Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unchained melody

There are many monumental Mozart pieces you could listen to on his birthday, which was today.

But me, I like this goofy little Gigue.

The first time I heard it, years ago, I was driving somewhere and it came on the radio and I remember enjoying it so much. And I felt so good about myself. I thought: Who says I do not like modern music? Here is a modern piece I like.

Who is this composer? I wondered.

Then of course they announced it was Mozart and I almost fell over.

But I did not feel so stupid when I read somewhere that this piece, this Gigue, is unusual. Mozart was obviously experimenting and having fun. The "melody," I read -- I put that in quotes because you can hardly call it a melody -- is something like one note short of a twelve-tone scale. Mozart almost nailed the twelve-tone scale. You can tell when you listen to it it sounds funny. I like singing it to myself because it is so strange.

When you play it on the piano the line is thick with accidentals, all kinds of sharps and flats.

It is like a lot of colored tiles that are scrambled up and then he arranges them into a picture that makes sense.

That is Mozart for you.

Two hundred and fifty-five years young.

1 comment:

  1. I know that Gigue and the only parallel that comes to my mind is the uncompleted end of the Art Of The Fugue, where Bach adds his signature as a countersubject, and tonality vanishes just as the fragment breaks off. The examples of Mozart and Bach prove that the great revolutionaries of the 2nd Viennese School weren't as out in front of everything as they thought. Stravinsky once said that he often preferred to study earlier music because the techniques of those composers were better than many in the 19th Century.

    Anyway, poor little Amade is another example of someone who deserved a better life than the world gave him.