The Rites & Wrongs of Spring May 31, 2013 5:41:19 GMT -5
Post by ahinton on May 31, 2013 5:41:19 GMT -5
May 31, 2013 3:23:25 GMT -5 @neilmcgowan said:
May 31, 2013 3:07:52 GMT -5 @kleinesc said:Someone once told me that in musical terms, the twentieth century represented a triumph of rhythm over melody. Now, like all generalisations, I don't think that this is entirely true, but perhaps when one considers the influence of a work like 'the rite', or even 'Le Sacre', there may be some truth in it?
But as a generalisation, it holds water
It's evidenced by the enormous rise in the use of percussion instruments in the orchestra in the C20th.
Even the orchestrationally-inventive Wagner rarely strays beyond the 'standard' C19th percussion section of tympani, bass drum, and cymbals.
Yet by the middle of the C20th, most symphony orchestras would have at least three percussionists on call, in addition to the tympanist (tympanists are not over-keen to be identified as percussionists, by and large).
That's all very true - and one has only to consider the middle work in the inspiringly programmed concert broadcast on R3 yesterday evening to appreciate its composer's emancipation of the percussion section. For those who didn't hear it or have access to details of it, it comprised Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and Amériques in the first half and Le Sacre in the second, all three opening as they do with a woodwind solo (though whereas the earliest, Debussy's, is chromatic, the other two are modal and indeed not dissimilar). Even Stravinsky's use of percussion in Le Sacre (or indeed anywhere else in his output) is considerably more conservative than that of Varèse just a few years later; curiously Sorabji's Piano Concerto No. 5, which was composed at the same time as Amériques, shares some of its percussion obsession and, whilst it represents something of a path not thereafter taken, I rather think that Varèse might have appreciated it.
In my list of antecedents (which is not and was not intended to be remotely comprehensive), one particular glaring omission was Scriabin, whose later work certainly exerted some influence over Stravinsky - but more on that in my next!...