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Beyond The Impossible: Music & Sound Effects
Events in Music that are not possible. only list examples that fit this description

  • The first movement of Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata has 128th-note chromatic glissandos. The third movement of Moonlight Sonata has a "Presto Agitato" (read: damn fast) tempo and 16th-note arpeggios, nearly impossible to play by human hands. Some pieces composed after he went deaf are literally unplayable.
    • In the same vein, "Circus Galop" by Marc-André Hamelin, which is playable if you can find two people whose thumb-and-pinky stretch is 13 or 14 inches. In fairness, Hamelin wrote the thing for self-playing piano, and it is not meant to be performed by wetware.
    • Near the end of the middle section in Modest Mussorgsky's "The Hut of Baba Yaga", the left-hand pattern changes from 16th-note triplets to what are notated as 64th-note tremolos. It is assumed that these should merely be played as fast as possible.
  • Shawn Lane's guitar playing and Buckethead figuring out how to play a song that Shawn wrote to specifically NOT be playable. Shawn Lane made a recording by playing one note at a time on a guitar and then stitching them together impossibly fast, at impossibly wide intervals, that he was sure no human could play. Buckethead, thinking it was a legit recording, then proceeded to figure out how to play it for real and IN REAL TIME.
    • Tim Miller falls into a similar category for different reasons. He doesn't often play impossibly fast, he just plays lines that come from a system he developed and thus are harmonically near-impossible to conceive of for guitarists who aren't him. It does indeed hit the ear incredibly strangely. note 
  • Robert Schumann's Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor infamously tells the pianist to play faster in the coda of the first movement, whose base tempo is already "so rasch wie möglich" (as fast as possible).
  • Subverted by the opening chord to The Beatles' song "A Hard Day's Night." It took more than 40 years for audio analysis technology to reproduce it because the key discovery that some of the sound was not made by a guitar.
  • Conlon Nancarrow composed music involving complex mathematical ratios and impossibly fast tempos specifically designed to be unplayable by humans. (For instance, one piece has two different simultaneous tempos in the ratio e : π.) He realized them by means of custom-made player piano rolls.

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