Chapter 80   alternatives to serialism - chance, electronics, & texture
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Like this? Share it with your network


Chapter 80 alternatives to serialism - chance, electronics, & texture

Uploaded on


  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads


Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds



Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

    No notes for slide


  • 1. Chapter 80Alternatives to Serialism: Chance, Electronics, Textures
  • 2. Chance Music• Following WW II, modern music took on a variety of styles and compositional methods in addition to serialism.• One of the most novel was the making of compositional choices by chance (chance music) – an approach associated with the music of the American composer John Cage (around 1950)
  • 3. Characteristics of John Cage’s Music• Cage’s Music of Changes for piano is notated in detail – but the compositional choices are made from a number of options by chance routines.• Earlier, Cage had written more traditional types of music, often for “prepared piano” – an instrument converted into a virtual percussion ensemble.• In works composed later in the 1950’s , Cage used a style that he termed “indeterminacy of performance ” – where he turned decisions about what to play almost entirely over to performers.• His involvement with a “composition” dwindled to brief graphic notations and verbal scores .
  • 4. The Life of John Cage (1912– 1992)• 1912 - born in Los Angeles• 1928-30 - attends Pomona College in Claremont, CA• 1942 - moves to New York• 1951 - introduces chance elements into compositions• 1958 - lecture and musical performances at Darmstadt• 1992 - dies in New York
  • 5. John Cage’s Reasoning Behind Chance Music• to remove the “glue” between musical sounds and events• to let sounds be sounds , neither more or less• to remove the personality of the composer• to allow the listener to focus on sounds per se
  • 6. Principal Compositions of John Cage• Prepared piano : works include Sonatas and Interludes• Percussion ensemble : works include Imaginary Landscape Nos. 1-3• Piano: include Music of Changes and 4’33”• Chance pieces: a large number of pieces of flexible medium
  • 7. John Cage, Music of Changes , 1951, part 1Through composed form based on number sequence
  • 8. Electronic Music• Another postwar alternative to serialism was the composition of electronic music .• An early version was “musique concrète” – electronic music made from recordings of natural or man-made sounds. – are manipulated electronically and reassembled on disc or tape in a musical form.• Other composers opted for pure electronic music – in which the source of sounds were produced by electronic devices .• Edgar Varèse’s Poème électronique (1958) uses both approaches.
  • 9. The Life of Edgard Varèse (1883–1965)• 1883 - born in Paris, grows up in Turin, Italy• 1903 - enters the Schola Cantorum in Paris• 1907-13 - lives mainly in Berlin• 1913-15 - lives in Paris• 1915 - emigrates to America• 1921 - founds the International Composers Guild in New York• 1928-33 - returns to France• 1958 - attracts attention for electronic music at the Brussels Worlds Fair• 1965 - dies in New York
  • 10. Principal Compositions by Edgard Varèse• Orchestra and chamber orchestra : works include – Amériques – Hyperprism – Octandre – Intégrales – Arcana – Ionisation• Voice with instrumental accompaniment : works include – Offrandes – Ecuatorial – Metal – Nocturnal• Works with electronic sounds on tape – Poème électronique – Déserts
  • 11. Edgard Varèse, Poème électronique , 1958Through-composed form
  • 12. Experimenting with New Musical Textures• Composers following WW II also experimented with new musical textures – alternatives to the traditional homophony and polyphony.• Varèse praised the value of “sound masses” – conglomorations of sound in which no single tones or intervals are apparent.• In his piano study “Mode de valueurs et d’intensités,” Messiaen linked together – the choice of register – duration, dynamic level – attack to produce a “pointillistic” texture – in this approach, individual tones seem to leap out without association into lines or chords.
  • 13. The Life of Olivier Messiaen (1908– 1992)• 1908 - born in Avignon, France• 1919–29 - attends Paris Conservatory (composition with Paul Dukas)• 1931 - appointed organist at the Church of the Trinity in Paris• 1936–39 - with Daniel-Lesur, Yves Baudrier, and André Jolivet forms “La Jeune France” to seek alternatives to neoclassicism• 1941 - begins teaching at the Paris Conservatory• 1950s - ornithological interests expressed by imitating bird song in music• 1992 - dies in Paris
  • 14. Principal Compositions by Olivier Messiaen• Orchestra: character pieces and larger works including – Turangalîla Symphony – From the Canyons to the Stars• Songs: numerous collections on his own poetry• Chamber music : includes the Quartet for the End of Time (violin, clarinet, cello, piano)• Organ music: character pieces including the Messe de la Pentecôte• Piano: preludes, etudes, bird song pieces
  • 15. Olivier Messiaen, “Mode de valeurs et d’intensités,” 1949Summary of the mode of pitches, durations, attack types, and dynamic levels in this work:Through-composed formTop lineMiddle lineBottom line