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Atonality and Music of the 20th Century

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Whitney George

on 9 August 2017

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Transcript of Atonality and Music of the 20th Century

Atonality
& Music of the 20th Century

Dissonance & Atonality
consonance is when chords sound “at rest”
works in a MAJOR or MINOR mode are consonant works
many works in the western classical cannon in the 20th century are considered dissonant or atonal
dissonance is when chords sound unresolved or “tense”
determining whether a chord is consonant or dissonant depends on the intervals that are sounding simultaneously
Tonality & Mode
tonal music or music with tonality has a sense of returning to a "home pitch", where as atonal music does not have a home pitch. In fact, there is no hierarchy in atonal music- all pitches are equally important
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
excerpt from ‘The Rite of Spring’ (1913)
instrumentation: full orchestra
meter: many different meters- changes with the programs of the piece. In an earlier excerpt we listened to, we noted that, while there is often a pulse, the metric stresses are rather unpredictable
form: free-form- changes with the program of the work
dynamics: wide dynamic range (from very soft to very loud)
harmony/tonality: atonal (there is no “home pitch”)
texture: polyphonic - ranges from monophonic to homophonic to polyphonic
other notes:
there was a turbulent riot at the premiere performance in 1913 in Paris
orchestrationally daring- uses many extended technique for many instruments
many people (Saint Saens!) thought the opening was being played by a saxophone and not a bassoon
utilizes Russian folk themes for the basic melodies of the ballet
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
excerpts from ‘Pierrot Lunaire’- No. 1- Mondestrucken (1921)
instrumentation: pierrot chamber ensemble
meter: changes from movement to movement. 'Mondestrucken' is in 4/4 Simple Time
form: typically small song forms ABA for each movement, the set of movements together is called a song cycle
dynamics: wide dynamic range (from very soft to very loud) depending on the movement
harmony/tonality: atonal (there is no “home pitch”)
texture: polyphonic - ranges from monophonic to homophonic to polyphonic, depending on the movement. 'Mondestrucken' is generally homophonic and polyphonic
other notes:
the singer uses a technique called ‘Sprichtstemme’, meaning 1/2 sung and 1/2 spoken
this piece is a programmatic work, as the set of poetry is used to tell a story
Luciano Berio (1882-1971)
excerpt from ‘Sinfonia- Movement No. 3’ (1968-69)
instrumentation: large (romantic!?) orchestra with chorus
meter: changes constantly throughout the movement
form: third movement in a multi-movement symphonic form that only occasionally adheres to the traditional form
dynamics: wide dynamic range (from very soft to very loud) depending on the movement
harmony/tonality: atonal (there is no “home pitch”---it in constantly shifting)
texture: polyphonic - ranges from monophonic to homophonic to polyphonic.
other notes:
Many have described Berio's third movement as a "musical collage". The orchestra plays snippets of many well known works within the 20th century, sometimes to a humorous extent. For example, when one of the reciters says "I have a present for you", the orchestra follows immediately with the introductory chord from Don, the first movement from a work by Boulez (!!!!)
Gyorgi Ligeti (1923-2006)
excerpts from ‘Requiem- Movement No. 2- Kyrie’ (1965)
instrumentation: orchestra with a chorus
meter: non-metric- no regularly defined pulse
form: the second movement in a typically mass form
dynamics: wide dynamic range (from very soft to very loud) depending on the movement
harmony/tonality: atonal (there is no “home pitch”---it in constantly shifting)
texture: polyphonic - ranges from monophonic to homophonic to polyphonic.
other notes:
has been used in cinema- 2001: A Space Odyssey - was written in the same year that the film was made
Peter Maxwell Davis (1934-)
excerpts from 'Eight Songs for a Mad King'
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-)
excerpt from ‘Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima’ (1960)
instrumentation: string orchestra
meter: non-metric (is not regularly pulsed)
form: tone poem- a single contained movement for orchestra with a programmatic element
dynamics: wide dynamic range (from very soft to very loud)
harmony/tonality: atonal (there is no “home pitch”)
texture: polyphonic - each line is quite independent
other notes:
the score is a ‘graphically notated’ score- meaning that the score is not traditionally notated, and incorporates graphic elements for the performers parts
instrumentation: small chamber ensemble
meter: ply metric, free meter,
form: a song cycle (collection of songs)
dynamics: wide dynamic range (from very soft to very loud)
harmony/tonality: atonal (there is no “home pitch”)
texture: polyphonic & homophonic, depending on the section - each line is fiercely independent
other notes:
the score is a ‘graphically notated’ score- meaning that the score is not traditionally notated, and incorporates graphic elements, in addition to theater, and extended techniques
Bela Bartok
excerpts from 'Bluebeard's Castle'
instrumentation: full orchestra
meter: ranges from being pulsed to being non-pulsed to simple to asymmetrical
form: free form, divided into sections (opera)
dynamics: wide dynamic range (from very soft to very loud)
harmony/tonality: atonal (there is no “home pitch”)
texture: ranges from homophonic to polyphonic
Judith and Bluebeard arrive at his castle, which is all dark. Bluebeard asks Judith if she wants to stay and even offers her an opportunity to leave, but she decides to stay. Judith insists that all the doors be opened, to allow light to enter into the forbidding interior, insisting further that her demands are based on her love for Bluebeard. Bluebeard refuses, saying that they are private places not to be explored by others, and asking Judith to love him but ask no questions. Judith persists, and eventually prevails over his resistance.
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