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Glassworks | Opening

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Composed by Philip Glass in 1981

Recorded and performed by yours truly.

Why bother to upload such a piece as this when there are already innumerable amount of recordings floating around by professionals and amateurs alike?

–Because I have something to say that I have not heard in other interpretations of the piece.

If you were to look at the sheet music, you would find that 5-6 minutes of music really is only thirty measures long, and it fits entirely onto two pages comfortably. After two pages, we are told to repeat the music in its entirety twice. Although on paper it may look like the music goes backwards and forwards, time does not. Time is aways moving, always new, and it never repeats. Is the F minor chord that starts the piece in the first measure the same F minor chord when the music cycles around? For one obvious instance, the B-flat chord at the end before the piece is repeated is not heard before the F minor chord is played at the start. As we listen to the piece, and by the time we get to measure one a third time through, we have already heard the three sections, plus the transition, that we have not heard before the first time we listened to measure one. Our thoughts adrift as the music progresses, and therefore the music is always new. It does not simply start over as it suggests on paper. It is a common refrain among critics that the music of Philip Glass is repetitive – like that isn't seemingly obvious to anyone that first hears it.

What comes with understanding his works, is that although the music repeats, as performers and listeners, we are the ones continuing with modulated thoughts and emotions. It is you that changes, and if you were to participate in listening, the music begins to change from within. Though the music externally may change, it is often done by the littlest of details by the performer, and noticed only by the ones most intimate with the work.

So as a performer alone with my thoughts, I meditate and change the way I play this piece throughout. At the first repeat and within each section, I like to quiet down so I can increase and decrease the dynamics with an ebb and flow. At the second repeat, I treat the overall progression starting at its peak with a gradual decrescendo. Not that it has to be done this way, but considering that dynamics were spared, and the direction given little, I hear the form of Philip Glass's music to be analogous to our journey from life to death. And just because we repeat in doing the same tasks and pursuing the same dreams, as we progress, we tend to change the way we approach them.

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I adore this piece. I've listened to countless interpretations, and can say that you do a great job! There are a couple areas where you can hear that the piano tuning isn't perfect, but that just created it's own unique flavor, and points to that which the music of Philip Glass elucidates: one river, never the same.

Phonometrologist responds:

I appreciate the time you allowed in letting me know your thoughts on it. Your understanding on how Philip Glass would explain music shows that you're acquainted with his approach; that gives weight to your sentiments. Thank you

Wonderful interpretation!

Phonometrologist responds:

Glad you think so. Thank you for taking the time to let me know!

Credits & Info

4.96 / 5.00

Feb 16, 2021
12:12 AM EST
File Info
6.4 MB
5 min 36 sec

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