"Synthesized Poetry" on the musical composition "Poème Électronique" by Edgar Varèse

Essay by dizme28University, Bachelor'sA+, May 2004

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Title: Synthesized Poetry

Edgar Varèse's musical composition "Poème Électronique" is the first musical piece that was composed solely with synthesized sounds. This piece caused quite a disturbance upon its debut in 1948 at a multimedia exhibition in conjunction with the debut of the Phillips Pavilion The audience either disliked the piece with a passion or stood in awe of its magnificence. After a half century of constant criticism and praise, this piece is now accepted as a masterpiece (Hoffer 289). One must ask what makes it aesthetically valuable. The music sounds like a random arrangement of sounds on the first listen. Few find it pleasant to the ears. The mood of the music is eerie and cold. It breaks away from the traditional notion of music, as it lacks the presence of beat, melody, harmony, and meter (Hoffer 289). It is, however, a brilliant piece of music. "Poème Électronique" fully reflects culture of its time.

It also brought a wave of musical evolution and is still highly influential today.

The decades that followed World War II could be described as a continuous explosion of new ideas in the field of science. The rate of new discoveries and inventions accelerated exponentially following World War II. The new technology enabled artists to create a new variety of sounds through the new instruments invented during this period. Edgar Varèse had a vision. He set out on a journey to create a complete new sound of music as early as the 1930's (Schaefer 3). He failed miserably in the earlier part of his career as a composer because he lacked the necessary technology to create revolutionary sounds, and he was simply too ahead of his time to be welcomed by any critics or the public. He was the forgotten man for decades (Ewen 851).