Author Topic: Danse Macabre  (Read 81 times)

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Danse Macabre
« on: September 17, 2009, 05:50:11 PM »
By composer Camille Saint-Saëns
1872



<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/YyknBTm_YyM" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/YyknBTm_YyM</a>


According to the superstition, "Death" appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death has the power to call forth the dead from their graves to dance for him while he plays his fiddle (represented by a solo violin with its E-string tuned to an E-flat in an example of scordatura tuning). His skeletons dance for him until the first break of dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year.

The piece opens with a harp playing a single note, D, twelve times to signify the clock striking midnight, accompanied by soft chords from the string section. This then leads to the eerie E flat and A chords (also known as a tritone or the "Devil's chord", and the solo violin's E string is tuned a half step lower to accommodate this) played by a solo violin, representing death on his fiddle. After which the main theme is heard on a solo flute and is followed by a descending scale on the solo violin. The rest of the orchestra, particularly the lower instruments of the string section, then joins in on the descending scale. The main theme and the scale is then heard throughout the various sections of the orchestra until it breaks to the solo violin and the harp playing the scale. The piece becomes more energetic and climaxes at this point, the full orchestra playing with strong dynamics. Towards the end of the piece, there is another violin solo, now modulating, which is then joined by the rest of the orchestra. The final section, a pianissimo, represents the dawn breaking and the skeletons returning to their graves.


An English translation of the poem follows:

    Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
    Striking a tomb with his heel,
    Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
    Zig, zig, zag, on his violin.
    The winter wind blows, and the night is dark;
    Moans are heard in the linden trees.
    White skeletons pass through the gloom,
    Running and leaping in their shrouds.
    Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking,
    You can hear the cracking of the bones of the dancers.
    A lustful couple sits on the moss
    So as to taste long lost delights.
    Zig zig, zig, Death continues
    The unending scraping on his instrument.
    A veil has fallen! The dancer is naked.
    Her partner grasps her amorously.
    The lady, it's said, is a marchioness or baroness
    And her green gallant, a poor cartwright.
    Horror! Look how she gives herself to him,
    Like the rustic was a baron.
    Zig, zig, zig. What a saraband!
    They all hold hands and dance in circles.
    Zig, zig, zag. You can see in the crowd
    The king dancing among the peasants.
    But hist! All of a sudden, they leave the dance,
    They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.
    Oh what a beautiful night for the poor world!
    Long live death and equality!
 

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Re: Danse Macabre
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2009, 03:51:41 AM »
J bananas, this is not like you
"You only live once, you might as well die now" - Slim Shady (RIP)
 

Cali Climate

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Re: Danse Macabre
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2009, 09:57:50 AM »