Listening Log

  • Contemporary Classical:

The last Island, Op.301

  • Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies
  • Year of composition: 2009
  • Performed by: Hebrides Enseble
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

This piece was one of the first contemporary classical music pieces I’ve listened to. Only string instruments are used, often playing high, shrill sounding notes to create disharmonic chords or in pizzicato. Whilst I’m normally really open to discover new genres, I definitely prefer harmonic music and was rather disappointed that I couln’d enojoy the piece as much as I enjoy classical music.


  • Composer: Helmut Lachenmann
  • Instrument: Piano
  • Year of composition: 1963
  • Performed by: David Greilsammer
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

Due to the title of the piece, which can be translated to “rock” or “nurse” (a baby for example); I expected it to be slightly more calm. Even though it was mainly played in piano, the dissonant chords created an uneasy atmosphere. Every now and then one had the impression of waves being created due to the alternating pitch.

  • R’n’B

Dance for you

  • Composer: Beyonce Knowles
  • Year of composition: 2011
  • Peformed by: Beyonce
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

Even though it had a simple structure, I enjoyed listening to this song, but I wouldn’t add it to my music library. The background choir created a nice effect when echoing the lead voice, and some chords throughout the bridge were welcoming expectant. With around 6 minutes, the song nevertheless seemed slightly monotonous and long.


  • Composer: Lyrica Anderson
  • Year of composition: 2020
  • Performed by: Lyrica Anderson
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

Apart from the content of the lyrics, I found the song was interesting to listen to. A rather unusual sound was produced by the bass line and synthesisers. Even though it was quite repetitive, I found it entertaining throughout, but still wouldn’t count it as one of my favourites due to its simplicity in form and tex.

Let me Love you

  • Composer: Mario
  • Year of composition: 1990
  • Performed by: Mario
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

From the three R’n’B pieces I’ve listened to, this one is by far my favourite one. It had a really calm and relaxing character, a variable but clear structure and was really refreshing to hear. The background choir was only created my male voices, mainly echoing or underlying the lead voice in calm jazz chords.

  • Soul

(You make me feel) like a natural woman

  • Composer: Aretha Franklin
  • Year of composition: 1967
  • Performed by: Aretha Franklin
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

The calm and jazzy background music gave the song a really relaxed character. Even though the end was rather repetitive, the music and lead voice was building up towards a climax at the end, which is reached with a background choir joining in at the end of the piece.

A song for you

  • Composer: Donny Hathaway
  • Year of composition: 1971
  • Peformed by: Donny Hathaway
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

After a long piano intro, playing a descending scale, the lead voice starts singing, and a piano and cello can be heard in the background. Even though the song has a very slow pace, it is very emotional and I certainly enjoyed listening to it. After every stanza a new instrument joins in. The intro can be heard again towards the middle of the piece, which leads to a short, calm instrumental part, followed by the last stanza. I was surprised that the last chord was left open.

Celtic music

Scottish Clan

  • Composer: Derek Fietchter; Brandon Fietcher
  • Year of composition: 2015
  • Performed by: Derek Fietchter; Brandon Fietcher
  • Listened to: 18.05.2020

Even though the lead voice was played by a bagpipe, the melody, was syllabically structures, as if someone had sung it. Underlying the repetitive, yet sometimes variable melody is a constant drum beat, which stays the same throughout the piece. The chord progression is always the same, but unlike many other repetitive songs it stayed interesting and entertaining throughout, maybe caused by the small variations in the melody.

Irish Blessing

  • Composer: Unknown
  • Performed by: Belfast Cathedral Choir
  • Listened to: 18.05.2020

This piece is acapella, for a mixed choir SATB; The melody is syllabic, and with only a few exceptions all voices have the same text at the same time. The song consists of two stanzas, always followed by a chorus part. I found it especially interesting, that even though several for the western ear unusual sounding chord progressions and intervals were used, for example seconds, the piece didn’t sound disharmonic at all, but full of energy and very emotional.

