In one of my summer classes this past year, we discussed the concept of “An Experience”. Basically (and this was a philosophy discussion, so my understanding is basic at best) “an experience” refers to a musical moment that has a significant effect on the listener. Not an entire piece, not a singular note, but a brief musical moment with a strong impact.
After watching the Chicago Symphony’s phenomenal performance of the Verdi Requiem the other night, I began thinking about the moments that would go on my list of “An Experience”. I came up with a list that includes a range of genres, and when possible, included a clip of the musical moment itself.
- The first “Requiem” from the Introit and Kyrie of the Verdi Requiem.
- The moment when the distorted guitar hits in Dream Theater’s Misunderstood.
- The opening three chords of Eric Ewazen’s Concertino for Bass Trombone and Trombone Choir. I had the opportunity to share my love for those chords with Eric Ewazen himself at the Midwest Clinic in 2007. That remains by far the nerdiest conversation I’ve ever had.
- The moment in the Mos Def/Talib Kweli album Blackstar when Definition becomes RE: Definition.
- The end of the intro to Bonerama’s cover of Helter Skelter.
- THAT chord progression in Horkstow Grange.
- Opening notes of Miles Davis’ solo on So What. So simple, yet so brilliant.
- Stravinsky’s reharmonization of The Star Spangled Banner. The major-minor 7th chord he throws in at the end is very jarring, and he received a warning from the Boston police for doing it.
- This incredible horn line from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
- The first moment in Bill Reichenbach’s arrangment of Scarborough Fair when everybody is playing.
- The transition from Dance of Eternity to One Last Time on Dream Theater’s Metropolis Part II: Scenes From A Memory.
Each of these moments is special to me for different reasons. With some, I’m captivated by the composer’s choice of harmony, with others it’s the use of rhythm, and others are linked to important events in my life outside of music. What musical moments would go on your list?
The Trombonist's Mouthpiece by Joe Guarr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License