Composed in , Edgard Varèse’s Ionisation is the first piece of Western classical music to be scored for an ensemble comprised solely of. Compared to those monuments, the French-American composer Edgard Varèse’s “Ionisation” barely amounts to a flyspeck. The work’s Sheet Music – £ – Edgard Varèse – Ionisation (Percussion Ensemble).

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The radical, innovative nature of the work was such that ionisatioh New York Philharmonic percussionists who were approached to perform Ionization ionisatipn proved unable to cope with the work, and typesetters had to be called in to complete the task! From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Yet what is striking about this piece of music is the degree of sensitivity with which the composer controls the instrumental timbres, achieving an understated grace and eloquence of expression which reaches far beyond more common functional uses of percussion.

Edgard Varèse – Ionisation (Percussion Ensemble)

His spatial conception of music anticipated the electro-acoustic music that emerged in the s, involving taped recordings broadcast on loudspeakers that projected sound-masses moving in space.

September 13, at 5: The World’s Encyclopaedia of Recorded Music.

Ionisation combines the terrifying cacophony of the industrial world with a profound sensitivity, unlocking the sensuous, human potential of inhuman noise. Avant-gardeThomas May. La Scena Musicale – Vol. September 30, at 9: Not only did it herald the liberation of the percussion section from its traditional supportive role; it was a turning point in musical vocabulary.


His preoccupations heralded those of composers born after The Parisian public was taken aback by the vigour and harshness of the music produced by this former disciple of the Schola cantorum. Indefinite pitch Nearly all the percussion instruments used in Ionization generate indefinite pitch, so that most of their vibrations can’t be clearly identified as a D or a G, for example.

There are suggestions of the characteristic sounds of modern city life. April 30, at One critic described the performance as “a sock in the jaw.

Ionisation (Varèse, Edgard)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Pierre Grondines is a musicologist and choral conductor. A Sketch of the Man and His Music”. In opera or program i. Ionisation proceeds as a number of miniature sections, each with a different textural character. Journal of Music Theory. The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia. Sound-masses in collision For the first time in the history of western music, orchestral percussion instruments were liberated from their supportive role.

By the s he had become a veritable guru of twentieth-century musical creation. It was, incidentally, the first album purchased by Frank Zappa. As the composer later described, “I was not influenced by composers as much as by natural objects and physical phenomena.

It’s hard to tell whether a cymbal is striking an F or an E, or something in between. The ominous opening of rolling bass drums and gongs gives way at 0: Email required Address never made public.


Some dozen of his compositions are groundbreaking works, among them Ionizationthe first score in western music composed for percussion ipnisation. Create a free website or blog at WordPress. Beethoven, however, was able to transcend this limitation. You are commenting using your Facebook account.

September 30, at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Below is a recording of Ionisation followed by a brief listening guide. Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. Nicolas Slonimsky conducting Ionisation in Havana.

It varee how powerfully a genuine musical idea can be expressed in new sounds. To fully appreciate the importance of Ionization, we need to look briefly at the function of percussion instruments in ionisatino orchestra.

Ionization was a brilliant confirmation of percussion as an independent musical medium. Reinforcement, evocation, and colour From Bach to Brahms, the job of the percussion section in the orchestra had basically been to reinforce the accents already present in the musical exchange among the other instruments.

Frank Zappa often claimed that Ionisation inspired him to pursue a career in music.