January 10th, 2018
Evaluating Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
The appeal of music lies in various aspects that help in communicating the message that the artist intended. Whether for entertainment or edutainment, the ability of music to achieve its purpose rests in how well it addresses concepts of technique, musicality, accuracy, meaning, and physical connectedness. In Mr. Tambourine Man, Bob Dylan is able to portray all these aspects to come up with a classic composition as evident from the live performance at Newport Festival in 1964.
On technique, Dylan is able to bring out the appropriate posture and dexterity that is able to keep the audience entertained and engaged in the performance. Most important about the kind of music genre that Mr. Tambourine Man falls into, folk, is the ability of the artist to play the guitar, the appropriate movement of the fingers to generate the accurate rhythm. In this respect, during the performance, Dylan is able to move the hands and fingers to demonstrate his skill, leading to an excellent performance even where the tempo of the song changes. Another aspect that Dylan brings out appropriately is embouchure when playing the harmonica, especially after the second stanza where there is a prolonged harmonica session. By appropriate shaping of the lips, Dylan does not miss any note when playing the harmonica, even though he is simultaneously playing the guitar. Such ability to harmonize both instruments highlights the artist’s adept skill that helps in creating a flawless performance. Although posture is not a critical component of the style of music performed, Dylan is able to engage the audience through such ways as tapping his feet to the music while playing, and head movements that align to the rhythm he churns out from his guitar, harmonica and vocals. For the consumer, the skill that the artist has in playing the guitar would be a core consideration in respect to technique, which would influence the reception of the
Concerning musicality, Dylan is also able to bring out emotions of the piece he is performing thus helping to enhance the meaning of the music. For instance, through a slow, line-paused vocal performance and facial expressions, the artist is able to bring out the sadness of finding difficulty in sleeping, and thus the clamor to listen to the tambourine man. Such a tone brought out in the song has lend to suggestions that Mr. Toumbrine Man, was a reflection of hallucinogenic experiences, which arose from the speculation that the artist, Dylan, had started using such drugs (Manzella 43). Musicality is a core aspect of the kind of genre of this music since it helps bring out the meaning of the music. Specifically, by creating specific emotions while performing the music, e.g. the sad state of the protagonist who needs Mr. Tambourine to play a song for him, the audience is able to sympathize with the protagonist. As such, the ability to bring such emotions helps the customer to create attachment to the music thus helping in its reception.
As a core aspect of Dylan’s performance, accuracy makes it interesting to watch and listen to Mr. Tambourine Man. Even when the artist plays the harmonica and the guitar simultaneously, the precision in playing both instruments resulting in synchronized rhythm helps in creating the appeal for the music. Even when the artist sings to the tune, the vocals are well interspersed with the sound of the guitar whenever a pause is required. Such a performance helps bring about an excellent performance that would be ruined by imprecision in any of these aspects. In this genre of music, precision is core to the appeal of the music since the way the artist plays the instrument to create a dynamic effect, a slow tempo and well-interjected vocals creates the eclectic effect expected of folk music.
The interpretation of the music also appears well-articulated as evident from the artist’s engagement of the audience. Through a slow tempo, Dylan is able to bring out the meaning of each of his lines, through which the audience learns of the central place that the tambourine man plays in alleviating the sad status that the artist is trying to bring out. For instance, the artist sings that the tambourine man, by playing a song to him, will help him “forget about today until tomorrow” (Dylan). Through other reflections on the song, the audience is able to learn of the frustration of the artist with his state, and hence his wish for the tambourine man to play a song for him. Such reflections have, for instance, fostered the speculation that the artist may have been experiencing the effects of hallucinogenic drugs when penning the song (Manzella 43). As such the artist demonstrates competence in composing this song, which has been argued to have marked a departure from his previous songs themed on protests, into songs about popular culture that was taking root at the time (Manzella 43).
The artist is also able to bring a sense of connectedness to the music. He does not appear aloof while performing the song. On the contrary, with each note, the artist is able to connect with the music which helps in creating an emotional attachment for the audience. Such connectedness is evident from the body language, which, for instance, is brought out through the artist’s sad facial expression. Such connectedness is important for this type of music since it helps in raising the audience’s emotions and enhances the audience’s attachment to the music. In fact, through such expression of the feelings in the artist’s body language, it becomes more evident that he needs the tambourine man to play the song he is requesting, to come out of such sadness.
The appeal of music arises through the ability of the artist to blend aspects such as technique, musicality and accuracy to create a meaningful and entertaining performance. In Mr Tambourine Man, Dylan is able to capture these aspects leading to an exquisite performance that captures the audience attention. This is for instance evident in the artists’ excellent skill in playing the guitar and harmonica, body language that accentuates the words of the song and a slow tempo that helps to bring the sad status of the protagonist who seeks Mr. tambourine’s song to enlighten his mood.
Dylan, Bob. “Mr. Tambourine Man (Live at the Newport Folk Festival. 1964).” You Tube. Web. 5 May 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeP4FFr88SQ>.
Manzella, Teresa Ryan. How to Analyze the Music of Bob Dylan EBook. Minnesota: ABDO, 2011. Web. 5 May 2013 <http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=gqHCHFN2QiAC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>