Articulate Silences

Tacet / Tacet / Tacet

Category: Uncategorized

Recently on counter-melody


Articulate Silences has moved to a new home on For those of you who haven’t found us on the new site, here’s what you might have missed recently:

Shaker Loops, John Adams – The US composer’s piece for strings is a hyper-sensual kaleidoscope of rhythm and tempo in which time is a plastic, sculptable material.

Cello Symphony, Benjamin Britten – Bitterness, memory, and love take centre stage in the British composer’s 1963 riverine lament.

Playlist: (Re)turning from utopia – The turn from lofty idealism to an earth-bound exploration of the uncanny in György Ligeti’s late music.

Playlist: Held tones – The music of Giacinto Scelsi uncovered the enveloping depth and nuance of a single tone.

Playlist: Riot at the opera – Since the 1980s, English-language contemporary opera has been injected with radical potential.

Head over to the new site to read the latest posts from the Articulate Silences team – happy listening!

New posts on counter-melody


Articulate Silences has moved to a new website called counter-melody. In case you’ve not yet found us in our new home, here’s what you might have missed over the last couple of months:

Voices and Piano, Peter Ablinger – The Austrian composer’s large scale “song cycle” for piano and recorded speech maps the liminal spaces between voice and language, sound and music.

Violin Concerto: Concentric Paths, Thomas Adès – From orbit through to perilous flight, the violin carves deep into space in the music of the British composer.

Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, Arvo Pärt – The music of the Estonian composer is laced through with an obsession with church bells: their unsettling suggestion of the sacred and the profane.

Playlist: Almost Nothing – The impossibility of immediacy in the music of Cage, Ferrari and López.

Head over to the new site to read the latest posts from the Articulate Silences team – happy listening!

Playlist: Imagined futures


The Articulate Silences team has recently moved to a new website on contemporary classical music called counter-melody. We’ll be reblogging our posts here on Articulate Silences for a while so that none of you miss out.

Today on counter-melody: Imagined futures, a playlist exploring emancipatory politics in the musical avant-garde of the 70s and 80s. Here’s a snippet of what we had to say:

Though arguably constituted by an underlying utopian drive, the musical avant-garde has rarely been explicit in its desire for political and social emancipation. Perhaps music’s ambiguity best lends itself to tracing only the sense – an ever-forming outline – of imagined futures, attracting both spurners of didacticism and suckers for romantic futility.

Head over to counter-melody to read the full post – happy listening!

String Quartet No. 1 “Gran Torso”, Helmut Lachenmann


As I noted last week, the Articulate Silences team has moved to a new home on counter-melody. I’ll reblog new counter-melody posts here on Articulate Silences for a while, to make sure none of you are missing out. Today we published a new post on Helmut Lachenmann’s String Quartet No. 1 “Gran Torso”. Here’s a snippet of what we had to say about it:

Imagine stripping all the words out of spoken language, leaving behind only the liminal sounds existing between and around those neatly delimited symbols: clipped breaths forcing air in and out of lungs, the moist sounds of saliva between tongue and teeth – all those uncanny by-products of the mechanical, fleshy actuality of the production of meaning. Now do the same to the rarefied language of the string quartet – with its hallowed tradition stretching back to Mozart and Haydn – and you’ll begin to approximate Gran Torso’s barren soundworld.

Head over to counter-melody to read the full post – happy listening!

counter-melody: Articulate Silences reborn

counter-melodyThe Articulate Silences team is delighted to announce the launch of our new website counter-melody.

As I’m sure any of our more regular readers will have come to realise over the past year, Articulate Silences is no more. Being run by a small team of writers, the blog gradually ground to a halt as other commitments increasingly colonised our spare time. As time went on, we also began to feel that Articulate Silences hadn’t quite lived up to its stated ambition to “provide an accessible introduction to 20th and 21st century classical music”. And, perhaps most importantly, we began to question quite what the words “accessible introduction” meant and represented in this context.

But times and situations have changed, and the team behind Articulate Silences is again writing about contemporary classical music in our new home counter-melody. Our subject remains the same, though our stance – our orientation towards our subject – has changed, if only subtly: less “accessible introduction” with all its overtones of didacticism and more exploratory of, and receptive to, the intersections between music, ourselves, and the world. We hope, anyway.

We’d love for you to check out the new site, and to let us know what you think in the comment sections. So far we’ve published posts on Galina Ustvolskaya’s 6th piano sonata, Harrison Birtwistle’s The Axe Manual, and Glenn Branca’s 3rd symphony for guitar orchestra “Gloria”. We’ve also started a series of playlists to explore connections, conversations, and, perhaps, counter-melodies between composers and pieces: the series starts with an examination of unhuman composition and China’s volatile relationship to contemporary classical music.

Enjoy and happy listening!