Author Topic: Help me understand: Intensity  (Read 1193 times)

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Offline JoshLilly

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Help me understand: Intensity
« on: May 28, 2007, 01:53:24 PM »
I don't know how to say it, but I can "show" it by using a examples from famous operas. In every case, the words are completely irrelevant to what I'm talking about, but I'll give words to indicate where I find the music to be especially intense. In every case, I think it's something to do with the relationship between the main melodic line and the rest of the instruments (and/or voices). Something about the "spacing" between them, maybe. I'm not sure. But for some reason, here's some stuff that makes me feel really, really intense, and I can feel a common thread in each, but I don't know how to put it into words. Can anyone pick out this commonality and tell me what it is that I love so much?

W.A.Mozart's Così fan tutte, #3 Terzetto "Una bella serenata"; the music during Ferrando's first two lines

W.A.Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, #4 Aria "La vendetta, oh, la vendetta"; at the very end, the music accompanying Bartolo's final two uses of "il birbo Figaro vostro sarà" (but not the last uses of "vostro sarà" by itself)

Rossini's La Cenerentola, Act1 Scene 10, the Baron's scene with the wine. The last music, when Magnifico "Premio bellisimo di piastre sedici a chi più malaga", and the chorus and orchestra do something just absolutely fascinating. This is done twice. I find this musical moment especially intense, and there's a "crashing down" musical effect both times that is one of my favourite moments in any opera I've ever heard (and that's a large number).


There are also similar things in tons of non-opera works, but it's harder for me to indicate precisely what moments I'm talking about. I don't know if a score and measure numbers would help, but I don't have any anyway. Anyway, what is this I'm hearing and loving so much?

Offline jochanaan

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Re: Help me understand: Intensity
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2007, 10:48:40 AM »
From Dictionary.com:

"in*tense (adjective):
1.   existing or occurring in a high or extreme degree: intense heat.
2.   acute, strong, or vehement, as sensations, feelings, or emotions: intense anger.
3.   of an extreme kind; very great, as in strength, keenness, severity, or the like: an intense gale."

There's more, but you get the idea.  Applied to music, this word merely means that the music is unusually powerful and effective in dynamics, complexity, evocation of emotions, or other musical aspects, or maybe in all of them.  Often, but certainly not always, intensity is built by extra-musical means such as a dramatic text or onstage situation.

I like to think of intensity in music as extreme power and aliveness.
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Offline JoshLilly

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Re: Help me understand: Intensity
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2007, 11:04:17 AM »
I've pinpointing a few passages that I find especially intense, and I'm wondering what the common thread is between them. I could even bring up more if I had to. If you wish, discard the word "intensity" from my query, and change it to "What do these passages have in common, musically speaking?"

Offline jochanaan

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Re: Help me understand: Intensity
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2007, 12:35:58 PM »
Can't help you there, Josh; I'm only familiar with the Marriage of Figaro passage...
Imagination + discipline = creativity