List of silent musical compositions
This is a list of musical works which consist mostly or entirely of silence.
Some composers have discussed the significance of silence or a silent composition without ever composing such a work. In his 1907 manifesto, Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music, Ferruccio Busoni described its significance:
That which, within our present-day music, most nearly approaches the essential of the art, is the Rest and the Hold (Pause). Consummate players, improvisers, know how to employ these instruments of expression in loftier and ampler measure. The tense silence between two movements—in itself music, in this environment—leaves wider scope for divination than the more determinate, but therefore less elastic, sound.
A number of classical compositions consisting primarily of silence have been composed since 1896:
- Il Silenzio: pezzo caratteristico e descrittivo (stile moderno) (1896) by "Samuel", a pseudonym, probably being, in fact, Edgardo Dell Valle de Paz (1861-1920); published in the Year 1. Vol. 1. Nº11. Supplement of the journal La Nuova Musica.
"Samuel was attempting a different means of writing one of his humorous critiques on musical society, mainly in Florence. All the techniques used are well developed and extremely diversified for a piece having no pitch and with a skill that only Erik Satie could match at that time. He highlights and questions every compositional cliché that was in vogue during the period among traditional Italian composers and the growth of modernist avant-garde arts, using humor as a mechanism of critique".
- Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man (1897) by Alphonse Allais, a French writer and humorist (1854–1905); published in his Album primo-avrilesque
Twenty-four blank measures. Earlier title: "Great sorrows are mute: incoherent funeral march". The composer instructed: "Great sorrows being mute, the performers should occupy themselves with the sole task of counting the bars, instead of indulging in the kind of indecent row that destroys the august character of the best obsequies."
silent; notated in great rhythmic detail, employing bizarre time signatures and intricate rhythmic patterns.
- Silent music (1941), by Raymond Scott (1909–1994)
The band was going through all the motions: the swart, longish-haired leader led away; the brasses, the saxophones, the clarinets made a great show of fingering and blowing, but the only sound from the stage was a rhythmic swish-swish from the trap-drummer, a froggy slap-slap from the bull-fiddler, a soft plunk-plunk from the pianist.
- Monotone-Silence Symphony (1949), by Yves Klein
in two movements, a single 20-minute sustained chord followed by a 20-minute silence
silent; in three movements lasting a total of four minutes and 33 seconds, for any instrument or combination of instruments
- 4'33" No. 2 (1962) by John Cage
Also known as 0'00"; the performer determines the extent to which the piece is silent, mostly silent, noisy, or raucous.
The composer instructed: "In a situation provided with maximum amplification, perform a disciplined action. The performer should allow any interruptions of the action, the action should fulfill an obligation to others, the same action should not be used in more than one performance, and should not be the performance of a musical composition."
- Fur Music (1971), by Nelson Howe
Found on pages 295-297 of Source: Music of the Avant Garde magazine, Issue No. 9. Performers/listeners are to rub their fingers against pieces of fur interpreting the texture of the fur as they may within their heads. This may often result in silence.
- "Mute - By Maison Margiela" by Tommy Cash (2021)
- "12:97:24:99" by Mudvayne (2002)
- "15 Minutes" by Télépopmusik (2005)
- "18 sekúndur fyrir sólarupprás" (18 seconds before sunrise) by Sigur Rós (1997)
- "23 Seconds of Silence" by Wilco (1999)
- "42 Minutes of Silence" by Milosh on Quiet Time, with Milosh (2002)
- "9-11-01" by Soulfly (2002)
- "A big thank you to" and "Turn" by C418 on Bushes and Marshmallows (2009)
- "Absolute Elsewhere" by Coil
- "Ad Interim" by E.S.T on Leucocyte (2008)
- "A Moment of Silence" by The Neighbourhood (2015)
- "Anniversary Of World War III" by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band on Volume 3: A Child's Guide to Good and Evil (1968)
- "Are We Here? (Criminal Justice Bill? Mix)" by Orbital
- "The Ballad of Richard Nixon" by John Denver (1969)
- "The Best of Marcel Marceau" by Michael Viner
- "Beware! The Funk is Everywhere" by Afrika Bambaataa (1986)
- "Birthdeath Experience" by Whitehouse (1980)
- "Seinsart" by The New Blockaders (1984)
- "(Blank)" by The All-American Rejects
- "blank track" by The Jesus Lizard on deluxe remastered reissues of Liar (1992) and Down (1994) and "[silence]" on Goat (1991)
- "BunaB #5" by Al Crowder
- "Extract From The Compassion & Humanity Of Margaret Thatcher", on the Cherry Red Records compilation Pillows and Prayers 2 (1984)
- "Le chant des carpes" by Ludwig von 88 on Houlala II "la mission" (1987)
- "Gestenstücke" by Juan María Solare, a collection of five pieces for 4 performers in which a musical structure is used to put order in non-sounding elements, concretely gestures. For instance, the first piece of the cycle is a canon of gestures. (2008)
- "I Predict Some Quiet" by the Kaiser Chiefs (2005)
- "In Remembrance" by Pan.Thy.Monium on Khaooohs and Kon-Fus-Ion (1996)
- "[intermission]" by Titus Andronicus (band) on The Most Lamentable Tragedy (2015)
- "Intentionally Left Blank" by James Holden (in The Idiots Are Winning (2006))
- "A Lot of Nothing" by Coheed and Cambria (Split into 11 sections ranging from 5–15 seconds in length)
- "Magic Window" by Boards of Canada
- "The Misinterpretation of Silence and its Disastrous Consequences" by Type O Negative on Slow, Deep and Hard (1991)
- "The Most Important Track On the Album" by Astronautalis (2008)
- "(nothing)" by The Microphones
- "Tense Atmosphere", a graphic score by Juan María Solare which consists of a silence with a sforzato sign (2013)
- "The Nutopian International Anthem" by John Lennon (1973)
- "Two Minutes Silence" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
- "Omitted for Clarity" by Karnivool on Themata (2005)
- "One Minute of Silence" by Soundgarden
- "A One Minute Silence" by Mike Batt
- "Page 13" by Fantômas
- "Path XII Inlustra Nigror" by Vesania
- "Pause" by Rob Dougan
- "Piste Silencieuse" by Wax Tailor
- "Pregnant Pause... Intermission" by Leila Bela
- "Pure Digital Silence" by the Melvins
- "Room 0: Solo for Conductor" by Nits
- "Rwanda" by Radio Boy (2001).
