Author Topic: Recordings of silence.  (Read 833 times)

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Online Mandryka

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Recordings of silence.
« on: December 25, 2020, 06:31:30 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2020, 06:39:05 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2020, 06:34:56 AM »



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.


« Last Edit: December 25, 2020, 06:38:21 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #2 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? 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

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.



« Last Edit: December 26, 2020, 02:22:32 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2020, 09:13:32 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?

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.

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Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2020, 11:16:23 AM »

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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Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2020, 11:28:50 AM »
Here’s Jurg Frey’s essay The Architecture of Silence (Warning: Heidegger content.)

Quote
THE ARCHITECTURE OF SILENCE

There is a music in which the time-space of sound and the time-space of silence appear in their own particular realms. Even when the sounds are often very soft, the music is not about falling into silence. The sounds are clear, direct and precise. Because they have left musical rhetoric behind, there is instead a sensitivity for the presence of sound and for the physicality of silence. There are long time spans for the presence of sound, and long time spans for the absence of sound. The two together form the "time present" of the piece.

In the silence a space is opened which can only be opened with the disappearance of sound. The silence which is then experienced, derives its power from the absence of the sounds we have just heard. Thus the time-space of silence comes into being, and then comes the physicality of silence.

Permeability, which is the physicality of silence itself, consists of the impossibility of saying anything about its content. Sounds can approach this permeability, but cannot achieve it. Sounds always occur as a formation or a shaping. They come into being by crossing a border which divides them from all others. At this border, everything formed becomes particular. Silence does not know this border. There is no silence through production. Silence is just there, where no sound is.

There are pieces in which the absence of sound has become a fundamental feature. The silence is not uninfluenced by the sounds which were previously heard. These sounds make the silence possible by their ceasing and give it a glimmer of content. As the space of silence stretches itself out, the sounds weaken in our memory. Thus is the long breath between the time of sound and the space of silence created. Silence can also be present in the sounds. In order to have silence in sounds, one must let go of everything which gets in the way of this silence. This sound is a sound without the idea of what it can mean or how it should be used. This sound achieves a hint of permeability, which otherwise belongs only to silence. This sound is the Da-sein (being there) of sound. Its presence and charisma make themselves felt in the composition. Silence requires one decision: sound or no sound. Sound requires a great many more decisions. These shape the sound and give it its quality, feeling and its content. Thus silence, in its comprehensive, monolithic presence always stands as one against an infinite number of sounds or sound forms. Both stamp time and space, in that they come into appearance, in an existential sense. Together they comprise the entire complexity of life.


Jürg Frey, 1998
Translation: Michael Pisaro
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2020, 11:31:35 PM »
Thank you, that’s an interesting essay. The silence described is perhaps similar to pure awareness with no object. However I don’t find the complete absence of sound necessary to be aware of silence, it depends on registering the position of sounds in space. I often appreciate the silence in my vicinity while hearing noises in the distance, such as walking in a quiet wood near a motorway or runway; there’s a clear contrast that makes the silence more enjoyable.
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2020, 11:27:20 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/2NxYEDoOE7A&amp;ab_channel=QaisAlghanem" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/2NxYEDoOE7A&amp;ab_channel=QaisAlghanem</a>

Michael Pisaro's Fade is just basically single notes played with an even pulse, getting quieter and quieter until it fades away into . . . silence.
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2020, 11:32:03 AM »


Sergey Zagny's Metamusica consists of Webern op 27 with all the notes removed. I can't find a recording anywhere.


http://conceptualism.letov.ru/sergei-zagny/Scores/008-Metamusica.pdf
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Offline bioluminescentsquid

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2020, 11:33:03 PM »
How about the track 'eclipse' from this:


(The Passion of Reason by Sour Cream)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3_e7NVYKy8
Bach's (theoretically endless) canon a 2 per tonos from the musical offering, but with the voices coming in until you hear the whole canon, and then dropping back out.
What's the eclipse here? Bach, or silence?

Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2020, 02:29:14 AM »
Peter Ablinger's Piano and Record is the sound of an empty LP transcribed for piano.  Example here, love it. 

https://ablinger.mur.at/i+r_pno+rec.html

The transcription has made something out of nothing. Ontological bliss. And what a revelation that music is there in something which previously we thought was just a void. There's a moral lesson, a lesson for life, in there.


