Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Eurovision Song Contest

Now, the ESC was on, on saturday, and I was not as disappointed as usual. As you all know, Sweden has won. In my opinion she wasn't the best singer but I think it was the style of the song which brought her to the win. As a German, I would have liked to see Germany (Roman Lob, Standing Still) under the top 5 but I think we can be happy with a fourth place. The one who I really felt sorry for was Engelbert Humperdink. Humperdink wrote amazing songs such as "Quando Quando Quando" and he also had a great song this year. Hence the reason I do not understand why he came at the second to last place. He really did not deserve that!! One song which I had in my head all the time was "Quedate Conmigo" by spain. She had a really powerfull voice and the song was just beautiful. I think in this year's competition we did not have as many curious acts as in other years. However there were the russian Babushikis which also had an "amazing" dance song which....wait for it...they have written it by THEM SELFS!! The oldest of them was 86 and therefore I think that they have deserved an amazing second place!!

Monday, 21 May 2012

My Performance

Today we performed Dylan Thomas' radio play "Under Milk Woods".

This was part of my AS-Level assessment and I got to tell didn't go good at all! All my class mates didn't have any problem with remembering their lines but then when it came near to the end I had a total black out!!! I tried to cover things up with coughing, so I remember my lines, but all were gone!!
I just got to hope that this mistake won't have such a great impact on my grade...cross your fingers!

Sunday, 20 May 2012


So I went to Dortmund (Germany) for a week. I was just walking around town with a friend and found out that Swan Lake was on! Dortmund has one of the greatest theatres in Germany.

Dortmund Theatre
I've always wanted to see Swan Lake life on stage. Unfortunatley, I wouldn't have had enough time to go and see it. Now I can just hope that it will come on in Leeds. If it will hear from me!!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Comparison of Bohemian Rhapsody and A Day in the Life

Hi guys,
recently I have discovered two old songs which surprised me again because of their beauty. These are:
“Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975) by Queen and “A Day in the Life” (1967) by The Beatles. There is eight years difference between the songs but they are still as popular as they were in their published years. Bohemian Rhapsody has 38.053.518 and A Day in the life 3.359.537 clicks on youtube. Both bands influenced the culture massively. The Beatles were the first ever pop band in the UK. They have made pop music suitable for everybody. Queen is famous for their great anthems such as “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions”, but also for their weird arrangements and instrumentations such as overdubbing vocals and instruments and using unusual style of singing in their songs like opera style. 

Here you can go to Bohemian Rhapsody and Here to A Day in the Life 

Usually, a pop song starts with the tonic chord. However, this is not a usual song. This is shown at the beginning because it starts with the submediant chord (Gm), which is the related minor of Bb. The beginning is sung in a cappella and it descents in falling 5th from G - C - F and that finally to Bb. This creates a perfect cadence which finishes off the close harmony introduction. The next bar Starts on Gm. Gm is the related minor of Bb. In this song, phrases start very often with the related minor. You could argue that that beginning does not start with the tonic because the submediant introduces a perfect cadence which ends with the tonic.

The falling fifths.

Bohemian Rhapsody goes through several key changes. These changes mostly take place within a chord progression. The song changes from Eb Major to A Major. Queen could have decided to change the key because the song goes into a completely different section. It goes from the Ballade section into the Opera section. This happens within a chromatic chord progression. It starts progressing from the dominant to the tonic this means that it ends in a perfect cadence. In the the first part of the progression, the chords are all minor but then, suddenly, the next chord drops by a semitone and becomes a major; Db. This changes the tonality of the song and indicates to what the second section is going to sound like. The new section starts in the key of a A major and also starts with the tonic. A is an unusual key to change to because it is not related to the key of Eb. 

The chromatic chord progression which progresses to the key of A Major.

