View Full Version : Oliver's transcendental musical diary

9th June 2010, 11:11 AM
I guess about two years ago I read Kurt Leland's "Music and the Soul," and it made me aware of the fact that music can induce all kinds of mystical experiences.

Strewn all over this site I've mentioned messages that I believe came to me from Spirit through the means of song lyrics. The link seems to happen because music relaxes my mind and my attention is a bit more flexible. I often perceive some part of the lyrics as significant, I know that these words mean something. Sometimes circumstances and music match as well.

But in this thread I want to post about another kind of experience, Kurt calls it "Transcendental Musical Experience (TME)." Through the means of the music something is communicated, triggered or understood without requiring words, just the music itself. Sometimes it comes to me as a vision. Sometimes it is a state of consciousness, hard to describe.

I wanted to collect some of these experiences and post it here. Updates can be very irregular, because I do not will these things.


9th June 2010, 11:22 AM
These two happened January 2009:

"Ride of the Valkyries" conducted by Klemperer

This morning I felt like listening to it (again). It was a wholly new sensation - I repeated it several times.

The first one was familiar - the feeling of passing through the clouds in a blue sky. The sky is deep blue and the clouds fly past. Carried by the strings. Then a strange thing mixes in - I get the impression of equine muscles. Big equine muscles. I always thought of winged Pegasus horses in connection with the valkyries, but these are big horse thigh muscles at work, hard work. It's as if I can see a really muscular bright white horse galloping on the air. It was as if I could feel the muscles themselves.

At several times I felt like I had to cry. Every time I listen to it now I feel like - I don't know, I just am short of crying. Like I want to storm the sky with them? Like I am missing something.

"Lohengrin Prelude" conducted by Abbado

I first get the feeling the brass section is playing so soft as if anything more would be immodest and not right. Almost as if they were playing as gently as for a lullaby - to not disturb the baby, so soft, so gentle. I did not know they could do this.

Then I get the impression of something noble, like a fully dignified king is parading on a festive occasion, in full regalia, fully aware of his presence and effect. It sounds like a national anthem on a festive occasion.

And then finally a big revelation, a big impressive - something. Mind-awing. It sounds like "Here I am", but spoken by someone who is really awing and big. If this is the grail, the grail is not a thing. It's a person. Or personal. It is a presence.

Then I had a very strange sensation. I suddenly had the feeling of something should explode outward. That the inner images represented a wave of energy going outward in a wide circle, like a star exploding in a movie and sending a big circular wave of particles outward. But the big "bang" of this performance followed only a few seconds later, as if it was too late for where I expected it.


9th June 2010, 11:40 AM
June 2010:

"Third Eye" by Tool

There comes a passage when many interwoven patterns come together with an industrial thumping sound. At this point I had a vision of gigantic cogs and wheels turning, a gigantic machine, but in a style that reminds one of the 19th century, like the innards of a clock like Big Ben, I guess. What does this mechanism drive? It was as if this was the inside of the world, and I was for some strange reason reminded of Hinduism and of depictions of the mechanics inside the world.

"Concerto for Orchestra" by Bartok

There's a very solemn passage that sounds like a brass orchestra in a church setting. For reasons unknown I saw a colorful dancing girl in a wild swirl with a red flower in her dark hair. It seemed like a painting of swirling colors.


9th June 2010, 11:45 AM
January 2009:

"Bruckner: 8th symphony, Adagio" conducted by Bƶhm

It was as if a part of the string section was missing "the tact" or the tempo/meter - what do you call it? Their rhythm was expanding and contracting like a huge, underlying breath, a way deeper breath. It seemed to modify the feeling of time underlying the piece, contracting and expanding time itself. As if for a moment the piece did run in its own time that did not quite fit our time.


9th June 2010, 11:49 AM
February 2009:

Three pieces [...] give me the same reaction - "Lohengrin Prelude", "The Gates of Delirium" and the Adagio of Bruckner's 8th. I get a sudden outpouring of energy in my chest. My chest suddenly fills with this energy.

After this all other energy reactions [...] are pronounced. The likelihood of TMEs and images is higher. This is precisely what happened before my "Valkyries" experience. Or today I first listened to "The Gates of Delirium" (the end of which took me energetically by surprise) and afterwards for example to "No Quarter" by Led Zeppelin and it gave me shivers, too.

