Listening Log

Black Bottom

  • Composer: Unkown
  • Year of composition: around 1920
  • Performed by: The Charleston Kids
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

Starting out with only the brass instruments, the piece starts with simple harmonics, although shortly after all other instruments are added as well. Due to the swinging rhythm, a syncopated 4/4 rhythm and fast pace the piece has a really uplifting character. One theme which is introduced at the beginning is presented by different instruments over the course of the piece. A short side theme seems to jump in between those sections as well. I especially liked the use of the piano, as it could always be heard clearly in the background even though it was always just used as a “filler” between the introduced themes.

Tennessee Waltz

  • Composer: Patti Page
  • Year of composition: 1950
  • Performed by: Patti Page
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

In comparison to the last piece, this one was much slower and more melancholic. Furthermore it isn’t just purely instrumental, but had a leading singing voice. In the centre of the piece is a short instrumental part echoing the sung melody is heard. I personally found it interesting how the layers of voices were used, as there was always a second voice harmonizing to the leading voice.


  • Composer: Unkown
  • Year of composition: around 1920
  • Performed by: Orquesta De Osvaldo Fresedo
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

This short piece featured a simple, yet dramatic sounding melody, mainly played by the leading strings. As a side theme, a more cheery and uplifting tune in a major key is used. Again, the sound of the piano stands out clearly, even though it is only meant to keep the rhythm in the background. As with each entry of the main theme a similar instrumentation is used, I personally found the piece somewhat repetitive.

Smoke gets in your eyes

  • Composer: Jerome Kern
  • Year of composition: 1934
  • Performed by: Ross Mitchell, His Band & Singers
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

This warm sound- coloured song has a slow rhythm. Due instrumentation, featuring saxophones, brass instruments, a drum set and a piano as well as the the slow pace, the piece has an incredibly calming, dreamy character. A small choir featuring men and women sings the main melody in octaves. For this piece I found the mix of instruments and voices was used quite effectively, as both parts seemed equally important, even though they didn’t compete against one another and the transition to the centre instrumental part seemed seamless.


  • Composer: Al Bowly
  • Year of composition: around 1920
  • Performed by: Sid Phillips & His Melodians
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

In comparison to the other pieces that I’ve listened to so far featuring a voice, this one had an unusual long instrumental part. There was a leading male voice singing a short tune at the beginning, echoed by a female choir. The following instrumental part only used the trombone as its first voice and repeats the melody from the beginning. Nonetheless, due to the underlying warm and often varying harmonies the piece doesn’t seem to become repetitive.

Anything Goes

  • Composer: Cole Porter
  • Year of composition: around 1920
  • Performed by: Cole Porter
  • Listened to: 27.08.2022

This piece is still a well – known classic standard today, originating from a musical with the same name of the title. This time a joyful melody is used throughout the whole piece, accompanied by a single piano. I found the use of the melody quite interesting, as the A part, which appears around 10 times throughout the piece, is a mixture of a building up melody and harmonical structure, leading to a peak point, which is then released with the short phrase “Anything goes”. Overall the use of the dynamics create a really humorous piece of music.


  • Composer: Draius Milhaud
  • Year of composition: 1920
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Wolfgang Weller
  • Listened to: 30.08.2022

Even though two different keys were used for this piece (Bmajor in the right hand and G major in the left), it didn’t sound too disharmonic. Through the steady rhythm of a starting left hand motif, the melody seems to be floating. Interestingly, the right hand seems rhythmically mainly bound to the rhythmic pattern of the left hand. Some contrast is created by two types of melodies; a calmer one where the right hand only plays a single line, accompanied by the rhythmic pattern of the left hand and a more colourful one, where the right hand plays the rhythmic pattern in octaves and the left one the melody.

String Quartet No.5

  • Composer: Darius Milhaus
  • Year of composition: 1920
  • Instrument: 2 Violins, Cello, Double Bass
  • Performed by: Quatuor Parisii
  • Listened to: 30.08.2022

This piece seems like an interesting approach to polytonality, and even though I found it difficult to listen to it initially, I found it really interesting. All four instruments are equally important, combined with the poly-tonality one can get the impression of being drawn from one key to another. When looking at all the melodic lines individually, they actually seem quite bright and colourful, nonetheless, the harmonic interaction with the other instruments create disharmonic interactions. It can also be noticed, that Milhaud often used the same rhythmical patterns for all instruments but time-delayed.


  • Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
  • Year of composition: 1912 – 1914
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Daniil Trifonov
  • Listened to: 09.09.2022

The piece switches between a very fierce temper in the lower register and a lighter theme, played in the upper register. A melodic line, which stays similar in both parts can always be recognized over the accompaniment. In terms of the notation it is incredibly interesting that each hand uses a different key. Surprisingly, I didn’t have the impression that the piece was becoming too disharmonic and really enjoyed listening to it.

Symphony of Psalms -Third Movement

  • Composer: Igor Stravinsky
  • Year of composition: 1930
  • Performed by: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 09.09.2022

In terms of orchestration, it can be noticed that Stravinsky only used low registered strings, such as the cello and bass, alongside a huge wind instrument repertoire, percussion, and to create an even more unique sound, also two pianos. Thus, the sound colour is incredibly mysterious and dark sounding. I was slighlty surprised by the use of the choir, but found it added another level to the dark themed music.

