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Between Modernism and Postmodernism:

Strands of Continuity in Collage Compositions
by Rochberg, Berio, and Zimmermann
c. catherine losada

This article discusses a group of pieces that can best be understood as musical collages: the third
movement of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia (1968), the first movement of George Rochberg’s Music for
the Magic Theater (1965), and the last movement of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Musique pour les
Soupers du Roi Ubu (1966). It demonstrates that chromatic complementation and a concurrent sys-
tematic process of chromatic saturation provide the logic behind the harmonic, formal and voice-
leading content of these pieces, thus establishing an unexpected link between these works and
their serial predecessors.

Keywords: Berio, Rochberg, Zimmermann, collage, Postmodernism, quotation, chromatic comple-

mentation, chromatic saturation, Sinfonia, significant gap, gap-fill

n the last forty years the extensive use of musical single composition.2 Thus, it poses the most stimulating

I quotation and juxtaposition of contrasting styles has cre-

ated an unprecedented level of heterogeneity in the mu-
sical language. The musical collage,1 in particular, explicitly
questions for the analyst: What is the relationship between
the disparate elements in a collage? What are the structural
implications of combining such a variety of disparate ele-
subverts the concept of unity by juxtaposing various frag- ments? Finally, what theoretical tools should be used to ana-
mentary quotations from different musical styles within a lyze music with such diverse musical idioms? This article ad-
dresses these questions within the context of concrete
analytical findings. It discusses a group of pieces that can
I would like to thank Ellie Hisama, Philip Lambert, Andrew Mead, best be understood as musical collages: the third movement
Catherine Nolan, Philip Stoecker, Joseph Straus, and the anonymous of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia (1968), the first movement of
readers of Music Theory Spectrum for their helpful feedback on earlier
George Rochberg’s Music for the Magic Theater (1965), and
drafts of this article.
1 In this article, my usage of the phrase “musical collage” refers to reper-
toire (written mainly since the 1960s) that conforms to the definition of a collage differ in key, timbre, texture, meter or tempo, and lack of fit is
collage found in Burkholder (The New Grove Dictionary of Music and an important factor in preserving the individuality of each and convey-
Musicians, 2nd ed, s.v. “Collage”): “The juxtaposition of multiple quota- ing the impression of a diverse assemblage.”
tions, styles or textures so that each element maintains its individuality 2 Kramer (1995, 12) defines the concept of unity from the twentieth-
and the elements are perceived as excerpted from many sources and century modernist perspective as the condition that all parts in a compo-
arranged together, rather than sharing common origins . . . Elements in sition have “to be related not only to the whole but also to each other.”

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58 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

the last movement of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Musique and keep track of precompositional production plans. Such
pour les Soupers du Roi Ubu (1966). denotative activity can only damage the listener’s primary,
With its unprecedented power to elicit explicit referential poetic responsibility to the music” (393).6 Although analyti-
connotations, this music brings to the forefront the dialectic cal approaches that concentrate exclusively on the referential
opposition between referential and absolute meanings in and expressive aspects of these works can address important
music,3 as well as the conflict between formalist and expres- aspects of the composition as an artistic product, they fail to
sionist approaches to analysis described by Leonard Meyer.4 identify the importance of the choice of a particular excerpt
Coupled with the difficulties that the incorporation of dis- from a composition as opposed to another and imply that a
parate materials poses to the analytical process, the level of musical product can be created where the relationship be-
referential determinacy has created a tendency for analytical tween its constituent elements is primarily defined by criteria
work on this repertoire to be limited in scope, focused on a other than specific technical associations.7
description of the main constituents and the referential con- My study, following Meyer, posits that “in musical experi-
notations of these works. ence the same stimulus, the music, activates tendencies, in-
Many analyses of Sinfonia, for instance, have confined hibits them, and provides meaningful and relevant resolu-
themselves to a listing of sources (an essential first step in tions for them” (1956, 31). It thus attempts to provide a
any such analysis), coupled with tentative phenomenological, discussion of the quantifiable elements of these works, which
semiotic, or psychological conjectures regarding the motiva- so far have not been systematically analyzed. Isolated techni-
tion and effect of their combination.5 George Flynn (1975) cal aspects of collage compositions have been discussed
takes this approach to the extreme. He emphasizes the po- mainly within the context of a particular piece.8 Generally
etic effect of the heterogeneous musical surface and explicitly
rejects any technical approach to Berio’s music, claiming that
6 Similarly, Dixon (1992) and Ringer (1966) focus for the most part
“in listening to Berio’s music the listener need not chase tone on how Rochberg’s music reflects the composer’s ideological preoc-
rows, intervals, durational patterns, or otherwise discover cupation with the reevaluation of the musical past and his new aes-
thetic of stylistic pluralism, thus bypassing a technical discussion of his
music altogether. A technical approach, in this context, refers to an an-
3 Meyer (1956) states that absolutists are those that “insist that musical alytical methodology that seeks to describe patterns and structures that
meaning lies exclusively within the context of the work itself, in the result from the purely musical elements of a piece (such as pitch,
perception of the relationships set forth within the musical work of rhythm, duration, dynamics, texture etc.)
art,” and that, on the other hand, referentialists contend that “music 7 Though this is certainly the case for many Dada compositions or works
also communicates meanings which in some way refer to the extramu- that rely heavily upon chance (many works of John Cage, etc.), it could
sical world of concepts, actions, emotional states, and character” (1). hardly be applied to a work such as Sinfonia, where almost every single
4 Meyer (1956) explains that “the formalist would contend that the pitch and its placement are so carefully controlled.
meaning of music lies in the perception and understanding of the musi- 8 Osmond-Smith’s (1985) excellent study of Sinfonia identifies the quo-
cal relationships set forth in the work of art and that meaning in music tations contained in the piece and describes isolated technical elements
is primarily intellectual, while the expressionist would argue that these (such as the sharing of common pitches, harmonic basis or melodic
same relationships are in some sense capable of exciting feelings and shapes) that associate many of the disparate components. Like
emotions in the listener” (3). Osmond-Smith, Budde (1972) and Altmann (1977) present isolated
5 Hicks (1981–82), for example, deals exclusively with the referential im- examples of ways in which disparate quotations are connected in
plications of the practice of quotation with a particular emphasis on Sinfonia, within the context of a discussion of the piece in more general
textual relationships in Sinfonia. terms. Danuser (1988) examines connections in Rochberg’s music and
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between modernism and postmodernism 59

