Dynamics: The Heart of Sound Jan05

Dynamics: The Heart of Sound...

Most people are familiar with the basic elements of music, that of pitch, rhythm, and tone quality. As a musician matures, they must learn other important factors. The most important of these is dynamics. For the sake of the layman, dynamics in music are the variations in loud and soft. Student musicians sometimes fail to recognize the importance of these qualities. This may be a result of listening to a lot of popular music on radio. In addition to the fact that many pop performers use very little difference in dynamics, it is reinforced by the use of equipment in radio stations to level the dynamic contrast to make it easier to match various recordings to a constant volume level. This can be demonstrated by comparing a popular recording to a “classical” recording with a high degree of dynamic variation, such as Holst’s The Planets Suite. Dynamics really come in two ways. The first, more well-known way, is the overall level of a passage of music. These may be marked f (forte or loud), p (piano or soft), modified slightly with an m (mezzo or moderate) in front, or compounded by multiple indications like ff (fortissimo). Changes are made by indicating a new level for a sudden change, or with the description crescendo or decrescendo to indicate a gradual change. Usually when people talk about dynamics, it’s this type that they mean. Unlike many other things in the notation of music, the levels are entirely relative. Forte is not assigned a specific decibel level, and varies depending on the style of music, the type of ensemble, the importance of the passage, and ultimately the artistic intent of the composer or conductor or performer. The issue is further complicated by large variations in the intent...

Understanding Art as Art Jul01

Understanding Art as Art...

How does one define art? Merriam Webster defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of aesthetic objects”, yet who determines what is visually pleasing to the eye? Art is subjective. What one would consider beautiful, another might feel horribly offended by. So how do we determine what is art and what is not? We look to the basic elements and principles of art. Knowing these, help us understand the criteria by which art is judged. Art Elements The elements of art are the basic components. These elements are line, shape, form, value, space, color, and texture. Art is not art without at least one of these elements. Let’s look at each element and define it. Line Line is the most basic element of drawing. Line can be thin or thick, horizontal, vertical or diagonal. It can be zigzag or curvy, long or short, rough or smooth. Line is defined as the mark that spans between two points. Shape/Form Shape or form is defined as the space created by edges that set one space apart from another. Shapes can be geometric or organic. Value Value is lightness versus darkness; shadows versus highlights. Is there a full range of value in the piece? Space Space refers to the areas around, below, above, or between the objects. There is positive space; the shapes of the objects and negative space; the areas created in the empty space between the objects. Color Color is one of the more intricate elements and needs a whole article of its own to define. To keep this article brief, I will just say that color is the use of hue in a work of art. Color has three properties, hue being the first and referring...