The Concepts of Unity and VarietyLet's begin by listening to two fundamental concepts that make a piece of music "work"—the concepts of unity and variety. Most people like hearing sounds that they find pleasing, memorable, and familiar. Within a given composition, the feeling of familiarity—fostered by, among other things, reiterations of a music idea—lends a sense of unity to the music. Whereas unity satisfies the human need for sameness and familiarity, variety sustains our interest and appeals to our need for, and enjoyment of, the new, different, and unexpected.
To illustrate the relevance of these concepts, listen to how they are used in a piece of music by George Frideric Handel, a very famous musician who lived between the 17th and 18th centuries and whose music remains popular to this day.
George Frideric HandelGeorge Frideric Handel playSee Here the Conqu'ring Hero Comes
George Frideric HandelBorn: 1685Died: 1759Period: BaroqueCountry: Germany/England
See Here the Conqu'ring Hero Comes is one of Handel's most popular pieces. Three minutes and three seconds (3:03) long, it is a movement within a longer composition entitled Judas Maccabaeus written for an ensemble (group) of musicians. If you think of Judas Maccabaeus as a book, then See Here the Conq'ring Hero Comes acts as a chapter in that book.
A movement may be enjoyed by itself; however, like a chapter in a book, it also fits into the structure of a larger composition.
While you listen to this piece, ask yourself questions such as: what do you hear in this selection? In what way does this piece demonstrate unity and variety? Does listening to this music have any emotional or physical effect on you?
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ReNoAdmin 2013-07-19T20:09:26Musical Ideas
Musical IdeasNow that you have listened to the entire piece, let's look at the structure of the work broken down into smaller sections. In this movement, there are two main