speaking, the technical connections are discussed in a limited musical function of the quotations with respect to the collage
fashion, noting isolated relationships between materials, context into which they are introduced have been described
and the underlying large-scale processes are never clearly by all these analysts, there has been no attempt to describe
addressed. the large-scale structure of these pieces or to trace structural
Other approaches to this repertoire have been constrained features that span different compositions.
in different ways, by concentrating, for instance, on a single The present study will address both of these concerns. By
composer’s output.9 Only recently has the practice of bor- emphasizing technical aspects over referential implications
rowing been scrutinized from a wider perspective. Peter of the practice of collage, it will describe techniques for link-
Burkholder has been instrumental in this respect, setting up ing disparate elements and features of the musical language
a useful typology of musical borrowing that crosses different that transcend foreground events and that are also common
time periods and styles.10 Likewise, works that incorporate to a variety of different compositions written in this style.12
multiple quotations have been subjected to scrutiny as a uni- I will demonstrate that the heterogeneous surface of these
fied body in the work of Lisa Brooks Robinson (1994), who pieces does not reflect a simplistic rejection of deeper con-
traces the influence of Mahler in several collage composi- nections, but instead is governed by a multitude of associa-
tions.11 Although isolated technical aspects relating to the tions that create unconventional structures and relationships.
Taking these relationships as its basis, I will outline a struc-
tural model that does not simply ignore the contrasts in the
elucidates similar relationships in Zimmermann’s and Berio’s music musical language, but instead embraces these contrasts as fun-
(Danuser 1990, 402-03; from Tillman 2002, 78–79). damental building blocks,13 thus simultaneously subverting
9 Such is the case with Adams’s (1983) study on R. Murray Schafer,
and transcending traditional notions of unity. Furthermore,
Klüppelholz’s (1981) study of the music of Mauricio Kagel, the insight-
ful discussions of the music of Zimmermann by Kühn (1978) and
this article will demonstrate the intimate relationship
Kiesewetter (1985), and the discussion of continuities in the music of
Thomas Adès by Roeder (2006).
10 See Burkholder 1994 and his two entries in The New Grove, s.vv.
“Collage,” “Borrowing.” Similarly seeking a broader outlook, Metzer and prolonged) and motivic techniques. The only link between the
(2003) has focused on how the referential implications of the practice processes she describes in her analyses of these different pieces is the
of musical quotation extend over a variety of different styles. He studies reliance on Mahler: “Many of the procedures applied to the appropri-
the role of quotation as a cultural agent in a variety of twentieth- ated material represent an exaggeration or intensification of procedures
century repertoires, including the music of Ives, Duke Ellington and and techniques found in the works being quoted and/or in other works
Bubber Miley, Schoenberg, Berio, Rochberg, Sandra Bernhard and by Mahler” (1994, 49).
Stockhausen, among others. 12 Following Meyer (1956, 33) this study assumes that “the disagreement
11 The works Robinson analyzes include the final movement of Lukas between the referentialists and the absolutists is . . . a result of a ten-
Foss’s Time Cycle (1959–60), the first movement of Rochberg’s Music dency toward philosophical monism rather than the result of any logi-
for the Magic Theater (1965), the third movement of Berio’s Sinfonia cal incompatibility.” Thus it does not seek to undermine the referential
(1968), and the second movement of Schnittke’s Fourth Concerto approaches to these works, but rather to provide an alternative and
Grosso/Fifth Symphony (1968). Applying an approach that blends refer- complementary methodology that yields interesting insights into the
ential and technical analysis, her analyses of the individual pieces ex- musical language.
plore intertextual associations, various structural procedures such as ex- 13 In this way this study responds to Kramer (1995, 12), who calls for an-
pansion, integration, and defamiliarization (a term that refers to the alytical approaches that will embrace, rather than deny the postmod-
concept of art as a process through which perception is complicated ernist aesthetic of diversity of these works.
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60 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

between these structures and the formal and dramatic struc- modernism.”17 One of the main arguments that this latter
ture of the pieces, thus uncovering surprising sources of uni- group invokes (Kaplan 1998, 3) is that resistance is a funda-
fication and continuity.14 mental feature of modernism and that most features typically
The findings contained in this article shed new light on associated with postmodernism have been found in earlier
two of the most provocative issues of the postmodern de- periods, and most notably in modernism proper ( Jameson
bate. The first relates to the applicability of the concept of 1988, 26–27).18
unity as a necessary characteristic of a musical language (and A useful concept in understanding the postmodernist
how it can be imposed on a given musical structure when it bent of these works by Berio, Zimmermann, and Rochberg,
is heard or analyzed).15 The second relates to the dispute re- is the concept of pastiche. Frederic Jameson (1988) invokes
garding the prevalence of continuity or discontinuity be- pastiche as one of the most significant features or practices in
tween modernism and postmodernism.16 postmodernism (15). He distinguishes pastiche from parody
Some authors have defined postmodernism as existing in by clarifying that parody “capitalizes on the uniqueness of
opposition (either as a reaction or resistance) to modernism these styles and seizes on their idiosyncrasies and eccentrici-
while others question the idea of a break asserting that the ties to produce an imitation which mocks the original”
word postmodern itself is “useful in implying links with (15–16) while pastiche “is a neutral practice of such mimicry
. . . without the still latent feeling that there exists something
14 The term unification implies the existence of cohesive relationships normal compared to which what is being imitated is rather
among all parts, the term continuity implies a stronger condition where comic” (16). The juxtapositions endemic to the musical col-
the temporal aspect is essential to the structure of the relationships. lage associate the music with pastiche, as opposed to parody,
Kramer (1995) has defined discontinuous music as music that is
since the very multiplicity of references makes a single norm
“‘episodic in nature’ and ‘lacking in development’” (23) however, this
characterization really only denies the existence of one kind of continuity. impossible to establish. The meaning of the work doesn’t de-
15 Kramer (1995) argues that “there is always a handy analytical method pend upon a single reference point, but instead upon the ef-
available to demonstrate how (if not that) the music coheres. All we fect of their combination.
need do is try hard enough, bend the piece or the method sufficiently, The musical surface of these works purposefully throws
or ignore disunifying factors, in order for the piece to come out unified. into question both the notion of individual style and the
Both listening and analyzing create as well as discover unity. But is that notion of an underlying commonality between the different
unity really in the music?” (15). Also “[i]t is all too easy to project the
elements, two fundamental aspects of modernism.19 Thus, in
perceptual unity of listening back onto the stimulus. The postmodern
aesthetic, however, encourages us to separate the two, by conceiving of
the text-the music-as autonomous . . . the listener’s perceptual unity/ 17 Foster (1983) is a scholar who sees postmodernism as anti-modernist;
disunity is not identical to the music’s textual unity/disunity.” An analy- Kaplan (1988, 1) is one who questions a break between modernism and
sis of these collage works, which maintains sensitivity to this perspec- postmodernism.
tive, will contribute to a refinement of this discussion. 18 Jameson (1988, 15; 28) and Kaplan (1988, 3–5) go on to discuss the con-
16 Kramer (1995) states that modernism includes “the progressive and cept of postmodernism as being related to the new social/production/
often atonal music composed after approximately 1909” (20). Jameson consumption contexts that arose in the new 1960s, as much as to the
(1988) adds that “modernist aesthetic is in some way organically linked content of a work of art in itself .
to the conception of a unique self and private identity, a unique person- 19 Harvey (1989, 45) posits the “rejection of meta-narratives as one im-
ality and individuality, which can be expected to generate its own portant factor that sets (postmodernism) apart from modernism.”
unique vision of the world and to forge its own unique, unmistakable Kramer (1995, 21) argues that the great meta-narrative in music is or-
style” (17). ganic unity. Thus, the rejection of organic unity, which the surface of
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between modernism and postmodernism 61

concrete technical terms, it seems that these collage works by Straus with reference to the melodic process of Ruth
were conceptualized as a reaction to modernism (and are thus Crawford (Straus 1995, 8–16; 41).21 These principles are di-
theoretically allied to a postmodernism of reaction). The rectly applicable to this study. In the compositions by Berio,
findings described in this article reevaluate this assertion, Zimmermann and Rochberg which are examined in this
demonstrating that the links to modernism are as important study, the disparate quotations that are juxtaposed or super-
to the structure of these works as the elements of resistance. imposed are related by chromatic complementation.22 The con-
cept of chromatic complementation postulates that the pitch
chromatic saturation and the significant gap collections presented by the different quotations interact
with one another not on the basis of their similarity or inter-
Although it has not traditionally been discussed in refer- section, but on the basis of their difference and the manner
ence to this repertoire, the relationship between aggregate in which they combine to create progressively larger collec-
completion and musical structure is essential to many other tions. Thus, disparate elements are brought into relationship
styles of composition. These include atonal works in addi- with one another in a manner that seeks to build upon,
tion to pieces that incorporate twelve-tone compositional rather than vanquish the dissimilarities between them. The
techniques and even more specifically pieces that exploit complementation relationships result in a process of chro-
combinatorial relationships of various types. Charles Rosen matic saturation, in which the musical space is completely
(1975) has stated that “the saturation of musical space is filled in through the appearance of each one of its con-
Schoenberg’s substitute for the tonic chord of the traditional stituent members. In these pieces, the musical space consti-
musical language. The absolute consonance is a state of tutes a pitch (in the case of Berio’s and Zimmermann’s
chromatic plenitude” (47–48; quoted in Straus 1995, 230). pieces) or pitch-class (in the case of Rochberg’s piece) subset
This view attaches special significance to the moment where of the chromatic collection. The different elements that con-
the musical space is fully saturated and invokes the concept tribute to the process are not necessarily presented simulta-
of expectation in this context, which is in accordance with neously, but must be bound by common membership in a
Webern’s remarks on aggregate completion: “In short, a rule given musical structure (for example a phrase, or a larger for-
of law emerged; until all twelve notes have occurred, none of mal section of a piece). The conjunction of chromatic com-
them may occur again. The most important thing is that plementation and a concurrent systematic process of chro-
each ‘run’ of twelve notes marked a division within the piece, matic saturation provides a model for the harmonic, formal
idea, or theme” (1963, 51).20 and voice-leading content of these pieces.
The principles of chromatic completion and gap-fill pro-
cedures in more recent music have been discussed at length 21 Straus introduces many concepts that are relevant to the current discus-
sion, such as the process of chromatic completion as an element with
cadential function and as a factor than can create connections across
sectional boundaries. He also provides embryonic examples of other
these collage works invokes explicitly, is another aspect that has earned procedures that involve chromatic completion and gap-fill, including
them the designation of postmodern. processes that structure the pitch organization on various levels (estab-
20 Various theorists have recently argued for the significance of the mo- lishing a sense of hierarchy), that provide large-scale connections be-
ment of presentation of the complete chromatic in classical works by tween formal sections, and that exploit the full aggregate.
Haydn, J.C. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and others (see Baker 1992; 22 This idea resonates with Roeder’s (2006) discussion on the importance
1993, Burnett and O’Donnell 1996 and Burnett 1998). of voice-leading parsimony in the music of Thomas Adès.
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62 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

The expressive potential of such a model is realized the practice of collage composers differs from Crawford’s
through the significant gap: in which the musical space is de- practice lies in that the boundaries of the operative tonal
marcated implying that it will eventually be saturated.23, 24 space are often clearly stated, and the space itself is subse-
This concept extends Meyer’s (2000) essentially melodic quently emphasized through various means. Rochberg’s
concept of gap-fill25: “The relationship is one in which the Music for the Magic Theater, for instance, incorporates a
incompleteness created by a gap implies subsequent com- multitude of twelve-tone lines throughout the work, while
pleteness through a fill; and, generally speaking, the larger Berio’s Sinfonia makes extensive use of the chromatic
the gap, the stronger the sense of incompleteness and the cluster as one of the work’s most important gestural com-
implication of fill” (163). According to Meyer, “the mind... ponents. Through these and other devices, the beginnings
expects structural gaps to be filled; but what constitutes such of all three pieces discussed in this article establish the
a gap depends upon what constitutes completeness within a filling in of chromatic space as a crucial “sound term” for
particular musical style system” (1956, 44).26 the piece.
To arrive at what constitutes completeness within this For instance, two of the most structurally important
musical style I will invoke Meyer’s concept of a “sound sections of the third movement of Berio’s piece,28 the intro-
term,” which he defines as “a sound or group of sounds duction and recapitulation, start with the quotation of con-
(whether simultaneous, successive, or both) that indicate, trary motion chromatic lines from Schoenberg’s Fünf
imply, or lead the listener to expect a more or less probably Orchesterstücke, Op. 16, No. 4 “Peripetie” (presented here in
consequent event” (1956, 45).27 One of the ways in which Example 1) and a chromatic cluster from G3 to E5 that ver-
ticalizes and saturates the space opened up by the first two
chords of the same piece (given in Example 2).29 Above this
23 Meyer (1973, 110) defines an implicative relationship as one “in which
an event—be it a motive, a phrase, and so on—is patterned in such a
cluster, there is another layer, which consists of notes from
way that reasonable inferences can be made both about its connections
with preceding events and about how the event itself might be contin-
ued and perhaps reach closure and stability.”
24 To emphasize the sense of process and the dramatic potentiality of the an implication can be significantly delayed. To circumvent this danger
explicit delineation of the space to be filled I have chosen the terms chro- he urges that it is necessary to stipulate “as precisely as possible what
matic saturation and significant gap (as opposed to the more neutral term the antecedent events are understood to imply. For the more precisely
gap-fill and the more goal-oriented term chromatic completion). the organization of each parameter in the consequent event is specified,
25 Significantly predating these authors, Riemann (1895, 18–19) explicitly the less likely that event matching those specifications is the result of
invokes the “filling up” of a gap as an important determinant of melodic statistical distribution” (117). Thus, the clarity of presentation of the
structure and harmonic progression. In the context of harmonic progres- sound terms employed in these pieces and the exact coincidence of the
sion, he especially recommends the use of steps of a minor second. realization of the implications with important structural moments in
26 Although Meyer’s concept of gap-fill does not invoke chromatic spaces, this piece are essential aspects of this analysis.
in the following discussion I will demonstrate how his concept can be 28 The ways that Rochberg and Zimmermann establish the “sound term”
extended beyond the tonal realm in a manner that is consistent with his will be discussed later.
methodology. 29 Berio clearly distinguishes the separate components of Chord A and B
27 Meyer (1973) asserts that “most of the time a pattern can be fully com- through reference to Schoenberg’s original instrumentation. As in
prehended and its internal relationships analyzed only by seeing what fol- Schoenberg’s original, Chord B is given to the brass and Chord A is
lows from it” (113). Meyer also points out the dangers of implied events given to the strings, while the percussion, strings and woodwinds chro-
resulting from statistical probability, given the fact that the realization of matically saturate the gamut.
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between modernism and postmodernism 63