Celtic Fantasy

  • Composer: Unknown
  • Performed by: Celtic & Fantatsy Masters
  • Listened to: 18.05.2020

The female lead melody provides a feeling of calmness, interestingly a piano and a glockenspiel can be heard in the background, to instruments which normally aren’t part of the Celtic culture. There doesn’t seem to be any structure, every sung phrase is different to the previous one, as the melody is always a variation. The only consistent is the chord progression from the instruments. From the three Celtic pieces I’ve listened to so far this one was my least favoured one; Even though it was very relaxing, I constantly had the feeling, that a beat is missing.


Wind Quintet No. 2, Op. 88 No. 2

  • Composer: Anton Reicha
  • Instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn
  • Year of composition: 1818
  • Performed by: Aeolos WWQuinted
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

This Quintet has four movements and is mainly played by woodwinds (apart from the horn). The first movement is in Sonata form and sounds overall very cheery.

Interestingly it wasn’t mainly the higher instruments such as the flute to play the melody, but more the lower ones. In the first movement for example, the bassoon plays the main part of the melody, which is taken over by the clarinet during the development until the flutes repeat the melody line once more. The third movement starts in a canonical form and can probably be seen as a fugue. 

The part I enjoyed most, was the minor section in the second movement, where the flute was playing the main melody and was accompanied by rapidly played staccato chords.

Throughout this quintet I often had the impression, that some more harmonies could have been used to accompany the melody. It was often the case that the melody was played by just one instrument and then echoed by the others. Otherwise I found that the use of the five instruments were harmonised well.   


  • Composer: Francis Poulenc
  • Instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and piano
  • Year of composition: 1932-1939
  • Performed by: Danish National Symphony Orchestra wind quintet
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

Even though I normally prefer pieces from earlier eras, I enjoyed listening to this piece. It consists of three movements, whereas the one in the centre of the piece creates a huge contrast to the two outer ones. The themes of the first and third movement are rapidly played, often disharmonic, but still catchy and entertaining. The second half of the first movement is much slower and calmer, I also had the impression, that the piano was more in the foreground.  At the end of the first movement, the first theme can be heard again, creating an A-B-A’ form.

The introduction of the second movement reminds of a film-score, this movement is overall calmer and seems more structured and harmonised. Within the centre of the movement a quicker, jumpy part can be heard.  In comparison to the movements around it, this one is relatively short.

The third movement seemed to have been a mixture of the first and second one and had a classical sounding character; in parts really stormy and emotional. One could often notice a quick change of theme.  


Fanfare to the Common Man

  • Composer: Aaron Copland
  • Instruments: 4 horns (f); 3 trumpets (Bb); 3 tromboones; tuba; timpani; bass drum; tam-tam
  • Year of composition: 1942
  • Performed by: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

This short piece (about 3 minutes) starts with a few dark drum beats created by the timpani, before a trumpet introduces a heroic sounding piece. With every repetition (and alteration) of the main theme another instrument seems to be joining in. Copland especially focussed onto the first three notes of the theme, which consists of a major triad.

Even without much accompaniment, Copland managed to create a strong, full sound and although the piece is rather short, it seems to have just the right length to capture a simple idea and work with it in a varied way, so that it stays interesting throughout.


  • Composer: Leos Janacek
  • Instruments: 4 flutes (4th also piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, E♭ piccolo clarinet,
    2 clarinets (B♭), bass clarinet (B♭), 2 bassoons, 4 horns (F), 12 trumpets (9 in C, 3 in F)
  • Year of composition: 1926
  • Performed by: WDR Sinfonieorchester
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

Within the first movement is seemed as if Janacek wanted to create several versions of a short motif, this can be heard in minor, major, a jazzy style, a more country- like sounding style and several more. Only towards the end it souded more heroic, fitting to the title of the movement “Fanfare. Allegretto – Allegro maestoso

Within the following movement I had the impression, similar to the introduction, that the parts of the music consisted of several different styles. Unlike the first movement one could find a main idea, it seemed to be alternating between hectic and calm parts, which I thought was rather irritating.

