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Musical Investigation

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Will Bogen

on 19 March 2013

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Transcript of Musical Investigation

In the following presentation a journey will unfold into the expanses of music in a comparison between a Western Reggae piece and a work from the classical age of Arabic orchestral music. The Western work that will be analytically investigated is “Ancient Lullaby” composed by Matthew Paul Miller, better known by his stage name Matisyahu. The classical Arabic piece that is being studied is an arrangement of the piece “Longa Shahnez” as performed by the Classical Arabic Orchestra of Aleppo.
Despite the cultural chasm separating these two works in both time and space, strong musical links can be found in both “Ancient Lullaby” and “Longa Shahnez.” These two musical works include solo sections featuring a single melodic line and a refrain as a major component of the musical structure. Introduction The Musical Cultures Structure of the Music Links Conclusion Works Cited The Music "Ancient Lullaby": This piece opens with a one measure intro in the percussion part and then moves into a reggae beat. The song begins a classic Reggae theme at 0:02-0:15 as the A theme, featuring the bass and vocals while utilizing a staccato chord progression in a rhythm guitar
and complex runs and syncopated rhythms in a second guitar part. After a measure of transition in the percussion the B theme begins at 0:39, utilizing syncopated rhythms among multiple lines. This offbeat feel adds a drive to the piece that feels more energetic than the relaxed Reggae theme. The A theme then returns after another one measure transition in the percussion at 1:05. The B theme repeats again creating a strophic (binary) form. The lead guitar takes flight into a solo at 2:09 while the other parts maintain the B theme. After 50 seconds of the guitar solo the drum kit and other ethnic percussion instruments begin a solo at 3:04 as the rest of the supporting lines begin to fade out at 3:03. The percussion begins with many unorganized rhythms but the disparate parts continually pull together and begin to create a unified rhythm at 3:52. The piece ends in a homorhythmic pattern. "Longa Shahnez": This piece begins with the introductory A theme that is stated and then repeated with minor variations in pitch. It then moves on to the B theme at 0:21 which serves as the refrain and it returns after the introduction of each new theme. The music then moves on to the C theme at 0:41 which is more dramatic than both the A and B themes. After a return to the B theme at 1:01, the tempo slows down at 1:20 and a new theme occurs which is a development of the C theme. The tempo accelerates to the original tempo at the end of the phrase at 1:46 when the refrain reappears. Every instrument except for the Oud suddenly stops at the end of the refrain and the Oud performs a solo consisting of quick strumming of repeated 32nd notes at 2:05. As the solo progresses a Qanun responds to the solo instrument and the rest of the orchestra returns at a decreased tempo at 2:29 which accelerates to its original vigor at the refrain. As the main theme progresses, an accelerando occurs and the orchestra continues to accelerate until the end of the piece.
Note: Examples are from the Oud part and vary slightly from the more
prominent instruments in this piece. The source may also be from a
different arrangement of the "Longa Shahnez." Solo A commonality of "Ancient Lullaby" and "Longa Shahnez" is the usage of an instrumental solo occurring after a refrain. “Ancient Lullaby” makes extensive use of solos in the guitar and percussion sections of the piece. In fact, nearly half of the entire song is dedicated to featuring the instrumentalists. From 2:09 to 3:03 the guitar is featured while still being accompanied by the rest of the ensemble still playing the refrain creating a homophonic harmony. The solo is very free form and does not echo prominent melodic lines from the first half of the piece. As the guitar solo progresses, the drum kit slowly develops the part by adding layers and performing increasingly complex fills every eight measures and cuts the time in half for the last two fills which lead into the percussion solo. The other parts quickly fade out while the rhythm guitar echoes its part one last time before the percussion solo concludes the piece from 3:03 to 4:18. The percussion begins in a very chaotic form with many separate rhythms playing on top of one another. As the solo progresses, the parts begin to mimic one another and unify the rhythm. The solo in “Longa Shahnez,” played on an Oud, is not nearly as extensive as the solos in “Ancient Lullaby,” but it is still a clear commonality between the two musical works. Like “Ancient Lullaby,” this classical Arabic piece begins the solo section after a refrain of the chorus. It begins at 2:09, coincidentally only two seconds apart from the beginning of the guitar solo in the other work, and continues to 2:26 when a slow and dramatic event occurs in the music. Another common feature between the solos is the echo of the Qanun in the Oud solo much like the guitar echo in the percussion solo, however, the Qanun is much more pronounced. Although the structure and duration of the solos between "Ancient Lullaby" and "Longa Shahnez" are distinctly different, "Ancient Lullaby" having long solos that extend over half the length of the piece and "Longa Shahnez's" lasting only 17 seconds, both works create a change in mood. "Longa Shahnez" halts the previous energetic mood to express a more emotional idea, and "Ancient Lullaby's" guitar solo initiates a sense of freedom and release followed by the initially wild and chaotic percussion solo which unifies all the parts by the end of the piece. Both solos also appear after the statement of the B theme, the main theme in both pieces. Returning Theme The returning of the main theme has been mentioned in other portions of this investigation and it is the strongest commonality linking the two pieces together. “Ancient Lullaby” uses the B theme as the refrain, which is common for contrasting verse-chorus strophic form, and is repeated every time the section is heard. One of the features of the B theme that makes it the refrain as opposed to the A theme, since both are repeated twice, is repetition in the lyrics. The lyrics of the A theme change between the two times it is stated while the B theme is an exact vocal repetition. Another indicator of the refrain is the increased emotional content of the B theme. The increased complexity of the percussion and guitar parts create an energetic effect. “Longa Shahnez” also uses the B theme as the refrain and it is played successively each time the theme is present, although the refrain of this piece is stated and then slightly varied in pitch and underlying supporting lines are added. The main theme in “Longa Shahnez” is easily distinguishable as the B theme since it is stated four times throughout the piece while every other theme is only stated once or twice. A difference in structure between the two pieces is that “Ancient Lullaby” ends with the percussion solo while this piece ends with the refrain in an accelerando. The refrain in Longa Shahnez and Ancient Lullaby provide a central point for the rest of the music to revolve around. In Ancient Lullaby the main theme connects the binary form of the first half of the song with the solo sections in the second half, and in Longa Shahnez refrain bridges each theme together. In both pieces the main theme leads directly into the solo sections, and in Longa Shahnez, the solo reconnects with the rest of the piece by returning to the main theme. The main theme is the second theme to be stated in each of the works and the phrases repeats each time it occurs in the music. Miller’s piece “Ancient Lullaby” is a part of the Western culture and utilizes both Reggae and other sub-Saharan African rhythms throughout the work.