Trumpet in C 1  8     

Trumpet in C 2  8
 A B C
Trumpet in C 3  8 

example 2. First three chords from Schoenberg’s
 Fünf Orchesterstücke, Op. 16, no. 4 “Peripetie”
Trombone 1 8
 speaking seem to be incomplete, particularly if the fragment
3        occurs in the earlier parts of the total work” (1956, 129).
Trombone 2 8
 Furthermore, “a shape or pattern will, other things being
equal, tend to be continued in its initial mode of operation”
Trombone 3 8 (1956, 92).31 The ensuing quotations, with their complemen-
 tary pitch contents and the continual reappearance of chro-
matic clusters continue the process of chromatic saturation.
example 1. Chromatic scales from Schoenberg, As we have seen, the filling in of chromatic spaces is op-
Fünf Orchesterstücke, Op. 16, no. 4, measure 2 erative in serial music, the music of Crawford and even some
tonal music. However, differing from tonal works and in
the C Major/minor scale (the tonality of the Mahler Scherzo) contrast to Crawford’s music, where chromatic completion
and extends to the pitch E7 (Example 3). The beginning of results from a continuous melodic process, the element of
the third movement of Sinfonia thus establishes the system- tonal juxtaposition is of paramount importance to the
atic filling in of chromatic pitch space as an axiomatic sound process of chromatic saturation in these collage works. The
term (both through the use of chromatic scales and chro- complementary pitch/pitch-class relationships between the
matic clusters).30 quoted passages create tonal contrasts that call into question
Meyer states that “the existence of both similarity and dif- the structure of the tonal space which will be employed in
ference between musical events is a necessary condition for the work, thus emphasizing the significance of the process
patterning of any sort” (1973, 26). The juxtaposition of a clus- and the moment of its saturation. Through this process, the
ter and a more open texture at the beginning of the piece pre- presentation of the complete chromatic in these works has a
sents an incomplete pattern which establishes a structural gap.
Meyer also states: “Once a sound term has been established as 31 Elsewhere he states: “The law of good continuation (which he applies
a coherent, though not necessarily as a complete or closed mainly to melodic processes) is relevant and applicable to other musical
unit, then part of the series taken by itself will, generally process as well—e.g., harmony, instrumentation, texture, form and so
forth. Any aspect of the musical progress governed by probability rela-
tionships, whether these relationships are products of learning or the
30 As will be discussed later, these pieces also invoke this sound term by result of relationships created within the context of the particular work,
referring and responding to the normative structures of modernism. establishes preferred modes of continuation” (125).
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64 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

Significant Gap from E5 to E7
 Represents a chromatic cluster 
 within those boundary pitches 

example 3. Significant gap from E5 to E 7 through reduction of the opening sonority in the third movement of Berio, Sinfonia

completely different effect than it has in a piece where the voice-leading on a local level. Zimmermann’s Musique will
chromatic material is fundamentally integrated into the demonstrate how the expressive potentiality of the signifi-
main tonal fabric.32 Thus, the compelling expressive strength cant gap can be exploited.
of the structural gaps is unique to this repertoire. As Meyer
states: “A structural gap, then, creates a tendency toward ‘fill- berio, sinfonia
ing in.’ And if this tendency is delayed, if the completion of
the pattern is blocked, affect or the objectification on mean- The techniques of chromatic saturation are adapted to
ing will probably follow” (1956, 134). Much of the expressive pitch space and include every pitch of the composition in the
content of Sinfonia, for example, results from the incorpora- third movement of Berio’s Sinfonia, which, as Peter
tion of contrasting quotations which invoke different tonal Burkholder tells us, is considered by many the prototype of a
universes and the occasional reemergence of Mahler’s musical collage (New Grove Dictionary of Music and
Scherzo, events that interrupt the process of gap-fill.33 Musicians, 2nd ed, s.v., “Borrowing”). This piece is loosely
The process of chromatic saturation in these pieces is modeled on Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. The explicit corre-
non-serial and takes different forms along a continuum of spondences between the third movements of both pieces are
complexity. The discussion of the movement from Berio’s striking.34 The outer form of the third movement of Sinfonia
Sinfonia will demonstrate how the technique can operate in for the most part conforms to the structure of Mahler’s
pitch space and serve to articulate large-scale formal structure.
The discussion of the other pieces will show that the tech- 34 However, it is possible to extend the concept of modeling beyond the
nique is more widely applicable. Rochberg’s Music for the third movement. Both pieces are in five movements and borrow from
Magic Theater will illustrate how the same technique functions numerous musical sources. Furthermore, there are explicit connections
in pitch-class space and how significant gaps can define between the corresponding movements. For instance, the fourth move-
ment of Sinfonia begins with an overt reference to the fourth movement
“Urlicht” of Mahler’s Symphony. The four voices state the two opening
32 Baker (1993) states: “Chromaticism may serve to enrich, expand, sur- pitches of the solo alto line in the same register. Furthermore, the con-
prise, and confuse, but ultimately, as both Schenker and Schoenberg ceptual organization of the fifth movements of both pieces is closely
agreed, its purpose is to confirm the tonic” (259). related: both pieces contain extended quotations from the previous
33 Meyer (1973) writes: “Only when a pattern proves to be problematic do movements, a feature that Berio develops within his collage aesthetic to
we tend to become consciously aware that it is implicative” (114). incorporate simultaneous layering of previously presented material.
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between modernism and postmodernism 65

