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tv   DW News  LINKTV  March 24, 2016 2:00pm-2:31pm PDT

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and instruments in an ensemble. it's the way they're blended together into a musical whole. [low hum and sticks clacking] [cultural music montage] what i'd like to do now is start with the tenor section, then the alto and the soprano, and then i'll add the bass. one, two, three, and ♪ jesus is a rock in a weary land... ♪ (narrator) the subject of musical texture raises a number of questions. how are the different voices or instruments in a performance put together and organized?
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let's add the altos, altos, tenor, and bass, ready ♪ jesus is a rock in a weary land... ♪ (narrator) how many parts are there? does one voice or melody stand out? how do the various parts relate to each other? one more time, without piano. ♪ jesus is a rock in a weary land... ♪ (man) any music is a set of preferences, we like it like that. this is how we think things go together, okay. and people really have strong preferences in terms of something like texture. there are large regions where people really only like to hear one or two things happening at the same time. there are other places where people seem to feel that's not enough. they want a really complex texture
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with a lot of different things going on at the same time. these are choices--it's basically about an aesthetic, and traditionally people have had strong aesthetic feelings in terms of texture, as much as anything else they do with their music. [lively piano and strings] (woman) texture in music is basically the density or sparseness of the music. one very understandable example would be that if you think of a single voice or a single instrument, [single violin playing] and contrast that to an entire orchestra or an entire chorus, you can hear the difference between the thinness of one line and the density of a very large orchestra. [orchestra playing] (narrator) western music scholars classify texture into four main categories:
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while these categories are not employed everywhere, they can be used to talk about texture in all music. [man singing in gaelic] monophony means that the music is in one part, a solo voice or instrument. [singing in gaelic] a good example of this is irish sean-nos singing. at a sean-nos session, song is a very personal expression. although several singers are present, only one person sings at a time. [singing in gaelic] [irish dance music]
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where there are two or more musicians performing the same melody but in slightly different ways, the texture is heterophonic. in this traditional irish dance music, everyone is playing the same tune. however, each musician may ornament or vary it according to his or her instrument or taste. [ensemble playing irish tune] [latin band plays and sings] when a dominant melody is accompanied by one or more parts, the texture is said to be homophonic.
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nicaraguan ensemble grupo camayo sings accompanied by guitars and percussion, the melody is supported by the rest of the ensemble. [guitar plays, and singing in spanish] [chorus sings, and orchestra plays] music that simultaneously combines two or more different lines is said to be polyphonic. the term polyphony has specific meaning within the western classical idiom, describing much of the multi-part music of the middle ages and the renaissance.
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however, it is also used generally to describe any multi-part musical tradition. in the javanese gamelan of indonesia, layers of music produced by gongs and metalaphones create a polyphonic web of sound. these layers are made up of interlocking percussion parts and different melodic lines. [drumming] polyphony can be rhythmic as well as melodic as in the west african manjani rhythm played on the jembe family of drums. the lead drummer improvises over the different rhythmic patterns played by members of the group.
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[drumming] [soft flute music] when the texture of music is monophonic, what can add richness to the single line? in japan, the shakuhachi, an end-blown flute, has a long history as a solo instrument. in the honkyo ku, or meditative style, great emphasis is placed on the tone color, or timbre of each and every note. (woman) the roots of shakuhachi music lie in zen meditative practice.
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this sect of buddhism--they believe playing the shakuhachi, playing even a single tone, was a means or vehicle for enlightenment. [soft flute plays] shakuhachi has such a palette of different color sounds. for example, if we want a very strong round sound, more like a western flute, very hard-edged sound, we have [hard-edged flute sound] very, more strong kind of shakuhachi sound. then we also want a very airy sound so the same kind of [airy flute sounds]
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(narrator) when another instrument and voice are added to the shakuhachi, what kind of texture results? (hahn) when shakuhachi plays with the ensemble, with koto and with vocalist, these kinds of lines together are heterophonic in nature. the same melody is being played, but there are little nuances partular to each instrument. so the koto might play a line that sinks down [sings example] like this. shakuhachi, they may not play in that kind of ornamentation, that kind of subtlety, so we might play just an introductory note to the phrase,
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where we play [sings example]. all of these various sounds create such a beautiful heterophonic texture. (narrator) ganga, a polyphonic song form, is performed throughout bosnia and herzegovena. this heartfelt music is sung outdoors by groups of men or women. the lyrics reflect personal experiences, themes of love, or the singers' connection to community and tradition.
