Monday, January 27, 2014

Music Analysis Part 5: Reflection

Through analyzing this piece, I have found intricate harmonic elements, even without the use of any real chords.  The melody and the use of pedal creates almost an illusion that full chords are being played, even though 2 notes are only ever being played at the same time.  This trend is true for the entire composition, there is not a single chord in the entire piece.

I have also found that John Adams has transformed what would usually be a very dissonant 2nd interval into a mellow, peaceful sound.  To be honest, I am not entirely sure how this works on  a psychological scale, but it is amazing how calm the section is when only two notes are being played again, again, and again.

This piece is probably the most unique piece I have ever seen.  On the surface level, there are a few things that make it stand out. It is a very long piece for solo piano at 1092 measures,  there are very few chords, there are almost no rests in the entire piece, the piece changes key quite frequently, and the two hands are almost always on the same clef, sometimes even playing the same note. All of these make it differ entirely from anything we have listened to in class.   Another aspect of this piece that I have never seen before is that it has no discernible structure.  As I stated in my first blog post, John Adams described it as a "repetitive cell structure:, and that it certainly what I have found.  It s a continuation of changing pattern, where none are repeated.  What I mean by this is that a pattern will start, then the pattern will change in someway and continue, but the first pattern will never be played a again in the entire piece.  This leads to an interesting  feeling.  Listening to the piece is a journey of its own, and  it is unpredictable in the most marvelous of ways.  It may not tell a lot about musical history, but it can definitely tell you about the limits of what music can express.  This kind of music is the cutting edge of what is possible, and I would suggest to anyone that they listen to as much of it as possible.

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