In this post you are going to hear a tone poem. Before you get there though, you’ll have to answer some probing questions about your attitudes and preferences. We’ve tried this before and I got some surprising emails. If you don’t like your result, do it again, pretending to be someone else. That way you will get to hear all of the possibilities!
What’s a Tone Poem?
A tone poem is a piece of music, usually for orchestra, consisting of a single movement. Tone poems evoke landscapes, images, poems, songs or events. Composers frequently link the title of a tone poem to the source that inspired it. The terms tone poem and symphonic poem are, for all intents and purposes, synonyms. As a genre, the tone poem belongs properly to the 19th century and fell out of fashion in the early 20th century. For a fuller treatment of the topic, visit this post.
Most tone poems employ musical literalism, meaning that they incorporate musical elements to actually imitate or depict the elements they refer to. So, an undulating time signature can imitate water, or a rapid ostinato might depict birdsong. This is what is so charming about the genre. It’s all part of the romantic reaction against the abstraction of classicism. These composers sought to ground music and art back in the world of experience.
You can take the quiz by clicking the link below. There are seven questions in total. Try not to think about it too much, you aren’t being judged. You might learn a thing or two. Enjoy!