Now, here's the weird thing - this energy is always cold. If ongoing it gets really cold. Like a crystal-clear cold mountain stream is cold - not ice, but a running current that gets you colder and colder. Also it felt that pure, too. But not drawing warmth from me, no, but like cold pouring into me. Not bad at all. Just so cold.


9th June 2010, 11:57 AM
May 2009:

"Brucker: 7th symphony, Adagio" conducted by Klemperer

(This one starts out on a train ride to Munich. I was doing several energetic exercises Kurt taught me. I just left the part in that portrays my state of mind before the TME.)

Now several things happened, and I don't remember the order anymore. For one thing I would get the feeling of drifting in a warm glow, like in a comforting liquid, but without resistance. At one point the judging voice I know so well arose in my mind, but instead of going with it my mind noted a different quality about - it seemed more distant! This kind of lucid perception allowed to stay detached from it, become aware of the fact that there was a judging train of thought and observe it, and even become aware of energy blocks in my head that were associated with it and dissolve them for a while. They were a bit more subtle, and I got a bit too excited to stay with them as I became aware of the fact that indeed I had connected with the judging nature of my mind and was gently dissolving it. I was also excited because the slight distance I felt reminded me already of the experience [...] where I had felt even spatially separate from the judging mind.

Images started to appear in my inner vision, short images of passengers that weren't even on the train when I opened my eyes to check. I never had seen them before, I somehow knew that, but there they were.

While I traversed Munich Main Train Station on the way to the last ride to work, waves of joy softly emanated from the inside out, putting a smile on my face. I became aware that a goofy smile put itself on my face, that I somehow seemed to be radiating a positive quality outward.

As I rode the train I listened to music. I felt like listening to Bruckner, so I chose the Adagio of the 7th. I could not say what the nature of its beauty was, and then the train exited the tunnel at East Train Station. Normally not a sight to see, but in my state of mind I just saw the sun light of a fresh spring morning reflecting on all the concrete buildings, and the joy of listening to Bruckner as a "soundtrack" to this almost made me weep. The same way the warm morning spring sun seemed to put an elevating shine and reflection on everything it touches, turning the mundane into beauty, the same quality seemed to be present in the music, whereas a touch of spirit elevates human experience to be a thing of beauty.

My mother calls this music sad and tragic when I told her I listen to Bruckner the first time. But it is so much deeper. It is just beautiful, not dramatic in an emotional sense so much, but a portrayal I guess of human nature, and when you see it like the composer might have seen it, who takes the bitter-sweet with the joyful, who encompasses a wider range of emotion beyond mere drama to convey something about ourselves, I'd say it has a certain transforming nature, a touch of spirit.


9th June 2010, 12:10 PM
May 2010:

Unknown piece by "Liquid Mind"

At Kurt's suggestion I got myself several albums by "Liquid Mind" to listen to. I just don't remember which piece I had picked to listen to. I was just walking over the fields on a sunny day.

At one point my mind was filled with an idea about how wonderful it would be to bottle states of consciousness into music. It does not sound like much, but at that time it felt so gripping, such a wonderful thing to do. Only later I made the connection that the inspiring nature of this music that is said to relax one into a receptive and relaxed state of mind might have opened me to the idea and that wave of enthusiasm.

The albums I have on my MP3 stick are "Unity," "Balance" and "Sleep" - it might have been the last of the three.


9th June 2010, 01:40 PM
Wow. I'm loving this. I can relate to this, I just never thought of writing it down.

Palehorse Redivivus
9th June 2010, 07:30 PM
Same here. Totally diggin' the concept; keep it up. :)

9th June 2010, 08:40 PM
Thanks, guys. :D

Since I'm back to commuting by public transport I have more time for listening to music again, so I hope I have more to report.

But who knows...


