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Music Spaces

The Sounds and Music of Open Space

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Posted by Patricia Zimmermann at 8:29PM   |  Add a comment
Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Berlin Train Station)

Blog written by Jairo Geronymo, pianist, Nurnberg, Germany 

The Berlin wall fell on November 9, 1989. In the 20 years since, Berlin has reinvented itself as a single city. Borderless.

The infrastructure of East Berlin needed extensive modernization. The subway system--oddly cut into two-- became one again. New traffic patterns mirror a new organization of the city. Berlin needed a new main train station: the largest crossing station in Europe was erected, or rather emerged from the sand (www.hbf-berlin.de) a pas de deux of glass and curves. This gargantuan transparent double centipede, a stone throw from the Branderburg Gate, dwarfs the fast speed trains supported by single pillars and crisscrossing subway lines. All open, all see-through.

Twice a week, I rush through this space on my commute to Berlin, marveling at the station’s scale and lightness. This week, I eyed a temporary round black structure, fifteen feet in diameter, eight feet tall with two large openings. It was plopped into a busy path in the middle floor. Inside this edifice were microphones, drums, guitars, keyboards and 37 miles of cables (www.firmenpresse.de/pressinfo/).

Then, on September 16th, something happened. I heard ‘piano sounds’ as I devoured my vegetables in red curry. Spicy sounds.

Inside the black structure, I saw a gleaming nine foot Bechstein grand piano, a pianist, microphones, a composer with an equalizer, and what seemed like two miles of cables.

Sublime music filled the space as the pianist played glissandi directly on the strings. The infernal music was threatening: the pianist banged ‘demolished’ seventh chords on the lower keys. The composer often induced microfony that reverberated like a toxic storm through the cavernous space. The ethereal remixed sounds seduced some listeners; the thundering microphony scared others. This piano, large for any concert hall but tiny in this cavernous space, roared in this transparent cave. Everybody paid attention. Many people sat on the floor in and around the black structure, listening, riveted.

Experienced musicians know how to match the right repertoire with the right audience. Much of the exuberant piano repertoire frequently performed in recital and concerts would, I suspect, disappear in that space. What would you program for that space?

Were many people shocked by such contemporary music? Yes.

Were many people shocked by such contemporary architecture? No.

The logic of the new suggests that strong contemporary architecture would pair seamlessly with strong contemporary music. New kids in the block, in this model, like to hang out together.

So why do audiences seem to digest contemporary architecture so easily while contemporary music generates so much controversy? Is all contemporary architecture good and all contemporary music bad? So what makes for bad contemporary architecture or bad contemporary music? Who can judge it?

Yes, we can!

So....leave a comment if you ever loved something old or something new…

 

 


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