My Favourite Bars – Haydn #3

This week I’ve been listening to the almost unbearably dramatic Kyrie – “Lord Have Mercy”, and my favourite bar is bar 69, in particular the first chord.


After a four-bar escalating turmoil involving all voices, the first chord of bar 69 is the peak of the disturbance…. the Altos have an E, above the Sopranos, that cuts like a shard of glass straight through the D/G harmony between the Sopranos and Tenors.  There is a similar discord in bar 67, (Altos, Tenors and Basses), but at the higher pitch, the effect is intensified.  In bar 70, the pitch is higher still, but there are only 2 voices here, and by this time there is a certain inevitability about the outcome, which takes some of the edge off the pain.

Perhaps it looks like this:

hans Hartung1961

T-1961-44 (untitled) – Hans Hartung 1961

Although brief, it is a dark moment, and it hurts.

My Favourite Bars – Haydn #2

It’s hard to let go of a good silence…

but as we’re not singing the  choral arrangement of Cage’s 4’33”  (…yet…), there are some notes to get to know…and this week, my favourite bars are bars 1-4 of the Sanctus.


The notes in themselves aren’t anything spectacular – no creaky discords or weird suspensions – so this section is all about the dynamics.  In the space of just one bar and on one note, the choir go slowly from piano to forte and back again, with the force of some kind of lunar magnetism, pulling you towards it, and releasing you from its ethereal glow.  Then…there is a little pause for a super-intense bit of silence…  and it does it again!  (I could easily listen to these bars a few more times too)

It might look something like this:


Nocturne 1926 – Max Ernst

You are standing at the edge of the sea and small waves wash over your bare feet.  As each one recedes, from beneath you, it takes with it tiny pieces of your world, slowly pulling you deeper in.  Mesmerising.  Are you under the same spell?


My Favourite Bars – Haydn #1

Aah, where to start?!  With so much amazing music to choose from this term, it’s hard to know where to begin!  But we all must begin somewhere, and this week, my favourite bar is bar 127, from the Credo in Haydn’s Nelson Mass.


So what’s that all about?  It’s an empty bar!  ….No,  not the case at all!  It is, in fact,  full of silence.  The soloists have finished their delicate phrase…then there is  a pause for complete silence, before the orchestra tiptoe in just ahead of the choir in bar 128.   Silence can be very difficult to interpret. Looking at it from the outside, all you have to go on is what surrounds it.  But if you are right in the middle of it, everything is completely clear.

My art reference for this is a piece of performance art, and the photograph doesn’t really do it justice, so here is a link to some more information about it.

The artist is present

The Artist is Present (performance)  – Marina Abramovic  2010

It is extremely intimate, yet completely free.  Is there a more beautiful combination?  How do you feel about it?

…now,  I’m sure I heard somewhere…   …quite recently….    …”all great music begins with silence”.