Born from Silence
A Survey of Great Beginnings in Contemporary Music
Monday, January 14, 2013
What is it about the opening measures of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, or Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring that generates such intense musical magnetism? This week on Hammered! we explore how the starts of pieces impact the music that follows.
The first musical event in a piece functions in ways as varied as the repertoire itself, but what is certain is that every piece is born from a blank silence and that the moment where sounds breaks the static surface is of immense musical consequence.
Sometimes the opening bars of a piece self-consciously contrast with its exposition material (like the "introduction" to Elliott Carter's Piano Sonata); perhaps it serves as a structural motive (like the opening flourishes in each movement of Harrison Birtwistle's Harrison's Clocks), or maybe it contains the compact musical DNA of the work (like, Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata or Derek Bermel's Turning).
Whatever the case, the sheer amount of awesome music that one can explore based on this type of listening is inexhaustible. In addition to the above, tune in this week for music by Johannes Brahms, James Matheson, John Zorn, Alexander Scriabin, Ted Hearne, and many, many others.
What are your Great Beginnings in music?