Monday, September 14, 2015

Music Monday ~ Purcell & Townshend

Pete Townshend of The Who has mentioned many times, in interview, that some of his music was heavily influenced by 17th century Baroque composer Henry Purcell. The opening bars of Pinball Wizard, parts of Won't Get Fooled Again & I Can See For Miles are usually cited as best known examples.

Let's compare:
Townsend shares, “The chordal structure for the intro was inspired by [English Baroque composer] Henry Purcell, who did this very short piece called ‘Symphony Upon One Note.’ It’s a very plaintive piece, almost like the [20th century U.S. composer] Samuel Barber composition ‘Adagio for Strings’ -- only the Purcell piece was written in 1600 or something. A single bowed note runs throughout that whole piece. I found that a stunning thing to call upon while I was in the process of writing ‘Pinball Wizard.’ I analyzed every single chord in the piece and found ways to play them on guitar.”
(See HERE)

Not sure I hear it! I'm the original cloth-eared twit, though, when it comes to chord structure and suchlike.

Won't Get Fooled Again...I see similarity better here - in the intro.

Whether or not it's always clear to the listener, it was clear to Pete Townshend.

Let's compare natal charts - as far as possible. Information on Henry Purcell's true date of birth is sketchy. He died at the very early age of 36. Wikipedia and Astrotheme have his date of birth as 10 September 1659, other sources are more careful and state only "circa 1659". Just for fun, using 10 September 1659 (Wiki's information must have come from somewhere) are there any harmonious astro-chords?

I've copied planet positions for Pete Townshend from and noted same for Purcell from astrotheme:

 Back then
Pete Townshend born London, England 19 May 1945 at 3.00 PM

 17th century sketch

Henry Purcell born in London, England (possibly on) September 10, 1659. Data at 12 noon on that date:

Sun 17.36 Virgo
Venus conjunct Jupiter 28/29 Leo
Saturn and Mercury in Libra 27 and 13 degrees respectively
Mars at 8 Gemini
Chiron 6 Capricorn

Compare: Townshend's natal ascendant and Jupiter with Purcell's natal Sun.
Their natal Venus (planet of the arts) Aries and Leo in harmonious trine.

There's some astro-harmony there, for sure! It looks, too, as though Townshend might have inherited Purcell's nose as well as his "ear".


mike said...

I suppose the 286 years between their births could allow for Purcell to have had several go-rounds at reincarnation, arriving as contemporary Pete, and modernizing his compositions for the extant zeitgeist.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Wouldn't that be something though! :-)