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Thread: Allowing the tones to breathe

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Default Allowing the tones to breathe

    What are some of your favourite compositions that give each tone or chord time to fully ring out, without being suffocated or annihilated by the following tones or harmonies.

    I've been listening to a fair bit of Feldman and he seems very capable of executing this masterfully when he wants, and then there's La Monte Young and his sustained long tones.

    Not just tones but sustained harmony, like in Wagner's Das Rheingold Prelude are welcome. Drones and pedal points as well, as long as the successive tones don't submerge them beyond recognition.

    You can omit Cage's As Slow As Possible because I think none of us will live long enough to hear the entire piece.

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    Dvorak's 9th symphony, 2nd movement comes to mind... The first few bars: pure magic!

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    The only work entirely based on this idea that I know and maybe even like a little bit is Oviges by Satie. Such music seems too simplistic to me, moments of "breath" are often useful but it's not material for longer piece.

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    Senior Member Xaltotun's Avatar
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    Since Wagner's Das Rheingold prelude was mentioned, I'd just like to point out that it is probably the most magical piece of classical music that I've heard yet. It just clicked with me immediately. The primordial waters of the Rhein churn like Absu, THE RING is about to begin... it is like "the time before time", the universe before creation. It feels like it's moving, but it's going nowhere. That is just fantastic.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    The only work entirely based on this idea that I know and maybe even like a little bit is Oviges by Satie. Such music seems too simplistic to me, moments of "breath" are often useful but it's not material for longer piece.
    Well, there is the whole genre of ambient music that is based on this idea of sustained tones focussing on slow progressions and timbral qualities, plus a lot of electroacoustic draws from these aspects. Satie was a major influence on a lot of the early ambient pioneers.

    It's music for a certain mood. It suits passive listening well, and you can just let the sounds wash over your mind without concentration. Try Alvin Lucier's Music for Piano and Oscillators.

    But I didn't want to skew the thread towards one area of music so by opening it up to include harmonies and pedal tones, hopefully there should be more scope of answers. If any plainchant or chorales have these traits then they can be included, just as any non-classical.

    Dvorak's 9 m2 is a good example. Slightly different, but I find the beginning of Handel's Zadok the Priest to possess that same quality even though there is much movement in the voices. I think it's the way the harmonies move such mechanically, every bar changing, yet the impression of static remains. John Cages String Quartet, too, reminds me of stationary movement.

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    Senior Member Il Seraglio's Avatar
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    I suppose you could say this about Mozart's slow movements. I know opinion on them around here is mixed and it took even me until recently to appreciate them (in case anybody tried to dig up some of my older posts ), but they are, without question, the emotional heart of Mozart's works and often achingly beautiful. Highlights for me would be the adagio from his Piano Sonata in B-Flat major K.570 and the adagio from his first Prussian Quartet.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    The only thing that comes to my mind that I enjoy with some of this quality is the music of Dead Can Dance.

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJhVM930YXY[/yt]

    Besides the lingering harmonies, there's also a stunning use of silence around 1:48 that give me chills in a good way.

    I confess I usually get impatient with sluggish harmonic textures and ambient music in general, maybe because I was deeply into baroque for so long. With a few pedal point exceptions, most baroque has a dense harmonic texture.

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    Senior Member Xaltotun's Avatar
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    Myself, I'm a long time ambient lover, so one problem that I seem to have with classical music is that there's so much stuff going on, I can't concentrate on individual notes or themes. But I'm trying to learn.

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    Sunn 0)))

    ??

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    Senior Member Ravellian's Avatar
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    I immediately thought of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 4 in Eb major, 2nd movement. The pauses between each chord are what makes the music work.

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