Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Arvo Pärt - Tabula Rasa (1984)

Estonian-born Arvo Pärt calls his minimalist classical compositions "sacred music", but it's really so much more than that- I'd liken it to a spiritual experience. Fellow minimalist Steve Reich has said of Arvo that "his music fulfills a deep human need that has nothing to do with fashion", I'd have to agree- he came along at a time when both the spirit and style of his music were ripe for neglect, but he filled a void that most didn't even realize existed.

Pärt, through his compositions, has been able to combine spirituality, sound and science in a way unlike anyone before or since with his creation of the compositional practice of tintinnabuli; or rather the musical conversation between two voices- one singing notes around a tonic triad (which is the root note, the third and the fifth; think of a power chord in rock music); and the other voice singing a run of notes on the diatonic scale. The track Spiegel im Spiegel is a perfect example of this; it's a conversation between the violin and piano using tintinnabuli; the piano builds the triad with arpeggios and the violin "solos" above on the white notes.

If you can listen to this and it doesn't stir up something deep inside of you, then congratulations! For you have no soul...


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