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TO CUT THE GORDIAN KNOT: THE TIMBRE SYSTEM OF KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI

TO CUT THE GORDIAN KNOT: THE TIMBRE SYSTEM OF KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI Schoenberg, timbre was invariably organized in an intuitive manner. Nor was the problem of timbre solved by serial composers. In spite of the appearances of rationality, the serialization of timbre was essentially arbitrarily determined. Who, after all, will without qualification agree that the relation between the timbres of violin and contrabass is the same as, say, between the violin and oboe or trumpet con sordino? Assumptions of this sort lie at the base of the timbre rows used in serial compositions. For the young Penderecki, faced with the Gordian knot of timbre, nothing remained to do but to cut it. He did so by transferring wholesale the problematic issue of timbre from the hopelessly muddled acoustic level onto the motoric one: the level of sound generation. I. Categories Although the acoustic wave is a highly complex phenomenon, the process of its generation can be presented simply as a collision of two physical bodies, one being a sound source, the other being the body that vibrates the sound source. It is likely that such a splendidly simplified image of the sound-producing process was taken up by Penderecki from the teaching of Mieczysław Drobner, the eminent Polish acoustician and organologist. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Music Theory Duke University Press

TO CUT THE GORDIAN KNOT: THE TIMBRE SYSTEM OF KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI

Journal of Music Theory , Volume 45 (2) – Jan 1, 2001

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2001 by Yale University
ISSN
0022-2909
eISSN
1941-7497
DOI
10.1215/00222909-45-2-435
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Schoenberg, timbre was invariably organized in an intuitive manner. Nor was the problem of timbre solved by serial composers. In spite of the appearances of rationality, the serialization of timbre was essentially arbitrarily determined. Who, after all, will without qualification agree that the relation between the timbres of violin and contrabass is the same as, say, between the violin and oboe or trumpet con sordino? Assumptions of this sort lie at the base of the timbre rows used in serial compositions. For the young Penderecki, faced with the Gordian knot of timbre, nothing remained to do but to cut it. He did so by transferring wholesale the problematic issue of timbre from the hopelessly muddled acoustic level onto the motoric one: the level of sound generation. I. Categories Although the acoustic wave is a highly complex phenomenon, the process of its generation can be presented simply as a collision of two physical bodies, one being a sound source, the other being the body that vibrates the sound source. It is likely that such a splendidly simplified image of the sound-producing process was taken up by Penderecki from the teaching of Mieczysław Drobner, the eminent Polish acoustician and organologist.

Journal

Journal of Music TheoryDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2001

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