Scherzo. The latter is utilized like a cantus firmus throughout (rehearsal C14, measure 56), to “Daphne et Chloe” under-
most of the piece, and provides the underlying rhythmic and neath the quotation of Daphnis et Chloe (rehearsal D23, mea-
durational framework for nearly all of the remainder, even in sure 88) and many other instances. However, the text ranges
the absence of actual thematic presence. Quotations are gen- the gamut from surface irony to philosophical questions. The
erally layered over the Scherzo so that they coincide with or climax of the piece is introduced by a text by Berio that ques-
even emphasize important subdivisions. Thematic reference tions the very significance of the work of art: “And when they
to the Scherzo at the points of subdivision, through a resur- ask, why all this, it is not easy to find an answer. For when we
facing of the dominant thematic material (the reprise), is find ourselves, face to face, here, and they remind us that all
prevalent. Thus, the apparent discontinuity of the surface this can’t stop the wars, can’t make the young older or lower
contrasts of the piece is somewhat abated by the clarity of the price of bread . . .” (Berio 1968, Home Forum Page). In
the underlying ABACABCA formal structure of the Scherzo. fact, one of the most important roles of the voices is how they
Within this framework, however, the thematic material of comment on the most important structural idiosyncrasies of
the Scherzo is fragmented so that it sometimes disappears al- the piece. In this way, the voices explicitly refer to processes
together from the texture, while at other times it is juxtaposed intrinsic to the act of composition.
with other fragments. On top of this, commentary from the Though the present discussion will not attempt to deal
composer is added, in the shape of added layers, clusters, comprehensively with the text, it will refer to ways in which it
chromatic lines, distortions of the thematic material, numer- is intimately linked to both the structural and dramatic content
ous fragmentary and stylistically distinct quotations from the of the piece. One of the most significant instances of textual re-
repertoire, and even occasional deviations from the dominant currences in the piece is that of the vocalists’ fragments “Where
temporal framework (especially through two large insertions now?” “When now?” and “Keep Going” which are overwhelm-
during the course of the piece). The commentary tends to pe- ingly associated with sectional divisions and especially the im-
riodically obliterate the tonal language of the Scherzo and the pending reprise of the initial scherzo material and the simulta-
sense of process implicit in its thematic organization on a neous resurfacing of Mahler’s Scherzo.35 In the passage that
foreground and middleground level.
The voices participate in this process by creating varying 35 “Keep Going” appears for the first time in the middle of the first state-
degrees of distance from the musical surface through an array ment of the initial theme (measure 17), where it signals the impending
of techniques that range from yelling to singing, with many continuation of the phrase. It appears later in the piece overwhelmingly
related to the reintroduction of the Scherzo material. For instance, it in-
intermediate stages, including the rendition of fragments of
troduces the second section of the initial scherzo (W′, rehearsal C18
solfége. Furthermore, they explore the gamut of distance be- and C21, measures 60 and 63), the impending return of the initial
tween composer, performer, audience, and philosophical theme in that section (rehearsal D22, measure 87), the scherzo reprise
commentary in a theatrical fashion, alternately being an inte- after Trio I (rehearsal G13, measure 143), Trio II (rehearsal R22, mea-
gral part of and commenting off-handedly on the piece. This sure 368), and at the end (rehearsal EE1, measure 550). The other three
commentary often deals with surface details, such as words or occurrences refer to impending or aborted attempts to return to
titles that clarify the particular quotation that is being heard Mahler’s thematic material: after the theme that acts as an interruption
in the initial scherzo (rehearsal D12, measure 77), at the beginning of
at that time. For example, the reference to “chamber music”
Trio I (rehearsal E7, measure 102) where the soprano attempts but is
during the quotation of Hindemith’s Kammermusik (rehearsal unable to reestablish Mahler’s text) and to introduce the transition to
A14, measure 23), to a “violin concerto” (being played in the Trio II (rehearsal J4, measure 199), cementing the struggle between
other room) during the quotation from Berg’s Violin Concerto Mahler and Stravinsky that occurs at that point.
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66 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

corresponds to the second scherzo reprise (rehearsal S, mea- Mahler’s Scherzo) creates pitch associations that encompass
sure 375), this association is exploited in an extremely com- and interact with the dimly perceived tonal vestiges of
pelling fashion, which demonstrates the integral role of the Mahler’s piece. As a result, they create a formal structure of
text to the structure and dramatic content of the piece. their own, which subsumes the structure of the Scherzo. The
Having established a pattern of correspondence between the relationship between these disparate elements thus consti-
emergence of Mahler’s thematic material and the occurrence tutes yet another layer of analysis, that of “inner form,” which
of the scherzo reprise, Berio breaks with both expectations is of primary concern in this analysis.
for a highly effective dramatic effect. During the retransition The conflict between these two formal aspects is never re-
that precedes the passage, the reintroduction of the scherzo solved in this piece. Instead it is an integral aspect of its ex-
reprise is prepared through the gradual reemergence of mater- pressive power. The different quotations in Berio’s piece
ial from the Scherzo (beginning at rehearsal R11, measure 358, throw the tonal space of the piece into doubt, thus creating
but especially after rehearsal R23, measure 369), by means of ambiguity. Of course, “the longer doubt and uncertainty per-
the descending chromatic motive that introduces the scherzo sist, the greater the feeling of suspense will tend to be. The
reprise (rehearsal R28, measure 374) and the simultaneous ap- stimulus situation creating doubt and uncertainty must, of
pearance of the text so frequently associated with the reestab- course, be progressively intensified if suspense is to be main-
lishment of Mahler’s text (“Keep Going,” rehearsal R22, mea- tained or increased” (Meyer 1956, 28). The Mahler Scherzo
sure 368). However, Berio obliterates the scherzo reprise with a serves such a role. It periodically emerges and temporarily
wrenching quotation from the drowning scene in Wozzeck, simulates resolution of the tonal conflicts established by the
which carries the tension build-up far beyond its original piece. However, this feeling of resolution is subverted every
bounds. The effectiveness of this moment lies in the listener’s time as the Scherzo disappears from the musical surface,
expectation of a decrease in tension (through the reestablish- yielding to more tonal contrasts which heighten expression
ment of the Scherzo) and the substitution for a quotation that as they urge towards resolution.
not only maintains, but also increases the tension gradually The apparently disparate musical layers are related in a
and steadily to a level almost beyond endurance. A literal bat- variety of ways, including pitch relations of exclusion (which
tle between Berg and Mahler ensues, represented by the voices become a paradoxical source of unity through the concept of
urging alternately to “Stop” and “Keep Going.” chromatic saturation in pitch space).36 Excerpts interact with
The reliance on Mahler’s Scherzo therefore constitutes one another to saturate specific pitch-space chromatic
only one layer in the analysis: the “outer form” of the piece. gamuts. This relationship is significant because for the most
In spite of the numerous ways in which Berio emphasizes part the quotations are presented unaltered and untrans-
the characteristics of Mahler’s piece, there are also important posed. In this view, the pitch content of a given quotation,
structural moments unrelated to the Scherzo. The most and the manner in which it complements the chromatic con-
important example on the large-scale level is the inserted re- tent of the excerpts surrounding it, determine the exact
capitulation immediately preceding the climax of the move-
ment, a move that has no basis in Mahler. This divergence
36 Significantly, the concept of chromatic saturation is related to one of
from Mahler’s scheme is extremely significant to the struc- the most characteristic techniques of the musical text on which the
ture of the piece, as will be discussed below. movement is primarily based. Chromatic proliferation constitutes an
On a localized level, the interplay of disparate elements, essential feature of Mahler’s developmental and variation techniques in
musical languages, and musical styles (including that of the figuration of the Scherzo.
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between modernism and postmodernism 67

