"Choosing only 10 seconds from each of these eight pieces of music was challenging. From my perspective, moments of musical transcendence are facilitated by the context in which they appear. As a listener, I am most entranced when my sense of expectation is being toyed with. I recommend listening to these tracks as complete works to appreciate the moments I’ve selected, and the many others that are there waiting to be discovered."
1. Philip Koutev National Folk Ensemble - Planino Stara Planino Mari
(3'53" - 4'03")
Written by Stefan Dragostinov
"My introduction to Bulgarian choral music came via the Werner Herzog film ‘Encounters At The End Of The World’ (2007). The shape of the piece is one of great beauty, it climbs to many high peaks, while the voices seamlessly spiral in and out of other worlds. The ten seconds I have chosen capture the highest of these peaks, a great summation of all that has come before. The part that follows - where the soprano soloist returns with the opening statement - never fails to send shivers down my spine.
In the film, the narration preludes the music somewhat perfectly:
“Under the ice, the divers find themselves in a separate reality, where space and time acquire a strange new dimension. Those few who have experienced the world under the frozen sky often speak of it as ‘Going down into the cathedral.'”
2. Steve Reich - Proverb (6'11" - 6'21")
- City Life / Proverb (1996)
"How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life” - the single line of text this piece is based on.
In the same paragraph from which the text was taken, Ludwig Wittgenstein continues: "If you want to go down deep you do not need to travel far”. There are interesting parallels to draw here with Reich's minimalist vision - perhaps he took his own ten seconds from the text, and worked with that. This is an epic, shape-shifting piece for male and female voices, electric organs, and vibraphones.
The extract I have chosen reveals the two tenors singing what sounds like a medieval plainchant, set against the hypnotic, cerebral, and earthy rhythms of the vibraphones."
3. B.B. King - Guess Who (2'11" - 2'21")
B.B. King – The King of the Blues, (1972)
“The opening statement of this trumpet solo (played by James “Boogaloo” Bolden) is uninhibited, personal, and comical. Bolden's muted trumpet sound is totally arresting, and it is so communicative that I think any human being on the planet would relate to it. Genius."
4. Refuge Trio - Bright Moon (4'21" - 4'31")
Refuge Trio – Refuge Trio (2008)
"I love free jazz, especially within a wider musical context. These ten seconds mark the end of a heroic journey from the murky depths of a free improvisation; the drums emerge, bursting - as though from a lake of fire - swinging gloriously, and the melody thereafter is one of great beauty and optimism"
5. Bill Frisell - Tales From The Far Side (0'00" - 0'10")
Bill Frisell – Quartet (1996)
"I can still remember hearing this for the first time, as a teenager, on a train journey through a rugged rural landscape. Listening to it again, I am instantly transported. There is such a warmth created by this fascinating combination of instruments - electric guitar, violin/tuba, trumpet, & trombone. This was also my introduction to one of the most influential guitar players today."
6. John Scofield - The Low Road (1'22" - 1'32")
John Scofield – This Meets That (2007)
"Disgusting. This was one of the first jazz concerts I attended, a formative experience for me. I still remember the feeling in my stomach when they got to this drop."
7. Here We Go Magic - Over The Ocean (0'23" - 0'33")
Here We Go Magic
– A Different Ship (2012)
"I love the way the music captures the feeling of crossing a vast body of water. The progression feels like its constantly expanding, the melody like waves, and the rhythm calm and still. The production is something else."