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Recordings of silence.

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Mandryka:
Many pieces of music uses silence as much as sound to make their effect. The silences are treated with as much care and precision as the sounds. I like this stuff!

So I thought I’d create a thread to collect remarkable examples as I find them, and for others to share any thoughts and ideas about the phenomenon.

Mandryka:



And I’ll kick it off with The Divination of the Bowhead Whale by David Toop, which I’m finding is really helping me digest my Xmas lunch. You’ll find it on his recording with Max Eastley called New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments, there’s a bleeding chunk on YouTube - the whole wonderful thing lasts over 15 minutes.


Mandryka:


An earlier work to compose with silence was Nono’s quartet, Fragmente Stille An Diotima, the fragments seem to be topped and tailed by silences. Why? Are they functioning as a space for reflection? A glimpse of the primal void? Lachenmann  was clear about this, he says that listening to the music involves



--- Quote --- the perception of its reflection in our inner selves, across the space of silence, and also remembrance, reflection, self-discovery as opened up by the fermata which he piles up in constantly changing, almost artless configuration
--- End quote ---

The music has not been often recorded but I’m wondering who is best at making those fermata sound exciting. I’ve been listening this morning to the one pictured above.

And thinking of it I was reminded of Nono’s compatriot Girolamo Frescobaldi, as interpreted by Sergio Vartolo. Frescobaldi’s toccatas are modular, the performer can decide which modules to play (and maybe the order, I’m not sure.) Vartolo plays all the modules in his interpretations, leaving silences between each, an improvised fermata, to great effect IMO. Unfortunately as far as I can see he hasn't written  about his bold approach to this music.



steve ridgway:

--- Quote from: Mandryka on December 26, 2020, 01:40:24 AM ---

An earlier work to compose with silence was Nono’s quartet, Fragmente Stille An Diotima, the fragments seem to be topped and tailed by silences. Why? Are they functioning as a space for reflection? A glimpse of the primal void?

--- End quote ---

I have this recording. I find the silences make me listen to the sounds more attentively and appreciate each one for what it is. They’re very clear and distinct like symbols drawn on a white background, and all seem equally important to me, there’s no filler material.

Mandryka:

Re fragmente stille, one thing I found out just now is that the score is divided into sections, the sections marked with quotations of poetry or direct expressive markings. This makes me think of another piece I was looking at the other day, Roger Reynolds’s Kokoro for solo violin. The Reynolds appeared completely senseless to me at first, it was only when I started to see it as a sequence of studies in expressiveness that I managed to enjoy the music.  It would be nice to somehow find a recording which let me follow the different sections and see what the poems are, but there ain’t one.

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