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Beyond Messaien And Alain


MusingMuso
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It's so long ago since I studied the works of these two organ-composers with any degree of seriousness; not really having an organ which I can play such things on.

 

However, it seems to me that both men had a fascination with musical ideas and rhtyhms far beyond France and Europe: in the case of Messaien, it included a study of Indian-Hindi talus rhyhms and bird-song. I forget the exact influences on Alain, but the end-products are eloquent testimony to a remarkable imagination and great orginality.

 

When I listen to much contemporary music (from France or elsewhere) it seems to be so stuck in the mould of French music; though I am sure that there are notable exceptions.

 

Wasn't Arabian music an inspiration to Satie?

 

It seems to me, that great things can happen when musical motifs and ideas are used creatively and blended with the indigenous music familiar to a particular composer, but perhaps music has reached a certain cul-de-sac, where eveything has been done before at least once.

 

On the other hand, I have an absolutely superb piece on CD, which I think was probably improvised originally, but which is so striking and so different, I listen to it quite regularly.

 

I refer to a CD recording made by Joyce Jones at the vast instrument of West Point Military Academy, New Jersey, USA, on which she plays the meditation on a Japanese popular melody, which without digging out the CD case, I think is called "Aka Tombo".

 

It is THE most atmospheric and beautiful work, whether it is written down or not, with all sorts of hints at Zen Buddhism, mysterious bells and wind-chimes (etc). What I find remarkable is not only the use of Japanese modes, as one might expect, but the way it is blended beautifully with what I can only describe as French impressionistic harmony.

 

The other day, I heard during the night, some Persian solo-vocal music, and this too had an ethereal, haunting quality which I found quite fascinating.

 

My question is this: what unusual music or foreign native style could provide the sort of inspiration for new organ-music; perhaps music which may yield something as unusual and original as that composed by Messaien, Satie or Alain?

 

 

MM

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  • 2 weeks later...
The other day, I heard during the night, some Persian solo-vocal music, and this too had an ethereal, haunting quality which I found quite fascinating.

 

My question is this: what unusual music or foreign native style could provide the sort of inspiration for new organ-music; perhaps music which may yield something as unusual and original as that composed by Messaien, Satie or Alain?

MM

 

I studied Zoroastrianism, which began in Persia, at university and had a number of tapes of Persian folk music as well as liturgical (Gathic Avestan) chants done by Zoroastrian priests. My dream was to make a western notation version of the latter and I actually was in touch witrh some ethnomusicology buff at SOAS with a view to getting funding but nothing came of it. Perhaps I might get the tapes out again and do an organ meditation or something on Gathic chant.

 

I mentioned before that Arthur Wills did a piece based on the Indian epic Bhagavad Gita, but I don't think this claimed any Indian music as its inspiration.

 

Best wishes

 

Peter

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
My question is this: what unusual music or foreign native style could provide the sort of inspiration for new organ-music; perhaps music which may yield something as unusual and original as that composed by Messaien, Satie or Alain?

MM

 

Reading this reminded me that I once wrote a work called Icons which was commissioned to be played in the sensationally restored Armenian church in (St Peter's - as was) Cranley Gardens. What a place! - and with endless rows of seats slightly more luxurious than those in the restored Royal Opera House! Icons used extensively the liturgical Armenian chants which were sent in a bundle to me. I have reached up on a top shelf and found the said piece. So it did happen!

N

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Reading this reminded me that I once wrote a work called Icons which was commissioned to be played in the sensationally restored Armenian church in (St Peter's - as was) Cranley Gardens. What a place! - and with endless rows of seats slightly more luxurious than those in the restored Royal Opera House! Icons used extensively the liturgical Armenian chants which were sent in a bundle to me. I have reached up on a top shelf and found the said piece. So it did happen!

N

 

Is it available for purchase/hearing?

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I studied Zoroastrianism, which began in Persia, at university and had a number of tapes of Persian folk music as well as liturgical (Gathic Avestan) chants done by Zoroastrian priests. My dream was to make a western notation version of the latter and I actually was in touch witrh some ethnomusicology buff at SOAS with a view to getting funding but nothing came of it. Perhaps I might get the tapes out again and do an organ meditation or something on Gathic chant.

 

I mentioned before that Arthur Wills did a piece based on the Indian epic Bhagavad Gita, but I don't think this claimed any Indian music as its inspiration.

 

Best wishes

 

Peter

 

 

======================

 

That's very interesting, but musically, I can't even begin to imagine how the music I heard on the radio could really be written down. It had so many tonal slides and some very strange, angular rhythmic ornamentation, I wouldn't know where to start.

 

On the other hand, the Tuvan throat-singing tradition (which is simply marvellous), has been 'westernised' to some extent by a popular Tuvan throat-singing band, who've added a sort of pop-dimension to traditional Tuvan singing.

 

It puts a whole new slant on 'Two part invention,' but it really is quite extraordinary.

 

I think what I had in mind is more like the thing Nigel did, where there is a tradition of clear notation or specific rhythms.

 

I suspect that some of the South American traditions in such as Bolivia and Chile, might yield things of interest.

 

India, as always, has so many complex ways of playing/singing music; possibly worthy of a lifetime-study.

 

I suspect that the most accessible music is possibly the music of the Far East; Japan I've mentioned, but also other traditions in China, Indonesia, Burma (etc.) may yield others.

 

I thought some more about some of the other music influenced by far-flung places, and of course, anything "Bolero" is derived from S.American music, with anything 'jazzy' derived from Caribbean music. Rhythmically, I can well imagine that Black-American music would be a gold-mine, and that possibly extends to music derived from it, such as the pre-Rock-music which followed the "swing bands."

 

Anyway, this was always going to be an odd thread, but at least we've made a couple of discoveries.

 

How about a whole Psalm Prelude Nigel?

 

It couldn't be any worse than Howells!! :)

 

 

MM

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
======================

 

How about a whole Psalm Prelude Nigel?

 

MM

 

I'm rather proud of my autobiographical Psalm XXII v 6

 

N

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Is it available for purchase/hearing?

 

I imagine it could be. The disc that it is on won't open these days but I can scan into PDF with no problem.

 

N

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
I imagine it could be. The disc that it is on won't open these days but I can scan into PDF with no problem.

 

N

 

Done. Send a PM with an Email address and I can zap it to you as an attachment in PDF format. N

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