The first half of the third movement is incredibly calm and introduces some lovely themes, this movement mainly focuses on the strings. I enjoyed the contrast to the second half which was entertainingly jumpy in parts and overall more dramatic. 

Unlike the previous two movements the fourth one just seemed to carry one single idea, playing it in different ways throughout.

The minor introduction of the last movement, were the flutes introduced a longing theme and the strings answer with a descending arpeggio is my favourite part of the piece. Nonetheless, I thought that the following part was slightly too dark, which was mainly caused by the timpani. I was positively surprised, that the very first theme from the first movement was played again towards the end of this movement. This was furthermore one of the only motifs to be catchier than any of the others.


Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis

  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Instruments: double string orchestra with soloists
  • Year of composition: 1921
  • Performed by: Toronto Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

I really liked the longing, sad and dramatic nature of this piece, Vaughan Williams managed to always create a full sound. Despite the length of the piece it was incredibly interesting to listen to, and even though it had some extraordinary emotional parts, I felt relaxed listening to it. Most of the time it was difficult so foresee which harmonies are going to be used to end a phrase, thus the whole piece was full of surprises. Even though the Tallis – theme appears three times I only noticed it twice – once by the celli at the beginning of the piece and once by a solo – violin towards the centre.  

Serenade for String

  • Composer: Edward Elgar
  • Instruments: string orchestra
  • Year of composition: 1888 – 1892
  • Performed by: New England Conservatory Chamber Orchestra
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

Even though it was composed in the late 19th century, this piece had a very classical sounding character. The dotted staccato rhythm played by the basses at the beginning of the first movement give the piece a strong beat and creates a welcome contrast to the minor melody.

The slow pace of the second movement remind of an old dramatic film. Unlike the two outer movements it has a cleat melodic line, mostly played by the violas.

Even though the third movement was in minor, the dotted rhythm made it sound rather cheery, I especially enjoyed that the accompaniment as well as the melody didn’t just stay with one instrument group, but seemed to move from one instrument to the next.



  • Composer: Edgard Varese
  • Instruments: Percussion ensemble (13 players); 3 bass drums (medium, large, very large), 2 tenor drums, 2 snare drums, tarole (piccolo snare drum), 2 bongos, tambourine, field drum, crash cymbal, suspended cymbals, 3 tam-tams, gong, 2 anvils, 2 triangles, sleigh bells, cowbell, chimes, glockenspiel, piano, 3 temple blocks, claves, maracas, castanets, whip, güiro, high & low sirens, lion’s roar
  • Year of composition: 1929 – 1931
  • Performed by: Ensemble intercontemprain
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

I haven’t listened to anything that’s similar before, but was surprised, that even without a leading melody one could make out a structure. Even though I’m familiar with several percussion instruments, normally I’m not too comfortable with their sounds and was therefore especially surprised that I enjoyed listening to the catchy rhythms of this piece. From the middle part of the piece, I felt, that I lost overview of the idea the composer wanted to present, I nevertheless enjoyed listening to it.  


Oboe Concerto

  • Composer: Richard Strauss
  • Instruments: Solo: Oboe; Orchestra: 2 flutes, English horn, 2 clarinets (B♭), 2 bassoons, 2 horns (F), strings
  • Year of composition: 1945
  • Year of first performance: 1946
  • Performed by: Orchestra of the Trossingen Musikhochschule
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

The piece had overall a cherish and majestic sounding character. Throughout the whole concerto, the orchestra is either supporting or echoing the melody line of the oboe instead of playing anything contrasting. I especially liked the moments, when the orchestra joined in with some warm chords, after the oboe had a short solo part.

Oboe Concerto in C Major, RV 447: II. Larghetto

  • Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
  • Instruments: oboe, strings, continuo
  • Year of composition: 1720 – 1724
  • Performed by: Russian Chamber Orchestra
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

The melody only starts after a longing introduction, with a leading voice played by the strings and accompaniment by a harpsichord. This part can be heard at the end of the movement again, the harpsichord can’t be heard in the middle section. Unlike the previous piece the melody is can clearly be heard, there is only a minimum of accompaniment from the strings. I noticed that Vivaldi often used a circle of fifths – chord progression, which gave the piece expectant but welcome harmonies.


