The piece above can be described as representing the “tintinnabuli” style. What’s this, you may be wondering? Arvo Pärt began using this Latin term for “bells” to describe the style of music he developed in the 1970s. The “tintinnabuli” style pairs each melody note with a note from a harmonizing chord, creating a bell-like resonance. The listening example you just viewed is Pärt’s “Tabula Rasa,” the first public appearance of this new style premiered in 1977 and creating international success for the composer. Continuing with our modern-music topic this month, let’s take a look at Pärt and listen to another one of his works.
Born in Estonia in 1935, Arvo Pärt spent his early career writing atonal, dissonant music. During the 1960s, he suddenly ceased composing, admitting that he no longer believed in the modern musical forms. Upon hearing Gregorian chant, he began to study monody and ancient melodies, inspiring him to write simple, contemplative music. His new, mature style was first seen in 1976 with a piano work titled “Für Alina”.
With his music, Pärt has reached beyond classical music audiences and impacted the popular music world. Can you see why with “Für Alina”?