Verklärte Nacht

  • Composer: Arnold Schönberg
  • Year of composition: 1899
  • Performed by: Emerson String Quartet,
  • Listened to: 26.09.2022

Initially, the piece seems really full of tension, but as it is never really released, it slowly seems to become less and some harmonies even create rather warm sequences. As a basis, Schönberg used a poem about a couple walking at night, under a full moon. The lady confesses that she is expecting a child from someone else, nonethteless, her partner seems to be really understanding and is willing to bring up the child as his own. The piece itself consists of one single movement, which are separated in 5 parts, which demonstrate the changing atmosphere of the couple. Nonetheless, these 5 parts are connected almost seamlessly.


  • Composer: Arnold Schönberg
  • Year of composition: 1900 – 1903
  • Performed by: Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Listened to: 26.09.2022

Again, Schönberg tried to set a story to music. This time he used the legend from the middle age about a king “Vademar”, who falls in love with another woman. As the queen becomes really jealous, she kills the other lady.

The piece is parted in three main sections. Whilst the first two sections are mainly carried by the solo voices, the third part also involves a male – choir. The first movement is introduced by the orchestra, followed by 9 songs for the two solo voices. In contrast to this length, the second movement only involves one song. Even though most oft these first two movements are already dissonant, the third one created a slightly more unsettling mood, especially with the male choir. Nonetheless, as a sunrise is described at the end, the mood seems to become incredibly bright again creating a warm end for the piece.

Violin Concerto

  • Composer: Alban Berg
  • Year of composition: 1935
  • Performed by: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Listened to: 08.10.2022

The piece consists of two movements, each of them separated again by different tempo markings. The first movement has a cheerier nature, which can even be heard through the dissonant harmonies, mainly caused by the rhythm.

In contrast, the second movement, which is stated to be about death, starts with a musical climax of all instruments playing a clash chord at the same time. The following fast paced sequence suggests the presentation of running or escaping, which builds itself up again to reach the peak point of the piece.


  • Composer: Anton Webern
  • Year of composition: 1908
  • Performed by: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 08.10.2022

Even though Webern also used 12-tone-technique for this piece, some traces of contrapuntal and chamber musical textures can be found. The strings introduce 8 notes, which are the basis of the composition. This motif gradually moves in the background whilst a few more contrary themes are presented. As the piece develops further, it gradually becomes louder, reaching a fortissimo climax point.

Composition 1960, No. 7

  • Composer: La Monte Young
  • Year of composition: 1960
  • Performed by: Jeroen van Veen
  • Listened to: 24.10.2022

This piece was in terms of its musical colour especially interesting as it was just one chord played at the beginning, which fades out over the course of the piece. Sometimes a flute can be heard playing a soft melodic line over the chord, although only consisting of two notes. At the end I was barely able to hear the chord – nor the flute, but it was an interesting trying to find the sound.

Music for 18 musicians

  • Composer: Steve Reich
  • Year of composition: 1947 – 1976
  • Performed by: Steve Reich Ensemble
  • Listened to: 24.10.2022

I’ve listened to this piece several times before – as it has an incredibly calming effect. I find it especially interesting, how Reich managed to create a “spherical” sounding colour, using specific instruments in combination with voices. As one can always hear at least two groups of instruments playing, mostly using short notes, but displayed in time, thus the music almost seems to be pulsating.

Mallet Quartet: I. Fast

  • Composer: Steve Reich
  • Year of composition: 2009
  • Instruments: 2 marimbas, 2 vibraphones.
  • Performed by: Third Coast Percussion
  • Listened to: 24.10.2022

This piece had a similar effect as the previous one, even though the used chords seemed disharmonic more often. Chord changes didn’t happen often, but much faster than in “Music for 18 Musicians”, and therefore appeard to be more surprising, yet not unwelcome. Having only instruments that can’t produce any long holding notes, the rhythm seemed to be placed very well to create another “spherical” sound.

A Rainbow in the Curved Air

  • Composer: Terry Riley
  • Year of composition: 1868
  • Performed by: Terry Riley
  • Listened to: 26.10.2022

This was the first minimalistic piece I’ve listened to that didn’t involve only organic instruments, but featured synthesizer and other electronic sounds. The music itself consits of several fast moving ostinatos, played at different times and paces, overlapping each other. Whilst some can be heard over the course of the whole piece, others can only be heard a few times. The electronic colour of sound creates a space – ambience sphercial sound. Even though most of the notes where dissonant to one another, I found the mixtured of the different instruments created an overal relaxinf effect.

The Heart Asks Pleasure First

  • Composer: Michael Nyman
  • Year of composition: 1993
  • Performed by: Valentina Lisitsa
  • Listened to: 26.10.2022

I was really looking forward to making a short entry about this piece, as I have played it myself several years ago. I think the layout of the accompanying voices is really interesting, as one would have to perform two at the same time with the right and the left hand, whilst also playing the melody line with the right hand. Even though the melody is simply structured, and creates almost an exact copy, starting in another key in part B, it seems to be highly effective in its flowing motion. This flowing motion can also be found in the accompaniment, almost blending with the melody.

The Hours: An Unwelcome Friend

  • Composer: Philip Glass
  • Year of composition: 2002
  • Performed by: An unwelcome Friend
  • Listened to: 26.10.2022

This is also a piece, I played on the piano a few years ago. Here the repetition of a few chords with different melodic ideas or arpeggiated versions over the accompaniment, create a similar calming effect as Reich’s spherical sound. As this piece was used for a film, I would also like to mention, that almost the whole music in it consists of this chord structure, but due to the variations in the melody, it doesn’t seem repetitive at all.