Yep, “Smoke on the Water,”… Deep Purple, the metal band…relaxing! Remember to some heavy metal IS relaxing in itself. This song, however, is not very heavy at all and its sound would be generally accepted by anyone as relaxing. Your mom would like it! It gets a wee heavy in the middle but that ‘contradiction’ highlights the subtleties within.
The song starts out with a simple guitar line interwoven with an exceptionally emotive keyboard patch. In fact it is the ‘intense simplicity’ in the interplay between guitar and keys throughout that unclenches the distended soul.
The way in which keyboardist, the recently deceased, Jon Lord and guitarist Steve Morse play off each other sets up an incredibly concerted sonority only two Master musician’s could offer. Listen for the interplay throughout even the heavier parts to get the most out of the song.
Additionally Steve Morse masterfully plays off his initial motive even in the solos to give the song a connectivity from beginning to end. Steve’s use of delay and splitting the channels adds to the calmness of the guitar sound.
This is one of Debussy’s most popular pieces. “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”
Impressionist music was often dreamy in nature and this piece fits right in that category. The dreamy quality of the melody is achieved using the whole tone scale. Whole tones on guitar are achieved by skipping on fret each time you advance on the neck. On piano you would skip one key(whether black or white.) There are only two whole tone scales….think about it???
Debussy achieves the lush sonority with his orchestration in the strings and his use of tall chords…chords with extensions, 9, 11, 13s etc. The sound of the harp also adds to the piece’s calmness.
The video again has an amazing animated score which may visually help you enjoy the music so try and follow along!
In the past, I have written about relaxing music and what makes it relaxing. The words that I come up with over and over again are spacing and open-ness. Most of my previous posts focused on these traits in regards to the harmonies(chords) and rhythms.
In ‘Un Bal,’ Berlioz uses another technique in addition to these, orchestration. One of my favorite aspects of composing and listening to music is that of orchestration. The combination of instruments and timbres(sounds). When in the hands of a master, I believe, that even inferior melodic/harmonic music can be made great.
Berlioz often uses sparse groups of instruments including solos. When the music does get more dramatic he tends to feature the strings and woodwinds over the heavier brass timbres, of the later Romantics such as Mahler and Wagner. The use of a harp adds to the dulcet nature of the piece.
The creator of the embedded video supplies some great commentary. For those of you trying to gain insights into classical music make sure you check out their other videos, as well.
Hope you are all having a great Friday evening! Coming off a vacation I am having a nice relaxing evening at home. Well actually I have been working so far, but, I am relaxed.
Here is a cool-funky-chill song from guitar legend Joe Satriani.
Enjoy and relax, especially all you sports fans gearing up for the Superbowl on Sunday.
For previous ‘Music to Relax’ posts click here.