Over the course of the last week, I had the opportunity to listen to 3 different pieces from different composers and players in class for the last assignment in the Music 100 course. Before the performances I assumed we’d be listening to similar styles that we heard during class from the composers we studied. However, I did not expect the songs to be nearly as unique or individualized as they turned out to be so it was a very interesting experience to say the least.
The first song the class heard was composed by Jazer Giles. It was titled, Piece for Live Electronics (2017). What stood out about this in particular was that there was no instrumentation involved. It was solely comprised by videos transcoded into music through complex algorithms. This varying frequencies were not pre recorded or rehearsed at all. I enjoyed the fact that there was chance for error because Giles explained that no two performances were the same. This was very innovative. In terms of parameters, the pitch slowly increased and was very monotone for the beginning. What I found interesting was that the pitch and duration reinforced each other to create a bubbling effect during the piece. The dynamics were mostly stable as there was not much variation in softness or loudness. I assumed the tonality would be minor if it did have a “tone.” Lastly, the mood of the piece resembled an outer space, dream like state.This effect was meant to be exciting but not jarring. The message was to get people asking questions about what was taking place within the composition of the music.
Next, was titled Unfolding, for Solo Saxophone (2017), by Victor Zheng. Right off the bat, the mood of the piece was clear. I felt an almost ominous feeling of walking through a mysterious dark forest while listening to the saxophone player. The pitch was all over the place, and unpredictable. There were moments of softness and jumps into louder part during the performance. Similarly to the other piece, the tempo was irregular. I would compare this to a recitative because it was difficult to follow or hum along to. As far as the instrumentation goes, this thin textural tune had a lot of repetition for effect and pauses in the song as well. Overall, this piece differed from the last greatly, even though they both were unique in their own ways.
Lastly, was a more traditional set up, or so I thought. Titled Wind Quartet by Dominick Mrakovich, was a lineup of woodwind instruments (flute, oboe, bassoon), and brass (french horn). I was ready to listen to a piece that was more like the ones we have heard in class. Again, the performance took me by storm quite literally when the players began the song by blowing air into the instruments to create a “wind” effect. This helped set the mood to yet another very unique piece. The theme of minor tonality and free meter like in the others, was in this performance as well. Many dissonances filled the song as the instruments clustered each others’ sounds in both call and response and in a thick texture. I was surprised to see something that looked so typical be so creative.
This was a great opportunity to be exposed to the infinite different styles, techniques, and shapes that music can take. I’ve never heard anything like the performances I saw this week, and was a very different experience than the concert I went to a few weeks prior for the report. This classroom premiere showed me how music does not always have to fall within a category. As a composer and as a player, you have the liberty to transform music into a way you see fit, so I was very surprised by the expressivity in these 3 pieces because it was much different from my expectation of what the premiere was going to be like. Nonetheless, it was different in a great way.. This premiere and the music class in general gave me the ability to explore, and I will definitely remember this in the years to come.