Schoenberg is regarded as the rebel of 20 th century harmony. He completely abandoned the traditional methods of musical expression (tonal centers, key signatures, and traditional applications of harmony) in favor of one in which all the notes of the chromatic scale were assigned equal importance. It was the most radical departure from tradition in the history of Western music, and still today there are many people who cannot stomach an entire performance of his compositions. The Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot) is based on 21 poems by the poet Albert Giraud, which are some of the darkest, weirdest, most inexplicably strange words in the Latin-based languages. Profoundly moving, full of imagery and drama, Pierrot Lunaire is a seminal work, that combines classical and contemporary styles.
Skilfully blending the comic and poetic, the story of a man’s journey from innocence to experience is told through 3 commedia dell ” arte characters: Pierrot the innocent, the sinister Brighella, and heartless Columbine. With it’s striking scaffold set and intricate score, Pierrot Lunaire is a tour de force that leaves a lasting impression. In the antiquity of the Roman theatre began the ballet of the white clown of innocence with the dark clown of experience. Pierrot and Brighella are their lineal descendants and the Columbine their eternal female pawn.
In the Commedia dell ” arte, Pierrot was called the poet of acrobatics. In the 20 th century, with the music of Arnold Schoenberg, Pierrot became the inner man. Pierrot Lunaire is a dreamer and a poet, a wistful and human clown, prey to the moods that swing swiftly from ecstasy to hysteria, ever victim of the conflict between the real and the ideal. The music itself, composed in 1912, is a landmark piece. Not only is it Schoenberg’s first piece to use a new kind of vocal expression, but it is also composed for an ensemble of performers that is different from the traditional chamber groups, but that became the foundation of most modern “New Music” ensembles. It is known as the Pierrot Ensemble: flute (doubling on piccolo), clarinet (doubling on bass clarinet), violin (doubling on viola), violoncello, piano.
In ancient Ireland, music was an important part of life. It was played for Kings, Chiefs, and also for entertainment of the people. The first Irish tunes were played primarily on the harp. Professional harpers were honored above all other musicians and earned a high reputation for their music. After a horrific war in Ireland in 1607, there was a heavy blow to the Gaelic order. Many towns were ...
The exact instrumentation of each song is varied constantly so that no two successive numbers have the exact same tone colors. In addition, some are basically simple, whereas some are complex canons and fugues. All tend to be polyphonic. “Nacht” (as well as the other songs in the cycle) is in what is called free atonality. That is, the music avoids strong tonal references or keys.
This avoidance was called “emancipation of dissonance” by Schoenberg. He meant that dissonance was no longer required to resolve to consonance as in music up to this time. With this type of music, each of the 12 tones of the octave are of equal importance, and each a tonic. In this respect he suggested the music could be considered panton al. But the term atonal, meaning no tonality, has stuck.
The technique for composing this type of music is a negative technique. It is one of avoidance. There should be no standard tertiary harmony chords, no “progressions” of chords, and no one tone played long enough or loud enough to create a feeling of a tonal center. Thus notes that sound together are selected to avoid traditionally consonant intervals, and the choice of melodic intervals is intentionally different from traditional lyrical melody. Although this may sound like a strange and arbitrary way of creating music, Schoenberg himself insisted that his music was simply the next step in a long evolution and that he was simply continuing in the tradition of chromatic harmony as was used by his predecessors, such as Liszt and Wagner.
But his method of working was not the extra-musical expression by Liszt or the polyphony of leitmotifs of Wagner. It was, rather, a continuation of the development carried to such heights by Beethoven. There is, in fact, almost constant development of motives, the source of which is almost always found within the first few measures. How different the opening sequence of tones: E – G – E-flat, a minor third followed by a major third.
For this week I chose a new movie by Disney that came out a little while ago called, "Fantasia 2000." It's really neat it was in stereophonic sound virtually computer generated. It has objects that represent the sounds of the music. It's very detailed with tone color and dynamics that made a viewer feel what is going on rather that being told the emotions by and actor. They were very successful at ...
The second groups of notes are made up of the same intervals: B flat – Db – A, and then is picked up in the violoncello and bass clarinet. In measure three the motive is found in the bass clarinet (E – G – E flat) and in almost every entrance of each instrument. Only the voice part does not maintain the motive-like activity. It is, instead, expressing the text, which is usually labeled as “expressionistic,” meaning that it describes the inner workings of the mind with an intensity that is super romantic. Note that the text has heavy symbols of black, dense vapor, murdering memory, giant butterflies, but little straightforward sense.
This is the poetry of the mad. You will recall that Schoenberg was writing in Vienna, also the home of Sigmund Freud and the development of psychology and psychiatry, the study of the innermost secrets of the mind. My exact first impression of the piece was, quote “What the [deleted expletive]?” Surely I didn’t expect some pretty tonal harmony, but this I was unprepared for. Yet, despite the surprise, I was intrigued to listen to more and more of it, and I didn’t want to leave the room at all. What colors I heard! This sounded like something out of Halloween. If the piece was simply an instrumental, it would definitely have an impact all it’s own, but the poetry just kicks it up about 10000 notches, and that all the more makes it more interesting and twisted exciting to listen to..