Author Topic: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music  (Read 10770 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline jochanaan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4700
    • Musician, Music Instructor and Piano Tuner
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2011, 06:29:32 AM »
So, what, if anything, is the consensus on resorting to these types of unusual (for classical music) instruments? Gimmicky and distracting, publicity stunts, useful additions to the sonic palette, a natural progression towards inclusiveness and experimentation, a way to question or undermine tradition...?
The history of the orchestra is one of constant addition and experimentation with new instruments.  Bach loved to add such instruments as the oboe da caccia (a predecessor of the English horn) into his sacred cantatas--and I can just imagine the St. Thomas church administrators tearing their hair at the strange sounds and cost of new instruments!  ;D As late as 1889, Cesar Franck's use of English horn and bass clarinet in a symphony was considered radical. :o I am only surprised that such instruments as the saxophones and the euphonium haven't become regular orchestra members. ::)
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 12:34:53 PM by jochanaan »
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Offline not edward

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3827
  • Hello, little man. I will destroy you.
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2011, 08:47:47 AM »
Norgard's Sixth does not employ a metronome. You may be thinking of Terrains vagues, which shares a Chandos disc with the Symphony No. 6.
Yeah, you're quite right. One of my favourite Norgard discs, too. D'oh!
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

eyeresist

  • Guest
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2011, 05:22:03 PM »
Extending the sonic palette, I should say.

Sticking out the ear tongue.


I've had a few ideas for percussion, which anyone may use.

1. Billiard balls clacked together
2. Hitting a marble tablet with the flat of a nail hammer
3. Smash a pane of glass / porcelain plate (might need a protective enclosure)

ibanezmonster

  • Guest
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2011, 05:28:38 PM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/8mSiMZmGS0Q" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/8mSiMZmGS0Q</a>
Not only can you hear the metronome, but also steel drums within the first minute.
I don't know if it was mentioned or not, but steel drums are also used in Takemitsu's From Me Flows What You Call Time.

snyprrr

  • Guest
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2011, 05:33:39 PM »
Sticking out the ear tongue.


I've had a few ideas for percussion, which anyone may use.

1. Billiard balls clacked together
2. Hitting a marble tablet with the flat of a nail hammer
3. Smash a pane of glass / porcelain plate (might need a protective enclosure)

This, a giant crash, happens in Tiensuu's Tombeau de Beethoven.

snyprrr

  • Guest
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2011, 05:37:29 PM »
So, what, if anything, is the consensus on resorting to these types of unusual (for classical music) instruments? Gimmicky and distracting, publicity stunts, useful additions to the sonic palette, a natural progression towards inclusiveness and experimentation, a way to question or undermine tradition...?

Bass oboe sounds cool...

rubber duckies not so much. However, I do have a weakness for endless toy sounds, so, maybe I should just shut up...

I draw the line at orgasmic groans, or...farts...

eyeresist

  • Guest
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2011, 06:20:50 PM »
This, a giant crash, happens in Tiensuu's Tombeau de Beethoven.

Someone breaking into the tomb?
 

Offline Octo_Russ

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 187
    • Octo_Russ
  • Location: High Wycombe, England
  • Currently Listening to:
    Liszt & Messiaen
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2011, 07:02:18 PM »
How about 4 vacuum cleaner hoovers in Malcolm Arnold's A Grand Grand Overture!, i'm not sure that they actually do anything, but he must win for the most unusual instruments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5343nfOnkk
I'm a Musical Octopus, I Love to get a Tentacle in every Genre of Music. http://octoruss.blogspot.com/

Offline Luke

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2436
  • Tuplet Nester (Fourth Degree)
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2011, 10:06:34 PM »
How about 4 vacuum cleaner hoovers in Malcolm Arnold's A Grand Grand Overture!, i'm not sure that they actually do anything, but he must win for the most unusual instruments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5343nfOnkk

The HIP version is three vacuum cleaners and a floor polisher, I believe...  ;D

Greg, there are all manner of fabulous instrumental sounds in From Me Flows..., including the steel pans, as you say. They are also use in more than one piece by James Dillon

Offline listener

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6396
  • Location: 604
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2011, 10:26:56 PM »
R. Murray Schafer's North White for Snowmobile and Orchestra, not often performed due to the side-effect of asphyxiation on the orchestra if given sufficient rehearsal time.
P.D.Q. Bach's Concerto for Horn and Hardart
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 10:28:45 PM by listener »
"Keep your hand on the throttle and your eye on the rail as you walk through life's pathway."

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8946
  • William Havergal Brian, symphonist (1876-1972)
    • JZH Text Services
  • Location: Delft, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bruckner, Brian, Graener, Langgaard, Juon...
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #30 on: May 30, 2011, 10:49:19 PM »
Am I the first to notice at least three notable omissions here - the Rute (twigs), cowbells and HAMMER by a certain G. Mahler?!?
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline knight66

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 10101
  • Location: Edinburgh
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #31 on: May 30, 2011, 10:51:59 PM »
I am surprised no one has so far mentioned Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet. Four helicopters hover and the sound is relayed into the concert hall against the playing of a regular string quartet.

