A level (Edexcel) set works wider listening - Saariaho

by Liz Dunbar @HuntSchoolMusic

Saariaho is probably the composer from the Edexcel set works list that you are least likely to have come across before. It's this work that students often find hardest to write about, yet they are fascinated by its timbral world. The place we tend to begin, is with an exploration of the heirarchy of elements in different styles . We talk about which elements are in the foreground of this work and which are pushed back - some almost eliminated altogether. It's a great starting point for composing and improvising too. e.g. creating two contrasting ideas using texture, or duration or timbre alone.

A Conversation with Kaija Saariaho — Music & Literature
A feature by Clément Mao-Takacs Clément Mao-Takacs: I would like to start by clearing up a few clichés that have been said about you. To name a few: You’re from Finland, therefore, you love and get inspired by nature; you are “a fiery volcano beneath ice”; since you live primarily in France, you

This work really makes us listen. In analysing performances where reverb and harmonizer are used, it's interesting to discuss the contrasts between, and combinations of live instrumental and electronic/manipulated sound. We often compare this work with others that explore the symbiosis of the acoustic and electronic.

Petals is a remarkable work, full of contrast; light and dark, fragile and energetic, and as it evolves these contrasting worlds become less and less distinct from one another.

Kaija Saariaho: Ears Open : WQXR : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
Kaija Saariaho’s music evokes all sorts of natural sounds, the kinds of complex, white noise-y sounds that we often tune out. She’s able to take the...

Here's an ever evolving playlist to provide you with plenty of wider listening references to use in questions 5 and 6.