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Adagio For Strings (Barber & Tiesto Compare and Contrast)

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Daniel Baldachino

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of Adagio For Strings (Barber & Tiesto Compare and Contrast)

Adagio For Strings
Samuel Barber, Op. 11
Written in 1936, Samuel Barber's second movement of his String Quartet, Op.11 has become globally recognized as one of the most famous pieces of the 20th Century.
To this date, Adagio For Strings, Op.11 has been commercially used for TV and Film, along with other artists covering and adapting his compositional material for song.
Adagio For Strings - Tiesto(2005)

In 2005, Dutch musician, DJ and record producer, Tiesto joined the list of artists who had covered and/or sampled Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. Sampling Samuel Barber's iconic motif, Tiesto produced a piece that became one of the highly respected pieces in the Electronic Dance Music Industry.
This presentation will provide an analysis of both pieces, comparing and contrasting musical features such as
Timbre
,
Structure
,
Harmony
,
Melody
,
Rhythm
,
Tempo
and
Dynamics.
Harmony
Samuel Barber
In Samuel Barber's Adagio For Strings, we can observe the following fundamental chord progression that ultimately supports a significant motif throughout the piece:
Key: Bb Minor

In the key of Bb minor the piece harmonically progresses and eventually leads to a modulation to B Major.


Timbre/Instrumentation
Samuel Barber
-Violin I & II
-Viola
-Violoncello
-Double Bass
Adagio For Strings was originally written for a String Quartet hence the following traditional instruments were chosen for the original score:
Legato is thoroughly played throughout all the parts in order to achieve optimum expression, carefully articulating the notes. With that said, vibrato would be expected to be used by the players.
This chord progression has a moderately high harmonic rhythm, covering 7 chords in the space of 4 bars.
So did Tiesto sample the harmony as well?
Tiesto
Harmony
Well, he essentially took the whole sequence that underlined the sampled motif and applied an ostinato technique that saw the chord sequence looped throughout the piece.
Samuel's Original Chord Sequence (Main):
Tiesto's Chord Sequence Adoption:
Note that this is one of many chord sequences in 'Adagio For Strings'.
This means that despite staying in the original key of Bb minor, Tiesto does not modulate to another key.
How does this timbre and instrumentation compare to the timbre and instrumentation used by Tiesto?
Unsurprisingly, it substantially differs...
....Tiesto's piece is made up of multiple tracks containing various synthesizers that are layered up, along with a drum machine that is extensively used. Texturally the function of Tiesto's instrumentation is to create a sense of polyphony in oppose to Barber's homophonic texture.
An example of one of the major differences identified is the substitution of the String Quartet for the collation of synthesized strings.
So instead of hearing this ....
We now get something similar to this....
Melody
Samuel Barber
Melody is one of, if not, the key feature of "Adagio For Strings". Using the melodic material within the motif displayed below, Barber forms multiple melodies that appear throughout the piece. He is able to create these melodies by using compositional techniques such as invertions and melodic variation.
But this melodic motif does not prove to be only vital for Barber, but for Tiesto as well..
Using this motif he creates new melodic passages such as...
This One.
And This One.
In addition, Barber occasionally assigns the melody, not only to the violins, to the violas or the violoncellos also.
Using the exact same motif, Tiesto employs a similar compositional technique, creating short melodic passages based on the shape and harmonic movement of the motif.
So from obtaining the melodic sequence from this motif:




He is able to produce multiple melodic layers like the one shown below (and being played now):


Rhythm & Tempo
Samuel Barber
As the title suggests, the original piece is given the performance direction 'Molto Adagio' (Very Slow)- approximately 55bpm to 65bpm. The time signature is predomianntely in 4/2 but visits 3 other time signatures for the duration of a bar. The rhythmic values range from crotchet to a breve.
3
2
5
2
6
2
Rhythm & Tempo
Tiesto
In complete contrast to those time signatures, Tiesto employs a 4/4 time signature- a time signature that is constant throughout the piece. The tempo is set at 140bpm in oppose to the original of 55-65bpm. In addition to this, Tiesto employs a more rhythmically complex melodic layer that consists of groups of quavers and semi-quavers:
Both pieces share similarities in structure, in that they both build and strive towards a goal, where texture and melodic material builds in Tiesto's version, and harmonic progression climaxes in Barber's original. Barber's Arch form of ABCBA and Tiesto's ABC share no structural values as such, only differences, where a returning section is apparent in the original score and not in Tiesto's.
Structure
A
B
C
A
A
B
C
4
2
Dynamics
On the note of having a similar build up, both pieces share a similarity in the direction of dynamic movement. As illustrated above, the overall dynamic scope of both pieces begin moderately quiet with louder dynamics coming in the latter stages of the pieces.
4
2
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