#1
This thread is not about 4'33".
This thread is not about whether or not silence is music.
This thread is not about John Cage (except when it is).
This thread is not about defining music.
This thread is about you.
.
Since my thread which took the form of a deconstruction of a lecture on music was so unsuccessful I made a second thread about using organized sound as the definition of music hoping that would stir the pot a little bit more. This second thread was slightly more successful, although not as on point as I had hoped. The current thread is the latest addition to this series, which I've newly dubbed 'Zach Talks About Music.'
.
.
.
Have you ever considered the use of silence in your music (or anyone's music)?
.
And I don't mean a beat or two of rest, I mean moments in a piece where silences are present as a critical structural element.
.
This is something that I've honestly only thought at length about in the last several months. I've been reading a bit of (shocker) John Cage and thinking about some of his ideas. These are ideas that I rejected earlier in my journey, but am now coming around to and integrating them into my thought process. The most recent culmination of these thoughts is a piece I wrote that uses extensive amounts of silence as a key part of the aesthetic (I won't post it, because that would make this thread hilariously self serving).
.
Morton Feldman said that quiet sounds had begun to be the only ones that interested him.
.
About 18 months ago I had a lesson with a composer where I showed him a piece of mine that featured a one bar long general pause. He said to really reconsider using that because G.P.s can be a little strange. They can sound like mistakes and be a distraction to the audience. At the time I'm not sure I listened. I didn't really think about it and the G.P. stayed in. Upon reflection now, I don't know that that was the right call. I think that maybe in that context the silence may not have served the piece as well as I thought it did.
.
I went to the grocery store today to buy the necessary ingredients to make pizza. I saw that someone whom I would consider a pretty good friend was working the till. We didn't make eye contact and I elected to walk by without acknowledging him and use the self check-out. I then went home and made a pizza.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
I also thought this thread could be about some cool music that uses silence. A little bit of a listening thread, if you will.
.
If you're going to post a tune, don't tell people when the silence occurs.
.
.
I'm going to post these in order of how aggressive the silences are.

I made a big long thread analyzing this very piece of music in which I mused about this very silence. Here is that musing.
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
The third episode starts at 14, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of the best moments in this piece. That would be the 2/8 measure. A full two beats of silence that is fraught with tension. He's created a slowly simmering form through the first two episodes, and it almost petered out completely at the end of the second episode. He then has the balls to have two beats of absolutely nothing before the third episode starts. The reason I'm mentioning this is because a lot of people don't take enough consideration for the power of silence. There is a lot of potency in that 2/8 measure and it makes the explosion at 14 all the more effective. Just something to mull.

And here we are mulling that very thing!
(Full thread here.)
.
.

Yeah that's right. Zach just posted some Portishead. Get over it. I reeeaaaallly love the silence in this tune. It's startling and extremely effective.
.
.

I grouped these pieces together because I think the silences serve the same purposes in both of them. Both pieces are incredibly demanding (amongst the most difficult literature ever written for their respective instruments) and the pauses have a practical reason: rest for the performer. But they also serve an aesthetic one. The other thing that these pieces have in common is that they're very busy and the pauses also provide rest for the listener to regroup and internalize what they've heard. The silences in the these pieces feel very natural to me.
.

.
.

Saved the best for last obvi. This piece is sound framed with silence. This isn't using silence as an effect; this is elevating silence to being of the same validity of sound. I find this piece to be hauntingly beautiful with its gestural stabs and long silences.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
So what about you?
Have you ever considered silence?
Do you have any favourite tunes that use silence?
.
#2
I'll be the first (in this thread at least) to say that I really appreciate these "Zach talks about music" threads. I'm sure we have all grown as musicians.

Silence is just as much music as sound is. Music should express something. Sometimes the best way to express something is through silence.

Silence can be used in multiple ways: giving the audience a rest to catch up after a striking hit, building anticipation, etc. Silence doesn't even have to be actual silence, just seemingly so to paint a sound-picture of the musical scene. A black square painting, although empty and void, still has black paint to make up itself. But music should always express something, either allowing the writer to express or for the audience to express. Silence expresses.

Without getting too August-Rushy on you, if your hear silence in the music, write/play/express with silence.
Last edited by Will Lane at Sep 22, 2014,
#3
now we know that glass can not just break but be broken
You might could use some double modals.
#4
I find it interesting that pretty much every musician understands the use of dynamics, having loud and soft, fortississississimo and pianissississississimo, etc. But silence, which is a 'true' (true meaning full, or complete) use of dynamic, is still not utilised completely.

That being said, there's really not a lot of music I listen to that has complete silence in it, for more than a bar. I honestly can't think of a single song.
superman is killing himself tonight
#5
I must admit, I really like songs where there's a stark interlude of silence. Going from all-out musical passion to complete silence is a most beautiful composition technique.
#6
Have you ever considered silence?
I have never thought of silence as more than indeterminate gaps to create separation between elements - to evoke space. I haven't really explored the concept that fully, only really implementing silence as I see fit, and more often than not, the "silence" typically has remnants of a reverb decay trail etc.

Would such instances count as true silence? Does silence have to be sudden?

Do you have any favourite tunes that use silence?

Beatles - She's So Heavy has the same Portishead ending used to great effect.


Julia Wolfe - Lick is built around silence much in the same way as Cage's work, but it uses it differntly, almost in the sense of bipolar aggression.
https://soundcloud.com/redpoppymusic/julia-wolfe-lick
Last edited by MapOfYourHead at Sep 23, 2014,
#7
people say my best playing is proportional to how much silence there is in the piece
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#8
Quote by Will Lane
I'll be the first (in this thread at least) to say that I really appreciate these "Zach talks about music" threads. I'm sure we have all grown as musicians.


