Composed in , Edgard Varèse’s Ionisation is the first piece of Western classical music to be scored for an ensemble comprised solely of. Compared to those monuments, the French-American composer Edgard Varèse’s “Ionisation” barely amounts to a flyspeck. The work’s Sheet Music – £ – Edgard Varèse – Ionisation (Percussion Ensemble).

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To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: He had settled in the United States in The next section begins at 2: To fully appreciate the importance of Ionization, we need to look briefly at the function of percussion instruments in the orchestra.

It’s hard to tell whether a cymbal is striking an F or an E, or something in between. April 26, at 9: It was, incidentally, the first album purchased by Frank Zappa. There are those indefinite in pitch, like the bass drum, snare drum, wood blocks, and cymbals; those of relatively definite musical pitch, such as the piano and chimes; those of continually moving pitch, like the sirens and ‘lion’s roar.

Indefinite pitch Nearly all the percussion instruments used in Ionization generate indefinite pitch, so that most of their vibrations can’t be clearly identified as a D or a G, for example.

Ionisation, Edgard Varèse | Articulate Silences

La Scena Musicale – Vol. A Sketch of the Man and His Music”. It was varewe the first concert hall compositions for percussion ensemble alone, although Alexander Tcherepnin had composed an entire movement for percussion alone in his Symphony No.

Retrieved 30 August Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae.

Ionisation (Varèse, Edgard)

All these great strides forward, astonishing as they may have been, were just the beginning. Journal of Music Theory.

Giant strides in percussion Beginning inat a time when percussion instruments in the orchestra experienced unprecedented development, composers began using these instruments in response to influences as diverse as Slavic folklore or the freewheeling use of the drum set in ragtime groups. Inthe work became ionosation accessible through a successful 78 rpm issued by Columbia Records. Yet what is striking about this piece of music is the degree of sensitivity with which the composer controls the instrumental timbres, achieving an understated grace and eloquence of expression which reaches far beyond inoisation common functional uses of percussion.


The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia. Having moved to America ioniisation the age of 32, the French-born composer was deeply affected by the aural experience of living in urban New York.

It demonstrated how powerfully a genuine musical idea can be expressed in new sounds. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. September 13, at 5: Ionisation combines the terrifying cacophony of the industrial world with a profound sensitivity, unlocking the sensuous, human potential of inhuman noise.

Following a brief interruption from 0: Some dozen of his compositions are groundbreaking works, among them Ionizationthe first score in western music composed for percussion ensemble. Agitated figures in the drums punctuate the backdrop of bells and moaning sirens, increasing in resolve until 4: This page was last edited on 24 Februaryat One critic described the performance as “a sock in the jaw.

Ionisation (Percussion Ensemble)

In opera or program i. Pierre Grondines is a musicologist and choral conductor. His predilection for sounds outside the traditional scales was shared by electro-acoustic barese, continually experimenting with new intervals. Sound-masses in collision For the first time in the history of western music, orchestral percussion instruments were liberated from their supportive role.

Three other instruments appear only in the last bars of the work: Well, that would count as part of the larger piece, rather than a stand-alone piece in and of itself.


Below is a recording of Ionisation followed by a brief listening guide. His preoccupations heralded those of composers born after A new world of sound would soon open for percussion instruments.

Retrieved from ” https: The radical, innovative nature of the work was such that the New York Philharmonic percussionists who were approached to perform Ionization soon proved unable to cope with the work, and typesetters had to be called in to complete the task! You are commenting using your Twitter account. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Perspectives of New Music.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the percussion section was expected to provide colour as well. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: From cymbals to sirens Ionization is composed for 13 musicians playing some 40 instruments.

Varwse, evocation, and colour From Bach to Ionisaiton, the job of the percussion section in the orchestra had basically been to reinforce the accents already present in the musical exchange among the other instruments. Notify me of new comments via email. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here The Gramophone Shop, Inc.

Ionisation (Varèse, Edgard) – IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library: Free Public Domain Sheet Music

Email required Address never made public. The rhythms of Ionization refer to no folkloric or exotic source and are intended to be heard as defining trajectories, masses, and tone-clusters of various densities.

The highly refined, luxuriant music of composers such as Mahler, Strauss, Debussy, and Ravel was enriched by the use of celesta, glockenspiel, tam-tam, rattle, and xylophone.