choice of the quotation to be used and its placement at any nearly every section there are pitches that do not constitute
point throughout the movement. This structural model thus part of the foreground saturated gamut, these pitches be-
offers an explanation for the choice of quoting a particular come integral to gamuts at higher structural levels.
excerpt from a composition.37 Example 6 demonstrates the process of chromatic sat-
Examples 4 and 5 demonstrate how chromatic comple- uration of the Trio I excerpt that contains the material of
mentation works on a foreground level. Example 4 presents Example 4, subdivided into its initial two subsections. The
two excerpts that are juxtaposed in Berio’s piece. The circled initial subsection (rehearsal E6–E15, measures 101–10) pre-
pitches in the oboe and flute are abstracted in Example 5 in sents a fully saturated gamut from E3 to C6. Significantly,
order to explain how the quotation from Berlioz’s Symphonie the F3 that is provided by the misquotation of Mahler at re-
Fantastique at rehearsal E12–E13 (measures 107–08), provides hearsal E9 (measure 104) provides the only appearance of
two previously unheard pitches, A5 and B5, which registrally that pitch in this section, suggesting that Berio uses distor-
connect the space opened up by the preceding excerpt from tions of the original material not only to signal the degree of
Debussy’s La Mer.38 Through the saturation of a given distance from it at the given moment, but also to adapt it to
gamut, each section of music is governed by a sense of struc- his structural scheme. The pitches outside of the chromati-
tural completion, the weight of which coincides with the cally saturated gamut in the lower register outline the pitch
functional importance of its formal boundaries. Although in boundaries of the middleground structure (D2) and the
background structure (E1) respectively, while the gap created
by the missing C6 in the upper register signals that the sec-
37 As I stated earlier, other authors, such as Osmond-Smith, have offered tion is not yet completed.39
compelling explanations as to why a specific piece is referred to at any
The following subsection complements this scheme in
given time in the composition. These explanations are based on the ref-
erential connotations obtained by quoting from a specific piece at any
significant ways. The chromatic scales that appear within the
given time, and how they relate to the text or dramatic content of the second subsection (rehearsal E15–E25, measures 110–20)
piece. However, they often fail to identify why a specific excerpt from a both emphasize the gamut of the initial subsection by reiter-
given piece is chosen as opposed to any other. ating the pitches E3 and C6 (Example 7), and saturate the
38 The columns in Example 5 represent measure numbers. The rows in middleground gamut it outlines in the lower register (down
the example represent pitches laid out chromatically in pitch-space, to the pitch D2). Simultaneously, quotations from Ravel’s La
with the lower pitches appearing at the bottom and increasing by a
Valse (No. 19) provide the C6, missing in the first subsection,
semitone with each successive row. The numbering system that I have
used is that in which C4 represents middle C; the shaded areas repre-
and outline a middleground upper boundary (a significant
sent the measure where a specific pitch first appears in the excerpt and gap) to the pitch A6. The eventual saturation of the gamut
the patterns indicate which quotation provides the particular pitch. The
layout of Example 5 is similar to the charts that Bernard employs to
graph his operations in pitch space (see Bernard 1981; 1986 and 1987). 39 The importance of outer boundaries, which are stressed in my analysis
It is also similar in some ways to Clendinning’s Range Graph (see and which represent the lowest and highest points attained in the
Clendinning, 1995, 236). The difference between my example and course of particular passage are essential aspects of Bernard’s approach
Clendinning’s graph is that while her graph includes only pitches actu- to the music of Varèse; many of his structures depend upon “total space
ally sounding at any given time, my graph focuses on the first appear- occupied over a period of several measures” (Bernard 1981, 10).
ance of a particular pitch and then graphs that pitch as something that Clendinning (1995, 252) also remarks on the importance of outer
remains in effect conceptually throughout the rest of the section, even if registral boundaries that are conceptualized as operating over a whole
it is not actually sounding. section of music in her analysis of Lontano.
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68 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

Debussy, La Mer II, 19 Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique II, m. 122

104 3      
Flute 1 & 2  8
Oboe  8 
English Horn
Clarinet 1 & 2  8        
        quasi niente

Violin I


Violin II

Viola  8   
 alla punta 
Cello 8       

3 pizz.        
Double Bass 8 

example 4. Berio, Sinfonia, III, r. E9–E15 (measures 104–10) excerpt, in concert pitch. Copyright ©1968
by Universal Edition A.G., Vienna. © renewed. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of European
American Music Distributors LLC, sole U.S. and Canadian agent for Universal Edition.
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between modernism and postmodernism 69

104 105 106 107 108

A5 Debussy La Mer II, no. 19
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique II, m. 122

example 5. Chromatic complementation in the oboe and flute lines, r. E9–E13 (measures 104–8)

up to this new upper boundary pitch provides structural coherence in terms of pitch content and elucidates the struc-
completion to the whole section that contains this excerpt tural import of the different sections of the movement.
and introduces the first scherzo reprise. Although local sec- The interaction between the pitch structures and the for-
tions of music saturate gamuts, the combination of struc- mal organization of the third movement of Sinfonia on a
turally linked local sections is required to achieve the satura- large scale demonstrates both the depth of the formal re-
tion of a middleground significant gamut. Thus, rarely does a liance on Mahler’s Scherzo and the importance of the in-
local section contain a chromatic gamut equal to that of the serted recapitulation, which constitutes the major formal
section as a whole. deviation from it. The graph in Example 8 summarizes the
Through the significant gap, the pitch organization structures formed by chromatic saturation and the significant
reaches a high level of sophistication. The expectations of gap and their function on three different structural levels.40
completion achieved through the presentation of a specific Example 9 provides a key to the notation in Example 8. The
pitch or the saturation of a given gamut permit the concep- ABACABCA formal structure of Mahler’s Scherzo and the
tualization of distinct structural levels. These structural levels inserted recapitulation constitute the main subsections in the
are based on a hierarchical system intimately connected to large-scale pitch organization of the movement. The signifi-
pitch space and range. The premise is that smaller saturated cant gaps and chromatic gamuts within these sections consti-
gamuts tend to organize foreground events while larger tute pitch relationships that substitute for the obliterated and
gamuts constitute background structures. The dramatic role transcended tonal language of Mahler’s Scherzo in creating in-
of notes in both registral extremes, which will be discussed in nate links that give depth as they interact with the superficial
what follows, supports this conceptualization by positing that structures created by thematic recurrence. Simultaneously, the
significant gaps which extend into registral extremes have
more dramatic potentiality, and thus more of a structural
weight when they are filled, than gaps within the middle 40 Each level emphasizes the operative boundary notes of progressively
range. The system offers an explanation for large-scale larger sections of music.
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70 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120
A6 C4
G6 C4
G6 B3
6 B3
F6 A3
E6 A 3
D 6 G3
D6 F3 A
C6 F3
C6 E3
B5 E3
5 D3
A5 D 3
G5 C3
G5 B2
5 B 2
F5 A2
E5 A2
D 5
D5 G 2
C5 F2
C5 E2
B4 E2
4 D2
A4 D 2
G 4
G4 B1
4 B1
F4 A1
E4 :
D 4 F1
D4 E1

Mahler's Scherzo Debussy, La Mer II, no. 19

Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique II, m. 122 A Altered Mahler quotation

Ravel La Valse, no. 18, m. 7

Ravel La Valse, no. 18, m. 10

Debussy, La Mer II, no. 24 m. 2 Chromatic Lines in Keyboard

example 6. Chromatic Saturation of Trio I excerpt, r. E6–E25 (measures 101–20)

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between modernism and postmodernism 71





