Monday, March 14, 2011

Musicks Empire

First was the World as one great Cymbal made,
Where Jarring Windes to infant Nature plaid.
All Musick was a solitary sound,
To hollow Rocks and murm'ring Fountains bound.

Jubal first made the wilder Notes agree;
And Jubal tun'd Musicks Jubilee:
He call'd the Ecchoes from their sullen Cell,
And built the Organs City where they dwell.

Each sought a consort in that lovely place;
And Virgin Trebles wed the manly Base.
From whence the Progeny of numbers new
Into harmonious Colonies withdrew.

Some to the Lute, some to the Viol went,
And others chose the Cornet eloquent.
These practising the Wind, and those the Wire,
To sing Mens Triumphs, or in Heavens quire.

Then Musick, the Mosaique of the Air,
Did of all these a Solemn noise prepare:
With which She gain'd the Empire of the Ear,
Including all between the Earth and Sphear.

Victorious Sounds. yet here your Homage do
Unto a gentler Conqueror then you;
Who though He flies the Musick of his praise,
Would with you Heavens Hallelujahs raise.

Andrew Marvell

I’ve been inspired this week, inspired by great music, a beautiful atmosphere, and by a fellow blogger. The featured poem above is Musicks Empire by Andrew Marvell. This weekend I had the opportunity to sing Musicks Empire, a composition by Lloyd Pfautsch, at my school district’s annual Techny festival. Which brings me to my next inspiration, the Techny Towers. The achetecture is amazing and the acoustics are even better. Finally, my last inspiration comes from my friend and fellow blogger Melanie V, author of Silver-Lined Strata, who prompted me to write a blog about the songs featured at this weekend’s choral concert.

I loved this piece because the poetry is striking on its own, but the addition of music fits the mood of the text which heightens the experience. The song starts out with an ominous chant like tone as if the tenors and bases are quietly revealing the creation story of music. The idea that the World was made by a cymbal triggers images of a crash, or spontaneous event. The empire created by music gradually expands into nature, and cities, and people.

The song continues to build momentum as the solitary sounds eventually grow together into “harmonious colonies.” In my opinion the text is paired seamlessly with the music. For instance, the lyric “to sing men’s triumphs” is matched by a grand and full style and the words “victorious sounds” are accompanied by a lively melody. At the climactic end of the song you get the exaltation of Hallelujah, praising music and its effect on mankind.

The pairing of words and music can be a very powerful experienc especially when the music conveys emotions that the text might not have if it was just read aloud. This song is one of those moments of greatness between words and music. I highly recommend listening to Musicks Empire.

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