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Carmina Burana Analysis

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Johnny Yan

on 3 June 2013

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Transcript of Carmina Burana Analysis

Carmina Burana Johnny Yan About the Composer Carl Orff was a 20th century German composer. Born on July 10, 1895 to a Bavarian family in Munich, Orff started music early in his life learning how to play piano, organ and cello at age five. Orff learned about harmony and composition without a teacher, essentially becoming a self taught composer. Orff studied at the Munich Academy of Music until 1914 where he served in the German Army during World War I. In 1936, Orff composed his magnum opus, Carmina Burana. Orff died in Munich in 1982 at the age of 86. By this time, Orff had lived through four epochs: the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany and the post World War II West German Bundesrepublik. About the Piece Carmina Burana was originally a cantata composed for choir and orchestra. It is based on 24 poems in a collection with the same name. The piece is based on the idea of the Turning Fortuna Wheel, a medieval concept of fate. The first and last movements of the original composition are both called Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi. Starting and ending with the same movement, O Fortuna, the compositional frame is circular. The version I am analyzing is the Band version arranged by John Krance. There are a total of 13 movements in this version. It also starts and ends with O Fortuna. Movement 12 - Ave Formossissima
(Hail to Thee, Most Beautiful) Movement 13 - Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi
(Fortune, Empress of the World) Articulations: Nearly every note accented.

Time: Mixed meter, 4/2 followed by 2/2 followed by either 3/2, 5/2 or 6/2.

Key: G Major with a modulation to A Major

Dynamics: Forte throughout the piece. Fortissimo at the climax with a crescendo at the end.

Texture: Melody dominated homophony. There is a clear melody in the high voices accompanied by a monorhythmic underlying harmony.

Motive A Motive B Motive B with phrase extension a Motive B with phrase extension a + b Motive A', a variation of motive A. Shares the same rhythm of Motive A. Motive A", a variation of motive A. Motive C', a transposition of Motive C down a whole step. Motive C Articulations: Every note accented in the Introduction. The melody part has both staccatos and tenutos. The arpeggiated Alberti Bass harmony part is staccattissimo

Time: 3/2 with a duple feel

Key: d minor with a modulation to A Major

Dynamics: Fortissimo in the Introduction down to pianissimo then forte in the 4th section and crescendos into fortississimo at the end.

Texture: Homophonic. There is a melody accompanied by an arpeggiated harmony part. Bibliography "Carl Orff Biography - Carl Orff Childhood, Life and Timeline." Famous People - Famous People in History, Famous People List & Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2013. <http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/carl-orff-331.php>.

"Carl Orff: Start (englisch)." Carl Orff: Start. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2013. <http://www.orff.de/en.html>.

"Profile of Carl Orff - Biography of Carl Orff." Music Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2013. <http://musiced.about.com/od/famousmusicians1/p/carlorff.htm>. O Fortuna introduction: Phrase 1 - Theme A Motive A Motive A Motive B Theme B Motive C Motive C Motive C' - Variation of Motive C with a phrase extension. Motive a - Arpeggiated Alberti Bass accompaniment harmony part. Transposed up an octave and bcomes the melody in the last section. Motive D - A transposition of Motive C up a third. Played along with Motive C. Motive F" - A transposition of Motive D with a phrase extension. Major Themes Phrase 1: Theme A - Motive A played with Motive B accompaniment Phrase 2 - Motive A' played with Motive B accompaniment and phrase extension a. Phrase 3 - Motive A" played with Motive B accompaniment and phrase extension a+b. Climax: Phrase 4 - Motive C followed by C' Major Themes
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