Music Analysis: Mars, The Bringer Of War

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Mars, the Bringer of War-
The first movement of the piece, “Mars, Bringer of War” musically correlated directly with the rough, dangerous elements of Mars’ physical makeup. Its main three elements, silicon, iron, and sulfur, all have connections to war. Silicon is often used in steel- refining and aluminum casting, while iron is a main source of all metal as well. These elements have an inherent “weapon” association to them, connecting mars to war. The musical elements, such as quick crescendos and decrescendos as well as the constant and quick underlying pattern of the string instruments and the timpani all reflect a very war-like tone. Brass instruments also have a significant part in heralding and sustaining the large climaxes of the movement,
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Saturn is a large, pale yellow planet with lots of icy rings surrounding it.
The ice rings are divided into visible layers, much like the rings of a tree trunk. The older the tree is, the more rings it will be, thus connecting Saturn with the principle of aging.
Additionally, Saturn has a yellow color from its abundance of ammonia crystals, and human skin is known to yellow and bruise easily as it ages. The movement, a slow, half haunting, half calming piece balances the fears and comforts both associated with death.
Some see death as the last adventure, a sweet release. Others fear it and avoid it at all costs. The movement attempts to embody both of those viewpoints by including calming, swinging flute parts, sft trumpets :heralding” the call of death, as well as some eerie dissonant notes. The most striking element of this movement connecting it to the concept of time and aging is the literal “tick tock” sounds that the stings and gongs make for an extended period of time about three minutes into the movement.
Uranus, the Magician-
“Uranus, the Magician” is probably the most difficult to unwrap, simply because there is no clear picture of what “a magician” is in any person’s mind. So much media
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In addition, the song features a few sudden claps-- big bursts of sound produced by large percussion instruments. These claps are reminiscent of thunder claps, a popular device used to illustrate a magician and his or her performance of power.
Neptune, the Mystic-
“Neptune, the Mystic” is the final movement in Holst’s “The Planets, Op. 32.” It is the first and only movement to utilize a chor. Towards the end, the choir gets louder and louder, providing a dissonant and haunting effect. Eventually, the orchestration fades, and the audience is left only with the quickly fading and haunting notes of the choir.
This leaves the audience a bit unsettled, with no happy resolution to the piece. It also is reminiscent of the mystical and largely unexplained Great Dark Spot. Additionally,
Neptune is the last recognized planet in the Milky Way Galaxy. Though much has been done since Holst’s composition, after Neptune, the rest of the universe remains largely unexplored. This movement and the way it ends the entire piece is supposed to

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