Gershwin

Topics: Jazz, George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess Pages: 1 (354 words) Published: December 3, 2013

1. Listen to George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (on e-reserve for this class through the music library; or, listen to another version available online).

a. List 2 jazz or blues-like elements that Gershwin uses in his symphonic composition. The use of Ragtime rhythm;
The use of blue notes (notes sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes)

b. Compare and contrast Rhapsody in Blue with one other blues/jazz-like piece examined in class (i.e. Afro-American Symphony, “Lost Your Head Blues,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Cotton Tail,” or “Anthropology”). How is Rhapsody in Blue similar to and/or different from the other piece you have selected. You may discuss instrumentation, texture, tempo, etc. Rhapsody in Blue is written for the clarinet, and the composer also used orchestration and piano. I Got Rhythm started with piano solo, Brass Quintet, and use percussions a lot. There’s no orchestration in the latter piece of Gershwin, and the two songs have lots of differences in instrumentation. The former one combined jazz with orchestra, and the other is more like pure jazz style.

2. George Gershwin’s song “Summertime” has now become a standard song that many people perform, but it was originally a part of his Broadway opera, Porgy and Bess. (The recording on e-reserve is from the opera.) Listen to the original operatic version and one other version of your choosing. (There are tons of versions available online.) Compare and contrast them in the space below, being sure to name the performers involved. What, if anything, does each performer bring to the song to make it distinctly theirs? Are the instrumental arrangements the same? Tempo? Mood? etc.

The original version (the aria) is based on an orchestra, and the soprano’s singing. Tempo: slow. Mood: sad, solemn and serious. The other version (by Ray Charles) Tempo: faster than the original one, and has more syncopated notes. The instruments that used in this...
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