Experience - Ludovico Einaudi

Ludovico Einaudi's Experience is a solo piano piece that is renowned for its therapeutic effect and melodic complexity. Originally released in 2019 as the soundtrack for the documentary film of the same title, it is one of the composer's most beloved works. A performance by Einaudi of the piece in a digital recreation of Venice’s Academia Bridge in 2018 further captivated both casual fans and dedicated listeners alike, propelling the work to cult-like status.

History and Reception of Experience

The initial track for the Experience soundtrack was completed by Ludovico Einaudi in 2016. It takes as its source inspiration the story of the film’s protagonist, Miriam Makeba, an exiled South African vocalist. To evoke Makeba's story, Einaudi drew upon the then-current wave of refugee migration from Africa to Europe, combining the piano with a selection of more traditional African instruments. Experience premiered in the film in 2019 to resounding success and further had its own standalone release. An additional concert edition featuring the live performance from Venice in 2018 was also released, prompting numerous reviews and accolades.

As the piece gained popularity, Einaudi toured it in various countries around the world. The digital recreations of the piece were also used to attract funds for local organizations working to provide assistance to migrants. Einaudi has been frank about the fact that the work’s provocative message of the importance of migrants and those in difficult circumstances resonates with him personally. Most recently, the concert version ofExperience was reissued as part of a curated 4-vinyl collection titled Elements.

Analyzing the Piece

On a more fundamental level, Experience is in a class of its own. Structurally, the piece is divided into three main sections that each feature distinct, yet related melodies and harmonics. The central motif of the work is a downward piano run, which is repeated multiple times across each section. These simple, highly effective motifs create a sense of continuity and context, propelling the listener further into the piece’s narrative.

In terms of harmonic progression, the piece is marked by a sense of tonal ambiguity, as the central chord sequence of the main melody is followed by a series of minor ii-V-i cadences. This usage of harmony is significant as it prevents the piece from settling into a stable harmonic progression, instead forcing the listener to focus on the nuances of the melody, thus creating an atmosphere of tension and anticipation.

Popularity of the Piece

So, what makes Experience stand out? Firstly and perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s Einaudi’s masterful performance. The piece is full of subtle technical challenges and intricate melodic development, giving it a unique voice that captures the complexity of Makeba’s story. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, is its emotive impact. Through its narrative structure, Einaudi paints a vivid picture of an individual’s struggle for survival and hope for the future, and offers a powerful reminder of the challenges faced by countless others in similar situations.

Finally, the longevity of Experience lies in its universal themes, which are further enhanced by additional instrumentation and the video accompaniment. Through this combination, the piece becomes a timeless commentary on our society, making it an indisputable classic of recent times.

In conclusion, Experience is an excellent example of the power of solo piano to both entertain and move us. Its unique composition and message make it a timeless reminder of both extraordinary journeys and of the human spirit.

Publication date: 25. 02. 2023