E. Harpsichord




E. Harp. 

example 7. Berio Sinfonia, III, r. E18–E24 (measures 113–119); range E2–C6 with gaps. Copyright ©1968
by Universal Edition A.G., Vienna. © renewed. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of European
American Music Distributors LLC, sole U.S. and Canadian agent for Universal Edition.

pitch structure of the piece emphasizes the dramatic outlines culminating with the presentation of E7 as the background
of its large-scale directed tension spans through chromatic upper boundary in the recapitulation of the movement, com-
expansion of the boundaries. pletes the process of saturation.
Formally, the background graph (extracted as Example 10), The pitch E7 appears briefly during Trio I (B) in a chro-
illustrates how, in this view, the complete saturation of the sig- matic scale that saturates the background gamut to the
nificant gap from E7 to A7 constitutes a dominant structure boundary pitch A7. Similarly, it constitutes part of a chro-
of the piece. The systematic presentation of each of the en- matic scale in the second scherzo reprise, which saturates the
compassed pitches as background upper boundary notes, gamut to the boundary pitch F 7. Not until the reprise of
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72 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

Intro. A B A trans. C
Initial Scherzo Trio I 1st Scherzo Reprise Trio II
w w' x z

(  ) ( )  

        ()     ()   ( )            ( )
   ()   ( ) 


I 1 2 11 19   230 255
 33 45 57 58 62 74 98 101 104 140 146 181 188 210
228 266 308 342
    ((  ))          
( ) 

  (    )    

( ) (  ) 


(  )( )


     (    )        


( )  


 (   )(  )

example 8. Structures formed by chromatic saturation and the significant gap in the third movement of Berio’s Sinfonia
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between modernism and postmodernism 73

trans. A B C RECAPITULATION C (cont.) A

2nd Scherzo Reprise Trio II Reprise Final
Trio I x CLIMAX Reprise

     (  )     (  ) 
   (( ))( )    

395  568
I 357 375 413 423 
457 488 496 502 559 575

   (  )   
     (   ) 

( ) 






example 8. [continued ]
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74 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

a) b)
 Represents a space that is staurated by

 Represents a simultaneously
all pitches within a section. The space is  sounding chromatic cluster
outlined by the boundary pitches D3

 from G3 to E5.
 and B5.  

c) d)
Moment when gap is filled Missing pitch
(  ) 
Missing pitch appears
Significant Gap

Chromatic Extension of the boundary notes
A  A 


example 9. Key to the notation in Example 8

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between modernism and postmodernism 75


   ( (   ))    

m. 1 101 146 210 375 423 457 488 568
Trio I 1st Scherzo Reprise Trio II 2nd Scherzo Reprise Trio I Reprise Trio II Reprise Recapitulation Final Scherzo Reprise

example 10. Large-scale upper register significant gap (level III of Example 8)

Trio II, where it contributes to saturate the gamut to the first restates and subsequently fills the significant gap that
upper-boundary pitch F7, does the pitch E7 appear indepen- was presented at its beginning.42
dently of a chromatic scale. By this time, its appearance con- Foreground and middleground details highlight the E to
firms the existence of large-scale scheme through which the 
A gap. For instance, throughout the first section of the move-
gap from E7 to A7 (first extended by a semitone to A7), is ment, which corresponds to the introduction and the initial
gradually and systematically filled in by successive chromatic presentation of the scherzo (A), the gap from E7 to A7 is
pitches appearing as background upper boundaries (G7 from filled with the exception of the pitch E7. Thus, the significance
the first scherzo reprise through Trio II, F7 during the second of the appearance of this pitch and the concurrent saturation
scherzo reprise, and F7 during the reprise of Trio I and Trio of the initial gap are established and replicated on a fore-
II). This scheme reaches its culmination in the recapitulation. ground level. Throughout this section, the registral and pitch
At this point, the gap from E7 to A7 of the beginning is re- specific structural gaps are emphasized by textural and coloris-
stated, but is immediately followed by the pitch E7. This tic treatment. The A7 initially appears as a sustained harmonic
pitch thus takes up its post as the background upper bound- that is separated in color and texture from the main body of
ary through a literal semitonal extension of the previously the piece. Beginning with the music at rehearsal A20–A24
operative E7 and the significant gap from E7 to A7 is finally (measures 27-31), the sonority expands chromatically into a
saturated on a large scale.41 harmonic cluster that progressively absorbs the pitches G7,
Meyer says that “a feeling of harmonic completeness G7 and F7. Thus, the gap is further emphasized by color and
arises when the music returns to the harmonic base from texture considerations. When the gap is finally filled later in
which it began or moves to one which was in some way the piece, these textural distinctions disappear as well.
implicit in the opening materials” (1956, 150). The recapitu- The background lower boundary notes also emphasize
lation of this piece achieves both levels of completeness as it the essential structural function of the recapitulation. In the
opening section of the movement, a gap from F1 to C1 is set

41 Significantly, as can be seen in Example 11, there is a parallel sym- 42 “The law of return appears to operate most effectively where the given
metrical process through which the middleground boundary notes sound term is left incomplete. Since the sound term is a Gestalt which sets
rise chromatically from C7, C7, D7 and finally reach the E7 of the re- up forces toward a particular kind of closure, the only way it can be closed
capitulation. is by repeating it with a new and more final ending” (Meyer 1956, 153).
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76 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

  ( (  )) 

m. 1 101 146 210 375 423 457 488 568
Initial Trio I 1st Scherzo Reprise Trio II 2nd Scherzo Reprise Trio I Reprise Trio II Reprise Recapitulation Final Scherzo Reprise

 (   )(  )  

example 11. Large-scale significant gaps, upper and lower registers, with parallel motion from the middleground upper boundary pitches

up. This gap remains unsaturated until the transition to the scherzo is subsumed by a quotation from Wozzeck, as was dis-
second scherzo reprise (which is an important structural cussed above. In the recapitulation, this structural process is
boundary in Mahler’s Scherzo, signaling the moment when presented in a condensed form by an F1 to C1 chromatic mo-
all the main components of the movement have been pre- tion in the bass (Example 12), which constitutes an important
sented). The gap is finally filled in by the presentation of the gesture that connects the recapitulation to the reestablishment
pitches D1 and E1 (Example 11) in the four measures that of Mahler for the climax of the piece and the reestablishment
precede this important juncture,43 where the reprise of the of C1 as the principal lower boundary note.

