I have a friend who is a total ham, and will do almost anything for a laugh. He’s a delightfully weird guy. One of his funniest bits is when we turn on “Heigh Ho” from Disney’s Snow White and he dances to it as if it’s EDM that drops when the chorus starts. It’s hysterical, and once we made a DJ at an outdoor market play it, much to his amusement.
I live for a musical transition, that release of tension. Those moments that you wait for as everything builds, and then absolutely relish when they finally come to fruition. I am sure that there are far more technical and accurate ways to describe this sort of epic musical climax, especially in classical music, but I tend to think of it as a Drop. After all, most pieces of music have climaxes, but not all of them have Drops. And when I hear them… well, I might not dance as frantically as my friend does to “Heigh Ho,” but I certainly have a hard time not conducting or swaying or whatever other embarrassing things I unconsciously do when listening to a bit of music I love.
I’m going to share some of my favorites with you. I’ll list the time when the “Drop” happens, but of course you’ll have to listen to the whole thing to get the full effect.
The first time Drop I ever became obsessed with is in Prokofiev’s Cinderella, during the “Grand Waltz”— no, not that famous before midnight waltz you’ve likely heard, an earlier ensemble piece. It happens around the 4-minute mark:
Next up is the first movement of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2. You might recognize this piece if you’ve ever watched Fantasia 2000, but I fell deeply in love with it when I saw it performed by Boris Giltburg and the Utah Symphony. Giltburg’s performance is fast but never loses its precision, and sort of dangerously simmering with power. And that power finally boils around 4:45:
I’ve gotten through to this point without mentioning the AaahAAAahhhaAAA section in “Shallow,” be proud of me!
Next is from Ralph Vaughan William’s Symphony No. 3— the “Pastoral” symphony. In the third movement, which features a delightful amount of lower brass, there’s this transition that has had me dancing at my desk all morning. It first happens around 1:25, and then again around 3:13, but this movement on the whole is just delightful:
Lastly, a crowd favorite: The Jupiter movement from Holsts’ The Planets. I love the transitions between the three main themes in this piece, but especially adore the one that happens around 1:30 and then again at 6:20:
There you have it! Me, a plebeian, telling you about music. Share with me your favorite non-EDM “drops!”