MUSICAL EMPHASIS IV - EXTREMES
Extremes are another powerful means of emphasis: A moment of silence stresses the solemnity of a memorial service; blaring sirens alert us to the dangers of a fire. A solitary figure on the street highlights the late hour; a standing-room only crowd draws attention to a show’s success.
Musical extremes include fastest and slowest, longest and shortest, highest and lowest, loudest and softest, densest and most spare.
Beethoven’s Violin Concerto begins with the following melody.
Musical Example: Ludwig van Beethoven, Violin Concerto, I, melody
Later, the soloist emphasizes the melody by playing it in an extremely high register.
Musical Example: Ludwig van Beethoven, Violin Concerto, I, emphasis of the melody
Gyorgy Ligeti’s Desordre presents a melody in the upper register, echoed in the low.
Musical Example: Gyorgy Ligeti, Désordre from Etudes, Book I, melody
The melody is particularly emphasized when both of the pianist’s hands play in a very high register.
Musical Example: Gyorgy Ligeti, Désordre from Etudes, Book I, emphasis of the melody.
The longer an extreme is maintained, the more emphatic it is.