In comparison to that, A day in the Life is a little bit more predictable. There is one chord progression which occurs on different spots in the song:
                                                       G - Bm - Em - C - G                                                                              
                                                                           I -  III  -  VI  - IV -   I 
This chord progression, progresses from the dominant through the related minor (Em) into a Plagal cadence. This adds and ending to a phrase. This progression is often used in this song to escort the lyrics; Lennon sings a story. This progression starts at a beginning of a sentence and ends at the end. Hence the reason the sentence and the music sounds finished at the end of the chord progression. Sometimes the sentences end on a Tierce de Picardie which gives the phrase a disturbed and melancholic feeling. This suits the style of the story. 
In Bohemian Rhapsody, the rhythms are very complex. There are very difficult rhythms for the guitar player. The guitarists must be highly trained because he must be able to play figures like:
Difficult Hemi-Demi-Semi quavers
In this section he needs to play Hemi-Demi-Semi quavers. Also he has to play quintuplets, which are five notes played in the beat of one. These rhythms are used to give the song a different style and texture. The hard-rock section requires these kind of rhythms because it needs to fit the style. 

Triplets are often used in this song, especially towards the end of the hard-rock section. At that section the guitar plays triplets in a ascending scale. hen triplets are used in a ascending scale, they often lead to something big; violins may play triplet scales before a grant tutti. In Bohemian Rhapsody, the triplets are playing towards a hymn style finale in which every part of the band joins in. 

Triplets which lead up to a hymn like section.

A Day in the Life also uses complex rhythms which are also hard to sing. First of all the player must notice that semi quavers must be played swung. This gives the song a style of swing. There is one part in the song which is really hard to sing; it is a semiquaver figure which goes on for two bars. The intervals between the notes are semitone steps, which make especially hard for a singer to pitch these notes. However, this figure is a good way of fading something out because it seems as if it is endless. and actually, it fades in with the orchestra which imitates the vocals. This has a quite mysterious and strange feeling to it. 

Semi-quaver figure. The orchestra underneath imitates the vocals. 

The drums in A Day in the Life, mostly play random drum fills. However, when the song goes into the section McCartney sings, the drums have a regular drum pattern. This makes that section of the song feel more in order and straight. 
Regular drum pattern of McCartney's section.

Random drum pattern in Lennon's section.

In Bohemian Rhapsody, most of the harmonies are sung by Mercury only. Queen managed to do that by recording his voice and manipulating it in pitch. Bohemian Rhapsody is harmonized in dominant seventh, thirds, fifths and octaves. The beginning of the song is sung a cappella and in close harmony. Close harmonies are arranged notes of a chord within a narrow range. This is mostly the tonic - mediant - dominant. However, sometimes it is also harmonized with the subtonic. This harmonization gives the part a barbershop sound. 

A capella opening in close harmonies

Mercury had to sing in falsetto to reach a very high Bb. 

The falsetto

In comparison to Bohemian Rhapsody, A Day in the Life does not have any vocal harmonies. However, there are still some harmonies which harmonize with the vocals. These are mainly dominants or mediants. The piano plays dissonant notes with the orchestra. The orchestra plays an ascending semitone scale in semiquavers. The piano, however, stays on Es in quavers for the whole scale. This creates an atonal and dissonant sound. The Beatles wanted to create a atonal sound because this is the lead into the completely different section, sung by McCartney.

The Piano plays Es in semiquavers whilst the orchestra plays a chromatic scale

 The tonality to McCartney’s section is completely different. Whilst Lennon’s sections uses loads of related minors, McCartney’s section does not a have a single minor chord. This might by because McCartney’s part of the song tells a different story then to the one Lennon sings about. 
In A Day in the Life, the guitar plays a octave lower than the middle C. This gives the song more depth and texture. 

The clef which shows that the guitar needs to play an octave lower than the middle C

Bohemian Rhapsody also changes tonality. This is due to the key changes and to the different sections. Whilst the ballad section is quite depressing and sad, the opera section is quite jumpy. This is partially due to the key, which is A major, but also to the kind of playing and the dynamics. The dynamics range from mezzo piano to fortissimo. These changes of dynamics dramatize the section which supports the lyrics in which the character is possessed by the devil. 
Both songs are very contrasting but somehow similar due to the strangeness. Both of them have completely different section which could be classed as different songs; both of them use music technologies such as over dubbing to create greater sounds and both of them are aiming for the extra ordinated. I think that both songs have achieved the extra ordinate and they will never be forgotten. 

Kneehigh Review

Hey guys!
So, 6 months ago we have been to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to see Kneehighs "The Wild Bride".
I hope you enjoy reading my opinion.

