Looking Forward in Classical Music

In juxtaposition of yesterday's article about the blend of pop and classical music, there is a post on TimesOnline by Igor Toronyi-Lalic about an emerging new form of music, Spectralism. The article is about the music of Gerard Grisey, whose Les Espaces Acoustiques are to be performed by London Sinfonietta.

According to Toronyi-Lalic, "Spectralists were trying to access a sonic rainbow, one that lurked naturally within each and every sound. Just like the spectrum of colours that makes up white light, a spectrum of faint noises makes up each and every sound." The process takes a computer to analyse sound waves, but this is only a means to an end. A new form of musical notation was created to deal with the nuances a live musician needs to achieve, when the music isn't performed by a computer. So, while many of the pieces performed live may sound not dissimilar to other minimalist music, the construction (and ultimately the result) is really quite different. (Here some examples to listen to).

Some of the music is quite interesting and has a primal nature to it, which is quite odd given the highly technical nature of creating it. Although huge computers are used to initially generate an understanding of the sound, most of the music is anything but electronic sounding. I've not sat through an entire concert of this style of music as yet, so I can't speak to the long term durability of it, but my initial impressions are favorable - but I'm not convinced 2 hours of this sort of music would hold my interest (then again, 2 hours of John Denver [ref: yesterday's post] wouldn't hold my interest either, so this comment is really just a matter of taste).

For more on Spectral Music. Richard Friedman delves further into other composers and trends in music development on him blog Music from Other Minds.

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