Bassoon Sonata

  • Composer: Camille Saint-Saens
  • Instruments: Bassoon, piano
  • Year of composition: 1921
  • Performed by: Bram van Sambeek; Ellen Corver
  • Listened to: 19.05.2020

The piece starts really quietly, but seems to be warming up more and more, as additional harmonies start to be played by the piano. The first movement creates a feeling of calmness and comfortability. Even though the main melody can always be heard easily, every now and then the piano becomes louder than the bassoon.

I especially liked the fast paced, jumpy second movement in minor. Unlike the previous movement, were the two instruments harmonized well with one another, they seem to have a conversation in this movement, often echoing one another. A further part of the second movement I liked, was a very tense moment towards the end of the movement, where the piano stays on a pedal point and the melody line of the oboe is ascending,

The third movement is slow paced again, and similar to the first one, the two instruments support one another again. One can hear some warm arpeggios played by the piano, with the bassoon accompanying with some low notes.

Contemporary Classical

Holy minimalism

The protecting veil

  • Composer:  John Taverner
  • Instruments: Solo: Cello; Sreing Orchestra
  • Year of composition: 1988
  • Performed by: Solo: Maria Kiegel; Ulster Orchestra
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

The piece takes around 45 minutes and is parted into 8 sections, which are all based on an icon in the life of the Virgin Mary.

  • The Protecting Veil
  • The Nativity of the Mother of God
  • The Annunciation
  • The Incarnation
  • The Lament of the Mother of God and the Cross
  • The Resurrection
  • The Dormition
  • The Protecting Veil

Even though the first part “The Protectinc Veil had a lovely leading voice, with calm harmonies accompanying it, it seemed slightly monotonous after a while, since the solo instrument only played legato notes in the upper register, the melody was repeated several times. On the other hand, if I wouldn’t focus on the piece directly, I would have probably seen it as very relaxing.

One further part I found difficult to listen to was a very long section of the cello playing a solo, this time just on low notes, there seemed to be no particular structure and it was difficult to focus on any harmonies. 

Overall I noticed, that Taverner often had harmonics based on a pedal point, this was often the case, when the orchestra played rapid and disharmonic chord progressions, and the cello played a low pitched melody. These parts sounded really warm and full in comparison to any of the other sections.

The lamb

  • Composer: John Taverner
  • Instruments: (Voices); SATB
  • Year of composition: 1982
  • Performed by: King’s College Cambridge
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

This short choral piece starts with just one voice introducing the theme, before the rest of the choir joins in, singing the chorus with warm, longing chords. The harmonical chorus creates a contrast to the more disharmonic stanzas. The pace is overall really slow, and there are several ritardandi at the end of every stanza.

Spiegel im Spiegel

  • Composer: Arvo Pärt
  • Instruments: Cello, Piano
  • Year of composition: 1978
  • Performed by: Leonhard Roczek; Herbert Schuch
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

The piece is introduced by some ascending arpeggios played on the piano, before the cello starts playing a slow, minor, but bright sounding melody. The mood was overall really calm and relaxing, and I especially enjoyed the moments, when one could hear an octaved bass note from the piano, which appeared once or twice within a phrase. Even though I like the structure and sound of the piece, after a while it seemed slightly monotonous, since no alteration to the melody or the accompanying arpeggios from the piano was used.

Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten

  • Composer: Arvo Pärt
  • Instruments: String Orchestra; Bell
  • Year of composition: 1977
  • Performed by: BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 21.05.2020

I thought that the bell was a really great idea to use within a piece, as it created a refreshing sound. Interestingly, the bell only played one tone the whole time, which can more or less be seen as a pedal point, on which the rest of the orchestra based its dramatic and sad sounding harmonies. Even though it’s often the same phrase being played, due to a crescendo, the piece seemed to become more and more dramatic. I really enjoyed this piece, as it managed to hold a lot of emotions, within a simple structure and was still entertaining to listen to.

I thought that the bell was a really great idea to use within a piece, as it created a refreshing sound. Interestingly, the bell only played one tone the whole time, which can more or less be seen as a pedal point, on which the rest of the orchestra based its dramatic and sad sounding harmonies. Even though it’s often the same phrase being played, due to a crescendo, the piece seemed to become more and more dramatic. I really enjoyed this piece, as it managed to hold a lot of emotions, within a simple structure and was still entertaining to listen to.

Symphony No. 3

  • Composer: Henryk Gorecki
  • Instruments: Solo: Soprano; Orchestra: flutes, clarinets, bassoons, contrabassoons, horns, trombones, harp, piano, strings.
  • Year of composition: 1976
  • Performed by: London Sinfonietta
  • Listened to:21.05.2020

Only about 13 minutes on can suddenly hear a note from another instrument apart from the strings: the piano, which works as a transition between the strings and the following solo – soprano part, which is also accompanied by the rest of the orchestra.

Gorecki used medieval modes as a basis for this symphony. The piece constists of three movements, whereas the first one is the longest one. Even though a big orchestra is used, most of the musical action is led by the strings.


Music for 18 musicians

  • Composer: Steve Reich
  • Instruments: violin, cello, 3 female voices, piano, maracas, marimba, xylophone, metalophone, clarinet, saxophone
  • Year of composition: 1976
  • Performed by: Eighth black bird
  • Listened to: 24. 05. 2020

Over the whole piece the music seems to wander slowly from one chord to the next one. The first movement is slightly quieter and less jumpy than the second one. I thought the female voices created and interesting impact on the overall calm sounding mood. I initially thought, that the repetitive motifs might become boring after a while, but the constant sound on similar chords produced a hypnotic circular sounding theme. The piece is parted into different sections, whereas every section seems to have another instrument in focus. Furthermore, Reich also alternated a lot with the dynamics, to keep the piece interesting.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed listening to this piece, even though it was difficult to focus on a structure. I enjoyed the calm atmosphere it created, especially by just moving slowly to different chords.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed listening to this piece, even though it was difficult to focus on a structure. I enjoyed the calm atmosphere it created, especially by just moving slowly to different chords.

Different trains

  • Piece: Different Trains
  • Composer: Steve Reich
  • Instruments: String quartet (2 violins, viola, violoncello) and recording tape
  • Date of composition: 1988
  • Performed by: Kronos Quartet
  • Listened to: 20.01.2020

The piece has three movements:

  1. America – Before the war

I initially thought, that the only sounds from the recoding tape where human voices. Nevertheless, one can also hear a steam whistle, which was very unlikely to be created by the strings. The voice recordings reminded me of a modern rap, which was emphasized by the cello playing at the same pitch of the voices and the constant repetition of short sentences. The background is filled with a high pitched short motif, which is constantly repeating itself, reflecting the turning wheels of the moving train.

  1. Europe – During the war

The transition from the previous movement to this one is fluently, I assume the composer wanted to demonstrate that the beginning of the war was a slow process one is forced into unwillingly. In addition to the steam whistle one can also hear a siren in the background. To indicate that the journey wasn’t as easy as before the “wheels” frequently changed pace. More disharmonic intervals were used and the pace as well as the volume increase towards the end. At the end of the movement, the “wheel – noise” stops abruptly for the first time and one can only hear the sirens and a crackling fire.

  1. After the war.

The transition to this movement was much more noticeable. It starts much quieter with just the cello; all the other instruments join slowly in a specific order. Here I had the impression, that the war was over rather suddenly. Slowly but steadily some nicer, warmer harmonies can be heard again. Apart from the one sentence “The war is over”, which was easy to understand; all the previous tape recordings sounded blurry and one had to listen carefully in order to understand them. From the centre of the movement on, the motifs change frequently from harmonic to disharmonic without any transitions. At some parts one can recognise the theme from the beginning again, which probably indicates, that most things have gone back to normal, but some moments from the war still stayed in his memory.

l enjoyed the sound of the first movement and the way in which the instruments are used to reflect the steam engine. Nevertheless, after having listened to a few minutes of the second movement “During the war” I had to pause and take a break as I found the created atmosphere too overwhelming and intensive. This was probably especially emphasized by the siren sound in the background. Even though I found it difficult to listen to the piece, the way in which Reich put his experiences and feelings into music is terribly impressive.

