Berio Sequenza III

I first heard one of Berio’s works when a Trombonist was auditioning for the head of the Brass department position at NYU. He played the Sequenza V for that instrument but unfortunately didn’t wear the clown suit as the piece instructs.

The technical prowess required to perform the trombone piece is entirely apparent from the beginning and only becomes increasingly so as Berio asks the player to emit multiphonics.  Below is the Sequenza III for voice, sung with incredible facility by johanne saunier.  I can’t say I terribly appreciate the piece (or many of Berio’s for that matter) except on a fundamental level, where the range of sounds emanating from the instrument (in this case the voice) is so varied and creative that one can appreciate what’s happening as a sort of pseudo-aesthetic object.  I use pseudo and I should put “scare” quotes around aesthetic object, because Berio has certainly created the sound space around the singer’s babbling and clicks.  Heideggerians would argue that this art, and I think I agree with this, but it’s a different kind of music from the kind that most of us consume which is driven towards expressing or setting an emotion.

Take a Listen:

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