Silence Music

Silence Music

As a composer of contemporary classical music, I can compose many different musical styles, but my heart especially lies with silence music. This term is still quite unknown, but silence music is gaining more and more interest. I would therefore like to tell you more about it.

What is Silence Music?

Silence music is not simply quiet music that evokes silence through the use of soft sounds, such as in meditation music. Nor is it music that elevates silence to music. Silence music is a term I coined to describe my music: it is music in which sound and silence alternate every few seconds, like breathing in and out. Both are equally important. A good example of this is the first part of my piece ‘The Crack’.

The Origin of Silence Music

This way of composing has its origins in Gregorian chant, especially in psalmody; the singing of psalms in a specific way as still practiced in abbeys and monasteries. Here, the psalm is sung alternately with a silence halfway through each verse, the ‘median pause,’ during which the monks reflect on the sung text. I practiced this meditative singing for years as a monk. Silence music is contemporary music, both instrumental and vocal, based on this principle. Instead of psalm texts, I use abstract music, with regular silences for meditation.

Silence Forms the Bridge

Silence music has no purpose outside itself. It allows music and silence to coexist and interact. The music listens to the silence from which it arises and to which it returns, while the silence listens to the music that has sounded and will sound. Silence forms a bridge between musical moments and creates space for the foundation, namely silence, from which the music arises. This interplay is the only goal.

The Difference Between Silence Music and Meditation Music

Meditation music and silence music are different. Meditation music is often a continuous stream of sound that brings calm because it continues without interruption. You can rely on it and therefore drift off. Silence music, on the other hand, requires constant attention from the listener due to the continuous interruptions. You are, as it were, constantly surprised. Although the effect is often that you become calm because the music breathes and gives space to process what is heard, silence music is clearly something different from meditation music.

The Challenges in Composing and Performing Silence Music

Composing silence music requires ‘compositional asceticism,’ which means I must resist the temptation to write normal, continuous music. Constantly returning to silence is a challenge because it is more natural to let music develop. It is a paradox: I strive for silence, but the music wants to sound again and continue flowing. Performers must get used to the idea that the music continuously interrupts itself. They must accept the silences as part of the music. This requires practice and technical control, especially when starting new tones from absolute silence.

Experiencing Silence Music

Silence music is intended as contemporary music for the concert hall but also works well at home or elsewhere, provided there is absolute silence. Public cooperation is crucial because silence music tolerates no disturbance. Curious? Would you like to listen to it? You can find several recordings on YouTube or Spotify.

Listeners are often deeply impressed. A woman once left a concert after my music, even though other music was still programmed, because she was so moved that she didn’t want to hear anything else for a while. I often hear that silence music is difficult to combine with other contemporary music.

Trends and Developments

I see a lot of potential in the overlap between Gregorian chant and contemporary music. Where these come together in the experience of silence and music as equal entities, lies a wealth of musical and human richness. Silence music makes people quieter, more attentive, and more patient, which is of great value in our world. I also see growing interest in the silence of abbeys and psalmody. In contemporary music, more and more composers are engaging with stillness and silence.

Want to Know More?

Does silence music appeal to you? Do you want to know more about it or discuss the possibilities for collaboration? Feel free to contact me.

If you need any further adjustments or have specific preferences for certain terms, please let me know! Contact.

Fertile Emptiness

Fertile Emptiness

“I love the dark hours of my being” (Ich liebe meines Wesens Dunkelstunden).

I carry this opening verse of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke in my heart. For me it speaks not only of reconciliation with my shadow sides, but it also says something else. I for myself understand this verse as: “I love my emptiness. I love that dark abyss, somewhere deep in me, into which I can drop everything that has been occupying me throughout the day. I don’t always have to have things in hand; I can also let things fall from my hands from time to time. After the day comes the night: what a blessing.

Life tastes like more and more. As long as we are healthy and without worries, we feel space and freedom to develop plans, to take action and to build a beautiful world together: then we visit friends, we have fun, we become creative and enterprising and we also take others with us in our vitality. And imperceptibly, things grow over our head. Then both our own projects and those of others become too much for us. We lose the taste for it.

Fortunately, then comes that longing for silence and rest. It is the longing for meines Wesens Dunkelstunden, the longing for internalization and emptiness. The longing for God. Because the more I concentrate on that abyssal space within myself, the more I rediscover the true sense of life. The sense of life that does not arise from pleasure or having fun, but the sense of life that comes up in me. God is free. He lives in me just like that. He is that fertile soil in which everything can rest and from which everything also arises again. 

“All is vanity and grasping for the wind,” says Ecclesiastes (Eccles. 1:14). I love such a phrase. I love to realize that in all my striving, all my enterprises, I am in the end grasping for the wind. Everything is vanity. Everything ultimately rests in God, in that fertile Nothingness, that holy emptiness. That gentle breeze too, which Elijah heard (1 Kings 19: 11-13). That gossamer caress of the air, reminding me that I exist and live fully. No human enterprise that even gets close to such a power.