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G érard G risey and the ‘N ature ’ of H armony

G érard G risey and the ‘N ature ’ of H armony ABSTRACT Gérard Grisey (1946–1998) was a founder of the influential ‘spectral’ movement. Reacting against the abstractions of serialism, spectral composers derived their musical material from the physics of sound and the mechanisms of aural perception. The present study explores the tensions between Grisey's natural sonic models and their alterations and distortions in his music. One common spectral technique is ‘instrumental synthesis’– the scoring for instrumental ensemble of the partials of a complex natural sound. Instrumental synthesis creates a musical effect which is neither atonal nor tonal in the traditional sense – rather, we can best understand this music as exhibiting an extended tonality based on the upper overtones of the harmonic series. The analysis of this extended tonality calls for new theoretical tools which can account for the complex harmonic relationships between high overtones. I propose a modification of Hugo Riemann's theory of Tonvorstellung (tone representation): the idea that, given a collection of pitches, we will understand them as connected by the simplest possible just intervals. As a model of harmonicmeaning based on our processes of auditory cognition, tone representation can illuminate the way we hear and understand harmony in a wide variety of works. The theory is demonstrated in a discussion of Sehoenberg's Piano Piece, Op. 11 No. 2, then applied in an analysis of Grisey's Vortex Temporum (1994–6). Sketches for the piece indicate Grisey's use of distorted –‘stretched’ and ‘compressed’– spectra in addition to the familiar harmonic series. Applying my theory of tone representation makes possible a sensitive description of the aural effect of such distorted spectra, rather than the interpretations we frequently find of these sonorities which contradict their natural origins in Grisey's sketches. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music Analysis Wiley

G érard G risey and the ‘N ature ’ of H armony

Music Analysis , Volume 28 (2‐3) – Jul 1, 2009

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© 2011 The Author. Music Analysis © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
ISSN
0262-5245
eISSN
1468-2249
DOI
10.1111/j.1468-2249.2011.00294.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

ABSTRACT Gérard Grisey (1946–1998) was a founder of the influential ‘spectral’ movement. Reacting against the abstractions of serialism, spectral composers derived their musical material from the physics of sound and the mechanisms of aural perception. The present study explores the tensions between Grisey's natural sonic models and their alterations and distortions in his music. One common spectral technique is ‘instrumental synthesis’– the scoring for instrumental ensemble of the partials of a complex natural sound. Instrumental synthesis creates a musical effect which is neither atonal nor tonal in the traditional sense – rather, we can best understand this music as exhibiting an extended tonality based on the upper overtones of the harmonic series. The analysis of this extended tonality calls for new theoretical tools which can account for the complex harmonic relationships between high overtones. I propose a modification of Hugo Riemann's theory of Tonvorstellung (tone representation): the idea that, given a collection of pitches, we will understand them as connected by the simplest possible just intervals. As a model of harmonicmeaning based on our processes of auditory cognition, tone representation can illuminate the way we hear and understand harmony in a wide variety of works. The theory is demonstrated in a discussion of Sehoenberg's Piano Piece, Op. 11 No. 2, then applied in an analysis of Grisey's Vortex Temporum (1994–6). Sketches for the piece indicate Grisey's use of distorted –‘stretched’ and ‘compressed’– spectra in addition to the familiar harmonic series. Applying my theory of tone representation makes possible a sensitive description of the aural effect of such distorted spectra, rather than the interpretations we frequently find of these sonorities which contradict their natural origins in Grisey's sketches.

Journal

Music AnalysisWiley

Published: Jul 1, 2009

References