[Pt. II – Proj. 1] ~ Listening Log – Music between the wars 1919–1945 – Varèse’s Amériques

Listen to Varèse’s Amériques. How far in your view does this piece and Varèse’s idea of organised sound fit with standard definitions of music? Remember the Concise Oxford Dictionary definition of music that you considered in Part One: ‘the art of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion’. After listening to Varèse, do you think this definition (or your own definition written in Part One) needs to be developed or modified? Make notes in your listening log.

I think the piece definitively produces both beauty of form and expression of emotion although it might not deal with harmony in a traditional sense. So I guess it partially conform with the Oxford Dictionary definition of music. The definition would have to be expanded to include sound and the codification of sound in order to accommodate the way in which Varèse structures his music. His method of creating blocks of sounds that form clusters and shapes which are perceived as musical patterns are outside the normal classical definitions of form and harmony but do manage to fill the same function of drawing the listener into a progressive and developing musical journey. The emotional effect is indeed heightened. Varies’s ideas of organised sound are much closer to my own definition of what constitutes music and encompass a greater range of possibilities and modern styles.