Music

Continued Explorations~ Soul Searching Melodies

In this blog post I will be analyzing two pieces of music by the same composer that I find to be incredibly “soul searching” in melody. They are so forlorn, sorrowful, mysterious, deep, and mystical. Be careful not to listen for too long or you might be pulled into some deep emotion that will be hard to rise out of.

Piece: Non-eternal from the album “Sleep”

Composer: Max Richter

Released: 2015

Origin: German-British

Isn’t it positively mysterious? Alien even? I remember contemplating the meaning of life when I first heard it and I still do every time I listen to it.

Max Richter combines vocals and electronic synthesizers, along with orchestral strings to create intricate harmonies that reach down into your soul.

“In 2015, Max Richter released his most ambitious project to date, Sleep, an 8.5 hour listening experience targeted to fit a full night’s rest. The album itself contains 31 compositions, most of them reaching 20–30 minutes in duration, all based around variations of 4-5 themes. The music is calm, slow, mellow and composed for piano, cello, two violas, two violins, organ, soprano vocals, synthesizers and electronics. As the album’s liner notes, strings are played by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (Ben Russell, Yuki Numata Resnik, Caleb Burhans, Clarice Jensen and Brian Snow), Vocals are provided by Grace Davidson and the piano, synthesisers and electronics are played by Richter himself.” (Wiki, 2020)

Non-eternal is a piece taken out of Richter’s “Sleep” album. I highly encourage you to purchase his album and see if it works for you. His album is supposed to mimic your sleep cycles and give you a fuller night’s rest.

Notice the vocals in the background of this piece. The soprano voice/voices all belong to the singer Grace Davidson.

Fun facts about Grace; she is one of the main soprano vocalists from many of your favorite movies like The Hobbit, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more.

Grace Davidson

“Grace Davidson sings with gorgeous purity and warmth and hits some extraordinarily ethereal high notes”(Gracedavidsonsoprano.com, 2020)

Here are some other sound recordings of Grace Davidson:

Julie Cooper-Light

The White Light of Forever (From the Hobbit)

Musical Selection #2

This next piece is very emotional. I would say it is more “human” then the last piece. Sorrow exudes from this selection so much that tears sometimes form at the corners of my eyes. Chills creep up my back just from the sheer impressiveness of the work. Listen and be immersed.

Song: Sarajevo

Composer: Max Richter

Released: 2002

Origin: German-British

I remember first hearing this piece while I was studying music theory for a college class. I set some relaxing music on in the background so I could study. This piece was the first one to play and I was so focused on my theory that I thought those high notes were being played by a violin. Listening to it a little closer, I realized it was a voice. Grace Davidson’s voice.

The slow build of tension just explodes at minute 2:27 and then tapers off shortly after, melting into a pleasant stillness as it ends. The dynamics, melody, range, and vibrato all work together to pull on the heartstrings of the audience. Notice the interval raises after each high note run. Grace sings a long high vibrato enhanced note then raises it to finish it off. Leaves me breathless every time.

I have attempted to reach these notes and can but it takes quite a bit of warming up first. Lots of scale warmups are required to hit those notes!

Sarajevo is the name of the capital city in Bosnia. I don’t know much about the political or social commentary of this song but I do wonder if it is a tribute to the lives lost in the Siege of Sarajevo in 1992. With so much emotion wrapped up into one song, I don’t see why it couldn’t be a tribute.

Conclusion

In conclusion, these two pieces are incredibly moving. I have never heard pieces that quite compare in emotion to these. I’d be delighted if you left a link to some other soul-searching compositions in the comments. I highly doubt there are any pieces that can overtake the number of emotions that arise within me like these pieces can, but if you think not, then, by all means, share away.

Sources

—. “Max Richter.” Wikipedia, 11 Nov. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Richter.

“About | Grace Davidson, Soprano.” Grace Davidson, 27 Feb. 2020, gracedavidsonsoprano.com/about.

5 thoughts on “Continued Explorations~ Soul Searching Melodies

  1. What a truly amazing vocalist, wow! They described her as ‘ethereal’ in the quote you cited and that’s an excellent description. Both tracks do sound a bit alien to me, but I agree that the second one is much more human — those notes are amazing. My almost-two-year-old was listening along with me, and he was very impressed! “Hear!” — he said, touching his ears lightly. I’ll have to try the sleep album. I’m currently listening to Finnish radio and night. I like the rhythm of the speech patterns but don’t know enough of the language to be distracted by the words!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I didn’t expect the second selection to be so intense! I think you’re right about it sounding more “human” than the first selection. I really enjoyed listening to both pieces. They are the type of songs that I could get lost in my thoughts listening to. How about Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tr0otuiQuU)? It may not be quite as mysterious and it for sure doesn’t have Grace Davidson’s amazing voice, but it is a very emotional piece. There’s sadness, happiness, and adventurous excitement all in the same song! Anyway, thanks for the great post!

    Like

  3. Both pieces are very pleasing to listen to, especially the second one! Though I have tried on many occasions, I can’t listen to music in bed because it keeps me up. I’m always more interested in picking apart the song I’m listening to than sleeping. The string in the second piece gives me inspirational feelings as though I’m in The Lord of the Rings and I am meeting Galadriel for the first time. Very mystical and otherworldly sounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I didn’t expect the second selection to be so intense! I think you’re right about it sounding more “human” than the first selection. I really enjoyed listening to both pieces though. They are the type of songs that I could get lost in my thoughts listening to. How about Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”? It may not be quite as mysterious and it for sure doesn’t have Grace Davidson’s amazing voice, but it is a very emotional piece. There’s sadness, happiness, and adventurous excitement all in the same song! Anyway, thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with the emotional feelings in this song. The first song is definitely something that I would need to lay in bed and just absolutely vibe out to, and yeah that second one does sound more “human”. As far as sleep music goes I am reminded of Sleep LoFi hip hop. My favorite artist in this sphere is SleepyFish. Overall awesome post! Loved the music

      Liked by 1 person

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