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
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 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:
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.
Composer: Max Richter
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.
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.
—. “Max Richter.” Wikipedia, 11 Nov. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Richter.
“About | Grace Davidson, Soprano.” Grace Davidson, 27 Feb. 2020, gracedavidsonsoprano.com/about.