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one of the intentions of singing ganga is to combine the voices in a way that results in a powerful and resonant texture. [singing together] (woman) if we are listening to ganga, we can think of texture in terms of one voice being, relatively speaking, thin in comparison with two ices that thicken the texture. we can also think of texture in the context of just a single voice and even within the context of the single sound. every sound has its own texture. there are a lot of stoppings of the sound, little silences that come between the syllables in ganga opening line that are very textural. [singing ganga]
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also the sigh of the singer who starts the song is very different in texture from the scream at the end of the song. [loud singing to end sg] in ganga singing, the way people refer to the parts is very textural. the lot of terms that are connected with talking about ganga as a genre are borrowed from weaving. and they'll say, "that was neat, neat as a loom," or, "you embroidered that song really well." within the local tradition, people don't think of parts in their singing as two parts, they think of song as a song. a song is a whole. and if you come to a group of singers
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who are singing a ganga or a becarac and you ask them, "could you please sing me your part?" they will say, "no." not because they're not good singers or not because they are unable to sing, they just don't conceive of music in terms of independent parts that are doing discreet pitches. what people are looking for is physical experience of the sound. the placement in their vocal register that's going to produce the most piercing sound. and the way people find that is by singing together. [singing together] [steel drums play] (narrator) texture in large ensembles can become quite complex. the steelband which originated in trinidad in the 1950s
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can have as many as 120 players. while there are many simultaneously sounding parts, its basic texture is homophonic. there is usually a lead melody supported by the rest of the ensemble. (man) the steelband is associated with carnival in trinidad. members of these carnival ensembles began to find that a single piece of metal, if it was dented in areas, could produce multiple pitches. and this is quite a technological breakthrough. they were able to take this concept and apply it to different types of metal implements, eventually to the oil barrel, and create multi-pitched instruments out of one piece of metal. [steelband plays] in the ensemble texture of a steelband, we have instruments of the same sonority,
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they have a similar kind of sound, but they're arranged in sets that go from lowest pitch to highest pitch. you have bass instruments playing bass lines, [bass drum beats] you have lead instruments playing melody, [melody plays] you have instruments that play harmonized melody, you have other instruments that strum, that hit rhythmic patterns and that fill in the chords. of course, as part of this overall texture, you also hear the rhythm ensemble, which in steelband terms is called the engine room, and that drives the entire ensemble, which is why it's called the engine room. [steelband plays] there's different sizes of ensembles and different textures.
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as a result, the old-fashioned steelbands are now called pan around the neck ensembles, they're carried around the neck, and this limits the number and types of instruments, their range, and the texture is as a result thinner, when you place these instruments on stands and begin to arrange them on a stage, each player has access to more pans, more range, the texture thickens up, the stageside band is a small version of this. [band plays] the largest band in trinidad is the conventional steelband, and conventional bands are wheeled onto stage for the carnival performances, and these ensembles number 100 to 120 players with major sections for each instrument. [band plays] the dynamic level of these bands is extraordinary. you can hear these for miles around, and the texture as a result is extremely thick and powerful.
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(narrator) within the western classical tradition, composers have written for a large variety of ensembles, ranging from the soloist to orchestras of more than 100 players. as a result, textures may vary significantly. even within one piece, they may shift from moment to moment. [dramatic music] [softer music] (pagano) composers love to write for more than one instrument. sometimes they will write for combinations-- small combinations of instruments, and if there's more than two players, that's called chamber music. the piano trio is a very popular ensemble. in a piano trio, we have a piano, we have a violin, and we have a cello.
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(narrator) for the chamber musician, an awareness of textural changes and how each part fits into the overall work at any given moment, is critical to a successful performance. (man) the ghost trio has an amazing variety if textures within it. for instance, right at the very beginning, you have an abrupt and almost violent start. the interesting thing is it's completely in unison. the violin, the cello, and the piano are all playing the exact same notes. [playing in unison] so that's one kind of texture. and then immediately after that, you get not only a change in texture but a change in the mood where the cello takes a very beautiful solo all of a sudden and we accompany, and then i answer the cello with a melody on the violin. [trio plays together]
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so you get very sudden shifts in character and in texture. it's one of the big challenges of playing the piece. (man) an analogy you can make to the ghost trio and to chamber music in general is the idea of having a conversation that melodic fragments, or even complete melodies, get passed around at rapid speed and at some points in the ghost trio, for example, the beginning of the development section, little melodic fragments get passed around very rapidly. [rapid, melodic music] one of the special challenges of playing chamber music is understanding what your role is all of the time,
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every second of the music that's going on, and the challenging thing is that your role is constantly shifting in chamber music. you'll play melody for four bars, and then instantly you've got to support someone else playing a melody because you've shifted to the accompanying role. [music plays] it's important to figure out how to combine your own personality as a player into the personality of the group, and to have that sort of tension of individual and group, and to have it all happen in a very dynamic kind of way. that's what makes an exciting chamber music performance.
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[music continues] [music comes to conclusion] (narrator) the orchestration of instruments and voice has always been an important part of music composition. however, in the 20th century, many composers have come to place even greater emphasis on texture in the music they write. the australian composer, stephen leek, experiments with musical textures that reflect the natural environment. [choral music] (leek) as a composer, texture is integral to my work. it's often more important than things like melody
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or rhythm or pitch, for instance. i find that i'm often motivated or inspired to write by things that i see or feel or touch or smell or places that i go to; people i meet. when i travel, i see lots of different textures which excite me. and from them, i draw particular sorts of textures which i try and translate into sound. [dramatic choral music] cloud formations, sand formations, rock formations, dirt, in fact, many of my scores we use on the covers-- on the recordings some of the photographs of these images that i draw inspiration from. [dramatic choral music]
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when i am working on a texture, i try and find something common between the different sounds. it might be for instance that they're short sounds which are joined together. an example of a vocal sound might be: buh-buhl-bhul-buh, or: lu-lu-la-lu-la, or: [whirring, motor-like sound). short ideas which are linked together somehow, and combining those, either layering one on top of another, or joining them together, one transforms into another to create sort of a world for the textures that i create. [multi-layered choral music]
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(narrator) while texture can be an important component for an individual composer, it is also part of a culture's overall musical aesthetic. from solo voice to a huge ensemble, the great diversity of musical textures found around the world is unlimited.
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funding for this program was provided by the annenberg/cpb project. this is pbs.
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catherine n.: it's 9:00 p.m. in the french capital. you are watching "live from paris" on "france 24." i'm catherine nicholson with your headlines. guilty of genocide and nine other counts of war crimes, radovan karadzic sentenced today to 40 years in jail over atrocities committed during the bosnian war. relatives of victims have expressed their release. karadzic is vowing to appeal. we will get some reaction from bosnia's former foreign minister. --est haters in brussels investigators in brussels say that another suspect in this week's

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