10th June 2010, 12:54 PM
yes, it touches and moves one, opening up that which from behind the mind sees. it is like 'listening' intently is also 'noticing' intently, bringing the 5 senses together in the feel of it, arousing and igniting the intuitive sense, freeing the soul's vision. great stuff Korpo.

an after thought: hmmm, like having sex with the world. maybe that's going to far... :wink: but, is not 'god|what is' any one's true lover? :shock: life can be a sordid affair without the stimulating affects/effects of the arts, especially music.

me thinks,


19th June 2010, 05:40 PM
Today I laid down to listen to an album I've just got in the mail - Tool's "Lateralus." I decided that I wanted to give this mostly new experience the same chance as some classical music I've been listening to - to work its effect on me.

I knew the videos for "Schism" and "Parabol/Parabola" (only after someone posted it on here on AD forums). I remember not buying the album back then when it got out - it's not the same hard-rock-ish format anymore and did not impress me in the record store back then. So, I wondered, if this album marked a new step in how Tool composes songs, and I gave it a fresh chance and exposed myself to the whole 75 minutes in one go.

I can say that within short time I experienced what I call "inner light" - an illumination that comes from downward up and starts to fill my visual field. I sometimes get this during meditation, and it came on quite noticeably after a while. The effect came on and receded, sometimes I would experience wandering blobs and sometimes this uniform light, that would build every once in a while. The whole duration of the album was interesting. There was a variety of effects happening behind my closed eyes, and I observed with interest the different qualities of when energy built, when it receded, and so on.


2nd July 2010, 08:02 PM
Listened to Enya's "Only Time" yesterday. One chord progression was so unexpected and stunningly beautiful, it brought tears my eyes. A bit embarrassing in public, but what wonderful music!

Listened to the Adagio of Bruckner's 7th on the train in the morning some days ago. At some point I realised that I could feel the train moving, but I felt as if I had no weight. I was floating and moving along with the train. I had to open my eyes to make sure where I was. Nice feeling - just floating... So odd to feel the movement of the train still, though.

Little musical messages came my way today and yesterday. Yesterday, Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" - that surprised me. Today, parts of Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Meeting of the Spirits," parts of Wagner and Bruckner.

Actually I was asking for a representation of the state of my limited self - and I got Wagner's overture to "The Flying Dutchman" - rolling waves of violins and drums clashing against the ship at sea. So, there's some upset and turmoil. And I asked about my unlimited self, and I got the chirping quality of the scherzo of Bruckner's 7th and the beauty of the Adagio of Bruckner's 8th. It's lovely when the message is encoded in the music. You could actually listen to it and get a notion of how the two parts of my consciousness felt to me.


6th July 2010, 09:50 AM
This one from the beginning of June.

I was playing the guitar, experimenting around. Suddenly I wanted to explore a musical idea.

You need to know that I neither know any chord progressions, nor most scales. But suddenly I had an idea for a small, "bluesy" riff that was just there. I guess it was a small variation of picking through three chords, but it came to me note by note. I knew what it should sound like, but I had try to out the notes as I am not one who can play what I've just heard, either.

So, I tried out to play the riff, and then the next note. And it would either fit or next attempt. I would compare several attempts to find the right note, but I knew what sounded right and what not. But right compared to what? The musical idea was in my head, it wanted to come out, to be transcribed note by note. I finally managed to get it right.

Now I have to wonder where it came from. I can guess it is a variation on a chord progression, but I don't know any of the chords. Actually, I don't even know why I think it is three chords! I know it doesn't derive from what I know about music, as it does not match any scale, that's probably why I think it's a chord progression.

It was just a little piece of music that popped in my mind. It did not derive from jamming, and it was already finished in terms of melody line when it arrived. I just needed to play and transcribe it. I could always go back and get back in touch with it.

I don't think that happened before. Only after rereading a part of "Music and the Soul" today I noticed the relation between how it "appeared" and the different kinds of compositional process Kurt describes. Transcribing a dozen notes riff or melody may not sound like much, but the way it spontaneously happened seemed in hindsight much more surprising than at first glance.

Makes me wonder if there's more where this is coming from and how to tap it...

Well, comparing my diary notes I know it happened on June the 7th. Two days before I was told in a reading that my musicianship arrived at a place where I need to get in touch with my soul to make progress. Kind of like letting the soul be the teacher. I was in a mood to try things out that day and that's how these contacts always happen for me. It opens me up and something happens, something unexpected, new, and if I look at it in hindsight, often very inexplicable. I think this is what is meant by "beginner's mind." It's just not easy for me to get there.


11th July 2010, 03:22 PM
This one from a relaxation exercise I just did. I laid down on my back for an exercise I had read about - just letting the mind do what it wants for 20 minutes.

Towards the end of the 20 minutes something very unexpected happened. I heard music only to realise I had never heard it before. I knew the instrument - some bell-like jazz organ I had heard on a recording of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was spouting notes in fast succession until I realised what was happening.

While I was still surprised something else developed. I heard an arrangement for strings, but very unusual, a trio maybe, at least one cello and I think a violin. Each was playing only a very few slow notes, but it seems like every few measures they started over, only to be slightly varied, again and again, to form a piece of music that slowly accumulated more energy with every repetition. The "starting over" was so noticeable as if one was imitating the effect of a stuck record only to surprise the listener with new variations instead.


11th July 2010, 06:14 PM
You may find this interesting.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =YahooNews (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128288987&ft=1&f=1007&sc=YahooNews)
I stole it from personalreality, who found it first.

11th July 2010, 06:25 PM
That is indeed interesting. 8)


23rd July 2010, 07:13 AM
"The Gates of Delirium" by Yes contains a final section also available as a single, called "Soon." However, if you want to listen to the full section in all its beauty, you would have to get a version called "Soon (New Edit)" (also: "Soon [New Edit]"), released on the 35th anniversary album. This is the longest version of this single edit.

These 6 minutes are not only supremely beautiful, they also carry wonderful impressions. A part of it sounds like frolicking in clouds of energy, but without any resistance, as if there were no limits, no gravity, not even limiting thoughts or ideas. Effortlessness. Also the whole section has a magical sound, sometimes sounding as if the solo instrument was playing evaporating bubbles of sound.


23rd July 2010, 09:14 AM
Just a quick question, do you know Frederick Stocken's Lament for Bosnia?

23rd July 2010, 09:21 AM
No, but tonight I will if I can find it in the Napster music service. ;)


23rd July 2010, 06:01 PM
Neither Napster.de nor iTunes.de has it, and it's basically unavailable on Amazon.de. :?


24th July 2010, 06:44 AM
Had an experience when listening to a song Seuuzin posted: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=21048 (http://forums.astraldynamics.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=21048)

I just listened to it, and wasn't too much into it.

However, at the 5:30 mark I paid a bit more attention to it and thought something like "this probably has a third eye opening aspect" from the way the music is arranged, and I felt a cool energy in one of the layers of my energy field, like at least my upper body was enveloped in a flow of cooling energy.

This is usually a good thing, and this actually happened as I repeated it. I kind of feel "opened." It also felt as if my head had expanded - all the "inner measurements" were off. I was trying to determine if the spot I was feeling was the third eye, and I thought it was, but I would have expected it "lower in my body." After a while of observation I found it was indeed the third eye and my inner body image had changed in a subtle way.

The effect is still with me as I write this, and it got retriggered also I think when I relistened to the song from the 5:30 mark.

18th August 2010, 07:35 AM
Something I've noticed - my attention span for listening to one piece of music and for concentration meditation is about the same. When I close in on 20 minutes I kind of get impatient and new variations, ideas or parts become less interesting. It's like my mind wants the end of having to pay attention, while initially enjoying it all along.

I get tired of longer pieces easier than shorter pieces, even if they are as highly varied. I guess that has something to do with expectations. Actually I'm a bit more tolerant for longer pieces if there's stronger element of repetition - for example in a classical piece if the theme appears more often. A practical example is that I find it easier to listen to the second movement of Bruckner's 7th (Adagio) than to the first. They basically match in length, but the first one explores a wider variety of musical ideas which seem less connected, while the Adagio seems to have more structure. Similar I find it easier to listen to Barber's "Adagio for Strings" than to other pieces - it's a set of variations on a theme. So, I think in my case the latter comes from growing up with rock and pop mostly. Both are structured and repetitive.

When it comes to developing attention span it has to be noted that songs tend to short attention spans, mostly. Ever since the single format for records came up pop and rock hits often lived below the five minute range. Compare that with "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen which was considered to be too long to be a hit (and boy were those record company executives wrong! ;) ).

Tolerance for longer pieces can for example be built through styles like progressive rock - for example Jethro Tull would not exactly qualify as progressive, but they released pieces of about 20 minutes length - "Thick As A Brick Pt.1," "Thick As A Brick Pt.2" and "A Passion Play." Similarly Genesis and Yes have released longer pieces, sometimes in the double-digit minute range. Jazz sometimes, and of course classical music. I think listening to pieces of greater length can extend attention span, at least when you follow listening instructions like in "Music and the Soul." Listening as what we commonly call "paying attention," not just as background music.


18th August 2010, 04:04 PM
so true Korpo, listening precedes that which would 'pay' attention. if seen rightly, to 'pay attention' is as if to put 'noise' over that which in silence would from listen.

it is hard to experience, let go, without requiring self to pay thoughts into it. like, how am i feeling here? well duh! stop thinking and freely feel.

so, feeling without thought added to it, would be the silent ear that listens.

i guess we are conditioned to avoid for fear of distaste, of this or that, which is thought as good or bad...etc.

so, the behavior is just that, it is paying thoughts for what is free.

free is free, is it not?


30th August 2010, 12:57 PM
I found "Firth of Fifth" by Genesis to be an excellent example of a song which moves upwards through various centers. It's in the middle part, after Gabriel sings "Undinal songs urge the sailors on till lured by sirens' cry." Then the music mimics the singing of the sirens' for a short while. I think the following section is a particular masterpiece, moving through many centers till finally the song returns for the final verse.

Beautiful lyrics, too:

The path is clear
Though no eyes can see
The course laid down long before.
And so with gods and men
The sheep remain inside their pen,
Though many times they've seen the way to leave.


And so with gods and men
The sheep remain inside their pen,
Until the Shepherd leads his flock away.

The sands of time were eroded by
The river of constant change.(Genesis, "Firth of Fifth")


30th August 2010, 04:17 PM
i love the lyrics, but i wasn't crazy for the listening of it. but i see what ya mean. :|

30th August 2010, 06:56 PM
I so much preferred Peter Gabriel to Phil Collins.

5th February 2011, 02:14 PM
As I was walking to the train station I pieced together a melody. It was catchy and I began to whistle it. Then it started to play in my head. It became a fullfletched piece for piano, with trills and other playful ornamentation, and it got varied over and over in slightly different ways. Then the lead voice was exchanged for strings, and now strings and piano carried the piece together.

This went on for quite a while, in fact I had to deliberately stop it at some point because it wouldn't stop on its own.

On my way home then various pieces for piano I must have heard over the years started to play, vary, and mix in my mind. These were definitely known pieces, though I can't place them because I heard them for example in movies or on TV, not on their own or knowing titles.


7th February 2011, 12:03 PM
I was listening to Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony out of an impulse. I actually like it, but it is definitely odd. At some part of I got a series of pictures, another sequence brought a sensation of unnnamed fear. I then realised that screen music writers of the 60s and 70s possibly had borrowed from Messiaen when they wanted to portray cognitive dissonance, despair, mental illness and states close to the mental breaking point, also for experiences that were alien, unknown and scary.

I let a co-worker listen to the opening movement, and he also reported the sensation of seeing a sequence of pictures.

(I also found out that the Turangalila Symphony is the reason for the first name of Leela in Futurama.)


26th February 2011, 11:01 AM
This was a bit eerie. Today a jazz melody line popped into my head. It would form a sort of chorus, and then soli for the different instruments and groups of instruments would follow - a bit similar to improvisation.

I have to double-check if I heard this piece before when reviewing material about arranging. The freaky thing is that it is fully formed - I can hear the whole brass compartment in my head. I can vary it and listen in, I can focus on an instrument, I can hear the bass walk its notes, I can hear all the instruments playing out my ideas for solos.

Granted, not everything of it is original, but I can hear it in my head as if I listened to a record over and over. It's like I piece together what I know about the instruments (from listening that is) and expand on that.

I whistled the tune into my mobile's voice recorder. This idea will not stay unused, I intend to transcribe it.


26th February 2011, 01:47 PM
Very very cool to have retained the memory.

When i used to play the piano i would spend pretty much all day playing. I would literally play until i would start falling asleep. I would then give in and go from the piano, right into bed, and i would have the most amazing and original songs play in my mind right as i started falling asleep. As soon as i would wake up the memory would fade, it was very frustrating because it left me with one of those feelings where you have the memory of something on the tip of your tongue, but it didn't come back.

26th February 2011, 02:59 PM
Hey, heliac.

I'm actually quite surprised by the latest developments within myself in this regard. I love music and I always have, but that never got me to practice to get where I can work with these ideas. Now that I found out how rich in expression digital composition possibilities have become, the ideas started to flow. And I'm hooked, too! ;) So, I certainly hope I can "pull over" some of those ideas.


3rd March 2011, 10:36 AM
It is impossible to put into words how happy music can make me at times. The ascending and expanding chorus during the Kyrie of Faure's Requiem is of such beauty, it just makes me happy. But today the wonderful harmonies of "Digging in the Dirt" by Peter Gabriel made me happy, too...

3rd March 2011, 03:29 PM
In a completely off the wall observation (but I feel I must share) the other day I was thinking on how sometimes I can "see" the shape of music and how sometimes it can be round, and sometimes it can be sharphly angled. I don't remember what I was listening to but it had a "roundish triangular" shape to it, and the shapes formed in my mind as I listened. Then I wondered if anyone else "sees/feels" music like this, and I read Kurt's latest entries on his diary (The Human Culture Zone- or part of it, I had such a headache I couldn't continue reading) when he described just what I was thinking. It made me happy to see that someone perceived sound as I do, even though I qualified it such recently. When you described the music as "Expanding" it reminded me of this.

3rd March 2011, 03:56 PM
Hey, CF.

In this case this is a feeling I have about the feeling and that can feel in my chest. I rarely have visuals in connection with music. I'm not a visual type, though, in general.


16th November 2011, 11:11 PM
Two Pink Floyd songs gave me a bit of a TME each, "Learning To Fly" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

The first one gave me a vision of a fighter or spyplane pilot (think U2) high in the stratosphere, spinning along the plane's axis, where the skies turn up and down and then there's space above, a feeling of freedom and being removed. This was related to its lyrics:

Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies
Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I(Pink Floyd, "Learning To Fly")

The intro of the second one gave me the feeling of looking down on Earth, this shining blue diamond, with the darkness of space as background. (Not the topic of the song.)

The lyrics are beautiful, by the way:

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter,
come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine! (Pink Floyd, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond")

17th November 2011, 12:57 PM
Today I relistened to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and for a moment I felt deep love for all of it - a very majestic sensation.

18th November 2011, 04:49 AM
In a completely off the wall observation (but I feel I must share) the other day I was thinking on how sometimes I can "see" the shape of music and how sometimes it can be round, and sometimes it can be sharphly angled. I don't remember what I was listening to but it had a "roundish triangular" shape to it, and the shapes formed in my mind as I listened. Then I wondered if anyone else "sees/feels" music like this, and I read Kurt's latest entries on his diary (The Human Culture Zone- or part of it, I had such a headache I couldn't continue reading) when he described just what I was thinking. It made me happy to see that someone perceived sound as I do, even though I qualified it such recently. When you described the music as "Expanding" it reminded me of this.
I sometimes taste the music, and I've experienced that geometric type thing also. And I'm loving this korpo.

24th February 2012, 11:02 AM
I reread the paraph about the crisis point between the 7th and 8th center in "Music and the Soul", "Disillusionment." Mentioned as a prime example for this was Tchaikovsky's last symphony, "Pathetique". I noted that I had already downloaded this one under my subscription because Abbado had conducted it. Kurt credits him for being able to bring out the qualities of many pieces he choses to stage.

Kurt's description is aimed specifically at the final movement, but I listened to the whole piece. I was left with several impressions. The more upbeat parts seemed to have a flat quality to them, as if life may have offered joys, but they may have been experienced as fickle, sometimes superficial and certainly not satisfactory or lasting. There was no sense of investment, of being really enjoying it, but more like amusements.

