What is modern music? People of today acknowledge that the expression modern music may imply simply the music of our times. Modern music can also signify unorthodox discordant, disordered music and often can be interpreted as disrespectful of reason as it is of discipline and tradition. “Such people look upon this music as the twentieth-century phenomenon.” The transition from a traditional harmonious and well-ordered sound of the Romantic era to a dissonant, chaotic sound of modern music phenomenon as heard in 1913 was not smooth. The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps) composed by Igor Stravinsky in 1913 was heralded as a seminal 20th century composition and holds the title of inciting the first classical music riot in musical history. The public was divided in a furious debate over acceptance of this new dynamic force Stravinsky had struck into unexplored regions of musical sound, freeing himself from the exigencies of consonance through unresolved discords and from the tyranny of the key centre or tonic through to atonality. Such was the outrage towards the barbaric rhythms, dissonances, and chromatic harmony it was condemned as “a barbaric annihilation of all that musical tradition stood for.” To confirm this, an article in the London Musical Times wrote:
“The music of Le Sacre du Printemps baffles verbal description. To say that much of it is hideous as sound is a mild description. There is certainly an impelling rhythm traceable. Practically it has no relation to music at all as most of us understand the world.”
This essay will respond to this quote through examining Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring to determine whether there is indeed a relationship to music as we know it with respect to “The Augurs of Spring: Dances of the Young Girls”.
“The Rite of Spring” was a ballet composed by Igor Stravinsky and choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky. It debuted at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris on May 29, 1913, to an audience accustomed to the grace,...