New Audio Added
Check out the ‘Media’ page for a recording I made last year of Arvo Pärt’s Fratres for Cello and Piano. This piece, made especially popular when Johnny Greenwood used it for the soundtrack in “There Will Be Blood”, is one of many instrumentations Pärt arranged of the original work Fratres. The piece involves a simple melody harmonized in a very organized fashion. Following a period of musical silence, Pärt wrote almost entirely in this style which he termed tintinnabuli. While the music produced sounds quite ethereal, the process which precedes it is very ordered and formulaic.
In this particular arrangement, the piano plays the melody in various inversions which automatically requires a change in harmony (based on the tintinnabulation system) which, in turn, causes changes in character and timbre. The cello, using a great variety of techniques from arpeggiation to double stops to false harmonics, mostly provides a timbral backdrop to the primary material in the piano.
To gain an appreciation for the spiritual fascination with this mysterious and unconventional character in our larger culture, see this interview conducted by the Icelandic musician Björk for the BBC: