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MUSC 124L Diction Lab

Welcome to the Diction Lab research guide.


Music programs generally contain information specific to your recital or concert.  In addition, many writers of program notes also provide the audience with additional information specific to the compositions or the composers.

Basic Notes

  • Information about the concert and its performers (date, place, names, instruments or voice types
  • Information on the works being performed - title (including opus or work numbers, keys, etc), movement names

Detailed Notes

Basic information + combinations of items below

  • Context of the work historically and in music history
  • Context of the work in relation to the composer's life and work
  • Description of the work
  • Descriptions of particular terms - such as "scherzo" or "langsam"
  • What will the work sound like or what should the listener listen for
  • Translations of the work

The Good, the Bad, and ...

The Good

“Le veau d’or” from Faust

Gounod’s five act opera, Faust, is based upon the three-part tragedy, Faust, by Göthe. It is set around the sixteenth century in Germany. When Faust premiered in 1859, it was not an immediate success. Due to low ticket sales, the producer gave away tickets and deemed the performances sold out. When the public heard the performances were sold out, this interested them and made them purchase tickets. After the public began seeing the opera, it became an instant success.

In the opera, the title character, Faust, longs for youth and makes a deal with Méphistophélès, the devil. This aria occurs in the midst of a town celebration, Méphistophélès begins singing of greed and gold and how susceptible men are to both. Its driving rhythmic patterns evoke a sense of tension, which is a characteristic of Méphistophélès. The refrain repeats that Satan leads the dance, adding to Méphistophélès’s ability to influence the minds and ways of all people.

The Ugly

Der Sandmann

Schumann’s songs are not recalled to be as smooth and leagato as that of Der Sandmann. Schumann composed the music to fit exactly to the text, of children sprinkling sand in their eyes to help them sleep. This is felt with the staccato being played with the flowing sixteenth notes of the bass. The second verse was not in the original composition. Schumann decided to take the last lines of the lyrics and create a second verse using those lyrics at the beginning. He felt that the song needed more of a closure.