Mp3 Blog #50: Giacinto Scelsi

Giacinto Scelsi:

Quattro pezzi su una nota sola (1959)
I (F)
II (B)
III (Ab)
IV (A)
For chamber orchestra
Performed by the Polish Radio-Television Orchestra Of Krakow

Currently Out of Print

Sting Quartet #3 (1963)
I. avec une grande tendresse (dolcissimo)
II. l’appel de l’esprit, dualisme, ambivalence, conflit (drammatico)
III. l’ me se r veille… (con transparenza)
IV. …et tombe de nouveau dans le pathos mais maintenant avec un pressentiment de la lib ration (con tristezza)
V. lib ration, catharsis
Performed by the Arditti Quartet

Currently Out of Print

Uaxuctum “The Legend of the Maya City which destroyed itself for religious reasons” (1966)
For 4 vocal soloists, ondes martenot solo, mixed choir and orchestra
Performed by the Polish Radio-Television Orchestra Of Krakow with Tristan Murail (ondes martenot)

Currently Out of Print

Konx-Om-Pax “Three aspects of sound: as the first motion of the immutable, as creative force, as the syllable ‘om’” (1969)
For mixed choir and orchestra
Performed by the Polish Radio-Television Orchestra Of Krakow

This and other works by Scelsi available at Forced Exposure

* * * * *

After finishing my last composition “Time Fixtures” and my masters’ thesis that explains some of the procedures that I used to write and construct “Time Fixtures” I had a little trouble finding a way to start writing music again. After a few months of deliberating and countless hours spent improvising at the piano I found a solution by constantly playing one note or chords derived from iteratively combining an intervals simple frequency components.

When I finally started to compose again with what I discovered while improvising at the piano I was reminded of the story Alex Ross told in his article from November 2005 about, how after composing incredibly complex pitch-based music, Giacinto Scelsi had a mental breakdown and recovered his sanity by sitting at a piano and spending many days on end playing one note. While starting my current composition projects I would occasionally joke to friends that I felt like Scelsi must have felt after his mental breakdown. However, in all seriousness I was really just beginning to think that there is a lot to explore or emote in music that concentrates more on other parameters such as timbre and rhythm than the succession or organization of pitches.

I’ve wanted to post something big for my 50th mp3 blog posting. When I discovered that two of my favorite CD collections (the complete works for chorus and orchestra and the complete string quartets of Scelsi) are inexplicably out of print I decided that the works listed above would make be appropriate for this post. I won’t explain much more about these pieces or Scelsi for that matter since one can find some good information online here and here. Also, since these are compositions that focus on a mysticism that largely defies words I think anything else I might say will only muddy the waters.

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