Day 1. I started almost right away to feel more relaxed as I listened to the music. I listened to the piece being played with period instruments. Beethoven wrote the piece almost 240 years ago (Jander). I wanted to hear how it may have sounded during his life the first time I listened. There was a part when my spirits were lifted and I felt almost like dancing at about 9:30 when more instruments joined and the fuller sound.
The Symphony is known as the Pastoral Symphony. It is a “program piece” which means that the piece was written with an extra narrative which could even be written word or art to go along with the music and encourage the imagination of the audience (Grover). Beethoven spent a lot of time in nature and this music is very like a walk in the country with birds singing, a brook and maybe at the beginning a rabbit or two jumping together across a clearing. (Wall 2002)
Day 2. Listening again today I was looking forward to hear the flutes come in during the first minute. The first part of the symphony has a teasing quality to it. At first many of the notes are held longer, than a pause, then the repletion before the flutes come in. Bowden (2008) has noted that the singing of birds has been a definite part of the development of human music.
Beethoven was a composer who added many birdsongs to his music. There is a lot of literature on the subject. Beethoven lived in the time before the Industrial Age so he could take leisurely walks in the country which he seems to have loved very much. He would sketch and take notes for his compositions. I think I heard a brook flowing I will try to listen for where that is for tomorrow. At about 6 minutes and 10 to 15 seconds I think I hear a cuckoo, first one then another answering. Very sweet moment in the music.
Day 3. I listened to the short section of the piece from :23-:38. This is the part I like where the flutes join in. At first there is a crescendo to a peak then a decrescendo which seems very gentle and slow but in real time takes very little time passes. A short musical motif is repeated ten times, then the flutes join mirroring the sound, then the oboes (and woodwinds) and then the whole orchestra joins the symphony. The time before 23 seconds sets the mood very well. I feel relaxed by it. Then when all the orchestra has joined I feel a dancing feeling. I can feel maybe a country breeze with the leaves dancing.
I listen to this movement with a smile; someone pointed that out to me.
3:00 to 3:45 The nine groups I can differentiate rhythmically but I am having trouble hearing the musical difference in the harmony of the motifs. Beethoven only titled two of his symphonies. This is one and he titled the “Pastoral Symphony, or Recollections of Country Life." He is also quoted as saying that this symphony “was more an expression of feeling rather than painting” so I’m trying to pick out the nine groups of four with feeling as well as listening. At first the tonal quality, color is fine but nothing special for a symphony, there is little range and the dynamics do not rise until is the tonal quality deepens, more color at 3:10 as a miniature introduction to the shift from the repeat by the strings (5x the motif) the dynamics rise then fall as the oboes repeat he motif (1, the miniature introduction) in about 2 seconds we are listening to the “far away” sound of the bottom of the decrescendo until the strings are “answered” by the wood winds staccato feel of perhaps dancing partners communicating with dance. Then a crescendo with slowing as the instruments flow into the movement to crescendo with full tone, and color, the instruments are differentiated in the last three or four sets, the dynamics have smoothed out like a gentle wave.
Day 4. Until 6:08. The music goes from entering the country with the relaxing beginning of muted woodwinds and violins at the very beginning and then there are many interesting sounds, color that is to see in the country and one hears the colors with a lightheartedness. Sometimes there is almost a sound of the start to a jig! But I think it is the way the musical motif changes time and instrument that gives the light hearted folk dance sound to the music.
The crescendo rises the color becomes more simple to allow a new deepness in the tonal quality after 6:08. In the first few seconds the motif is familiar but then leads us into a new feeling with deeper feeling until the motif returns full time again with background here and there to allow the bird calls. All the way through up and down of the dynamics from down, down, to very, very quiet, then up, up with the crescendo all though the color and tone depend on the instruments as they are removed and added. The driving repeat of the rhythmic and melodic motifs is relaxing, relaxing to the end when evening falls.
At 9:23 when the coda plays I feel happy like chuckling. The clarinet is very nice and I think the clarinet represent the cuckoos. In the symphony the flutes were the nightingales and the oboe for the quail. (Cooper, 1993)
Day 5. I noticed that when the instruments of the time are used the sounds of the instruments are more muted together or the tone is not so easily differentiated. Also the timing is slower. With the modern instruments the tonal quality is perfect. The timing seems a bit faster but that might be because the dynamics are of a greater range. I somehow, I’m not sure why though, enjoy the instruments from the time of Beethoven. Perhaps because for me this piece represents the countryside which means relaxation to me. I don’t want to much sound, color, tonal perfection when I relax. For that muted without so much distinguishing “punches” in between the notes are better (I mean the articulation.).
Day 6. The first time I heard the music I felt that it was very light and a good piece to listen to help raise my mood. Now that I have listened to the piece for 6 times I learned that there is a lot more happening in terms especially of the tempo, the timing and the interaction between instruments. Sometimes the same instruments answering to each other or different instruments answering to each other. I also realized how the symphony is layered with instruments acting as backdrops for a few moments so another instrument comes into attention .Also the motifs are interwoven in a very nice way throughout the whole first movement which I hadn’t notices at first.
Bowden, Sylvia. “The Theming Magpie: the Influence of Birdsong on Beethoven.” Musical Times. 149 (2008): 1903. p. 17+ Summer 2008. n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2011.
Cooper, Barry. “Schindler and the Pastoral Symphony.” The Beethoven Newsletter. 8 (1993):1. p. 2+.
Grove, George C.B. “Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies” Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies. Dover Publications. New York. 1962. p. 94.
Jander, Owen. “Beethoven's Philosophical Monologue regarding the Route to Rescue from His Fate: the Andante Con Moto of His Symphony in C Minor. The Beethoven Journal. 22 (2007): 2. p. 50+.
Will, Richard. “ The Characteristic Symphony in the Age of Haydn and Beethoven.” Haydn and Beethoven. Cambridge University Pres. Cambridge, England. 2002. Print.