Listening to the Clouds

When outside wandering, how often do you just sit and look up? You can hear birds, and the wind, and perhaps the passing traffic, but have you tried to hear the clouds?

Many composers also look up for inspiration and here’s a brief listening list of clouds.

Cumulonimbus clouds (NOAA Photo Library)

Cumulonimbus clouds (NOAA Photo Library)

Alexander Kostas: The Clouds (Alexander Kostas, piano)
Polly Carter: Velvet Clouds (Polly Carter, piano)
Alexander Motovilov: On the Road with Clouds (Alexander Motovilov, piano)

Part of a series of compositions about the elements, Fabrizio Paterlini takes Air as the first element, and with air come clouds.

Fabrizio Paterlini: Follow the Clouds (Fabrizio Paterlini, piano)

Tracking a flight he took, Dutch composer writes music about the time he left Amsterdam, and then, climbing through the rainy overcast day, finally emerges into the blue sky above the white field below, above the clouds.

Ron Adelaar: Above the Clouds (Ron Adelaar, piano)
Library Tapes: Sea of Clouds

In his ever-changing work, Clouds, composer Peter Ruzicka adds a string quartet to make Clouds 2, and places it in opposition to an orchestra to create a work and perhaps a world of self-observing contemplation. He uses developing variation to find a path through clouds of sound.

Peter Ruzicka: Clouds 2 (Minguet Quartet; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; Peter Ruzicka, cond.)

From her residency in Henderson House, designed by Austrian architect Ernst Plischke, built high above the powerful Mata-au (Clutha) river in Central Otago, New Zealand composer Gillian Whitehead evokes the clouds over the river.

The Mata-Au (Clutha) River in New Zealand

The Mata-Au (Clutha) River in New Zealand

Gillian Whitehead: Clouds Over Mata-au (Stamic Quartet)
Tony Romano: Clouds (Tony Romano, guitar)

Other composers look at the slowly evolving nature of clouds to make analogies to the human condition. In his 2007 work, Clouds in an Emerald Sky, American composer Jan Pusina summons up an impossible sky colour against which to place his clouds. His reference is Shelly’s poem Alastor, about a young man’s visionary journey to self-discovery.

Jan Pusina: Clouds in an Emerald Sky (Jan Pusina, electronics)

When the storms come up, do the clouds change sound?

Ross Harris: Dark Cloud (Stephen Clothier, piano; Sam Leamy, guitar; Neil Johnstone, synthesizer; Steve Garden and Steve Burridge, electronics)

Leaving the earth, we get to the clouds of the cosmos.

A Cosmic Cloud, NGC 6530, from the Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)

A Cosmic Cloud, NGC 6530, from the Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)

Cornelius Dufallo: Cosmic Clouds (Cornelius Dufallo, violin and electronics)

Clouds may be in the sky above, in the infinite of the cosmos, or just in our minds.

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