In the 20th century, a diverse range of new musical styles emerged that further challenged all the rules of earlier periods.
This week we are going to listen to a piece of music that belongs to New Complexity…
What is new complexity in music?
As we know, in the 20th Century, composers were looking for different ways to express themselves.
Some composers decided to really explore the possibilities within every dimension of the musical material.
As a results, the music may sometimes sound too complex for us to enjoy it or incredibly engaging and inspiring.
Stockhaussen’s Helicopter String Quartet
What is Helicopter String Quartet?
A string quartet refers to four musicians playing music together using the stringed musical instrument.
Therefore, a Helicopter String Quartet is about musicians playing the piece independently in four different helicopters.
The basic idea was to use the sounds of helicopter blades in conjunction with the music piece that could be recorded high up in the sky.
The individual recordings from the four musicians are then mixed down to a single track for audiences to listen.
The idea of using helicopter’s for the performance came from a dream.
What do you think about the piece? Do you like it?
Can you hear how the sounds of the helicopters are mixed with the sounds from the string quartet?
How does the music makes you feel?
Steve Reich - Six Pianos (At Home)
Introduction to 20th Century Music
In the 20th century, a diverse range of new musical styles emerged that further challenged all the rules of earlier periods. One of the new musical styles was called Minimalism.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is a form of art music or other compositional practice that employs limited or minimal musical materials and calls attention to the activity of listening.
Today we are going to listen to Six Pianos by Steve Reich.
This piece could be said to be the Marmite of contemporary music – in other words you’ll either love it or loathe it. It’s a pioneering piece of ‘minimalist’ music – relentlessly rhythmic and repetitive, and technically demanding on its performers. It begins with three pianists playing different notes to the same 8-beat pattern. Then two more pianists begin to play the same pattern but shifted two beats out of phase. Different phase shifts of the same motifs fade in and out of the ever-changing musical texture for the duration of the piece. For some it’s hypnotic and fascinating; for others a form of torture!
As you could probably realised, these musicians were at home in lockdown! and managed to keep their passion for music going. They have done this great recording! It is so inspiring!
What do you think about this music? Do you like it? How does the music makes you feel? Imagine that you are the composer, as you listen to the piece, think for a moment, Is there anything that you like to change? Why?
Benjamin Britten: The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Op.34 - with Peter Pears
We are now exploring 20th Century Music.
We will start with a piece by Benjamin Britten (1913—1976).
Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British music.
As you watch this video, play attention to the sound of each instrument.
Can you write the name of the instruments and a short description of them?
Is there any instrument or instruments that you like to play? Why?
Ravel: Boléro - BBC Proms
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937).
Ravel’s famous orchestral work dates from 1928. Just before embarking on a tour of America, he was commissioned by the Russian ballerina and dance impresario Ida Rubinstein to compose the music for a ballet, provisionally called Fandango. The piece enjoyed a spectacular revival when Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean ice danced their way to Gold Medal victory at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, becoming the highest scoring figure skaters of all time.
Ravel was absolutely insistent that the tempo of Bolero should remain constant throughout its 15 minutes, and the work is a feat of stamina for the snare drummer!
Listen carefully, and observe how a single melody is passed around the orchestra and it is played by different instruments!
How many different instruments played the main melody?
What are the names of the instruments?
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 Mov. 2. Rachmaninov’s second Piano Concerto is often described as the greatest piano concerto ever written.
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873—1943)
Rachmaninov’s second Piano Concerto is often described as the greatest piano concerto ever written. It may be the United Kingdom’s favourite piece of classical music, coming in at No. 1 in the Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame – the Top 300 chart of all-time favourite classics, which collated almost three million votes over a period of 20 years. When it was first heard in 1900, the critics and public were enthralled. Glorious melody after glorious melody flowed from the keyboard, the dialogue between orchestra and soloist was divine and Rachmaninov undoubtedly had a hit on his (rather large) hands.
The Romantic period began around 1830 and ended around 1900. During it, the restrictive musical rules of the Classical era were thrown out. Orchestral forces were expanded enabling composers to express their deepest emotions and passions. New sounds and colours were introduced to the orchestra, thanks to the inclusion of varied woodwind and percussion instruments.
Expansive symphonies, virtuosic piano music and passionate songs took their inspiration from art, literature and the twists and turns of life itself.
ELGAR CELLO CONCERTO, JACQUELINE DU PRE-1st Movement of Elgar's Cello Concerto as performed by cellist Jacqueline Du Pre with Daniel Barenboim conducting the London Philharmonic in 1967.
Edward Elgar- born in England (1857-1934)
Edward Elgar's father was a musician who tuned pianos, owned a music shop and was employed as a church organist. The young Edward learned to play the organ and violin at a young age, and composed his first short piece at the age of 10. His first job was as assistant organist to his father. His main love was composition.
Elgar Cello Concerto- 1st Movement.
Most concertos take some time to come to their main point; if they don’t make you wait until the slow movement, and many do, they at least keep the listener waiting through a short orchestral introduction. Elgar was having none of it. Somebody once said that the way he chooses to open his Cello Concerto, with those tortured chords sounding as if they have to be excavated from the cello, is as if Shakespeare had started Hamlet with ‘To be or not to be’.
After watching the performance, write down a list of words that describes Jacqueline's Du Pre performance. Find out more about Jacqueline Dupre, one of the greatest cellist in the world.
Chopin Nocturne Op.55 No.1 By Arthur Rubinstein (15/154)
Listen and follow the score!
Every dot represents a single sound!
Try to follow the score!
How did the music made you feel?
What did you enjoy?
What you didn't you enjoy? Why?
Seong-Jin Cho - Chopin: Ballade No.1 In G Minor, Op.23 | Yellow Lounge
Watch this amazing performance of Chopin's Ballade No.1 In G Minor
Frédéric Chopin was one of the greatest pianists of his day.
He is an important figure of the Romantic period in Music.
In the Romantic, expressing feelings through music was very important.
Chopin was born in a town just outside of Warsaw, Poland.
His mother introduced him to the piano; by the time he was six.
Chopin played extremely well and was starting to compose.
He gave his first concert at the age of eight.