Anita Brown

 
 

Anita's Blog

Do you have an answer?

A question that was posed to my conducting class by my late mentor, Stanley D. Hettinger, which has only one real answer, has remained with me all of my adult life as a musician.   The members of that class, and students in classes I have taught since then, all sought their own answer.   The answer continues to hold an important place in my consciousness as a composer. 

Do you have an answer for the question:  

 

What is the most dramatic effect in music?

Comments

This is the thread from the blog feed into Facebook. Nobody commented here, but pretty nice thread! I hope some folks will start to comment here as well... --AB * * * o Norman A Ellis Silence September 1 at 1:28am · UnlikeLike · 1 personLoading... · o Anita Brown Did you go to the blog? September 1 at 2:10am · LikeUnlike · o Harry R Condon Don Ellis once said that Norman too! Wonder if your related. Great! September 1 at 8:31am · LikeUnlike · o Harry R Condon To me its dynamics, especially for big band music. I suppose there are a lot of right answers, and when put together it adds up to the real right one. I like the question, thanks Anita!!1 September 1 at 8:37am · LikeUnlike · o Jim Krantz I don't know anything about this. After all of about 1 minute of thought...... I feel that a piece is a "whole". Sometimes I wonder if the audience doesn't create the most dramatic effect in a live performance. But then I listen to Ellingto...n at Newport '56 and Gonzolves 20 whatever choruses and chills run down my spine. Is that because the audience becomes more and more involved? Or is it because of what he is doing? probably we all feed off of each other, just as in a performing group. Silence sounds like an interesting answer but I just don't feel it that way. Like I said, I don't know anything..........See More September 1 at 9:15am · LikeUnlike · o Marc Phaneuf any contrast September 1 at 11:45am · LikeUnlike · o Tim Powell Modulation September 1 at 12:09pm · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown ‎"MOST" dramatic effect. "THE MOST." That means there is only one answer. Right Norman? September 1 at 2:04pm · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown Post on the blog on my site... :-) September 1 at 2:05pm · LikeUnlike · o Andrew Dark Well, how about a pause? September 1 at 4:16pm · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown And a "pause" is... September 1 at 4:20pm · LikeUnlike · o Norman A Ellis What blog? September 1 at 4:48pm · LikeUnlike · o Norman A Ellis ‎@Harry...No, Don and I are not related. The Ellis branch of my family started with my dad when he changed the name from Eisenstadt before I was born. September 1 at 4:49pm · LikeUnlike · o Norman A Ellis ‎@ Anita: Yes, just one answer. OK I'll look for the blog. I don't have your URL handy. September 1 at 4:50pm · LikeUnlike · o Norman A Ellis OK, my more complete answer is submitted to the blog. September 1 at 5:02pm · LikeUnlike · o Norman A Ellis ‎@ Andrew Dark: A Pause is a Silence. September 1 at 5:02pm · UnlikeLike · 1 personLoading... · o Ratzo Harris The Cagean Cacaphony! (Silence) September 1 at 10:52pm · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown Silence doesn't have to be Cagean. It could be "Brownian." LOL September 1 at 10:58pm · LikeUnlike · o Ratzo Harris True since, to Cage, silence doesn't exist. September 1 at 11:16pm · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown Well, true silence would require a vacuum. His point is that there is always "music concrete" (found sounds) in the "alleged silence," hence the notion that the audience is part of the piece --whatever it's called ...Norman help me out h...ere..."Fourteen Minutes and ...Seconds"?? The idea that it is filled with "silence" is negated by the first audience member who coughs. But certainly the QUEST for silence is the most dramatic effect in a sea of sound, just as the most dramatic effect in a movie theater would be to have the screen and everything else go black and silent. See More September 1 at 11:38pm · LikeUnlike · o Ratzo Harris ‎4'33" The idea is that silence never happens. What we're calling silence is inactivity on the part of the performers. Silence won't be negated by the coughing of an audient, because there's always something to listen to (assuming that o...ne isn't deaf, and even then the point is debatable). Even in the unlikely event of an audience making no sounds (coughs, rustling of program notes or moving in their seats), there would still be the ambient sounds of the performance space (ventilation system, plumbing, electrical hums) or leakage from the outside. And in the unlikelier event that the performance space offers no sound of its own, there would still be the sound of one's blood moving through their eardrum or the high pitch of one's nervous system to listen to. That's why I called it the Cagean Cacophony. But I'll go with Brownian Silence. The idea "moves" me!See More September 1 at 11:47pm · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown LOL Well that's what I was saying but you said it better. 