Tutor profile: Michele W.
Subject: Music Theory
What are the different kinds of augmented 6th chords?
Augmented sixth chords (labeled this way due to the interval of an augmented sixth that they are built around) come in three versions in the Common Practice Era style of classical music: Italian (^flat6-^1-^sharp4) (in which ^denotes a scale degree), French (^flat6-^1-^2-^sharp4), and German (^flat6-^1-^flat3-^sharp 4). They function as predominant chords, and generally resolve to dominant chord, strengthened by the fact that they enable a resolution to the ^5 scale degree from both upwards and downwards (the ^flat6 and ^sharp4, respectively moving in opposite directions to resolve to ^5).
What are some hallmarks of Johann Sebastian Bach's style, in a way that makes him distinct from his contemporaries?
JS Bach is one of the most, if not actually THE most, important composer of the Baroque era. A master of counterpoint, a prolific creator of an astounding number of works in a variety of ensemble combinations and contexts, and an influential figure that inspired music for generations to come, he is often seen as the archetypical master of the Baroque era. However, his style is often deemed "international", a fascinating combination of of all the Baroque composers (Italian, French, German) that came before him. For example, he follows much of the harmonic rules set out by the French composer Rameau in his famous treatise on music theory, and he also adopted certain "topoi" of the French style - the French overture, for example, whose unmistakable rhythms appear in several of Bach's works. He also was an admirer of Vivaldi, the famous Italian composer known for his many violin concertos and other instrumental works. Bach adopted his sense of dance, dynamic contrasts, and emotional force. Bach also built upon the German tradition of Lutheran hymns and cantatas, constructing complex and timeless works upon the foundation of older German melodies that came before him (most of them sacred.)
What are some of the main themes of Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night"?
Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night" deals with several themes that are cleverly layered throughout its plot that is full of twists and turns. One of these themes is of identity: specifically, mistaken identity. Viola dresses as a boy in order to get a job at the court of Orsino, however, this lands her into trouble when the Countess Olivia falls in love with her male identity and also when she herself falls for the Count, who has no idea she is a woman. Sebastian, Viola's twin, is mistaken for her when he arrives on the scene. Malvolio mistakes the letter he finds as having been written by Olivia, his love interest, when in fact it was written by group of secondary characters hoping to prank him. The play is also full of names with distinct labels: Toby Belch, Andrew Aguecheek, for example. The Bard is labeling his characters with these charicaturized names, reinforcing the concept of first impressions and of the prejudiced lenses through which these people on the stage are viewed (by both the audience and also other characters themselves.) Another theme is the concept of thwarted love, hindered by mistaken assumptions: Orsino does not love Viola because he does not know she is a woman, Olivia loves Viola because she thinks he is a man, and Malvolio things Olivia loves him because of a forged letter. Love also takes on a darker, more cynical turn in this play as well. Olivia's sudden willingness to swap out Viola for Sebastian seems unrealistic and almost flippant, as does Orsino's sudden love for Viola once she reveals she is a woman. Just as he does in other dark comedies (such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Shakespeare offers a jaded and almost sarcastic view of romance and of the depths it claims to reach. (In fact, scholarly research sometimes suggests that the character of Andrew Aguecheek is meant to symbolize, or even suffer from, syphilis - which would be another subtle commentary on the true pain inflicted by love's fleeting nature.)
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