Friday Performance Pick – 135

Bartók, Out of Doors — The Night’s Music

Carol’s essay a few days ago on night music prompts this week’s performance pick. Why not follow up on her post by featuring the movement she discusses from Bartók’s Out of Doors?

bartokCoincidentally, just two weeks ago I was discussing night music and Bartók with a friend and colleague at the Circe Institute’s Annual Conference. Carol was not in on that conversation, so I found it interesting that the sounds of North Carolina prompted her to write on that topic.

Different geographic regions naturally have different sounds.But in South Louisiana where I lived for many years, insects drown out everything else. It’s hard to hear anything over the cicadas. On our North Texas ranch, the nightly contest between the coyotes and our big dogs was most impressive aural feature, although I would occasionally hear some truly astonishing sounds that were beyond my ability to identify.

Bartók uses several techniques to capture the sounds of the Hungarian night. He sets up a slow repeating pattern of dissonant tone clusters in the background. Short motives intrude at irregular intervals. His melodies are ethereal and unobtrusive. The overall soundscape takes precedence over harmonic and melodic forms.