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Requiescat by Matthew Arnold Coursework

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Updated: May 31st, 2022

Strew on her roses, roses,
And never a spray of yew!
In quiet she reposes;
Ah, would that I did too!

These lines begin with Baroque music with a striking very long note of the rhythmic pattern of a solo violin followed by an orchestra consisting of strings, violins, violas, and cellos. The opening lines evoke the feeling of happiness, nature, the trees, and the roses. The listener could feel the sensual pleasures. There is an emphasis of repetition on the words “roses, roses.” The music is full of harmony and in the second line, there is a much softer touch to it there is a change of tone and the joyous music slowly ends. The tone gets even sharper in the third line when the strings ascend softly at “reposes”. The music does not get louder at any point from the other sequences and the listener can feel the spirituality. In the end, there is a slight pause before the last line of this stanza begins, then the harmonic tone continues with dynamic expansion and a longer stretch of the solo violin, with the orchestra slowing down. The listener can contrast both sounds, and the slowing down of the orchestra sets a serious mood in the end.

Her mirth the world required;
She bathed it in smiles of glee.
But her heart was tired, tired,
And now they let her be.

The next stanza is comprised of the chorus of Requiem Mass, also known as the mass of death. The music tone is set as if there is a chorus in Roman Catholic Church. There is a melody and harmony in the tone with a quick rhythm. In a small group, both women and men sing the lyrics and mourn the death of the women in the poetic lines. Requiem consists of first and second violins, double basses, trumpets, violas, cellos, and trombones. The vocal forces include soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists. There is an abrupt alternation of soft and loud, giving the gape in the words and creating drama and tension in the tone. With the third line, the music of the chorus stops, and the music was soon taken up by the voice of the soloist as they sang “but the heart was” with a longer rhythm. The music starts again at the words “tired, tires” with a clear gap between the two, first by the alto second by a tenor. Suddenly at the last line, the soloist and music go at a much faster pace than the other lines to emphasize the women in the poem “they let her be.” The tone shows clarity and sensibility.

Her life was turning, turning,
In mazes of heat and sound.
But for peace her soul was yearning,
And now peace laps her round.

This section of music comprises a solo player, playing the solo piano. The music of the piano is soft and creates a sense of fantasy and the lines of the poem are sung with a soprano voice. The singer is a male who tries to match the tone of the poetry with his lyrics and music played by the piano. The tempo of the tone is allegro Adagio. This gives the melodies tender and longing quality. The piano plays softly and the rhythm slows down creating tension. The music symbolizes nature and the song creates emotions in the listeners. The music from the piano gives a feeling that the song is a folktale. The singer gives special attention to the end rhyme of the poem “turning” and “yearning” and “sound” and “round”. The tone of the piano shows diversity from the other sound in the third line. In the last line, the theme returns with repeats.

Her cabin’d, ample spirit,
It flutter’d and failed for breath.
To-night it doth inherit
The vasty hall of death.

This part of the poem is sung in rock style. The instruments used are drums, guitars, bass, vocals, pianos, and electronic instruments, based on new sound technologies. The singers are singing in a group, they are all males, with shrill noise. The singers are singing one by one with a strong driving rhythm, the listener could perceive their voices as if changed by the instruments. The melody and the style are aggressive and there is an agitation in the tone. As the music is performed, the audience feels electric. There are prominent pauses at the end of each rhyme of the poem. The electric guitar and the drums make some harmony in the sound and the singer adds the tone to the musical lyrics. The singer is not clearly articulating the words. Although the wording of the poem represents death, the tone and the song is symbolizing love, romance, and emotions. The sequence ends, when the music suddenly stops and the singer sings the phrase “hall of death” without music.

Reference

Forney, Kristine and Joseph Machlis. The Enjoyment of Music. W W Norton & Co Inc, 1997.

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