- "Schweigeminute" by VNV Nation on Praise the Fallen (1999)
- "Silence" by Karl Bartos (2013)
- "(Silence)" by Ciccone Youth
- "[Silence]" by Korn
- "[Silence]" ("A suitable place for those with tired ears to pause and resume listening later") by Robert Wyatt
- "Silence" by Brian Eno on Drums Between the Bells (2011)
- "Silence" by Knife Party
- "Silencio sepulcral" (Sepulchral Silence) by Soziedad Alkoholika
- "Song of the Deaf Girl" by Cloud Cult on The Meaning of 8 (2007)
- "Štrajk" by Hladno pivo on Šamar (2003)
- "The Sound of Free speech" by Crass
- "Tathagatagarbha" by Clarence Clarity on No Now (2015)
- "There's a Riot Goin' On" by Sly Stone
- "Thirty-second Silence" by Guster
- "Three Bagatelles, for David Tudor" by György Ligeti
- "The Ten Coolest Things About New Jersey" by The Bloodhound Gang
- "Track 3," accidentally released as a promotional single on Taylor Swift's album 1989. It consisted of eight seconds of white noise and topped the iTunes chart in Canada.
- "Tunnel of Goats XVII" by Coil
- "You Can Make Your Own Music" by Covenant (a 4-minute and 33 second silent track, in reference to John Cage's composition 4′33")
- "Leave On" by Blackmail
- "Minut ćutanja" (Moment of silence) by Marčelo
- "Non Musical Silence" by The All-American Rejects
- "Silence" by Alva Noto on Unitxt
- "Weg" by Die Fantastischen Vier on Die 4. Dimension
- "MICROPHONE MAN" by Kinzsters172
- "Untitled" by Brainbombs on Brainbombs
- Silent Tracks of Various Useful Lengths, a 2010 album by Brett Black consisting of 8 tracks of silence, was the first completely silent album to be commercially available through the iTunes Store.
- The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan, satirical LP issued by Stiff Records in 1980. (Side one is "The Wit" and side two "The Wisdom", both are divided into multiple tracks but are silent.)
- Sleepify, a 2014 album by Vulfpeck consisting of 10 tracks of silence. The album was released on the music streaming service Spotify and generated $20,000 in royalty over a two-month period. It exposed a loophole in the streaming service's royalty calculation model.
- Epater Les Bourgeois and Simphonie In O Minor by The New Blockaders in 1985 / 1991.
- tranquility by LOIKE in 2021.
- Busoni, Ferruccio (1911). Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music. New York: G. Schirmer. p. 23.
- da Fonseca-Wollheim, Corinna (21 April 2013). "Slyly Pricking the Wagnerian Balloon". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
- Pena, Eder (2020). "Unsilencing the Silence: Unacknowledged Silent Pieces". Opus. 26 (3): 1–26. doi:10.20504/opus2020c2617.
- Whiting, Steven Moore (1999). Satie the Bohemian: From Cabaret to Concert Hall. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 81n. ISBN 9780191584527.
- Betz, Marianne (1999). "In futurum – von Schulhoff zu Cage". Archiv für Musikwissenschaft. 56 (4): 331–346. doi:10.2307/931056. JSTOR 931056. includes one facsimile, p. 335
- "Music: Silent Music". Time. 1941.
- Yves Klein, Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein (Spring Publications, 2007)
- Silverman, Kenneth (2010). Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 184. ISBN 9780307594570.
- Asbell, Bernard (April 1958). "The Little World of Orville K. Snav". Playboy.
- "The First Album Of Silent Music Available For Digital Download Is Now Making Some Noise". PRWeb. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
- "How Vulfpeck Album Sleepify Used Spotify Loophole to Earn $20,000". classicalite.com. October 1, 2015. Archived from the original on October 5, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2016.