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Lecture 13

MUAR 211 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Pierre Boulez, Darmstadt School, Serialism

Music - Arts
Course Code
MUAR 211
Eric Smialek

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MUAR 211 Week 13 April 9-13, 2018
Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries Continued 09/04/18
Pierre Boulez (1925 2016)
After the war, Germany was ruined
They started the “Darmstadt School” in Germany, which was a summer music program,
and produced many avant-garde composers.
Boulez attended and taught at the school
Wanted to complete abstract music
Some of the most dissonant of all atonal music
Pointillism: fragment the texture
- Extremely difficult to play properly, since they often make the rhythm to
seem like there is no beat
Integral serialism/control music: expanding serial procedures beyond pitch to
control all music parameters
- Want music to be rational, so they ordered everything, not just the pitches
as was done in 12 tone music
- Titles like Structures Ia, which doesn’t suggest a genre at all and sounds
more sculptural
Music started trying to resemble the plastic arts
- This process creates a sound world that you can only get with this process
It has an intellectual complexity but sounds chaotic
Creates something new that most people hate
Sense of experimentation with sound, and being willing to accept
whatever sound it produced
Felt like the past composers (including Stravinsky and Schoenberg) were too conservative
Ex: Le Marteau sans maire
Compositional method = integral serialism
No two movements have the same instrumentation (just like Pierre Lunaire)
Cycle of art songs, but not all of the individual movements are songs
Big vocal leaps
Many of the integral serialism composers switched to electronic music
Their music was sometimes too hard to play acoustically, but could be played
perfectly with electronic instruments
Note: in the 20th century, we still have Romantic genres
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MUAR 211 Week 13 April 9-13, 2018
Music Concrete
Record sounds, and then manipulate the recordings
The equipment to do this was only available in radio stations
This was very time consuming since to edit you had to splice the tape (cut it and put it back
Pure Electronic Music
Create completely new sounds
The music was made by editing white noise or by sine wave generators, which produce
pure pitches
The first electronic music to have a title: Studie II
Mixed music: live performance with pre-recorded electronic sounds
Note: electronic music is neither a style nor a genre, it’s just the media (which can go into
the category of ensemble)
Gyorgy Ligeti (1923 2006)
Analyzed Boulez’ music by looking for structure in the elements
Sound mass composition: a piece of music that is composed of just different masses of
sound that usually avoids any kind of melody
Tries to create sounds that sound electronic, but with an acoustic ensemble
Use lots of experimental techniques with instruments
Ex: Lux Aeterna
Acapella vocal work in Latin (part of requiem mass)
Style = sound mass
Texture = micropolyphony
- There are so many parts that are so close together that they mix into each
other and sound like a mass of dissonance that’s changing
Genre = mass movement
Very atonal
Karlheinz Stockhausen
Ex: Song of the young
Uses music concrete techniques and generated electronic sounds
To be able to say what the ensemble is, youd have to know all the sounds they used
(which wont be asked)
Kind of like a 20th century electronic character piece, but we dont really know what
the genre is
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