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Why is Messiaen so good?

Casper Belier

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I am fascinated with Messiaen's  Preludes pour piano (1929)

but, what is it that makes this so good to listen to, why do i keep listening, and relistening? what is it i hear in it that i want to keep listening to it? I have a couple ideas about that.

1. The melodies are rich! no dull quarter note melodies, and they are always moving.

2. The dynamics are superb,

3. This must be a good recording.

4. hearing new things is always exciting, messiaen's music is always super original.

5. his music has a lot of emptyness in it, reflective silences. which give it the qualities of seeing an mirror on the water of a big lake. or of shadows

6. I want to hear these sounds in my head, so i can have some innercompositional ideas with his music, (the music i hear in my head is much beathifulller then i write at the moment, to experienced composers: are you able to write down the best music you make in your head while doing something else then composition?)

7. from listening to this music i get ideas about space in divine ways. helping me understand the musical phantom-world a bit more. 


What do you think about Messiaen? divine or just treble?

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On 19-2-2015 at 11:07 AM, Frankie Detergnt said:

for me personally the site has been kind of weak without the exciting learning topics. it would be more exciting having topics like "why is this piece/melody so good?"  or "can you make a variation as good as this original?" , or "where did my melody go wrong?", etc. things that we could learn from.

this was the inspiration for the post, 

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It is no mistake. Messiaen was one of the most skilled craftsmen in the history of music and had a very detailed understanding of what he was doing. He published a treatise outlining his compositional philosophy called "The Technique of My Musical Language". A fascinating read which I recommend: 


The secret to his sound is largely, but not only, due to his use of symmetrical structures, which he refers to as "the charm of impossibilities". Most notably modes which have a limited number of unique forms and rhythms which do not have retrograde forms (but that is only the beginning).

EDIT: But one must never underestimate his artistic mind. A robust technical skillset and symmetrical material guarantee nothing by themselves.

Edited by Gylfi
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