In C

  • Composer: Terry Riley
  • Instruments: (Depending on performance)
  • Year of composition: 1964
  • Performed by: Buffalo Center of the Creative and Performing Arts Ensemble
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

Suiting the title, this piece only works around the note C for about an hour. There are several interpretations of this piece, but the structure is always the same: One instrument starts to repeat the middle C, after a while some more instruments start to join in, firstly only with either a C as well, or the other two notes from a C – major triad (E and G). Later on some other notes from the C – scale can be heard, often moving in arpeggios towards the C again, whilst the C – major chord in the background continues to be played.

Similar to the previous piece a very hypnotic sounding effect was created by the constant repetitive, yet slightly alternating sound. Nevertheless, as this piece only stayed on one chord throughout, it created a long pedal point, which seemed like a C7 chord wanting to be resolved into an F – major chord. Even knowing that the C will be held throughout the whole piece, I felt I was constantly waiting for something more, and therefore found the piece slightly annoying after a while.

Similar to the previous piece a very hypnotic sounding effect was created by the constant repetitive, yet slightly alternating sound. Nevertheless, as this piece only stayed on one chord throughout, it created a long pedal point, which seemed like a C7 chord wanting to be resolved into an F – major chord. Even knowing that the C will be held throughout the whole piece, I felt I was constantly waiting for something more, and therefore found the piece slightly annoying after a while.


  • Composer: Philip Glass
  • Instruments: piano, horn, flute, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, synthesize, bass clarinet, viola, violoncello
  • Year of composition: 1981
  • Performed by: Philip Glass Ensemble
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

I was surprised to find Philip Glass in connection with this genre. I originally know his music from the film “the Hours”, to which’s soundtrack I’ve listened to several times over the past 5 years. Some of the music from the film seem to even have its origin in “Glassworks”.

During the first movement, one can only hear a piano, apart from one note played by the horn at the very end to introduce the following movement. Overall Glass focuses on repetitive themes and the usage of triads over a four – note rhythm. This piece was overall hugely similar to “music for 18 musicians”, including small and slow chord changes an creating overall a calm, hypnotic atmosphere. I found it interesting how Glass used the transitions between the different movements, though they are clearly audible and always have a rest in between them, movements 2 and 4 seem to end rather abruptly, whereas 1,3 and 5 have a slow, clear finishing bar.

I personally enjoyed the calm movements, 1,3 and 5 more than the hectic ones, although even though they were incredibly fast paced, due to the repetitive chords the mood still stayed overall relaxing, yet slightly jumpy.


  • Composer: Brian Ferneyhough
  • Instruments: bass flute and pre recorded tape
  • Year of composition: 1986
  • Performed by: Institute of Contemporary Music and Sound Technology Zurich
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

The nervous atmosphere of this piece was mainly created by the flutter-tongue technique as well as the disharmonic chords. Furthermore, the dynamics were overall held rather quiet, which gave even more emphazism on the nervous mood. The colour of sound created by the flute reminded of a desert, or even a lizard running over stones in a warm environment.

Even though I’m normally more skeptical with complex pieces like this, I found it quite interesting to listen to it. I wouldn’t add it to my personal music library, but after having found an association, such as the lizard here, it became more and more interesting to listen to.

 Carcieri d’Invezione I 

  • Composer: Brian Ferneyhough
  • Year of composition: 1982
  • Performed by: Nieuw Ensemble
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

Unlike the previous part I found it difficult to associate this piece with anything. Furthermore it created an uneasy chaotic atmosphere, probably due to the huge amount of instruments used in small sections with no particular key. After a while one could notice some repetitive “themes”, for example a short part played by the piano, which also introduced the piece. I was surprised to hear a few “warmer” motifs within, even though they weren’t based on any harmonical structure either.