4'33" What do I know... September 1 at 11:48pm · LikeUnlike · o Ratzo Harris Don't know about better, but definitely longer! Thanks for kudo, though! But, yeah, 4'33" of "dead air" can seem like fourteen minutes! September 2 at 12:19am · UnlikeLike · 1 personLoading... · o Andrew Dark Yes, a pause could be considered just silence? But, as you know a pause can do more than just be a lack of sound. A pause in a piece of music can be emotionally powerful when it leaves you suspended between the notes and awaiting the next moment. The next moment being the release of the energy gathered in that silence or pause. These held and released moments can create an endless spectrum of effects, that go from 'making you want to cry' to 'dance the night away'. September 2 at 4:12am · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown That's exactly why SILENCE...is the MOST dramatic effect in music. :-) September 2 at 4:39am · LikeUnlike · o Andrew Dark It also works within the confines of a theatre as well. Though there, I spend a lot of time telling to actors to stop making a 101 pauses to try and create an emotional moment. Instead, say a full sentence and let the pause find it's own Moment. I try to show them the rhythm in the words. Harder than you would think considering that we speak all the time. September 2 at 4:48am · LikeUnlike · o Ratzo Harris I thought I'd say something ... September 2 at 4:48am · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown Something. September 2 at 4:50am · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown Go. Something. September 2 at 4:51am · LikeUnlike · o Andrew Dark Yeah, let's here it for...something! September 2 at 4:52am · LikeUnlike · o Ratzo Harris Somehow ... September 2 at 5:19am · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown Somewhere... September 2 at 5:20am · LikeUnlike · o Ratzo Harris Someday ... September 2 at 5:27am · LikeUnlike · o Harry R Condon Someone!! September 2 at 5:30pm · LikeUnlike · o Jim Krantz I have a comment: ALL of art is subjective. Not definitive. There fore I beg to disagree. I doubt there can be a MOST, anything in art. 9 hours ago · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown You're not reading the question objectively. There are certain things that are given, like the fact that there are three primary colors in paint and they are different in light. Like the fact that the major triad is analogous to the visual primary colors. Like the fact that drama is created by conflict or opposition. 5 hours ago · LikeUnlike · o Jim Krantz Cool..........I'll be thinking...................THANKS!!!! So I'll ask this. If silence is the most dramatic effect in music, is it because it is in a way unexpected? As it leaves one hanging, as in drama, wondering - waiting for what comes next? And that is the drama? 5 hours ago · LikeUnlike · o Anita Brown Yes, because it is the opposite of sound of any kind. But Ratzo will argue about Cagean Silence, a.k.a the piece "written" (really conceived) by John Cage which is 4 min & 33 seconds of "nothing." "Nothing" becomes the focus, and there is... always something inside of nothing. I could go on, but...that is not my intention with the question. I was speaking of the most dramatic effect in a composer's toolbox. It is indeed "silence." It creates anticipation, it "frames" a piece of music at beginning and end. It indeed suspends the ongoing effect of the music and can be very moving. 4 hours ago · Harry R Condon a piece of music that illustrates these concepts is Don Ellis' ending on his song Final Analysis (although fun and funny, it also is exciting to hear).
Yes, a pause could be considered just silence? But, as you know a pause can do more than just be a lack of sound. A pause in a piece of music can be emotionally powerful when it leaves you suspended between the notes and awaiting the next moment. The next moment being the release of the energy gathered in that silence or pause. These held and released moments can create an endless spectrum of effects, that go from 'making you want to cry' to 'dance the night away'.
I have always felt that the most dramatic effect in music is the pause, or silence. There are many examples. Rationally, it is easy to be dramatic by making a super loud sound; but, it's not really drama if there is no contrast. So the effect of a loud sound is only dramatic in contrast to it's surroundings. I feel that the silence by itself creates mystery, anticipation, suspense...hence it is the most dramatic effect. We don't know what is coming next, so the contrast is relatively unimportant. Of course, if the surrounding music is only mediocre, it then becomes anticlimactic. The silence could just as easily occur at the beginning, middle or near the end of a piece. Even before the last chord or two. Or between movements.
 

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