I think tthe helicopters trumps a bunch of silent hoovers.  >:D

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline Lethevich

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9748
  • I spilled my drink!
  • Currently Listening to:
    Rihm, Bialas, Ballif, Schumann, Schubert
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #32 on: May 30, 2011, 10:57:21 PM »
There is Cage of course, in which the instrument is potentially anything.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline CRCulver

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 529
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2011, 12:57:51 AM »
3. Smash a pane of glass / porcelain plate (might need a protective enclosure)

The score of Ligeti's Aventures instructs one to drop a plate of fine china.

I draw the line at orgasmic groans, or...farts...

Ades' "Power Her Face" has a musical depiction of fellatio. Isn't it that scene where Ades uses a fishing rod?

There's nothing new under the sun.  :)

Offline Grazioso

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2324
  • Currently Listening to:
    notes
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2011, 03:32:13 AM »
I am only surprised that such instruments as the saxophones and the euphonium haven't become regular orchestra members. ::)

That the saxophone is still just a peripheral member of the classical music world is odd to me, too. The sax family sounds pleasant and is very familiar to most Western ears.
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline listener

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6396
  • Location: 604
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #35 on: May 31, 2011, 07:55:26 AM »
A couple more
Tuba pastoralis - a 9-foot Bb bass alphorn in Vaclav Havel's Allegro ut Pastorella
Bagpipes ("musicality" subject to debate among many) in Peter Maxwell Davies' An Orkney Sunrise
"Keep your hand on the throttle and your eye on the rail as you walk through life's pathway."

Offline Luke

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2436
  • Tuplet Nester (Fourth Degree)
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2011, 08:08:20 AM »
A couple more
Tuba pastoralis - a 9-foot Bb bass alphorn in Vaclav Havel's Allegro ut Pastorella
Bagpipes ("musicality" subject to debate among many) in Peter Maxwell Davies' An Orkney Sunrise

PMD is good at this stuff. I've already mentioned the balloons in Resurrection (and, btw, to the poster who mentioned being able to take anything except farting - there's a flatulence chorus in that opera, too, by which I mean a chorus advertising an anti-flatulence, not...you know... The second act, indeed, starts with the words 'Flatulence? Oh dear...').

In PMD's The Lighthouse there are parts for bones and also plastic soapdish....at least, the latter is used to play the tam tam. And of course in his earlier, expressionist works, there are all manner of oddities.  Someone should check out the socre for Eight Songs for a Mad King, Revelation and Fall, and that sort of thing.

No, stuff it, I will do it:

Revelation and Fall: 1(=picc).1.1(=bcl).1(=dbn)-1.1.1.0-perc(3)-harp-2vln.vla.vlc.db perc1:glsp/2wdbl/2pebbles/ratchet/SD/TD/BD & foot cym/3timp/Caribbean steel dr/2susp.cym/anvil/whistle perc2:glsp/pft(with action removed)/wdbl/wooden claves/ratchet/ 2susp.cym/metal disc perc3:h.bells/metal claves/2rattles/2whips/BD/tam-t(&plasticsoapdish) /plate glass(for smashing)

Eight Songs for a Mad King: fl(=picc).cl-perc(1): railway whistle/SD/2susp.cym/foot cyms/2wdbl/ BD/chains/ratchet/tom-t/tam-t/tamb/rototoms/toy bird-calls/2tpl.bl/ wind chimes/crot/sleigh bells/glsp/steel bars/crow/didjeridu- pft(=hpd,dulcimer)-vln.vlc

Nice...

Offline Grazioso

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2324
  • Currently Listening to:
    notes
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline listener

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6396
  • Location: 604
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #38 on: May 31, 2011, 12:05:31 PM »
You see any saxophones listed among these orchestras?

If they announced Pictures at an Exhibition or Bolero, would they un-Ravel the programme?
(Also Vaughan Williams 6th or 9th (2-Eb and a Bb!, etc.)
"Keep your hand on the throttle and your eye on the rail as you walk through life's pathway."

Offline Grazioso

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2324
  • Currently Listening to:
    notes
Re: "Weird" Instruments in Classical Music
« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2011, 03:19:55 AM »
Um yea .. your exposure is VERY narrow - see!!! Gotta get out more Graz.

You have no idea what my experience with music is. I'm happy you're the world expert on music since you've heard some Stockhausen and Boulez   :P You may now have a lollipop.

And my point of course still stands: the saxophone is a peripheral member of the classical music instrument family, featured in a number of compositions (including some warhorses like the Ravel orchestration of Pictures), but not a core or standing member of the classical orchestra, despite being over 150 years old.
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle