Sunday, 18 November 2007

Béla Bartók puzzle

I love Bartók’s ‘Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta’.
I listened to a lecture about it, which said the music is constructed like a cut gem, so I thought it would be a good idea to try and paint this very precisely. The instructions are as follows:

In the first movement he makes a circle of arches, beginning each arch with a 5th…the second arch is a 5th higher and so on, then down the other side to make a complete circle. Bartók then goes back around the arches, climbing down the ladders? When they meet he crosses over using 4ths and 3rds which cross the original sound arches.

The second movement uses this construction which is varied throughout. Then passages of major and minor distorted scales are used, before moving onto the 8 note scale (as used by some of the Russians). All these are interwoven.

The third movement is atavistic in that the sounds seem recognisable, but they are not. He employs the folk method of playing a violin to make an open note drone. The celesta, piano and harp combine to make an unearthly trembling using a texture of fragments, with the intervals of the opening, using 4ths and then tri tone returns.

The fourth movement uses rhythm not linked to harmony; simple rhythms that sound complicated and complicated rhythms that sound simple. The string section is divided into two, one playing from the left, the other from the right. Each line is a mosaic of 2 and 3 beats, which fabricates the sound of the cymbeline with the celesta, violin and piano making a twanging rhythmic sound!

If there is anyone out there who can work this out, please let me know as it will stop me obsessively drawing spider web constructions on the back of envelopes……..HELP !

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