By this time, I am confident that everyone has started school. Routines are getting set, and real learning is underway. This week I want to introduce some epic classical music that will inspire students to achieve great things this week.
I also want to discuss how classical music has been given a false reputation of being relaxing to the point that it will put you to sleep. On the contrary, classical music has a much broader dynamic range than popular music. You can experience the softest “softs” and the loudest “louds” all in the same piece of music. For this reason, it doesn’t lend itself well to modern radio. Too frequently, you will find yourself adjusting the volume knob.
The range of dynamics in orchestra music in contrast to popular music doesn’t make it inherently better. Orchestra music is just different. For instance, an orchestra with 50 to 75 musicians can produce a lot of sound. Compare it to a band with a singer, 1 guitar, bass, and drums. These four musicians can create a lot of sound, but they will not be able to overpower the full volume of a 60 piece orchestra.
Likewise, when the orchestra is performing, there will be times when only a couple instruments are playing. This allows for very quiet sections. When the composer wants to create more volume, he or she will add instruments and tell them to play louder.
The music I selected today is designed to excite you and show the broad dynamic range the orchestra can utilize. The first work is the Marsch from Paul Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis. The second is the Ride of the Walkure from Richard Wagner’s massive four-part opera, The Ring of the Nibelungen. This piece has often been used in movies because of its monumental nature. The third work is a parade march called Army of the Nile. Its composer Kenneth J. Alford dedicated it to General Wavell of the Brittish army for stopping the Axis powers from advancing across Egypt. This is probably my favorite parade march. Last, I’ve included Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance from his ballet Gayane.
Each of these works is fast, loud at times, and excites the listener. Hopefully, they can start your September off in an epic way and maybe even motivate your kids to get their schoolwork and instrument practice completed. Enjoy!