“Sugar Plum Fairy”

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I love this simple song


The instruments in this piece work together to create a pleasing sound. The work begins with an accompaniment with the string orchestra, which supports the celesta melody to create substance in the piece. The melody line played by the celesta from bar 5, is the main theme which is carried out until bar 19. As the audience, we hear the melody line stand out, as it is played with expression and varied dynamics, with the use of chromatic notes too.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is a combination of a homophonic and polyphonic piece. The song is constantly crescendo and decrescendo. The main melody repeats as well throughout the piece. The tone colour gives off a warm, gentle feeling to it.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is very popular. In the beginning of the piece, the music starts out soft with the plucking of strings, and slowly gets louder as the sound of a xylophone comes in with the main melody. As the piece progresses, you can hear strings-most likely violins and cellos-come in and as well as a bassoon or clarinet or bass clarinet.

This song has a light yet beautiful sound with feeling, celesta sounds much influence it.

The celesta, an instrument invented in 1896, gets its name for its “celestial,” tinkling sound. It provides the distinctive music that accompanies the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.

Here’s what to listen for in Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky.

  • Melody played by celesta

Listen to the bell-like sounds of the celesta accompanied by plucked strings (pizzicato) and bass clarinet

  • Duple meter

This dance is in duple meter, one strong beat followed by a weak beat. You can follow the beat by listening to the pizzicato strings: [0:00 — 0:23].

  • Three-part form (A-B-A)

This dance is in three-part form (A-B-A):

the opening section (A) is followed by a contrasting section (B) before the music of the first section returns (A). Listen to the beginning of

the first A section: [0:00 — 0:23]; and the return of the A section, with slightly different accompaniment: [1:11 — 1:26].

The B section is different, played first by woodwinds and celesta and then followed by strings: [0:39 — 0:53].

From the Nutcracker Ballet

The Sugar Plum Fairy is a character in the The Nutcracker. The Sugar Plum Fairy only dances in Act 2 of the ballet. Clara falls asleep, and the second act could be seen as Clara’s dream. Roland John Wiley however, thinks that the second act is a reality shaped by Drosselmeyer.

The Sugar Plum Fairy is the ruler of the Land of Sweets. She welcomes the Nutcracker Prince and his love Clara to her land and orders the festivities. The character is danced by a prima ballerina (principal dancer), though she has little dancing to do. She is joined by a male dancer for a pas de deux near the end of the ballet. Her number in this pas de deux is called “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

The instruments played in the “dance of the sugar plum fairy”

Flute

Oboe

Cor anglais

Clarinet

Bass clarinet

Bassoon

Horn

Celesta

The string family

The first performance of this piece was played on the 18th of December 1892 when the Nutcracker Suite was performed for the Russian Musical Society in St. Petersburg at the Imperial Mriinsky Theatre. The string, percussion, woodwind and brass families of instruments were written for in the score, which include, the flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, horns, celesta, violin, viola, cello and double bass.

I was in the Ballet as a kid but was a Mouse

Roger Keyserling


“Sugar Plum Fairy” was originally published in eCom Tips on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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One Comment

  1. WOW, Beautiful!!

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