That page from Peter Ablinger's website refers you to his  production Weiss / Weisslich, which is 7 vinyl records without sound

https://ablinger.mur.at/ww13.html



« Last Edit: December 29, 2020, 02:34:34 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2020, 02:30:26 AM »
A general comment. There's clearly, much to my surprise, a whole world of pieces which are refinements and enhancements of Cage 4'33''!
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2020, 05:45:13 AM »
Silence being the mere absence of sound, I’m wondering if what one experiences is really one’s conception of silence. :-\
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Offline Leo K.

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2020, 07:13:03 AM »


Sergey Zagny's Metamusica consists of Webern op 27 with all the notes removed. I can't find a recording anywhere.


http://conceptualism.letov.ru/sergei-zagny/Scores/008-Metamusica.pdf

Interesting, thank you for sharing that!

Offline Leo K.

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2020, 11:40:15 AM »
This is not a recording, but all you have to do is read the title (my 2nd symphony from 2017) and you can imagine it!

"There are 11 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 15 in the 1st movement of Webern's Symphony Op. 21 (see pages 21 and 22) and there are 9 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measure 10 in the 1st movement of Webern's Symphony Op. 21 (see page 22) and there are 12 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measures 11 and 12 in the 1st movement of Webern's Symphony Op. 21 (see page 22) and there are 15 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measure 14 in the 1st movement of Webern's Symphony Op. 21 (see page 22). There are 10 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measure 1 in the 1st movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 (see page 109) and there are 11 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measures 2 and 5 in the 1st movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 (see page 109) and there are 9 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measures 3 and 4 in the 1st movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 (see page 109) and there are 12 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measure 9 in the 1st movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 (see page 109) and there are 13 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measures 6 and 13 in the 1st movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 (see page 109) and there are 16 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measures 7 and 8 in the 1st movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 (see page 109) and there are 14 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measures 10 and 11 in the 1st movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 (see page 109) and there are 15 total rests (across all instrument parts) in measure 12 in the 1st movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 (see page 109)."

From my orchestral scores page (all PDF's are free):

https://toddwinkels.weebly.com/orchestral.html


Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2021, 08:53:31 AM »
https://soundcloud.com/exaudivocal/evan-johnson-vo-mesurando

Evan Johnson's Vo Mesurando is a madrigal, but it is one which is out of earshot. It makes me think of the transubstantiation behind a screen in the catholic mass, magical energy which you can't quite see. Is this music? If so, only just.
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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2021, 02:33:49 PM »



Bernhard Gunter's Whiteout is very quiet.  There is no pulse; no melody; no determinate pitch. It is so quiet you sometimes don't know whether what you hear is in the music or whether it's part of your environment. It erodes the barrier between music and life.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/QZfMp6tredw&amp;t=1167s&amp;ab_channel=Dogevillage" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/QZfMp6tredw&amp;t=1167s&amp;ab_channel=Dogevillage</a>

The recording is here, but mine is a different version and I'm not totally sure where Whiteout starts. Maybe at 9 minutes. But no matter, you'll get the idea.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 02:45:25 AM by Mandryka »
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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2021, 02:35:03 AM »
For at least part of his career, Taku Sugimoto took the idea that music is a combination of sound and silence seriously. He believes that the silences can have a character as interesting as the pitches, the character being determined not only by their duration, but also by their context. He wants us to listen to the silences with the same sort of attention as we listen to the notes.  Here is his guitar quartet Stay IV



<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ipgDK1Lh6xQ&amp;ab_channel=WirbNeug" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ipgDK1Lh6xQ&amp;ab_channel=WirbNeug</a>

A similar idea in Manfred Beuger's Dialogues(Silence), clarinet this time

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Y4NRa2rZ3xo&amp;ab_channel=Bernhard%C3%96n" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Y4NRa2rZ3xo&amp;ab_channel=Bernhard%C3%96n</a>
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 04:05:30 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline petrarch

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2021, 08:21:37 AM »
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.

Attached is a list of the quotations and their sources.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 08:44:38 AM by petrarch »
//p
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Recordings of silence.
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2021, 09:26:45 AM »
Attached is a list of the quotations and their sources.

I've been really enjoying this quartet recently, the Arditti, precisely because of the silences.
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