a chord's harmonic length from one beat to two.

 

In 6/8, you can somehow feel the pulse of the triplet. However in let's say 2/4, it doesn't quite line up or maybe a slow count of 2

 

There are times when chords that are off the beat are accented and when phrases are expressively extended. Listening without the score made it harder to anticipate downbeats, especially when triplet and duplet figures are interchanged. Looking at the score helped me interpret these as performance decisions and follow the melodic line better.

 

The piece is sometimes taken out of its 6/8 feel especially when there is a dotted quarter note followed by an eighth note. This threw me off the 6/8 tempo I was hearing when I wasn't following the music. It was much easier to point out these changes without the music.

 

When I first listened to it, it didn't seem so odd, but when I played it with the score around measures six to eight, the accents change as the beat has shifted. It doesn't seem to weird when just listening because it flows so well.

 

Even when reading with the score, it feels like 6/8. If you try to feel it as 2/4, the accents feel very odd.

 

There were some points when I thought the hands weren't playing and there was a rest, but it shocked me that there are absolutely no rests in this piece.

 

When "hearing" the piece in 2/4 the accents seem quite strange. But when "felt" in 6/8 or just in triplet-based meter in general) the accents make a little more sense.