Main content

Transcendence

Tom Service considers musical transcendence. From Faure's harmonies to the hypnotic drumming of shamans, what is it about some music that take us to a higher plane?

Tom Service considers how music can be transcendent. From Wagner's sublime harmonies in Tristan und Isolde, to the hypnotic drumming of shamans, what is it about some kinds of music that can take us to a higher plane? He considers music for contemplation (such as church music by Messiaen, and Fauré's Requiem which you can hear in tonight's Prom); music for dancing to oblivion (the techno "Trance" genre, whirling dervishes); music evoking ecstasy (Scriabin, Gospel music); and he discusses the ancient practises of shamans in various cultures, with ethnomusicologist Keith Howard.
Presented in front of a live audience at Imperial College, London, before tonight's Prom.

Available now

32 minutes

Music Played

  • Gabriel Fauré

    Requiem - In Paradisum

    Performer: LSO. Performer: Tenebrae. Performer: Nigel Short.
    • Fauré Requiem.
    • LSO Live.
    • LSO0728.
  • Trad.

    Turkish Dervishes - Naat

    • Dervishes of Turkey.
    • Playasound.
    • PS65120.
  • Alexander Scriabin

    Le Poème de l'Extase, Op.54

    Performer: Mariinsky Orchestra. Performer: Valery Gergiev.
    • Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring.
    • Philips.
    • 4680352  .
  • Wagner

    Tristan - Liebestod

    Performer: Nina Stemme. Performer: Orchestra of the ROH. Performer: Sir Antonio Pappano.
    • EMI.
    • 966864 2.
  • Hildegard von Bingen

    O vis aeternitatis

    Performer: Sequentia.
    • Hildegard von Bingen - Canticles of Ecstasy.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 05472773202.
  • Bach

    Crucifixus from B minor mass

    Performer: Collegium Vocale Gent.
    • Olympia.
    • OCD181.
  • John Tavener

    Protecting Veil

    Performer: Steven Isserlis. Performer: LSO. Performer: Gennady Nikolayevich Rozhdestvensky.
    • Virgin Classics.
    • VC7590522.
  • James MacMillan

    Seven Last Words - 6th mvt

    Performer: London Chamber Orchestra. Performer: James MacMillan.
    • Catalyst.
    • 09026681252.
  • Field Recording

    Siberian Jews Harp

  • Field Recording

    Nepalese drumming

  • Binary Finary

    1998

    Performer: Binary Finary.
    • 1998.
    • Orbit.
    • 017.
  • Lennon and McCartney

    Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

    Performer: The Beatles.
    • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
    • Parlophone.
  • Terry Riley

    Persian Surgery Dervishes

    Performer: Terry Riley.
    • Persian Surgery Dervishes.
    • Newtone.
    • NT6715  .
  • Thomas Adès

    Aslys - mvt 3: Ecstasio

    Performer: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
    • EMI.
    • CDC5568182.
  • Alexander Scriabin

    Preparation for the Final Mystery

    Performer: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.
    • Preparation for the Final Mystery.
    • Decca.
    • 4663292.
  • Gabriel Fauré

    Requiem - In Paradisum

    Performer: LSO. Performer: Tenebrae. Performer: Nigel Short.
    • Fauré Requiem.
    • LSO Live.
    • LSO0728.

Broadcast

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Love music? Looking for new ear-fodder for your commute? We've got you covered.

Why do we call it 'classical' music?

Why do we call it 'classical' music?

Tom Service poses a very simple question (with a not-so-simple answer).

Six of the world's most extreme voices

Six of the world's most extreme voices

From babies to Mongolian throat singers: whose voice is the most extreme of all?

How did the number 12 revolutionise music?

How did the number 12 revolutionise music?

How Schoenberg opened a new cosmos for composers and listeners to explore.

Why are we all addicted to bass?

Why are we all addicted to bass?

Bass is everywhere, but why do we enjoy it? Join Tom Service on a journey of discovery.

Watch the animations

Watch the animations

Join Tom Service on a musical journey through beginnings, repetition and bass lines.

When does noise become music?

When does noise become music?

We like to think we can separate “noise” from “music”, but is it that simple?

Podcast