Inevitably every of these parts would be interrupted, sometimes even violently and dramatically. I had the impression of ship being suddenly clashed against the rocks. The joys seemed not to outweigh what seemed to be drastic assaults, a feeling of deep crisis. It seems like the interchange of these qualities seems to prepare for the final movement, the one where disillusionment is most apparent. Scored as "Adagio lamentoso" this finale seems to ask for rest. Not lacking in beauty it seems to carry that edge that says "Too much!" and a feeling of wanting to give up. And when being bitter-sweet it carries also some self-pity I would guess.

All of this adds up to a big feeling of "It shouldn't have been like that." but magnified as if written under the script of one's own life. Unlike Bruckner who always rescues us by passing into higher consciousness, transcending the human condition, Tchaikovsky wanders on without this final breakthrough. His symphony rather subsides into nothing rather than going anywhere. Kurt relates that Tchaikovsky died weeks after the premiere of this work.

26th February 2012, 10:32 PM
I got reminded of an older TME. John Williams composed the music for "Star Wars". His piece "Binary Sunset" (around the time when Luke gives C3PO the oil bath) is so full of deep longing, I felt like I sat on a planet I could not escape, as if there were things to do but out of reach. Powerful music.

14th March 2012, 11:11 PM
I listened to the music of Star Wars again, especially the first one. I compared "Imperial Attack" (the boarding of Princess Leia's frigate) with "The Imperial March" (Darth Vader's theme from "The Empire Strikes Back") and there's many continuous elements. Many of the elements are stomping and driving in "Imperial Attack", it is, if listened to with headphones in the dark, an onslaught of driving rhythms and tension-building elements. It even would produce flashes in my vision on especially impacting parts.

Without intending for such a conscious comparison I then put on Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War" from his work "The Planets". It's clearly related as Williams, the composer of the Star Wars music, drew on elements from Holst's music (amongst others) when composing his epic soundtrack. What surprised me, however, is that Holst portrayed war with more facets than Williams did the Empire, and maybe a bit more than we are used to when thinking of war. Holst mixes the onslaught of war with the fanfare - a link to older times when the sound of horns called the troops into battle. Yes, there are tension-building elements, loudness and intensity, but also there are elements that seem to speak of idealism and patriotism, and how they end up to become the road to war, maybe even paving that road.

I was pretty surprised to find music sounding so "virtuous" in there. Not like heroism, but like noble virtues. And that is the thing - only by being surprised I made that connection. Holst wrote it after the First World War. With great enthusiasm the soldiers had left for the war that had turned into a cataclysmic onslaught and endless killer. Williams' depiction of the Empire sounds more ruthless than this, and I wonder if this could also mean that Holst wanted to say that it is people, after all, that conduct war. It's a different quality.

15th March 2012, 02:40 PM
I suspect that it has to do with it's historicity- even though post-modern times has seen war, it's just not the same, not so personal or human, unless he's been in the middle of it.

12th January 2013, 12:25 PM
I had the great joy to watch Oliver Messiaen's Turangalīla Symphony live, performed by the Munich Philharmonic. What an epic display. I would also think they seldom present such a selection of instruments - in addition to the grand orchestra there was also a Ondes Martinot (a precursor of the synthesizer from the 1940s, sounding like the wailing of a singing saw), and a huge selection of percussion - including an enormous gong, bells, xylophone, and whatever. Some arrangements I could not spot.

Just watching the music move through the orchestra, sometimes opposing some parts with the other, the patterns, the climaxes, the multitude of impressions in this piece... the resolutions, the tensions upon tensions, the unexpected, the dynamic, the drive, the wild piano... what a ride.

With about 80 minutes a bit long in its intensity. But most of the time it had my rapt attention. I felt like a kid in a toy store - so much to see, so much to experience in one evening!

(I just identified one instrument I did see yesterday - it was a celesta. Thanks, Wikipedia! :) )

The title of the work, and those of its movements, were a late addition to the project. They were first described by Messiaen in a diary entry in early 1948. He derived the title from two Sanskrit words, turanga and līla, which roughly translate into English as "love song and hymn of joy, time, movement, rhythm, life, and death", and described the joy of Turangalīla as "superhuman, overflowing, dazzling and abandoned".

Messiaen revised the work in 1990.