Reggae: The origins of Reggae can be found in the traditional music of Africa, the Caribbean, American rhythm and blues, and jazz. It began as the end product of a natural evolution of music in Jamaica. The people of Jamaica had begun to desire their own distinct musical style after early labels only produced copies of American music. Ska began as a blending of the rhythms of American Rhythm and Blues and traditional mento, Jamaican folk music. It continued to develop into rocksteady which had a slower tempo and made the bass appear to play in clusters. The music of Jamaica continued to progress as the country’s music industry grew, and by the late 1960s the Reggae style had developed with a faster tempo than rocksteady and greater complexity than Ska (Reggae).

The classic instrumental features of Reggae include guitar, bass guitar, percussion, and vocals but other instruments are often added.

• Percussion: Standard drum kits are commonly used in Reggae using three types of beats. In one drop patterns, the emphasis is on the third beat while the first beat remains entirely empty. A variation of this is the rockers beat which adds the emphasis to beat one while still making beat three the most prominent of the measure. The steppers beat was more common to faster ska music and featured a hit in the bass drum on every beat (Reggae).

• Bass Guitar: The main instrumental feature in many Reggae pieces, the bass works with the percussion to provide the core features of the song. It usually focuses on a single heavy beat that is supported by the other notes in the line. The lead guitar will often double the bass part (Reggae).

• Vocals: The vocal melody is not a defining characteristic of Reggae and has no defined structure. Vocal harmonizing is prominent in many Reggae songs and can become quite complex (Reggae).

