Composer of the Day!

Today’s composer of the day is Olivier Messiaen.


Frenchman Olivier Messiaen’s music is difficult to find in America, though it is still performed with relative regularity. His students, however, are well-known and widely respected (Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockcockblochen, Iannis Xenakis).

He had a disease, which, one assumes, helped make his music extremely colorful. He had synaesthesia.

Synaesthesia is classified as a disease in which specific sensory input (e.g. a sound) triggers involuntary responses from another, second, sensory pathway (e.g. vision). In other words, sounds can trigger visual sensations. There are many kinds of synaesthetes, including number-letter » color associations, number » form (object) associations, sound » color, word » taste, and the ever rare sound » taste.

In the case of the sound » color form, specific pitches or harmonies create a sensation of specific colors or patterns of colors.

For a composer like Messiaen, his sound » color form of synaesthesia translated into vibrantly “colorful” music. A devout Catholic organist, he developed his own highly personal symbolic system of composition with color. I forget the exact chord which symbolized the blood of Christ, but I assure you it's a good one.

Check this out. An organ improvisation. This is F-ing cool!

Check this out, too. Some orchestral music that has bird calls.

There's a lot of information about him on the interwebs. He is one of my favorites. You should listen to his music.


Sator Arepo said...

The advent of the "color me badd" tag tickled me.

Empiricus said...

Sorry to drag sandpaper over your tickled-ness, but it's not a new tag.

Sator Arepo said...

Really? Oh, I see. Ok. Weird. You are weird.

Take that!