Brittan’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra”
Kamien gives the reader his observations on The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, by introducing the reader to Brittan’s guide as an introduction to the instruments of an orchestra. Kamien explains in his writing how the theme composed by Henry Purcell is used as the base melody for Britten’s composition. Kamien also explains how the theme is presented by the entire orchestra and then highlighted by woodwinds, brasses, strings, and percussion. Kamien tells us of the thirteen different variations of the theme, which highlight the sounds of each instrument. Kamien points out how each instrument varied in dynamic, speed, tone color, and mood. I thought that Benjamin Brittan gave a great presentation of the sounds of the different instruments in an orchestra. To answer the question “Is Brittan accomplishing his task of introducing the instruments of the orchestra?” I would have to say yes. The composition was laid out very cleanly and clearly. My observations of Brittan’s guide are in agreement with Kamien. I would like to express some of the insights that I received through listening to the musical piece, and insights shown to me through Kamien’s observations in his book. My first initial thought was how the variation of changing from high to low ranges was a great way to here the different octaves that each instrument presents when playing the same tune. I really enjoyed being able to give a name to instrument represented in the orchestra. Most of the time I take for granted the sounds I hear when a band or orchestra play. The guide gave me an appreciation of the contributions that each instrument brought to the entire form. As I listened to Brittan’s composition, I could hear the dynamics raise and lower as each instrument presented a solo sound. Hearing the variations of the theme paved a clear path for me, as a listener, to walk my mind through each variation, and hear the distinctions between each...
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