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| Comparing and Contrasting Music Essay

Music is a sort of composition that entails not only to entertain but also to relax, pass on message and express ideas and emotions. It encompasses the use of sound and some of its elements like rhythm and harmony. Different cultures in the world have their own kind of music. It is an old art that dates back several centuries ago. Some are performed with instruments, others without. Some involve the actual singing, that is, others simply require use of instruments. Despite these variations, it all comes down to whether the music is relevant to the audience or not. This is normally in terms of entertainment, education and relaxation. Regarding the choice of music I made for this essay, I picked on rock to represent the vernacular or popular side of music and classical music for the serious or cultivated side of music. I then decided to watch both performances online through ‘’youtube’’. This gave me ample time to watch the performances on several occasions as I analysed both set of music, hence a better judgement than attending a concert just once. I might have missed the personal touch which comes with attending a live concert as a disadvantage, though.

Rock music is relatively recent in that it came up in the 1950s. It started in America but spread to Europe and other parts of the world. In choosing the Queen band, I got to experience some of the characteristics of rock music. It is essentially centred on a lead vocalist, an electric guitarist and an accompanying drummer. Other instruments can as well be added. In the performance, which is usually live performance, the artists are very energetic, performing with vigour and a sense of conviction which keeps the audience on their toes. Maintaining such a big crowd is hard; hence they have to work extremely hard to put their best foot forward. Most of the performance is non-scripted giving them an opportunity to choose the best way to entertain. This also gives them a chance to involve the audience as well.

This band, Queen, performed in 1986, on Saturday 12th July, in Wembley stadium, London, England. The concert was part of the famed tour in support of ‘’A Kind of Magic’’. It was a long performance which lasted about two hours. Several pieces were performed each with several movements where by both the lead vocalist and guitarist moved a lot on stage. The band consisted of five members. They included: Brian May (guitarist, vocalist), Freddie Mercury (lead vocalist), John Deacon (bass guitarist), Spike Edney (unofficial fifth member of the band) and Roger Taylor (drummer, vocalist). Some of the instruments used included electric guitar, bass guitar and drum set. Some of the voice parts featured included bass, baritone, alto and soprano with a brassy tone.

In contrast, classical music like the one performed by Beethoven Symphony number 5, with Heinrich Schiff as the conductor, is ancient music. This kind of music is classified as symphony. The performance is much more composed, following a well written and rehearsed script. It is performed in a concert, with all but the conductor sited. The audience is sited as well and only applauds occasionally at the end of a session without interrupting the musicians’ activities. The instruments used were basically those of the orchestra such as string and brass families. Other instruments like the piano and harpsichord were also involved. This concert was performed on 26th, September in the year 2010 in Concertgebouw Amsterdam. The voice parts featured are basically of the instruments which are mostly found in an orchestra. Several pieces were performed which involved every member at any given time even if alternatingly.

I personally liked both the performances. As a lover of music, I find the diversity both intriguing and pleasurable. The Beethoven symphony did their pieces well and just knew when to break and catch their breath. They also changed from one piece to the other with great precision. The performers were also given a chance to express themselves as a specific group and as a whole. The whole performance sounded interesting and was truly of pure class. The Queen Band members were also very good. The soloist was always at the top of his game knowing when to sing and when to involve the crowd. The guitarist and drummer were excellent as well. The performers were more than enthusiastic to entertain the sizeable crowd. The performance sounded electric and worthy of compliment. Some of the people in the crowd even requested for more when the band stopped. For these reasons, I would like to suggest that I prefer both sets of music.

Both set of performances were great. While the rock musicians sang and played the instruments with energy and moved across the stage, the Beethoven sat and played their instruments with great precision. The conductor was just fantastic to watch as he guided his group to deliver a series of very good performances one after the other. Although the two sets of music are performed differently, both undertook their roles beautifully. The musicians in the band and concert were rhythmically together. For the Queen band, the electric guitarist would perform together with the other band members but at times would perform alone. This was the same to the vocalist and the drummer. As much as working in unison, individualism is also encouraged allowing the crowd to enjoy all kinds of variation and even joining in by clapping. On the other hand, the Beethoven would always involve more than one instrument player at any given time. The performers would then work in unison to produce the music.

The Queen Band members, when performing together not only played the instruments, but also sang in tune. They did not at any one point contradict each other. Even when only one member was performing, the others joined perfectly without missing a stride. Similarly, the performance of the Beethoven concert was in perfect unison, albeit a little better. The various instrument families blended well rising from low pitches to high and back at perfect unison. Indeed, it is a performance of instruments blending each other like a machine or various parts of the human body.

When performing their pieces, no instrument really stood out for the Beethoven Symphony apart for the drum which was a little bit louder at times. This ensured that every instrument contributed to the overall outcome with almost equal weight. In the case of the rock musicians, the main instrument, which is the electric guitar, stood out as expected with the drum prominent as well.

The musicians in both sets were technically gifted most definitely well prepared and ready for the concerts. Both set of performers were very energetic. To use percussion instruments(being struck by hand or beater), labrosones (brass instruments) such as saxophone, serpent and trumpet, and string instruments is an extremely difficult task and very tiring. So for the performers to diligently use these instruments in unison for such a period of time is enough evidence on dedication, technical ability and level of preparations. Moreover, when the queen band performed for more than an hour with active involvement of the crowd, it was not a small task especially by a group of four people. This shows that both set of performers were up to the task.

With regards to harmony and melody, the rock music had both consonance and dissonance while the classical music had only consonance. The syncopation, variation in pitch and tempo was perfect for the classical musicians while the rock musicians were at times warm and bright.

When given a choice, I would go for both. Each of the two has its own strengths. I would choose the classical music for its organization and coordinated approach and the rock for its free flowing music and the constant interaction between the crowd and the performers. The members of Queen back were sometimes romantic but still managed to stay relevant in their delivery of the message and conveyance of various emotions. On the other hand, Beethoven performers were classical varying their tempo appropriately to heighten the musical quality. These features make both performances unique and interesting and very hard to choose between although classical music has a little edge on rock due to its composure and well coordination.

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