  • Composer: Brian Ferneyhough
  • Instruments: String Quartet
  • Year of composition: 2008
  • Performed by: Arditti String Quartet
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

This piece starts with all four voices playing the same notes, the time signature seems to change after every single bar. Unlike the previous two pieces, which always had at least one instrument playing, in this one, there are several quiet moments, the short disharmonic themes are always ended abruptly. The middle section of the piece seems to be using more legato notes than the outer two pieces. There where a few moments, when only high pitched legato notes could be heard – which created a tense mood.


  • Composer: John Rutter
  • Instruments: Soprano, mixed choir, orchestra
  • Year of composition: 1985
  • Performed by: The Cambridge singers, Aurora Orchestra
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

Even though Rutter uses very simple styles and harmonies, they are very effective. The requiem seems to be in a constant flow and reminds of a requiem from the classical era. The third movement “Pie Jesu”, involved a Soprano Solo, singing a calm melody accompanied by a harp, and had an exceptionally warm and welcoming sound. Apart from this movement and the fourth one, which was more cheery sounding and jumpy the requiem was overall very emotional.

As I had the opportunity to sing several choral works already, I made my first experiences with similar music a few years ago already. I overall enjoyed listening to it, although, in comparison to the rest of the piece, I sometimes had the impression, that some parts were slightly “empty”, for example the melodic line of the solo cello in the second movement.

Shepherd’s Pipe Carol

  • Composer: John Rutter
  • Instruments: Mixed choir, organ
  • Year of composition: 1966
  • Performed by: King’s College Choir
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

This short, cheery piece mainly worked with a question – answer motif. Fitting to the title, the organ reflects a shepherds pipe in between the stanzas of the piece. I was positively surprised by the slightly jazzy sounding rhythm and the overall easy atmosphere.


  • Composer: Eric Whitacre
  • Instruments: Mixed Choir, piano, percussion
  • Year of composition: 2008
  • Performed by: Vocal Essence Choir
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

Within the first bars, a cluster chord is created, as every voice joins in one after another and stays on a note. Shortly after, the chord is resolved into a warm, homophobic melody. During a further cluster chord, which slightly reminded me of a Bee swarm, a solo recitative can be heard. I was especially surprised about the percussion suddenly joining in, evolving into a cluster alongside the choir, reflecting a thunderstorm. The sound of falling rain was reflected by the members of the choir snap and clap, which was a very effective idea.

O Magnum Mysterium

  • Composer: Morten Lauridsen
  • Instruments: Mixed choir
  • Year of composition: 1994
  • Performed by: Nordic chamber choir
  • Listened to: 24.05.2020

The piece reminded me of Gregorian choral pieces. The slow moving, harmonic melody creates a sensitive ans spiritual sounding mood. The melody lines on top of one another often create disharmonic chords, which are always resolved within another line. Even though the harmonic layout is rather simply structured, the slow harmonic chances created a further tense effect to keep the audience hooked.

Microtonality and spectralism


  • Composer: Tristan Murail
  • Instruments: Orchestra
  • Year of composition: 1980
  • Performed by: Orchestre National de France
  • Listened to: 25.05.2020

The music has a wavy pattern, which applies the pitch as well as dynamical changes. I’ve only listened to one piece using microtonal notes before, and expected it to sound slightly more chaotic. Due to the use of uncommon harmonies, the piece sounded very tense, often shrill due to the use of high pitched legato notes plays by string instruments, but also due to the polyphonic structure. Overall I would find it interesting to have a closer look into microtonality and spectralism, to find about more which underlying base the music has.


  • Composer: Tristan Murail
  • Instrumens: woowinds, strings, electronics
  • Year of composition: 1989
  • Peformed by: Ensemble Musique Oblique
  • Listened to: 25.05.2020

Interestingly, due to the polyphonic structure, I sometimes found it difficult to distinguish the sounds of the instruments ans the electronically produced notes. Similar to the previous piece, the music seems to be coming in waves, sometimes being highly active, and nearly completely silent in other moments. I was surprised to find some melodic elements again throughout the piece.

