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Friday, December 21, 2012

Edgard Varèse: Ionisation

Varèse with Stravinsky
(published in New York Arts)
no copyright infringement intended

The image above shows both guys, but what follows is related only to one of them. Varèse composed in 1931 Ionisation for thirteen percussionists. It was seemingly the first concert hall composition for percussion ensemble alone (a piano is part of the whole, considered also a percussion instrument, that's it). It means: 3 bass drums (medium, large, very large), 2 tenor drums, 2 snare drums, tarole (a kind of 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 and low sirens, and a lion's roar (wiki).

Enregistré à la Cité de la musique le 20 novembre 2012
le Festival d'Automne à Paris
(video by Ensemble intercontemporain)

Ionisation features the expansion and variation of rhythmic cells, and the title refers to the ionization of molecules. The composer said about it that he had not been influenced by composers as much as by natural objects and physical phenomena. He also acknowledged the influence of the Italian Futurist artists Luigi Russolo and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (wiki).

(Edgard Varèse)


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