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    Ethnography of performance Essay

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    During a musical performance many elements to be looked are not easily recognized by the average critic. A musical performance has multiple interactions taking place between the music, text, performers, audience, and space that all can contribute to a great performance.

    Overwhelming majority of the audience does not realize so much can be looked at during a single performance. At a performance by the University of Maryland Marching Band I was able to analyze the Musical Sound, Contexts of the Performance, and Interpretation of the Performance. When analyzing musical sound there are many factors to pay attention to during the performance. Important things to listen for are the pitch, scale, timbre, tone quality, rhythm, melody, and form.

    While listening to the Marching Band the pitch of the performance varied. At some moments during the performance the pitch would sound low and that is when the bass instruments are heard. The pitch sounded high when the other instruments joined. Using a standard pitch enables a large number of instruments to be played together with out sounding out of tune. In many musical traditions people are not concerned with a standard pitch, and they tune instruments to sound well with other instruments for a specific occasion or even to suit the convenient level for a singer (Kaemmer:58). A pitch also contains intervals, which refers to the difference between tones of two different pitches.

    An example would be the octave, it represents two tones the bands performance had an octave. The marching band used a chromatic scale because of all the instruments and in a chromatic scale there are twelve notes within an octave. This allows the other members of the band to join in the middle of a piece and still sound the same and in tune. When dealing with a large number of instruments very general and basic scales and pitches should be used.

    During the performance there were many overtones and one fundamental tone, which deals with the timbre and tone quality. The overtones produce additional sounds that enable us to distinguish between different instruments even when they are sounding the same pitch(Kaemmer:60). The tone quality of the performance was very good. The music sounded evenly distributed and it was very easy to hear the sounds of the various instruments. The band played two songs and one song had a slow rhythm and the other had a faster rhythm. Rhythm means more than a basic beat (Kaemmer:65).

    During the performance there was a steady rhythm. Also during the performance there was a section of the song that sounded different and after about ten seconds the song goes back to its previous sound. That sound was a melody. Melodies are combination of pitches and rhythm patterns that produce a distinctive line of sound (Kaemmer:62). When the band first began to play the song started in a low tone and the music began to escalate and it reached a climax where the loudness of the performance was at its peak. Once at its peak the music began to get softer and lower.

    This is an example of a linear form of the performance. Linear form means a performance having a definite beginning and ending. The overall musical sound of the performance was delightful and pleasing to the ears. The context of a musical performance is another key part of any performance. The occasion of the performance was the University of Maryland Halftime Homecoming show.

    The band members wore white, yellow, red, and black uniforms. They all wore hats with the exception of flag dancers and dancers. The dancers wore tight stretch outfits and the flag dancers carried flags and the other dancers had pom-poms. The dancers followed their own routine but always staying in tune with the marching band. The band had several instruments, which included: drums, clarinet, flute, saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, tuba, bells, triangle, and more. The kinesics was very military and uniform.

    The crowds reaction seemed to be disinterested. The noise and a rush to get to snack bar, the social context seemed to lack social involvement. The context of a performance is particularly helpful in the study of music ( Herndon&Mcleod 1981:25). The crowds lack of interest in .

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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