Hector Berlioz liked to exploit this very effect as well.
Originally Posted by Boilk
Don't think anyone's yet mentioned that Great Artist of the Silent World - Luigi Nono.
Fragmente-Stille for String Quartet is a true study of music-in-silence; and silence is almost woven into the remarkable epic Prometeo... most dramatic and starkest of all, no hay caminos, hay que caminar, creates a bleak landscape from silence against long-drawn single notes, percussive outbursts, sudden screams from brass, surreal tinkling fragments of birdsong...
Post-nuclear, living in and with the webscape - either everything matters - or nothing does.
Jayne is absolutely right - and bash me over the head with a bagful of beetroots for omitting Nono from my "list": the link between Scelsi and Sciarrino and greater even than they! The late works she mentions (and there are others: the Second Polish Diary, A Pierre etc etc) beautifully and convincingly demonstrate the eloquence of silence, framing the Music that appears from them: audible thought, almost. A "bleak landscape" sounds uninviting, but "bleak" as in Moorland or Fen - not "pretty" but with a cold, intense beauty.
Amazing silences can sometimes be very brief. Two come to mind, the first is the momentary pause before that magical falling phrase which ushers in the last few paragraphs of Ein Heldenleben, nobody made that pause tell more wonderfully than Karajan in his first DG recording. Another is the short pause before the last chords at the end of Petrushka ( 1911 version) one of the great endings in music preceded by a moment's silence.
It's fascinating to see that the silence has been used as a dramatic tool for several hundred years. Then in the last 60 years, pieces of music have contained more expansive silences, it seems. I haven't been able to "join the dots" so that I can see some kind of culture of silence that the later 20th and then 21st century pieces directly expand on. Silence seems perhaps to explode in more recent music? To jostle for position music? Or to deflate music's conventional effects? Is that so?
Thinking about silence today, I can see that there can be silence before and after music, during and within it. Most of the silences seem to be either those of relaxation or tension, when something's gathered or released. Is that fair? Some silences are fixed in rests or bars; some are conventions before or after - those sloughed moments before a piece is played or after it; some are inexact durations - between movements.
But why should there not be other silences? And what else might they be? What intentional uses are silences put to in other forms of communication?
Are there musical silences of anger? Of accusation? Teasing silences? (Are there silences "of western mountains?" Silences "of northern moonlight"?)
The silence of impatience? Of peace (the Moonlight interlude of Britten's Four sea Interludes seems distinctly to be this sort of silence).
Oh! - on Armistice Day, following the Last Post there's a two minute silence preceding the Reveille. Music and timed silence have a tradition almost a century old in this country, then! A history that began when John Cage was only a little boy.
Are there other examples of silence in our culture that we can connect to music?
My first Nono tonight - Quando stanno morendo: Diarrio Polacco No 2 - on the marvellous (free) Spotify.
Originally Posted by ferneyhoughgeliebte
PS: With some virtuoso coughing and sneezing from the audience at the start of part 2.
Last edited by hackneyvi; 16-11-11 at 00:18.
Are some silences destructive?
Indeed, HV, lets get metaphysical: Without silence there cannot be music. Without silence there cannot be a note. Music, specifically rhythm, has been defined as the tension between the notes. In musical terms, silence may be defined as a dynamic. Without dynamic tension there can be no music in its true sense. Music can not be defined as a series of notes. A series of notes is just someone practicing a scale. Once a meaning, a purpose, has been added, a relationship forms between the notes. That relationship is what we refer to as music. Silence is not merely a drop in audibility between the notes, a gap where we wait for the next note. The silence is the music.
Originally Posted by hackneyvi
It therefore follows that the greater the music, the more silence it will contain (novelty pieces notwithstanding).
Never knew about silence in a song, now I know.