The piece is scored for:

Solo piano and ondes Martenot;
Woodwind: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons;
Brass: 4 horns, 3 ♥♥♥♥♥ets, 1 ♥♥♥♥♥et in D, cornet, 3 trombones, 1 tuba;
At least 8 and up to 11 percussionists, playing: vibraphone, keyed or mallet glockenspiels, triangle, temple blocks and wood block, cymbals (crash and three types of suspended), tam tam, tambourine, maracas, snare drum, Provenēal tabor, bass drum, and tubular bells;
celesta, and strings (32 violins, 14 violas, 12 cellos and 10 double basses)
(from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turangal%C3%AEla-Symphonie)

(Turanga is also the first name of the cartoon character Leela in Futurama. ;) )

12th January 2013, 12:37 PM
I recently had the great joy of listening to Bruckner with a beloved being over Skype. We share music this way - starting at the same time the same piece, listening together, sharing our impressions.

It was the Adagio of Bruckner's 8th, conducted by Sergiu Celibidache. He was known for having his own interpretation of the timing of pieces, and his interpretation of the piece was mostly of a contemplative slowness that exceeded each other version I know by a third. Minute details were audible, sometimes the piece seemed almost to fall apart.

From the energetic part, wonderful images arose in us that I have not perceived before when listening to this piece. It was a joyful, blessed experience to share it like this, to anticipate and wonder at what happens in the piece. It was like a new piece to me. :)

Celibidache frequently refused to release his performances on commercial recordings during his lifetime claiming that a listener could not obtain a "transcendental experience" outside of the concert hall. Many of the recordings of his performances were released posthumously. Nonetheless, he earned international acclaim for celebrated interpretations of classical music repertoire and was known for a spirited performance style informed by his study and experiences in Zen Buddhism.(from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celibidache)

12th January 2013, 12:40 PM
I had another TME while listening with the same partner to one of her favorites - "The Dreams Made of Sand" by Arcana. I had visions of space and geometric shapes during this piece, seeing wheels turning, the confines of the mind's eye move and a pyramid with an eye. :)

I think they really deserve their name. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcana_%28band%29)

18th January 2013, 12:37 PM
Messiaen's Turangalīla Symphony is on my mind a lot since I visited that concert. I got different recordings of it now. Before it was an onslaught on my senses to me. The more I get to know it the deeper it becomes. During the concert it was a buffet of new experiences, like sampling something new all the time. Now some other qualities have emerged. The beautiful melodies and other parts haunt me. Originally when I listened to it first I scoffed a bit at the titles - "Chant d'amour" (2 movements, "Song of love") seemed to match the piece little. Now I find gentle qualities, an inner richness, within. Sometimes the piece seems to portray the richness of the human experience, the seeming chaos of parallel voice with different themes, the quickness with which our minds jump onto new things, and the beauty that can emerge at other moments.

10th June 2013, 08:40 PM
On the 6th I visited a concert. I thought it would only be Rautavaara's 7th symphony, the "Angel of Light." In fact, the first half was another piece I didn't know. It certainly wasn't Rautavaara, whose style is unmistakeable in his later years. I later learned it had been Brahms' first piano concert.

I wasn't exactly thrilled by it, but when I closed my eyes in the 2nd movement, the piece seem to come back into balance. I entered a trance, and a rather deep one over time. I would appreciate the piece more, but since it wasn't the experience I had come for, I left into the break unsatisfied. Would the symphony be so much different from what I've expected? I had not listened to the 7th before. I didn't even know it was the break - people had applauded the solist so much (which I found a bit over the top, but well) I thought it was over.

Thank goodness it wasn't. The 7th was pretty much everything I had hoped for. Rautavaara weaves such a rich and wonderful texture, it got really intense. So intense that some people left in the last movement. I seriously wondered if the intensity of this music's inner message had pushed them out, no matter how they would rationalize it.

Afterwards I walked back to the train station, on a soft early summer's night. I carried with me the sensation that my chest had expanded and was bigger now. I felt that energetic shapes seemed to protrude from under my skin. In other words, I came to realise the wonderful music had expanded my heart chakra and pushed it wide open. The sensation lasted about 20 minutes after I left the concert hall, I guess. It was quite something.

"Angel of Light" - highly recommended. :D