It’s a dry spell here; a long stretch of sunshine and hot weather. We have not had rain for a couple of weeks, and the next two weeks look beautiful, too.
But at Sound Theology we are in the midst of Ordinary Time, and music about water. This week’s composers are all masters at evocative writing – creating music that is unique, yet the sounds call forth a shared experience. How is it that composers are able to create music that is particular to the combination of instruments, but universal in conjuring memories of rain?
Toru Takemitsu is a Japanese composer who combines soundscapes from both his Eastern and Western influences in Rain Spell, a sparse work of beautiful chamber music. Brahms’ heart-stoppingly powerful Violin Sonata, Op.78 doesn’t sound all that ‘rainy,’ but it is known as the Rain Sonata because each of the three movements borrow the main motif from his vocal composition Regenlied, or Rain Song. I cannot find an English translation for Grieg’s lovely vocal work Spring Rain but it is a musical amuse-bouche: a tasty nugget for the ears. Canadian composer R Murray Schafer’s choral piece Miniwanka describes water using words from ten Native American Indian languages. This work is performed by both amateur and professional choirs around the world because of its distinctive compositional techniques: it is never the same twice. The final work – Debussy’s Jardins sous la pluie – has the most delightful images of the joy that children find from wearing galoshes and splashing in puddles.
Whatever your summer weather, enjoy the sounds and images that create this week’s Rain Stories.