Monday, September 30, 2013

Music of the spheres, music of the gears

A friend recently sent me a link to a performance of Arthur Honegger's Pacific 231, popularly regarded as an orchestral homage to the steam locomotive. Listening to Honegger reminded me of Pierre Schaeffer’s Etude aux Chemins de Fer, a piece of musique concrète—“real” sounds of life, in this case the sounds of locomotives, put together as music. Music evoking machines, and machines evoking music. Evoking? Achieving? You be the judge. An orchestra playing Honegger is on YouTube here, and Schaeffer playing locomotives is here. Happy listening.

Above: a sketch from Locomotive of a musician, maybe, on the Johnson bar.


Roberta X said...

Thank you for the link to "Pacific 231" -- remarkable work.

I think there are some parallels between this and Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse," a tune you may find familiar upon hearing. :) Both composers took inspiration from large steam engines. (Scott had a remarkable ear; good recordings of his punning "Reckless Night On An Ocean Liner" reveal the sounds of a marine steam engine, seagulls and buoys in the score.)

Brian Floca said...

Thanks for the musical recommendation, Roberta!