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  • Prof: All right, ladies and gentlemen.

  • Let's get started.

  • We are going to continue our discussion of melody,

  • and last Thursday we were talking about melody in terms of

  • scales: major scales, minor scales, chromatic scales.

  • Then we went on to talk a little bit about what it is in a

  • melody that makes us feel the way we do about that particular

  • melody-- the major and minor quality of

  • them, and the fact that that quality

  • shows up rather early on in the scale,

  • the third step of the scale.

  • Then we talked about conjunct melodies,

  • and disjunct melodies, and we ended up talking about

  • Beethoven's Ode to Joy, which he incorporated in the

  • last movement of his last symphony,

  • Symphony no. nine.

  • And we said that that had a particular quality of phrase

  • construction--antecedent and consequent phrase structure.

  • >

  • Opening it up--<<plays piano>>

  • --and closing it back down.

  • And I was thinking over the weekend of all the pieces that

  • operate that way.

  • >

  • Antecedent--<<plays piano>>

  • --consequent.

  • And then it goes on with an extension the way Beethoven went

  • on with an extension-- >

  • Antecedent-- <<plays piano>>

  • --consequent.

  • I was a thinking of a piece of Mozart--<<plays

  • piano>>

  • Was that really Mozart?

  • Well let's listen here to just a little bit of what that really

  • is.

  • Okay.

  • >

  • All right.

  • That's enough of that.

  • Dumb pet trick.

  • All I did was take the theme of the Macarena and strip

  • away all the rhythmic stuff underneath,

  • and put an eighteenth-century Alberti bass with it,

  • that Mozart would have used--<<plays

  • piano>>

  • --and so on.

  • But the point here is that even the Macarena is using

  • this antecedent and consequent phrase structure--something as

  • basic as that.

  • So it's sort of endemic to how melodies are constructed.

  • Now I was thinking--and I always like to try to come up

  • with new, however albeit lame-brained,

  • ideas--for teaching this class.

  • Supposing I got a student up here, I mean melody--what makes

  • a melody beautiful?

  • What makes a great melody?

  • Anybody know?

  • Well, if you do, let me know,

  • because I don't know, and nobody really knows.

  • It's sort of like the definition of pornography:

  • you know it when you see it, or you know it when you hear

  • it.

  • So in pursuit of this, I was trying to think,

  • "Well, maybe I'll have a student come up and try to craft

  • a melody right here on the spot."

  • And I supposed we could play with that,

  • but then I said, "That's probably not a

  • good idea, because a) No student would

  • really want to do this, and b) It would probably take

  • too long to work through all the aspects of it."

  • So what I did--and this was about four o'clock yesterday

  • afternoon--and I thought, "Craig,

  • you think up a melody."

  • So I started thinking up a melody, and I hope I can

  • remember how it went.

  • >

  • Something like that.

  • So what would you give me as a grade for that melody?

  • Come on, now.

  • Daniel, what do I get for that melody?

  • B minus? C plus?

  • Student: B..

  • Prof: B?

  • Well, this is the days of grade inflation.

  • I've been inflated up to a B.

  • It was kind of C, C minus.

  • It wasn't particularly inspired.

  • But in crafting that, it made me think of "Why

  • do I do this at this particular point and not that?"

  • Well, there are certain confines that we're operating

  • with.

  • We've got to be in a scale.

  • >

  • Certain kinds of phrases--<<plays

  • piano>>

  • --something ending like that in a piece that's going to end

  • here--<<plays piano>>

  • --tells me that's got to be in the middle;

  • that can't come at the end.

  • So there's a syntax here also.

  • We've talked about that before, that musical phrases have to

  • come in a particular order for them to make sense.

  • So instead of working with my lame-brained melody,

  • let's work with a great one.

  • We're going to work a melody by Giacomo Puccini here,

  • and you can see his name on the board up there,

  • and get a sense of the melody in question.

  • It's an aria-- and we'll talk about what an aria is later--but

  • it's an aria from his opera Gianni Schicchi.

  • Now, that's not a well-known opera by Puccini;

  • can anybody tell me the name of a better-known opera by Puccini?

  • Student: Tosca..

  • Prof: Tosca, yes.

  • Student: Madame Butterfly..

  • Prof: Madame Butterfly.

  • You haven't hit the most obvious yet--La

  • Bohème, for example.

  • Rent was based on La Bohème.

  • So he has written a lot of well-known operas;

  • this happens to be a lesser-known opera.

  • But it has one sort of drop-dead beautiful melody in

  • the thing, "O mio babbino caro,"

  • where a young lady is trying, in effect, to con some money

  • out of her father.

  • And it's an odd thing, this thing so beautiful--trying

  • to separate her father from money is an odd thought.

  • And it occurs rather early on in the opera,

  • too.

  • And dramatically, it's not of any particular

  • significance.

  • It just happens to be an absolutely gorgeous melody that

  • you've all heard many, many times.

  • One day--you'll recognize it as soon as I start to play it--one

  • day I was playing this at home; my then-thirteen-year-old son

  • came in and said, "I know that.

  • That's beautiful."

  • I said, "Ah, that's my boy.

  • He's going to be a music lover."

  • "Yes, that's the background music for Grand

  • Theft Auto."

  • "What's Grand Theft Auto, Chris?"

  • Well, I found out.

  • But it shows you that this particular aria has legs.

  • It's kind of everywhere.

  • So let's listen to a little bit of Puccini's "O mio bambino

  • caro."

  • >

  • Okay, let's pause it right there.

  • Let's pause it.

  • >

  • What's kind of neat about that, right, at the outset

  • there--<<plays piano>>

  • What's that?

  • Why, again, do our spirits soar at that particular point?

  • We've got a large leap there.

  • It's the leap of a-- Student: An octave.

  • Prof: Of an octave.

  • We wouldn't expect you to recognize that,

  • but it's interesting to fold that in, because we were talking

  • about octaves last time.

  • So we have this opening phrase, and it's about to be coupled--

  • we're going to continue now-- with the next phrase that will

  • complete the antecedent phrase.

  • >

  • So we're sitting here--can you see the tonic?

  • That's where we want to go, that's where we want to go.

  • So we're going to step right above the tonic.

  • So that's the end of the antecedent phrase,

  • the opening-up phrase, but we're not on the tonic.

  • Okay?

  • So now we're going to continue, and you can imagine we're going

  • to hear some of that same music.

  • But ultimately, it's going to come back to the

  • tonic; we hadn't gone away from it.

  • Okay.

  • >