Summertime - George Gershwin

Notes on the Gershwin piece

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Annie
  • Created on: 17-03-11 19:13

Summertime - George Gershwin - 1

Background

  • Composed in 1935
  • Aria/number from an opera (not a musical)
  • Fusion of folk, jazz and classical operatic conventions
  • Sometimes described as an American folk opera

Rhythm and Metre

  • Duple time (the C with a line through it means 2/2)
  • Rocking lullaby rhythm conveyed by steady minims in accompaniment - oscillating
  • Typical devices include:
  • Swung rhythms
  • Syncopation
  • Triplets
  • The violin countermelody in verse two is mainly in quavers.
1 of 4

Summertime - George Gershwin - 2

Melody and word-setting

  • Vocal part spans an octave
  • Text clearly shows origins in American dialect ("Yo' ma")
  • Four-bar phrases
  • Pentatonic vocal line, except for C#
  • Ornamentation includes portamento

Harmony

  • Chords outline a 16-bar blues pattern
  • Characteristic features include:
  • Added 6th chords (minor triad plus major 6th)
  • False relations arising from 'blue' (chromatic) notes
  • Circle of 5ths
  • Perfect cadence at close
2 of 4

Summertime - George Gershwin - 3

Tonality

  • B minor with...
  • Dominant preparation (dominant/F# pedal)

Structure

  • (European) 16-bar song structure with...
  • Balanced four-bar phrases following...
  • ABAC pattern
  • Introduction (dominant pedal and clarinet line) and coda
  • Two-verse strophic
3 of 4

Summertime - George Gershwin - 4

Resources/Texture

  • Soprano soloist
  • Solo violin
  • Women's vocalisation (wordless singing)
  • Symphony orchestra, with bells
  • Melody-dominated-homophony, enriched by additional layers in second verse
4 of 4

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Music resources:

See all Music resources »See all resources »