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Chapter 22: The Late Twentieth Century Music at the End of the Century.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 22: The Late Twentieth Century Music at the End of the Century."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 22: The Late Twentieth Century Music at the End of the Century

2 Key Terms Threnody Col legno Dies irae Minimalism

3 Music at the End of the Century Difficult to characterize recent music Current music is often confused, multivalent, multicultural Classical music lost its last great master when Stravinsky died in 1971 Music has gone in many directions since Modernism has mellowed since 1971 The trauma of atonality has passed Tonal melodies & harmonies have returned to modernism There is a renewed desire for communication

4 George Crumb (b. 1929) Professor at University of Pennsylvania A later member of postwar avant-garde But not a chance or electronic composer Pioneered new ways to play instruments String players might scrape, slide, chant, play using the wood of the bow, & so on Creates eerie, evocative sound worlds Known for remarkably delicate effects Uses percussion with the subtlety known to East Asia

5 Crumb, Black Angels “Thirteen Images from the Dark Land” For electric (amplified) string quartet Inspired by Vietnam War era “There were terrifying things in the air” 13 short piece in three groups Departure – Absence – Return Titles convey a sense of dread & terror (And so does the music) Threnody (funeral lament), Devil-Music, Danse macabre

6 No. 1 Threnody I: Night of the Electric Insects Threnody = song of lamentation for the dead Reference to Vietnam War (& Penderecki) Deafeningly loud, skittery tremolo Alternates with quiet scratching Exaggerated dynamic contrasts are frightening High violin fast glissando effects Appear twice, marked piangendo, “crying” No discernible meter

7 No. 2 Sounds of Bones and Flutes Evokes Asian music Rattling of bones Tongue clicks, soft “ka-to-ko to-ko” chant, bouncing bow col legno, pizzicato glissando Very rhythmic feel Flute sounds A soft violin bowed col legno (with the wood) Number symbolism – 7 and 13 13-beat phrases & meter signatures that create groups of 7 & 13 notes

8 No. 3 Lost Bells For violin & cello duo Starts with distinctive tam-tam sound Bowed, not struck, to bring out harmonics The they mimic mournful, bell-like sounds of electronic music Using harmonics & multiple stops Returns to bowed tam-tam Ends with fragmentary melodies reminiscent of the “flute” in No. 2

9 No. 4 Devil-music Vehement, retching first violin solo To suggest the voice of the devil Other instruments scrape out the Dies irae with maximum pressure Cellist strikes a tam-tam Ends with siren effects & electric insects Frequent use of the tritone Diabolus in musica = the devil in music No discernible meter

10 No. 5 Danse Macabre Title borrowed from Saint-Saëns And the mistuned-violin-strings motive as well Rhythmic energy picks up again Players rap on instruments & shake maracas Alternation between two duos Violin 2 & viola play the Saint-Saëns quotation mixed with a dance rhythm using pizzicato, sul ponticello, & rapping with knuckles Violin 1 & cello play the Dies irae with maracas, whistling, harmonics, & whispered Hungarian

11 Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952) Finnish composer born after World War II Trained in Helsinki, Freiburg, & Paris She has carried on experiments of earlier modernism Often works at IRCAM – Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique She regularly combines live performers with electronic & computer music Has written for various ensembles, but has a special interest in the human voice L’Amour de loin (2000), Lonh (1996)

12 Saariaho, From the Grammar of Dreams (1) Song cycle for 2 sopranos a cappella Texts by American poet Sylvia Plath From The Bell Jar, semi-autobiographical novel about a student’s slide into depression & her subsequent hospitalization And from “Paralytic,” a poem about a polio patient lying in an iron lung They share the theme of confinement & the resulting distortion of one’s world-view

13 Saariaho, From the Grammar of Dreams (2) Some departures from a conventional musical setting of these words Stanzas of the poem are scattered unevenly across the five songs Stanzas 1-4 for Song 1, Stanza 8 for Song 3 She juxtaposes two texts simultaneously Not common since motets of the Middle Ages Performers are used with great versatility As if the singers were electronic instruments Many unorthodox, expressive vocal techniques

14 Song 1 Active soprano sings stanzas 1-2 of poem A violent, leaping, grunting, swooping melody Dissects & stretches out the vowels & consonants of each word Other soprano sings a line from the novel “A bad dream. I remembered everything.” A gentler line in counterpoint filled with warbling trills Active soprano gradually shifts Adopts her partner’s more lyric style Both end in deliberate, monotonal speech

15 Song 3 Lyrical & emotional heart of the cycle And the most conventional song of the five Singers both sing throughout – slowly intertwining lines in imitative counterpoint And they sing the same words from Stanza 10 A mood of calm, quiet renunciation Do the words & music suggest defiance, indifference, or transcendence? Form is a gradually rising & falling arch

16 Song 4 Two texts taken from The Bell Jar She wants to swim so far that she will drown swimming back, but she tires of trying Her beating heart mocks her effort (“I am I am”) A free three-part (A B A’) form overall We hear every painful gasp for breath in A B builds to an ecstatic climax on “I am” A’ returns to panting for air, & we hear fading repetitions of “I am” in a lower register What does the repeated “I am” signify?

17 Minimalism One of the most interesting styles of the past 30 years A sharp reaction to modernism’s complexity Uses very simple melodies, motives, & harmonies repeated many, many, many times Terry Riley’s In C was a very early example Minimalist opera has had great success Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, & Akhnaten Adams’s Nixon in China, Death of Klinghoffer

18 Steve Reich (b. 1936) Minimalism’s acknowledged “old master” Was a philosophy major at Cornell Performs his work with his own group Others have done likewise – Philip Glass It’s easier to get good performances from musicians who know your music well Has written quasi-operas with his wife Video artist Beryl Korot The Cave (1998), Three Tales (2002)

19 Reich, Tehillim Hebrew Tehillim = “psalms” A work in four continuous sections Fast-fast-slow-fast format Each section sets a different Psalm to music A minimalist “symphony of psalms” Written for 4 sopranos & small orchestra Strings, woodwinds, organs, & percussion Reverses conventional scoring – percussion used throughout, strings & winds add color Vocal style influenced by scat singing

20 Tehillim, Part 4 (1) A setting of Psalm 150 Uses free theme & variations form Constantly changing meter gives the sprightly a b c c’ theme its “spring”

21 Tehillim, Part 4 (2) Variations gradually intensify psalm singing Variations 1 & 2 use two- & four-part canon Higher vocal registers in Variations 3 & 4 Enthusiastic coda adds vibraphone, bells, & organs as voices repeatedly cry “Hallelujah” A more vital sense of motion & direction than in earlier minimalism

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