I went to watch “The Wild Bride” by Kneehigh Theatre Company. I saw it in the West Yorkshire Playhouse which has a reputation, nationally and internationally, for the most exciting theatre groups. Kneehigh performed their piece in the courtyard (350 seats). The courtyard is a small and intimate theatre. In this theatre it is easier to build up a relationship with the characters. I love the courtyard because it makes you feel more involved with the play.

Emma Rice directed the play in a lovely way, leaving much space for interpretation for the audience. The play is hilariously funny and at some points also very touching and sad. The Cornish based theatre company has, as usual, accompanied their play with lots of music.

When I walked in I was disappointed; I expected a much more exciting set. The first thing I saw was ladders. But after a few seconds, more and more details gained my attention. The ladders were forming an old tree and the longer I was looking at the “tree” the more confused I got if the branches were real wood, or ladders...or something else. At the ceiling and I saw little wreaths which were attached to nylon strings.
I liked the idea of a split screen. I liked it how they used it by having the devil most of the time on top of the tree and the other actors on the bottom. That indicated that the devil was able to see everything. Bill Mitchell was the set designer and he is world famous for his sets. 

The Father, the Devil and the set in the background 

The atmosphere was amazing. The air was filled with amusing laughter and discussions about the set. Everybody was excited about what’s going to happen and then it started. This play was one of the most amazing plays I have seen. My favorite actor was Audrey Brisson. She played the young bride and she made me forget all of my sorrows because she was acting with such a delight that everyone was focused on her. When she danced, she danced with delight; when she sung, she sung with soul and when she acted, she acted with all of her heart. The play is worth watching because you get a glance of everything. You even get to see artistic cirque de soleil skills performed by Brisson.
My favorite part of the show, were the songs. Even if you are not into musicals you should still go and watch this play because the songs are unique and of deep meaning. Brisson’s voice is one of the most amazing I have heard and it fills your heart with delight when you hear her sing. Patrycia Kujawska played the violin. Her playing was incredible! When I heard her play I thought I was at a violin concert. Just because of her playing, it was worth the money. 

The style of the play was story telling. I really liked it because it was a good way of telling a story and this made it also suitable for children. The story was told in a lovely way. At the beginning the actors did a dance with three books saying “The Wild Bride”. This dance was accompanied by a lovely fairytale music which makes you forget all your problems.

The actors’ actions were simple but effective. Rice used loads of physical theatre and dance in this piece which encouraged us to think about the background and the meaning of the play. We talked about this in school and many of us agreed that it was quite confusing at some points. Especially about the dances; many people were confused what they might suggest and we had many opinions about it. I had the opinion that one of the dances suggested the birth of the bride’s child but we were unsure about that.

Something I really liked, were the special effects they used. Most of the things which were happening happened on stage. For example, when the father cut his daughters hands of. I think this drew the audience even more into the play because they feel as part of the play. However, sometimes it seemed to be a bit too much pantomime style, for example, the prince asked the audience: “Whole stole my pears”, it seemed a bit “cheap”. That it didn’t really suit that play. But you still shouldn’t hesitate to go and watch it because all the other special effects are stunning. It made me feel like I am part of the play. 

Another thing which was really nice was the pulley system they used. They used that system to let props down from the ceiling. It was so fascinating because it happened in front of our eyes. 
It was so fascinating because you usually don’t see how things are being moved on stage. But because here you see every single thing you get to appreciate every detail and you know how much work goes into it. 

Kneehigh didn’t play around with the lighting and sound effect very much. They just sometimes dimmed the lights or had blackouts. And the sound was mostly made by the actors on stage. I think that the play did not need any extra special effects because it would have ruined the simple but effective style of Kneehigh. 

The costumes were simple and didn’t really indicate a period of time the play could have been set in. 

I couldn’t stop thinking about the play because it gave me so much to think about. One week after I watched it, I was still thinking about the different interpretations of the dances and songs. The play makes you laugh and cry at the same time but mostly smile. It is just full of emotions feelings. It is very Grimm but who doesn’t love fairy tales? It is suitable for children but it also uses adult humour. I was able to laugh about everything I think that everyone else will come smiling out of the theatre. So if you haven’t watched it, I would strongly recommend that you hurry up so you will perceive those unique emotions.