I mostly started making these to annoy certain people, but I'm glad there is also usefulness in them.

Quote by Will Lane

Silence can be used in multiple ways: giving the audience a rest to catch up after a striking hit, building anticipation, etc. Silence doesn't even have to be actual silence, just seemingly so to paint a sound-picture of the musical scene. A black square painting, although empty and void, still has black paint to make up itself.

This is an interesting point: that it doesn't have to be complete silence to give the illusion of silence. One little thing that I've attempted multiple times is to have a very loud sound with a very quiet sound underneath and then have the loud sound cut out but the quiet sound continue. In theory there should be a moment of perceived silence as the ear adjusts from the really loud sound, but it never quite works.

Quote by Baby Joel
I find it interesting that pretty much every musician understands the use of dynamics, having loud and soft, fortississississimo and pianissississississimo, etc. But silence, which is a 'true' (true meaning full, or complete) use of dynamic, is still not utilised completely.

That being said, there's really not a lot of music I listen to that has complete silence in it, for more than a bar. I honestly can't think of a single song.

Yeah that's the thing. The idea of very soft is common, but the idea of nothing is much less common. It's kind of an attractive thing to me too, because there's no "maximum loudness" but there is a "maximum quietness" (i.e. silence).

That's a shame you can't think of music with silence. I wish it were more common.


Quote by MapOfYourHead
Have you ever considered silence?
I have never thought of silence as more than indeterminate gaps to create separation between elements - to evoke space. I haven't really explored the concept that fully, only really implementing silence as I see fit, and more often than not, the "silence" typically has remnants of a reverb decay trail etc.

Would such instances count as true silence? Does silence have to be sudden?

Do you have any favourite tunes that use silence?

Beatles - She's So Heavy has the same Portishead ending used to great effect.


Julia Wolfe - Lick is built around silence much in the same way as Cage's work, but it uses it differntly, almost in the sense of bipolar aggression.
https://soundcloud.com/redpoppymusic/julia-wolfe-lick

I don't think silence has to be sudden. In fact, I think the idea of something petering out into silence is pretty compelling. And as I said above, I also think perceived silence can have the same effect as "true" silence.

Those pieces are both really cool. I almost felt that she could have let the silences breathe even more in that piece, but either way they were really effective.

Quote by Dave_Mc
people say my best playing is proportional to how much silence there is in the piece

That's good of people to say.
#9
very

I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#10
I view the effectiveness/desirability of silence as directly related to its purpose and its ability to achieve that purpose. Silences (especially long ones) can sound quite pretentious if misused.

The Stravinsky example uses silence as the “calm before the storm” so to speak, in a classical kind of way (I’m sure we can all name numerous examples of the same usage in Beethoven, Haydn, etc) to juxtapose the dynamic extremes. This is always effective, even cliché (but not in a pejorative sense).

The Stockhausen piece - I found it comical at first (I literally laughed out loud). For me, it is like a theatrical monologue - a single voice speaking, acting out a dramatic comedy. The silences are very natural, conversational, and well-timed.

The Berio is similar (speech-like), with a different voice, with a different dramatic tone, of course. It reminds me very much of the musical “language” used in the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (which also featured an oboe). I wonder if John Williams based some of that music on Berio’s Sequenza VII. Again, very natural, conversational silences.

The John Cage example sounds like incidental music to me; like accompaniment for an animated silent film. It doesn’t have the speech-like flow of the Stockhausen or Berio. Or, perhaps it is more like the speech of a lunatic, with its disjointed outbursts and misplaced comments.

I find all of these very effective in their use of silences.
#11
Miles Davis:
“Don't play what's there, play what's not there.”
“If you don't know what to play, play nothing.”

Silence definitely helps a piece settle into itself.

The thing I'm working on right now has an abrupt silence that lasts a bar right where a huge cadence is leading up to. Originally I just completed that cadence but the impact wasn't as big as I imagined.

Then I realized it is the end of the exposition and it's been nonstop full speed ahead. I put that silence there and THEN start the development with that huge loud chord finally fulfilling the built up cadence. Got the impact I was looking for.

...modes and scales are still useless.


Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Thanks
Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
#12
Quote by Xiaoxi
Miles Davis:
“If you don't know what to play, play nothing.”

That sounds good but it's shit advice imo. I'm pretty sure everyone has moments when they don't know EXACTLY what to play next.
#13
Quote by Elintasokas
That sounds good but it's shit advice imo. I'm pretty sure everyone has moments when they don't know EXACTLY what to play next.


Jive turkeys
#14
non serious post


honestly, it's pretty hard to find straight up silence, even in experimental music. there's definitely a lot of heavy stopping in, say, math rock or grindcore, but those are pretty intentionally jarring. it really is an interesting element to just bring a random halt to all the momentum you built up in a track - it can very well be used as a sort of 3 dimensional sense of tension, if that makes sense

even extreme dynamics are hard to find now. people know mp, mf, and f and that's about it because it can be easily plugged into the verse/chorus formulas we all know
Last edited by Hail at Sep 25, 2014,
#15
Quote by MapOfYourHead
Have you ever considered silence?
I have never thought of silence as more than indeterminate gaps to create separation between elements - to evoke space. I haven't really explored the concept that fully, only really implementing silence as I see fit, and more often than not, the "silence" typically has remnants of a reverb decay trail etc.

Would such instances count as true silence? Does silence have to be sudden?

Do you have any favourite tunes that use silence?

Beatles - She's So Heavy has the same Portishead ending used to great effect.


Julia Wolfe - Lick is built around silence much in the same way as Cage's work, but it uses it differntly, almost in the sense of bipolar aggression.
https://soundcloud.com/redpoppymusic/julia-wolfe-lick


Whoa, those Julia Wolfe pieces was really cool. I'm gonna check out some more of her stuff.