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Music humor is one of the most distinctive and novel features of the classical music style. Classical musicians played their music with a particular stylistically convention through integrating abrupt and incongruous shifts to create a surprising and shocking effect that was humorous to their audience. Additionally, musicians could also chant various phrases or incorporate particular phrases that were quite satirical to create humor during their performances. Musicians also incorporated the use of riddles and short plays during their performances to create a humorous effect on their listeners. Notably, most classical style musicians achieved humor in their pieces of art through creating a different structure and style in their music.
Illustratively Mozart was a classical musician who had great popularity and influence during his era. Notably, Mozart was one of the most famous musicians whose style and music structure often surprised and shocked his listeners and often left them in laughter. Mozart utilized various styles and techniques to achieve humor in his music. A major style he used to tickle different senses to his audiences was through touching upon the sensitive subjects with affectionate and indelible punches. Mozart incorporated the sensitive phrases with the various structural twist that aided him to achieve humor. In K.231, he composes this part piece using six voices, a riff on traditional Christmas carols characterized by a lyrical twist. The party piece of also entails a repetitive phrase “kiss my ass, quick quick” (Heartz 243). Logically, this statement had no major significance in the piece. However, Mozart used it as a fun detail to amuse and excite his audience. This technique is also continued in his song “Leck mir den Arsch Fein Recht Schon Sauber” which is a translation of l” lick my ass nice and clean.” The song has elaborated lyrics and seems that he composed it with an intention or aim of fitting obscene content with classical choral form. The context of this song does surprise and the same time shock the listener and this makes it vivid that the strange cognitive dissonance is evidently the piece major and real intention.
Another major humorous piece by Mozart is A Music Joke. It is a bad music piece that was created intentionally. It is characterized by a clumsy arrangement which is filled with aimless posturing. The piece takes pieces and bits of melodies and integrates them together to go to no specific direction which portrays uncertainty in the direction the composer wants to take. There also lacks logic in the pieces composition and the extremeness of the technical ineptness dos inflate the piece to a flattening point. In the end, he ends using a clever polyharmony. In this piece, Mozart achieves humor by shocking and surprising his audience with a pathetic performance which is not expected from him.
Similarly, Hadyn’s Symphonies had a sense of humor. However, while composing his 94th symphony, Surprise, he used an improved structural technique to achieve humor. The title of the surprise is a loud chord play in a slow movement. Therefore, his audience was first soothed by a slow and soft tune and were eventually surprised by the loud chord.
However, apart from creating humor through based on shocking and surprise, classical composers also made use of various techniques to create humor in their pieces. A major one was the use of imitation. Imitation was often utilized in programmatic music. That is music that describes a scene or tells a story in the audiences or listeners mind. A major classical example of a song that used Vivaldi's “Four Seasons” (Heartz 238). He portrays peasants of dancing, drinking wine and sleeping and then falling asleep. Similarly, Beethoven, who is considered an excellent composer, also uses imitation in his Pastoral Symphony. In the second movement, he utilizes bird calls, makes a description of a big storm in his fourth movement and makes fun of a village ban in his third movement. The humor in Beethoven’s music does arise from characterization. During Beethoven’s era, symphonies included a scherzo rather than a minuet. The term scherzo means the joke and this movement technique was playful and did adopt a light relief role between two serious movements.
Opera’s from the 18th-century were also characterized by humor. There were major two forms of opera: comic and serious opera. Comic opera was not necessarily funny but was characterized by a happy ending. Composers from Europe adopted comic operas, and they made their styles of composing and performing the operas. These operas were lighter and had a certain level of humor.
Classical style musicians and composers also made use of satire to create humor in their pieces of art. Through satire, musicians were able to make fun of objects to utter something new and beautiful. The use of satire in classical style was different from using parody using parody entails just making fun of a thing. Illustratively, one of the best musical satires was composed by Prokofieff, a Russian composer in his symphony. The symphony is a vivid imitation of Hadyn but does exaggerate surprises. It was characterized by sudden softs and sudden loud as well as pauses and stops and tunes that are elegant. However, something peculiar about the symphony is the use of a slightly wrong note, and then it goes back normal as if nothing happened. Therefore, through this combination of exaggeration and the peculiar modern music hints, the composer managed to attain humor in his work.
Evidently, the creation of humor in classical music was mainly dependent on the structure and style of the artist. Through adopting various structures, the artist managed to evoke humor in their art. The most effective techniques of creating humor in the classical music entailed creating a particular structure while composing. The manipulation of the music structure is evident in Haydn and Mozart who are acknowledged as a some of the greatest classical musicians. Additionally, this is also evident in the Russian composer. The musicians created a different rhythm that altered all through the music. This enabled the achievement of the surprise to the audience who often did not expect such an organization of tones and rhythm. Apart from that, an artist like Mozart used other styles like imitation, repetition, and satire to bring out the humor in their pieces of art.
In conclusion, the achievement of classical humor music was mainly dependent on the structure and the style. Through structure manipulation and use of various techniques, the artist managed to shock and surprise their audience hence creating some sense of humor. This is evident in most genres of classical music from operas, symphonies as well as theatre performances.
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Heartz, Daniel. Haydn, Mozart, and the Viennese School, 1741780. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. Print. Bottom of Form
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