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Question for those familiar with classical piano music

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I'm reading about someone describing musical notes rising and falling on the page, looking like a hill to climb and descend, and I wonder if seeing real hills might evoke particular compositions in a musical person. I know very little about classical piano music and rarely listen to it, but I'd like to know which pieces might come to a pianist's mind if they were seeing a grand waterfall for the first time and also a majestic mountain.

If any of you have suggestions, I'll look them up and take a listen. Thank you!

#1 - July 05, 2010, 06:51 PM

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Seeing a visual landscape as musical text would be possible, but rare.  For one thing, even musicians more often think of music as something heard and experienced than as something "seen" (i.e. the notes written out on the page).  So a waterfall might "look" like, I don't know, a chord with more notes in it than any hands could play, but it might "remind" a musician of an endless fast run down the keyboard (or even a "glissando," which on the piano is played by running down the keys with your thumb).

That said, there's a funny Soviet musical comedy in which a musician "reads" birds sitting on telephone lines as notes.  :)

So anything's possible, because musical minds can be musical in a million different ways!
#2 - July 05, 2010, 08:57 PM
THE CABINET OF EARTHS -- HarperCollins, 2012
A BOX OF GARGOYLES -- HC, 2013
THE WRINKLED CROWN -- HC, 2015
www.annenesbet.com

I was a piano major  so FWIW here are some that spring to mind:

Waterfalls:
Grieg- Piano Concerto in A minor - First movement (Allegro)
Brahms- Piano Concerto in B-flat - First movement
Chopin- "Revolutionary" Etude

Mountains:
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition- The Great Gate of Kiev
Rachmaninoff - Prelude in C-sharp Minor

For me music is very connected to my other senses: sights, smells, memories can be associated with songs. Which is why there cannot be any music while I write - one morning with Chopin and all of my characters would suddenly be mournful.

#3 - July 05, 2010, 09:02 PM

Thank you, Christine! I will check those out right away!

Anne, I'm afraid I did not explain very well--I'm sorry! I read what someone said about the visual effect of notes on the page, but what I am thinking of is someone seeing a waterfall and a mountain, and the experiences calling to mind pieces of music (classical piano music, in particular.)

What you said about the comedy reminds me that I saw a video clip not too long ago where a musician filmed some birds on wires and created music to go with it from the "notes" the birds created!
#4 - July 05, 2010, 09:50 PM


Chopin's "Revolutionary" Etude is perfect. Thank you!
#5 - July 05, 2010, 10:57 PM

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Yes, I agree with Chopin's Revolutionary Etude.  I tend to think of symphonic music more than just piano music when I see things in nature, but I suppose not all classical pianists would...though I bet those who were music majors might.  Chopin, however, fits so well with many things in nature -- I know gentle rain (or a rainstorm in general) always makes me hear either the Raindrop Prelude or his Barcarolle.  Powerful (or majestic sights) also bring to mind various Rachmaninoff Concertos (especially number two, which is my favorite).
#6 - July 06, 2010, 08:30 AM
Robin
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BSR6CPJ/
Website: www.robinprehn3r.com

Rachmaninoff's piano concerto no. 2 is soooooooo beautiful. The middle movement is my favorite. And another vote for anything Chopin. :piano
#7 - July 06, 2010, 01:11 PM

Erin Edwards

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Bach is what I think if that might fit a mountain landscape. Let's see how to describe why I think this. I took piano and choir for years, but I am a professional, by no means. :) In Bach - I think J.S. Bach, I'm pretty sure he had at least one son who was a composer as well, he had a ton of them - in each hand is often plays only one note at a time, with a lot of runs up and down the piano. Two hands will be playing one note each, sometimes running up and down the piano in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions.

I'm thinking this because of piece I played in 5th grade, Minuet in G is coming to mind? If you need me to, I think I have the music and could look for it and see if I have that name right. Any minuet might work if I'm remember that name correctly.
#8 - July 06, 2010, 01:17 PM

Erin Edwards

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Oh, the wonders of the internet.Take a look and see if you think this will fit what you are looking for. This is not the minuet I played (now I'm curious and I might have to go look that up because I recognize this one too.) But maybe it will do for you

http://www-classes.usc.edu/engr/ise/599muscog/2003/examples/Bach-minuet-G.jpg

You can even hear someone play it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIKKDXCP2_M

A minuet is a specific, well known, type of music, but I couldn't tell you the definition. :)
#9 - July 06, 2010, 01:27 PM

Erin Edwards

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Well, you have managed to distract me quite a bit. I think the piece I played would be a better example, but I looked and either my mom or one of my siblings must have the music.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I don't think your idea is too far fetched. My parents took us to a classical music series where the lecturer would tell us life stories of different composers. One of the stories went something like this:

"And then he was depressed, and he retired to a castle up in the mountains, and when a rain storm blew in he wrote this. And lecturer would start playing the piece on the piano. The rain started out gentle... and then it got harder... and then the thunder rolled in... now you can hear the wind..."

And you could really hear all the elements in the piece as he played it.
#10 - July 06, 2010, 01:40 PM

Thanks, guys!

I am writing a short story about Ansel Adams, the famous photographer, when he first visited Yosemite. That visit was what sparked his career, though he was only 14. He got his first camera, saw his first waterfall, and fell in love with nature on that visit. Ansel was also a very good pianist who was passionate about music. I wanted to imagine what music the waterfall might have evoked for him-- Chopin's "Revolutionary" Etude works so well not only because it sounds like a glorious cascade, but Ansel was playing some Chopin with his first piano teacher at around that time.

Thanks so much!
#11 - July 06, 2010, 01:58 PM

Erin Edwards

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My husband *loves* Ansel Adams. When we were dating one of the gifts he gave me was a framed print.
#12 - July 07, 2010, 07:49 AM

mclicious
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It looks like you found what you were looking for, but when I first read your post I was going to suggest that you google "musical synesthesia" (or use JSTOR or a more academic database if you have access through a university or public library), or read Oliver Sacks' MUSICOPHILIA.
#13 - July 10, 2010, 07:50 AM

You made a great choice. Definitely cascady.


(But I must say that my husband plays it.... and it drives me crazy.)
#14 - July 10, 2010, 09:12 AM
What's for pudding, Mimmy?

Illustration website:

http://www.puddintanesbrain.com

www.puddersputter.blogspot.com

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LOL, AE -- it's one my least favorite etudes, as well.
#15 - July 10, 2010, 12:22 PM
Robin
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BSR6CPJ/
Website: www.robinprehn3r.com

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