Contrast In Music Definition Essay

This essay is a ‘compare and contrast’ of the rhythm and structure of the following three musical works:

Be sure to check out the other A2 musical pieces and AS musical pieces I have analysed on Ask Will Online.

The use of structure in The Joke helps to bring about a comical atmosphere to the piece. Haydn uses the rondo form which consists of ABACA. The ending of the piece ends with the ‘Joke’ theme (first appeared at bars 1-2) which is repeated with general pauses in between making the audience not know if the piece has finished or not. For Haydn to use rondo form, this means the main ‘Joke’ theme will be reheard three times at the bare minimum. Therefore, by the time the piece has finished, the ‘Joke’ theme will be associated as comical for the amount of times it has been heard. This makes the ending in particularly comical.

Comparing this to Brahms’s Piano Quintet, he uses the ternary form of ABA to help progress the themes. Unlike Haydn, Brahms wants the two sections to be completely contrasting with section A being fast and lively and section B, starting at bar 194, to be the complete opposite being soft, delicate and slow. However, even though the two sections juxtapose, section B has some elements of the third main theme creating a slight link between sections. This makes clear the progression Brahms want – the piece is moving in a direction. Therefore, unlike Haydn who was trying to create a comical atmosphere, Brahms wants to progress the themes from the use of a ternary structure.

Miles Davis’s Four does not have any clear structure because it is blues: the majority of times, Miles Davis is improvising with his saxophone with a steady beat created from the drums and the piano which is comping. However, the score suggests there is a hint of a structure being the ‘Heat, ‘1st chorus’ and ‘2nd chorus’. However, to the untrained ear, the sections will not contrast like Brahms does or have any impact on the atmosphere of the music. The only reason for the structure in Four is to make clear, a bit easily, what is going on in this blues piece.

The rhythm in The Joke is based around the main theme of the piece which is heard first in Violin I at bar 1 onwards. The main ‘Joke’ theme has a dominant use of quavers making it extremely light-hearted and bouncy to hear. This is because there is the use of staccato on the quavers. However, the piece can be seen to be quaver-based (e.g. bara 128-132). Therefore, from first hearing quavers used in a way to produce a light-hearted mood, the listener will associate the rest of the quavers as the same. This puts of a mood over the whole piece of beng happy and bouncy which links into being comical.

On the other hand, Brahms’s Piano Quintet is solely dependent on the rhythms created. Each melody features a different rhythm. For example, the first melody at bars 1-12 has the use of syncopation between parts through imitating each other. Whereas, the second main theme or the ‘galloping’ theme at bars 13-21 has the use of semiquavers to quicken the tempo contrast the two melodies. This can then be supported by section B which has a smooth and calm melody (bar 194) from increasing the note values. However, there are some themes too which are ‘hybrids’ of other themes. For example, at bars 35-41, both the galloping and first theme can be heard through using quavers with a syncopated rise of metrical displacement.

In Miles Davis’s Four, the rhythm is much more random due to the improvisation of blues music. However, the piece starts of with a melody of quavers with Miles Davis plays on his sax. Therefore, in the ‘Head’ section, the rhythm is relatively straightforward. Once we get to the two choruses, the improvisation starts to happening creating huge amounts of syncopation such as at bars 2.25-3.9. The piano is the instrument which enables syncopation to happen from having a non-melodic line which is staccato and syncopated to the drum’s beat.

Ultimately, the structure and rhythm of the above pieces vary to create a different mood, atmosphere or progression in each respected piece. Brahms wants to create a structure which progresses the scattering of themes he has in the piece whereas Miles Davis’s Four has no direction: the structure and free rhythm makes it seem like the piece will go or, more like, can go in any direction the musicians want it to go. On the other hand, The Joke uses a strict structure and rhythm to entice the listener into the main theme which is centered around being comic.


Comparing and contrasting two major influences in the lives of all people always provides intriguing results and gives us more insight into how we function as human beings and what influences and to which extent. Contrasting two entertainment mediums can give us insight and better understanding of the positive and negative aspects of both.
Books and music have a way of influencing people in different aspects. But, besides the obvious, what’s interesting is how much it influences us and why. Certain individuals enjoy listening to music while others enjoy reading books. However there are many similarities and differences between the both, and they certainly affect people in different ways.

One of the biggest influences reading a book can have over us is our emotional state. Reading books help us relieve our emotions, but over a certain period of time, not instantly. While it does help with reducing stress and negativity, because it takes a long time to read, individuals usually choose other means of relaxing and enjoying themselves.

However, when it comes to being influenced by books from multiple cultures, this is where the language barrier prevents us from understanding and feeling. However, individuals who do read books aren’t only influenced emotionally by them. The more someone reads books, the more knowledge they gain, enrich their vocabulary and becomes more understanding of different world cultures, although they might not know the language. This is a powerful way of introducing the varieties of the world, even though there’s a language barrier.

Books also induce certain feelings, however, good or bad, these feelings don’t come to us in a matter of seconds. Books have a way of slowly introducing certain notions and thoughts into our mind and making us think deeper about what we read.

What about the feeling of togetherness? Books are usually a solitary action. While there are group readings and book discussion organized, books are initially made for reading alone, therefore, it usually doesn’t boost your team spirit or creates a feeling of connection.

One huge advantage of reading books is getting knowledge and information from them. Although there are different genres of books available that cater to diverse needs and have a different goal. Overall, books are packed with information that can teach us so much and pack our brains with knowledge. It influences us to stay curious and motivated to learn new things and thrive on expanding our knowledge.

Similar to books, music helps get rid of negative emotions, but only in a much more efficient way. Overall, it’s a more popular medium for relaxation because it provides instant gratification.

Unlike books, music brings people together through melody, no matter which language is in question. It can be English, Spanish, French or Tagalog, but the melody itself can make us feel a certain way. Similar to books, music can bring people together through different cultures. We are able to listen to music in different languages, created and inspired by various traditions in the world.

From yet another perspective, music tends to hit our emotions right away, and cause abrupt reactions. These reactions can be both positive and negative, but the reality is,listening to music instantly changes our mood.
Unlike books, music has the power to bring people together and make them feel like they’re a part of the team. Whether it’s through dancing together, or in a group, or even sharing the same passion for certain music. We can all listen and enjoy the same song together. There are so many dance groups out there that came together because of the love for the same typeof music, and ever since then, different melodies cultivated an entire world of groups and individuals competing to show who sings, plays or loves music better.

Once again, unlike books, music isn’t informational. Although it does affect emotions and causes the feeling of togetherness, it does not enable us to learn from it. How much knowledge can actually fit in a 4-minute song? Songs can carry messages and ideas, but they can not carry knowledge about our past, teach us new skills or expand our knowledge about a certain field, which might be a downside to listening to music, then again, songs can carry powerful messages and ideas.

When it comes to comparing and contrasting books and music, it’s a hard process. Both have their positive and negative influences and are more powerful at affecting or influencing certain feelings or changes. However, there’s no denying that both can and will keep on influencing generations to come, and it’s only safe to say, that if the best choice is to have both things influence your life in order to reap all the benefits.

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