Les Espaces Acoustiques

  • Composer: Gerard Grisey
  • Year of composition: 1974 – 1985
  • Performed by: WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
  • Listened to: 25.05.2020

The repeated melody from the solo viola in the first movement, seems to involve a few tonic notes, which often fall back into a microtonal pattern. Towards the end of this movement, the bow seems to be only gliding along the sides to create a squeaking, scratchy noise. In comparison to the other movements, the second one had a rather warm character, mainly produced by the woodwinds. It furthermore didn’t seem as abstract as the others and reminded of old film music. The third movement involves brasses, and works like the previous two pieces: often alternating between loud, fast paced notes and moments of silence. The last movement opens in a similar way to the first one: with a solo viola playing, before the whole orchestra joins in.

Down a sunless sea

  • Composer: Hugues Dufourt
  • Instruments: String orchestra
  • Year of composition: 1970
  • Performed by: Unknown
  • Listened to: 25.05.2020

In between the disharmonic structures, there were a few moments with a clear melody line, played by a violin, accompanied by the other instruments. Tension was created with frequently used dynamical changes as well as alterations between polyphony and homophony. I thought the pizzicato parts, which always occurred once a compositional idea had finished, created a nice change in between the shill sounding legato notes.

L’Heure des traces

I unfortunately wasn’t able to find a recording of the piece, nor a proper, full score.


  • Composer: Luciano Beiro
  • Instruments: 8 soloists (mixed), full ochestra
  • Year of composition: 1968 – 1969
  • Performed by: Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 25.05.2020

As mentioned under the exercise “Explorimg contemporary classicism”, Beiro often experimented with the human voice. The different ways in which he applied the voices in this piece was something new and refreshing in comparison to the previous pieces of this era. There was often a change between recitatives, whispered, shouted and sung parts, and one can notice, that Beiro weighted each voice well to get a certain effect. Even though the piece was mainly disharmonic, I rather enjoyed listening to it. I especially liked the third movement, where Beiro used several works of other composers, such as Mahler as a base for his musical ideas, I furthermore enjoyed the different usages of the voices.


  • Composer: Luciano Beiro
  • Instruments: female voice, orchestra
  • Year of composition: 1960 – 1963
  • Performed by: Orchestra della RAI
  • Listened to: 25.05.2020

This large piece can be divided into 7 orchestral pieces and 5 vocal pieces. The voiced parts seem to often be only accompanied by a minimum of instruments, if any in the first place. The mood seems to be staying the same throughout, and unlike the other pieces, it was difficult to focus on a structure within the movements. I found the orchestral parts more pleasant to listen to than the vocal parts, although looking at the connection between those two, they all seemed very similar.


  • Composer: Luciano Beiro
  • Instruments: female voice, harp, two percussions
  • Year of composition: 1960
  • Performed by: Members of the Ensemble Itinéraire
  • Listened to: 26.05.2020

At the beginning of the piece the voice seems to create words, which physically imitate or resemble, a sound description. (Onomatopoeia). These words are accompanied by different notes on a harp, which initially also seem to imitate the mentioned sounds. Later within the piece the voice starts singing English lyrics, the harp nevertheless, sticks to its solid short notes and disharmonic chords. Interestingly the transition between the onomatopoeia parts and the lyrics is barely noticeable. Even though I became more and more used to the often disharmonic structures of contemporary classical music, I felt as if the piece sounded rather empty, having only had three instruments and a voice.


  • Composer: Luciano Berio
  • Instruments: electronic
  • Year of composition: 1957
  • Performed by: Unkown
  • Listened to: 26.05.2020

This piece is only produced with electronic sounds. The constant high pitched noises and sounds, which often sounded like they came from a sci-fi film, created alongside the underlying disharmonic chords a daunting character. With the progress of the piece, these underlying chords became louder, until the higher notes were only barely noticeable anymore. I felt really uneasy listening to this piece, although pieces from it could have been easily used in several futuristic films.