Sunday, 24 August 2008

Interval (the musical kind)

I'm a wreck, thanks to a piece of music:

Requiem For Dying Mothers, Pt 2, by Stars of the Lid.

Since I got back from Edinburgh, I've listened to it often - whether through the pc speakers, or on what might be termed my internal walkman, when I've been out and about.

It's a lush, majestic piece: I'll surely do it an injustice by trying to describe it in terms of form (you'll note also that I don't read music, otherwise I'd do a far better job technically in the following description) but, broadly speaking, it comprises of drones, loops, ambient washes of sound, reverb, and a gorgeous string section.

It also makes use of repetition.

But what really gets to me are the chord changes. It starts in C, centred around a simple but beautiful tonal phrase, which then liquidly changes to a G chord. This repeats a few times at a slow and stately pace over a rich palette of sonic layering and texture.

After perhaps the fourth repetition it morphs from C to B flat, with a slight change also in the tonal phrase: this too repeats for maybe four times. It's all held together delicately but beautifully by the various drones bleeding into one another as the whole piece unfolds.

And how it unfolds after this point.

Because after this last particular B flat, it does something simple and astonishing. It goes up to E flat - at the same stately pace - and then through a progression to B flat, F, and back to C. It then repeats this progression over and over, weaving textures in and out, before the string section comes in and takes the same progression through to the end of the piece, totalling 7 and a half minutes.

But the effect of that change from B flat to E flat the first time round: real lump-in-the-throat stuff. I still cannot get over how a sequence of chords and notes in a certain order can just cut right through to something in oneself that brings out such feeling.

In terms of how to describe the overall effect, I'm struck by the kind of bipolarity it leaves me conjuring with:

It's delicate and subtle, yet heavy and monolithic;

It's beautiful and bright, yet bleak and intense;

It's wordless, and speaks volumes to me.

But more than anything, there's that one, devastating moment.

*Update: as found by nmj, here's a link to the piece in question. There's some extra stuff at the end, but the actual track ends around the 7 mins 30 mark.


tpe said...

Beautiful, Trousers. I'm not familiar with the piece of music you're talking about, but the feelings you describe, although intensely personal, are immediately recognisable.

Good to see you back.

Kind regards etc....


trousers said...

Thank you, tpe, and good to see you too.

Although I initially became aware of this particular piece on the net (via Last FM) I can't find any links to post, but maybe that's beside the point: as you say, the feelings evoked are recognisable in a more general sense.

I would perhaps worry that anyone listening to it having read this, would think, eh? Can't see what the fuss is about! - so perhaps it's best left as is.

DJ Kirkby said...

You described it so beautifully that I now really desperatly want to experience it too. Any chance of a link to it somewhere on the web?

trousers said...

Thanks dj! I've tried, , including on the Last FM site where I first (indirectly) heard it: it doesn't seem to be on there anymore.

However it IS available on iTunes, if you search for Stars of the Lid (make sure you select "Requiem for Dying Mothers, Pt 2") and are prepared to part with the whopping sum of £0.79. Best I can do at the moment, it seems.

Merkin said...

Found some stuff on You-Tube and had a bit of fun jammin' with it - I recently got a present of an unwanted 100 watt combo.

Of course, there is nothing like a good beer advert to get you in the mood.

trousers said...

Thanks merk I enjoyed that, there's something quite mesmeric about it. Can see how it would be good to jam to, definitely.

nmj said...

hey trews, i understood little of your post, i am illiterate when it comes to all those notes... but i knew i *had* to find the music right now. i found part 1 on youtube, and i think i found part 2 also, though it said 'left bank' as well as the stars of lid etc; - i am confused, but i love what i am hearing. am i listening to the wrong thing? anyway it suits my current mood x

trousers said...

Oh, well spotted nmj, I never even thought it might be on youtube. I've just had a look and while I'm not sure what the "left bank" reference is, it's definitely the piece of music in question.

Anyone interested (just to contradict my response to tpe above),
here it is (if I've done that right).

It suits my current mood too.

Merkin said...

Apologies, Trews.

I meant that 'Found some stuff, FROM THE LIDS, on You-Tube and had a bit of fun jammin' with it

I was looking for a way to download 'Requiem for ma deid Mother'!!

I usually use ARES Open Source but there was nothing to share, this time.
So, I thought, You-Tube and there was a pile of stuff by them.

THAT was what I was jammin' on.

Your description of the track intrigued me.
Was well described and i had got the feel for it.
Unfortunately, I read the B flat to E flat as being Santana-esque in character.
And it is.
Yummy for me.

B said...

I'm rather late here. But I just wanted to say that I'm glad someone else gets as affected by music as I do. The hubby doesn't get it at all. But certain passages, certain chord progressions, just send shivers down my spine. It's great.

trousers said...

No worries merk, sometimes I'm easily confused. Only sometimes, mind :)

Lovely to see you b - and nice blurry photo too! Yes, I can spend hours - drunk, merry, or stone cold sober - talking about this stuff with certain friends, and I love it. I'm sure it's a bit off-putting for people who don't get it/aren't interested, but its something I can get really animated/emotional about.

Have you blogged any of it, or is it mainly within the realms of conversation?

B said...

I should say it was a blurred photo in the first place, then I blurred it some more. Just to be sure :)

No, I've never blogged about it, but I think maybe I will now. A list of moments in music that do that to me... noone else will get it, at all, but I'd love to catalogue them. The two that spring to the top of my mind are: 1) a certain chord progression in the overture to the opera Carmen, and 2) the 1812 overture, the string quartet part at the beginning. I've been on a stage as part of that string quartet. SUCH a buzz. I don't miss playing as such any more, but I do still miss being part of an orchestra. Part of something bigger than all its parts. Amazing feeling. Sometimes I wish I'd been better at music and less good at words. Strange feeling.

trousers said...

Similarly, there's an interval in a Beethoven track (I love saying that since it's so stupidly incongruous) which gets me every time - must dig it out and have a listen, it's been a while.

It's the Allegretto from Symphony no 7 in A Major, Opus 92. The first part is just astonishingly stirring and melancholy, and the interval in question is from C to B. It never ceases to amaze me.