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Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Thomas Adés’s ‘Freaky, Funky Rave’.
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Thomas Adés’s ‘Freaky, Funky Rave’.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper

Unpublished

Publication date13/10/2007
Original languageEnglish

Conference

Conference6th European Music Analysis Conference
CityHochschule für Musik and the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany
Period30/07/1314/10/07

Abstract

The reception of "Asyla" since its premiere in 1997 by Sir Simon Rattle and the CBSO has been staggering. Instantly hailed as a classic, "Asyla" won the 1997 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Large-Scale Composition. Simon Rattle included "Asyla" in his farewell concert with the CBSO in 1998, and introduced it to Berlin audiences in his first concert as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmoniker (2001). An internationally-acclaimed recording made of the work was nominated for the 1999 Mercury Music Prize, and in 2000, Adès became the youngest composer (and only the third British compser) to win the Grawemeyer prize, for "Asyla". "Ecstasio", the third movement of the work, draws heavily on gestures and forms of rave music in a manner analogous to the use of contemporary dance genres in the Romantic scherzo. Although not the first orchestral work to include material derived from rave music, "Asyla"’s spectacular history means that it is almost certainly the most prominent. The relative novelty of the rave idiom in the symphonic repertoire has resulted in early critics of the work focussing their attention on the unusual gestures and forms that are alluded to in "Ecstasio". The resulting emphasis on the social, political and physical implications of rave music promotes an oversimplified picture of the movement; no mention is made of those symphonic processes that comment on, conflict with, and ultimately compromise the projected ‘rave voice’. In this paper I will show how the elements that are used to signify the rave voice in "Ecstasio" are created, combined and eventually nullified by more traditional symphonic elements. The resulting dysphoric narrative questions and contradicts early readings of the movement, suggesting instead an ambiguous yet probing artistic position towards rave music.