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Musical Piece Historical Context of the Piece


University College Music Class Musical piece historical context of the piece
Photo Credit Jacklyn Dougherty

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten was initially written as a lesson plan for kids to learn about the various orchestra instruments. The work has fairly intricate “variations and themes” and has the capacity to teach individuals of all ages the distinction between a bassoon and an oboe. This piece by Britten triggers in me different feelings. I feel like the author aim was to bring out varied feelings. For instance, in some parts, the mood is slow and soothing, whereas, in other sections, the mood is up-tempo and happy. This composition compares with other music I have heard in that in Britten’s composition, there is the main tune, which is the theme, and the composer alternates the tune in various ways (the variations). While in other music I have heard, a single melody is played by several voices.

I think the intention of the composer when making this piece was to attempt to create a fusion of different instrumentals and try to come up with a pleasing melody. Instrumentation used was in different categories. The categories include strings (for example, harp, violins, and violas), woodwinds (bassoons, oboes, clarinets), brass (trombones, French horns, and trumpets), and percussion (snare drum, xylophone, cymbals).

In regard to structure, the piece consists of thirteen variations that are based on a melody by Henry Purcell, who wrote it in the seventeenth century. Each variant introduces a distinct orchestral section or instrument and highlights its unique qualities. In my opinion, this piece is effective, particularly in teaching children different instrumentals and enabling them to understand how to best utilize them. The main creative aspect of this piece is having the main tune and alternating the tune in various ways.


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