The Lacuna Of Music

A lacuna is “commonly understood as a space where something has been omitted, (and made) void.” (Frühauf, 2014, p. 12) The art of sound can be a euphoric experience for individuals, where a simple beat or harmony can create a distinctive mood, based on its context. In the world of music, a lacuna can be defined as “an intentional, extended passage in a musical work during which no notes are played.” (2015) The lacunas ultimate purpose is to generate feelings of composure or tension. This contrast of negative space offers light and shade in a song and transforms the listener into a state of hypnosis.

The duration of a lacuna may differ between records. Ultimately, the decision comes down to the musician. Alternative rock band, Radiohead, incorporate the concept of lacuna in their song Motion Picture Soundtrack off their album Kid A. Two long silences are present in the song (3.17-4.17 mins and 5.09-6.56 mins) to place emphasis on the themes of loss and death. After the first one-minute break takes place, a hidden track re-enters and crescendos to the end. It alludes to the character finding love again and moreover, his next life. This is reinforced by the extensive pause at the end of the track. With Radiohead’s experimental nature, it only seems fitting that a lacuna not only helps to create pressure in the song but also celebrates the beauty of silence in music.

A musical rest in a song can be slightly juxtaposed to lacunae. These pauses are generally shorter in length and help in maintaining the pace and balance between notes. One of my favourite artists, Bon Iver, uses pauses quite regularly in his music and transports me into a state of lacuna. A notable experience of this can be heard at the ending of re: Stacks, the last song on the album, For Emma, Forever Ago. The last 40 seconds is absent of sound, further depicting Iver’s state of liberation.

Comparisons can be drawn between a lacuna and an interlude in a piece of music or album. Although a lacuna is a lull, I feel as though an artist can still use tones of music to suggest this. Artists’ occasionally include interludes to break up the intensity of an album and generate a breathing space for the listener to ponder, induce meaning and reflect on what they have previously just heard. My interpretation therefore suggests that a lacuna in music may still include sound. A sound that juxtaposes the superior and thus an unfilled space for individuals to wander in interpretatively.


DiCrescenzo, B. 2000, Radiohead–Kid A, Pitchfork Review, October 2, viewed 21 March 2017,


Frühauf, T & Hirsch, L. 2014, Dislocated Memories: Jews, Music, and Postwar German Culture, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, p. 12.

Iver, B. 2009, Bon Iver, re: Stacks, audio recording, YouTube, viewed 21 March 2017,


Radiohead, 2008, 10. Motion Picture Soundtrack, Audio recording, YouTube, viewed 21 March 2017,


Schmunk, R. 2016, Learning Music Notation, Lynda, viewed 20 March 2017,

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One thought on “The Lacuna Of Music

  1. ella says:

    Great work and consideration Aaron well done. As a side note I’d love your group to come up with a design where you could all easily read each other’s writing to channel and group ideas collectively.


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