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How does the music capture the majesty of the Titanic Essay Sample

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How does the music capture the majesty of the Titanic Essay Sample

The aim of this piece of music is to capture the confidence and magnificence of the greatest liner in the world’s maiden voyage. I think the piece captures the themes intended by using various different composition techniques and musical themes. Throughout the piece Horner has avoided using brilliance sounds of high pitches and rarely uses the upper register. The size of the huge liner is depicted well through the heavy use of the lower timbre. The low strings also give the piece the feeling of warmth. To give shape and structure Horner uses much recurring material within the short sections of the piece.

There is a recurring heroic choral theme right through the whole piece. We hear it first in fragmentary form in B1-3 in imitation at the octave within the tenor, alto and soprano lines. It is not until B30, when the piece begins to settle down, that we hear the heroic choral theme in full within the SATB choir lines. It is at this point the listener is able to picture the liner outside with a great view of the full ocean and sunlit calm. The heroic choral theme occurs again in B51 within the soprano and alto choral lines and at B57 the first violins play a variation on it.

At B86 the theme triumphantly returns again in the violin and viola parts in the key of B major. In B108 the flutes and clarinets play a variation on the heroic choral theme again. This recurring theme throughout the piece gives the listener the feeling of continuity as the ship sails on over the ocean. Horner also gives us a brief view of the people on the ship by adding in sections of folk dance material. This first appears in B37 in the string section (Vln I/II, Vla, Vc. and Db. ) and is in 5/4. When it again returns in B68 it is in the synth. choir part and is in 6/4 time.

The rhythm is syncopated and this gives it a feeling of movement and dancing. The first section of the piece is aiming to describe the liner out in the great open sea, looking over the English Channel as it prepares to go full steam ahead to America. To thicken the texture of the piece at the beginning Horner has doubled many of the parts. In B1 for example, the viola line doubles the tenor line. The majority of the piece contains very few solo timbres and later in the piece a synthesiser is used to thicken the texture and add colour to the piece.

The use of the synthesiser alongside a choir and an orchestra also creates a timeless sound, which implies these people were not so very different from us. To create the movement of the ship as it prepares to go full steam ahead the violins play staccato semi-quavers in B8 to simulate the activity on the boat and the viola line in B8 mimics the engine telegraph. In B10 the tubular bells play a D that pitches the same as that of the engine telegraph. In this second section we have travelled from the outside of the ship looking over the ocean, to the engine room down below the decks.

In B11 doubling is used again within the bassoon, piano and cello lines. The texture is gradually getting thicker and more instruments are added progressively. The harp enters in B15 and by B25 the whole orchestra and synthesiser are playing (excluding the choir). Horner creates excitement in the engine room by using ascending phrases and rising scales within the violins and viola parts beginning in B21. The flutes, oboes and clarinets also follow this theme by playing rising scales in B23-24. Horner also uses tertiary modulations (rising 3rds) to create more excitement and anticipation.

The movement in the engine room gradually gets faster as the section continues until it reaches a majestic climax in B28. Majesty is captured throughout the piece by Horner’s choice of instruments. During the majority of the piece Horner uses brass (usually either trumpets or horns) to give a rich royal sound to the music. Huge thick chords are used as well to give a full regal sound to the music. I also believe majesty is portrayed through the use of a major key for the majority of the piece and through the music being mostly concordant.

The sheer size of the great liner is imitated by the use of a fairly static harmony. The chords in the harmony remain the same for many bars and this gives an idea of the great weight of the liner as it gradually travels over the ocean. In the middle of the piece we are again taken back outside to the front of the boat, overlooking the whole ocean. In B76 the flute and clarinet parts have dotted crotchets, which imitate the playful dolphins in the sea below. During this section the texture gradually gets thicker until it reaches a huge dramatic climax at B86, in which most of the orchestra are playing.

A large brass part and cymbals in the percussion line create a majestic feel to the section. The subsequent section is much more reflective and pulls the piece to an end. As the piece closes the texture thins out and there is a significant reduction of the orchestration. In B105-106 a suspended symbol is used to carry on the majestic grandeur of the piece right until the very end. The majesty is also continued by the use of the horns, which produce a grand and full sound. As the piece ends the volume decreases and the piece ends on a bare 5th.

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