Friday, February 06, 2009

Messiaen - Oiseaux Exotiques

I am going to do some posts on avant-garde music starting with this one on Messiaen's Oiseaux Exotiques (exotic birds) from 1955-56.

I have always had an interest in the avant-garde and would like to know more about it. For me blogging is a learning experience.

The curious thing about Olivier Messiaen's bird music is that it's supposed to be made up of the songs of actual birds. Perhaps it is a different experience to hear this if you are familiar with European bird calls. Perhaps not.

Would it enhance the experience to learn which birds these are and then find them in the composition? It would be a little bit like memorizing the leitmotivs for Wagner's Ring, something I have certainly never done. The effect of the leitmotiv is supposed to work whether you have memorized it or not. When I am offered the opportunity not to memorize something, I always accept.

I always find the chaotic effect of Messiaen's music pleasurable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's my suggestion for what it's worth. Don't bother trying to find out which birdsong is which in Messiaen's music, just enjoy the glorious noise it makes. Birdsong was part of his 'belief' and compositional technique and you don't need to know about any of that to enjoy this great music. I started to listen to Messiaen's music some time ago now when I was 14-15. It certainly changed the way I listen to 'real' birdsong!!