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Black Angels and Beautiful Music, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 545

Research Paper

I typically find music beautiful and entertaining.  However, after listening to Black Angels by George Crumb, I have come to realize that not all music is beautiful.  I can now understand where the title Black Angels comes from.  I find the song Black Angels to be disturbing and suspenseful resembling a horror flick.

The song is chaotic and frenzied, reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock film.  The sharp sounds remind me of birds, knife stabbing motions, screams, and other horrific and terrifying noises.  Other parts of the song sound like choppy Asian inspired music with wind instruments and percussion.  However, there are subtler and softer portions of the song that seem relaxing and soothing…to be interjected with sharp gongs and disordered strings.

Black Angels creates feelings of unnerve, excitement, and anticipation.  I feel as though a sadistic serial killer dressed up like his mother will approach me at any moment.  This is certainly not the type of music a person would want to listen to on the treadmill or on their ihome at bedtime.  However, I can appreciate the masterpiece for what it is.  I’ve come to understand that not all music is beautiful, but it does create emotions within listeners.

George Crumb is a composer of contemporary classical music.  He is renowned for his strange timbres, alternative forms of notation, and his extended instrumental and vocal techniques.  Crumb’s early influence was Anton Webern.  Crumb is experimental with his music, requesting that instruments be played in strange ways, such as using a mallet to play strings, etc. (Grimshaw).

Crumb was born in Charleston, West Virginia.  He began composing at an early age.  Crumb first studied music at the Mason College of Music where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in the year 1950.   Crumb has received a vast amount of prestigious awards in his time.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1968 which he received for his orchestral work Echoes of Time and the River. Crumb also won a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Contemporary Composition for his work Star-Child (Grimshaw).

One of Crumbs best known pieces is Black Angels.  The piece is subtitled “Thirteen Images from the Dark Land” and has the date “Friday the Thirteenth, March 1970” written on the score (Grimshaw).  Black Angels is a piece for electric string quartet.  Although the music seems to be disorganized noise, Crumb intricately intertwined specific sounds and numerology into his piece.  The piece is numerically structured around the numbers 13 and seven.  The beginning of the piece entitled Departure establishes the dark feeling of Black Angels and presents the principal theme of death.  The second part of Dark Angels entitled Absence represents fallen angels.  In part three, called Return, God conquers evil.

Although the song Dark Angels is anything but beautiful it is a captivating and thrilling piece.  Music does not always need to be beautiful.  The important thing is that it creates emotions and feelings within the listeners.  This song introduced chaotic feelings of fright and terror, along with feelings of order and soothing.  Many parts of the song resembled an Alfred Hitchcock film, but it established feelings nonetheless.  I do not particularly enjoy the song, but I can appreciate the quality of emotion in which it expresses.

Works Cited

Grimshaw, Jeremy. George Crumb . n.d. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/george-crumb-mn0001204368. 4 April 2013.

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