• Other Instruments: Various keyboards and guitars play a staccato chord progression on the upbeats and can range greatly in complexity of the chord structure. Horn sections are commonly used to portray the countermelody of a piece. Other African and Caribbean percussion instruments add support and are usually improvised throughout the piece (Reggae). This investigation has demonstrated that even though the musical cultures of the two pieces are vastly different, there are still common musical features linking them together. “Ancient Lullaby” and “Longa Shahnez” demonstrate the common usage of solo playing within a larger musical work and the usage of a returning main theme. The two links are connected to each other in both works because the solos follow a statement of the refrain. The differences prove that not all similarities can be found on the surface of the music in the sound of the instruments, but one must often dig deeper to see the similarities of the form and structure. William Bogen
An Investigation of Reggae and Classical Arabic "Ancient Lullaby" "Longa Shahnez" Classical Arabic Orchestra of Aleppo. "Longa Shahnez." Rec. 4 Feb. 2006. Forminx, 2006. MP3.

Farraj, Johnny, and Sami A. Shumays. "Arabic Maqam World." Arabic Maqam World. 14 July 2007. Web. 27 Mar. 2012.

Miller, Matthew P. "Ancient Lullaby." Youth. Matisyahu. Sony, 2006. MP3.

Sadie, Stanley, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2nd ed. 29 vols. New York: Grove, 2001.

"Reggae." New World Encyclopedia, . 18 Apr 2008, 13:53 UTC. 26 Mar 2012, 21:47

Traditional. "Longa Shahnez." Musical score. Mist rising on the horizon
Listenin’ with my ears and listenin’ with my eyes and
Listenin’ until we've ridden the mud from the parasite
Listenin’ until our hearts start to glisten, realize
Share the vision and my rhythms and we'll melt the ice
Start sizzlin’, spilling from the ceiling, bread dripping drizzling
Close to the broken-heart, them crushed in spirit
Redeem the soul of your servant
Seek his, pursue it
Keep the sparkle in your eyes
Oh you know, we're not gon die
Like flyin’
Soul times for the times when we'll stay unified
The eyes of Has hem are to the righteous and he hears their

Soul cry, like an ancient lullaby
Soul cry, like an ancient lullaby

Jerusalem breathes, bringin’ me ease from the Brooklyn squeeze,
Dirty boppin’ and a bring ya down to ya knees
Track ya like a lion, leave me be
When they come with their disease to drag us into the street,
My law's still pure, you can't take that from me,
3000 years until this last century,
Impossible to break the seal of the High Priest,
Yo, I say the branches on the trees gon bow to these
Swaying to the melodies
Craving for the slaves to bring redemption please
I am you, you are me
No more leaders, we must flea
We want see God in our enemy,


Classical Arabic: The traditional piece "Longa Shahnez" is from the classical age of Arabic orchestral music and utilizes the longa form and traditional instruments from the era. The Longa form in Classical Arabic music originated from Turkish and Eastern European influences. This form consists of a lively dance that is usually written in a duple simple time signature. The form follows a rondo format consisting of two to four khanats, couplets, and a talsim, a refrain. Each of the themes is usually between eight and sixteen measures, and the last theme of the piece sometimes switches to a triple simple meter (Farraj and Shumays).

The instruments used in the Arabic Classical age are numerous and very diverse. The following instruments are a few of the most commonly used in the music of the age.

• Oud: The most popular of all Arabic instruments, the Oud has a large body and short, fretless neck (Farraj and Shumays).

• Qanun: Similar to a dulcimer, this instrument originated from the Egyptian harp and became popularized in the Western world as a zither or psaltery (Farraj and Shumays).

• Nay: A type of open-ended flute blown from one end. It is one of the most difficult Arabian instruments to play and it can produce some of the most varied timbres (Farraj and Shumays).

• Percussion: A Riq is a small tambourine covered with a goat or fish skin head, and it is commonly used in most classical pieces along with variations of Arabian variations of bongo drums (Farraj and Shumays).

• Violin: The Western violin was adopted in the second half of the 19th century, replacing a very similar type of fiddle that had only two strings and was called kamanjah (Farraj and Shumays).

Note: Highlight indicates example on the next slide.
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