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Arvo Part

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Lately I have been exploring the music of Arvo Part in a effort to expand my musical library. I try to have an open mind with most things but I am having a really hard time with Mr.Part. Is it just me or does it seem like he finds the most boring material he can get his hands on and then repeats it until the listener either dies of boredom or gives in to its monotonous demands. For example his Spiegel im Spiegel for violin and piano is very beautiful for the first minute or so but after seven minutes of repeating the same thing I kinda just want to die. Also some of his choral stuff is just so Blah to me. I don't know maybe I am missing something. Maybe if I understood more of the logic behind his music I would enjoy it more. I like to learn new things especially about things I don't understand so if you think I am wrong please enlighten me.

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I guess you'll have to in the mood to listen to that music. But I guess that applies for all music. From Glass to baroque, and all in between and beyond.

Spiegel im spiegel is nice. It is repeated 3 times, with in between the even more beautiful 'fur Alina'. But when you look at the title, you have to expect some retrospective music. Don't give up after one minute. If you want something maybe more accessible, listen to the De Profundis.

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You have to have the minimalism mindset when you go listen to Pärt, mostly because his music IS for most part minimal (specially his early stuff.) IF you're not into minimalism it's probably hard to stick around for the longer pieces. Though the later music is much less minimal (3rd symphony, for example.)

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Haha, I had a composition teacher who asked his students to listen to Part but never write like him. You have to be in the right state of mind for his minimalist pieces, definitely. Spiegel im Spiegel is nice, and man can it be hard to keep a steady tempo. It takes a lot of concentration to play it well. Try listening for the variations (timbral, tempo, etc...) in each repetition and you might get something new out of the music. Listen to how the performers struggle :P

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i completely disagree with all "you have to be in right, minimalist or whatever mind state to like it" prescriptions. you don't. why? because some people like it without being in those states. at least, one of them.

first time i have heard part's "spiegel im spiegel", it was nowhere close to being in state to listen to music. i just came into youth center in oslo and had to wait in queue for the free internet. i heard music, sat down and listened all of it. i did not know what was being played. next time i went to the shop and took a random recording and that was it. so no, music may strike you out of nowhere and you don't have to be in the mood for it. at least not necessarily. otherwise there'd be nothing new to experience.

as for prescriptions - get yourself tired, live like a bum for some weeks, forget all the culture - shortly, let the music come as luxury not as a commodity.fatigue can be a good thing in appreciating creative things.

overuse of one's musical faculties results in retardiation of sensitivity to music. a proffesion induced disease, granted. there are amazing slow changes and movements of thought in part's music. they are simply unorthodox (i don't think he is minimalist, in first place) and don't work with 'expectations'.

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The big thing I've learned in dealing with most music is: 1) You've gotta approach the music on it's own terms and 2) there's just going to be some stuff you're not going to like, but either you'll learn to deal with it or realize why you don't like it.

Music's a very subjective thing, and that means throwing in one's two cents about it is about as usefull as the other person getting offended at it. It's great to have your own opinion, but while I realize that I personally agree with you, there are a lot of people that don't and enjoy his music for what it is. That being said, it's wonderfull to hear that as a composer you're listening to expand your knowledge, which you should do to better your craft! One has to learn what we like and don't like, and what we would do and not do. Don't be ashamed though, I get stared daggers by most of the people I know when I say that I love practically anything expect High-German Romanticism and Atonality, and love to listen to a well written classical era work followed by early baroque, early renaissance, and Impressionism ^^.

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Around which year was that piece written? I've listened to Part in the past and have not come across his work. Though generally I must admit that his pre-tintinnabuli works are far more interesting. His Colage uber B-A-C-H and his first two symphonies I actually found enjoyable.

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I think that Arvo Part may require a certain frame of mind, like any other composer.

However, what I find interesting about his work is the theory behind it. Part uses his religious beliefs as the basis for his compositions, and has created a system which he calls “tintinnabuli”, i.e., “the ringing of bells”. Most of his works use either two or three voices symbolizing God/God’s Love and Man/His Ability to Err. The God Line is a stationary line – a single note sounded throughout, intended to show the immutability and permanence of God, typically an A (most of Part’s work is in A minor). The line symbolizing Man moves diatonically step-wise toward or away from God – insert your own commentary about sin and redemption etc here. When a third voice is present, it outlines the tonic triad, almost invariably the pitch in the triad closest to Man. If I remember correctly, this line is God’s Love, although I’m not sure. A full analysis of Part’s works can be found in Paul Hillier’s book on the composer (which I read probably 6 or so years ago now, so my memory's a little bit fuzzy on the full details).

I don’t go in for the religion, but I appreciate that there’s a system, however simple. And I find the seeming simplicity of his music to be very refreshing. I really like his choral music – the Magnificat and And One of the Pharisees are gorgeous and make really affective/effective use of the tintinnabuli technique.

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