43 The lower boundary pitch of a given gamut is often reinforced through  3

its appearance as a bass note at the distance of an octave. For instance, in Cello
the initial section of the piece (Section A), the background lower bound- 
ary note C1 is reinforced through the foreground lower boundary note 
C4, and the implication of middle-ground lower boundary pitches C3 3    
and C2, by chromatically dense spaces above them. Similarly, large-scale Double Bass   8      
and middleground upper boundary notes are often separated by an oc- 
Sounds an octave
lower than written 
tave from the foreground sectional gamuts that they contain. For ex-
ample, throughout the first subsection of the initial scherzo (W), the
upper boundary notes of the clusters are E6, an octave below the example 12. Gesture that connects the recapitulation with
middle-ground upper boundary pitch E7. Likewise, the second section of the reestablishment of Mahler for the climax of the piece,
this initial scherzo has an upper boundary pitch A6, an octave below the r. AA13–BB1 (measures 500–2). Condensed filling in of the
background upper boundary pitch A7. Similarly, the first scherzo reprise
Lower Register Significant Gap from F 1 to C1. Copyright
presents a foreground upper boundary pitch G6, which is an octave
below the background upper boundary pitch, G7. Bernard (1987, 65;
©1968 by Universal Edition A.G., Vienna. © renewed. All
1994, 234) and Clendinning (1995, 240–41) discuss the similar role of Rights Reserved. Used by permission of European American
octave doublings in the music of Varèse and Ligeti, within the context of Music Distributors LLC, sole U.S. and Canadian agent
analytical models that are based otherwise based on pitch space. for Universal Edition.
MTS3101_03 4/16/09 6:46 PM Page 77

between modernism and postmodernism 77

Immediately following the recapitulation (rehearsal function. The range from B0 to B7 constitutes the total chro-
AA1–AA14, measures 488–501), the harmonic rhythm of matically saturated gamut for the piece, and this gamut would
the movement slows to an unprecedented degree as the provide the ultimate reduction of the background structure of
process of saturation of a gamut extends over larger portions the piece. Since these chromatic extensions of the background
of music. As in other sections of the piece, the text com- gamut have no middleground function, I shall examine their
ments on both the structural and dramatic content of the significance to the background structure of the piece.
piece in a very explicit way. The increasing disintegration of Significantly, the appearances of these background chro-
the texture, which leads to the final dissolution of the mo- matic extensions of the gamut correlate to important goals in
mentum, is accompanied by the text “He is barely moving, the directed motion and spikes in the dramatic contours of
now, almost still” (rehearsal EE7, measure 556). The sense the piece. The gradual build-up of tension that occurs from
of completion achieved by the recapitulation is illustrated in the beginning of the piece through the initial appearance of
the timing of the saturation of its gamut. The outlined C1- Trio II is accompanied by the chromatic extension of the
E7 gamut is not completely saturated until the final scherzo background upper-boundary note from A7 to A7. The tem-
reprise. Thus, the recapitulation provides large-scale closure porary dissolution of built-up tension during the course of
to the piece as it fulfills the structural expectations set up by Trio II, which leads the piece to its nadir point, is accompa-
the pitch structure of the initial sections, while it introduces nied by a large insertion of material and the chromatic exten-
boundary pitches of a gamut whose gradual saturation coin- sion of the lower-boundary pitches by two semitones to the
cides with the ending.44 In this way, the recapitulation clari- pitch low point of the piece.45 The text—“if this noise would
fies and resolves the large-scale structural implications of stop there’d be nothing more to say . . . the show is over; all is
the piece in a manner that is analogous to processes that over, but where then is the hand, the helping hand . . . it’s a long
occur in tonal music. The realization, during the recapitula- time coming”—makes explicit reference to the dramatic
tion, of implications set up at the opening of the piece function of the music at that point. Finally, in a move that in-
(often reiterated in fact by the restatement of the material creases the significance of these chromatic extensions, imme-
from the opening) is an important device (Meyer 1973, diately following the structural completion achieved by the
143–44). recapitulation in Berio’s piece, the climax is reached through a
Each of the structural background boundary notes A7 and quotation of Mahler’s climax, which extends the upper-
C1 is expanded by chromatic motion of two semitones in the boundary note for a final time from A7 to B7, the highpoint
corresponding direction during the course of the piece. The of the piece. Evidently, the dramatic contour of the piece is
pitches B0 and B0 extend the gamut of the piece as a whole in emphasized by its pitch structure through the concept of
the lower direction as do the pitches A7 and B7 in the upper chromatic extension.
direction. With the exception of the pitch A7, none of these The most striking element of the movement’s pitch orga-
pitches function as middleground or background boundary nization involves the distinct structural levels possible to
notes. Thus, it is only by viewing the piece as a whole that achieve by means of the significant gap. Thus, though on a
they fit into the pitch structure of the piece and achieve their
45 The B0 appears in the contrabassoon as part of the cluster (rehearsal
44 Meyer’s apt discussion of how “conjunct and disjunct patternings, and M15, measure 269). The B0 appears in the same instrument at the
their interactions, generate implicative relationships on different hierar- local climax created by the Ravel La Valse quotation (rehearsal O9,
chic levels” (1973, 131) supports this argument. measure 303).
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78 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

Intro A
Initial Scherzo
w w'
E C (missing pitch)

Significant Gap
 (  ) * Arrival of Missing Pitch C7


m. 1 11 19 31 33 42 43 57 58 62
Themes a a b a

( ) (  ) 




    ( ())
  (    )    

example 13. Middleground significant gap: Initial section of the opening scherzo

background level the structural pitch organization of the (Example 3). The final saturation of the gap from E5 to E7,
movement is defined by the gap from E7 to A7 and the ex- with the presentation of the pitch C7 (in a quotation in the
pectation of the saturation of that gap through the presenta- solo violin from Berg’s Violin Concerto at rehearsal C15
tion of the pitch E7, as described above, the subsections within (measure 57), coincides with the high point that prepares the
this music also demonstrate completely organized pitch struc- ending of the first half of Section A of the Scherzo (Example
tures that compellingly illustrate the correlation between 13; Example 14 provides the Berg excerpt). The manner in
structural completeness and the saturation of a significant gap. which the excerpt arpeggiates up to the pitch C7, thus subtly
For instance, as I discussed with reference to Examples reaching into the upper register as the section ends, makes the
1–3, the first subsection of the initial scherzo (W, measures choice of this excerpt particularly satisfying to the listener. The
1–61) is governed by a significant gap in the higher register saturation of the initial significant gap of the movement coin-
that is presented in the first chord of the movement cides with the end of the first major subsection. The E7 is the
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between modernism and postmodernism 79

* Pitch C7
55 ! ! ! !  !    

Solo Violin

! ! !

example 14. Sinfonia, III, (measures 55–58). Quotation from Berg’s Violin Concerto (I, measure 169). Copyright ©1968
by Universal Edition A.G., Vienna. © renewed. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of European American
Music Distributors LLC, sole U.S. and Canadian agent for Universal Edition.

upper boundary note of a significant gap operative in the demonstrates the essential technical role of a particular ex-
middleground structure. cerpt and its placement within Sinfonia.
The graph in Example 8 suggests a correspondence be- The compelling structural power of this system is demon-
tween the saturation of a significant gap and important strated by the existence of sections where more than two lev-
structural boundaries that continues throughout the move- els of structure occur simultaneously. The most important of
ment. As in the example discussed above, it is often the case these sections is the passage starting at rehearsal I7 (measure
that the particular missing pitch is presented by a quotation 188) that achieves the transition between the first scherzo
that is inserted towards the end of the section.46 The correla- reprise and the second trio. True to its nature as a transition,
tion between structural completeness and final saturation of the passage both literally provides structural completion to
a gap through the presentation of a specific pitch thus the previous section while it sustains a significant gap that is
to be saturated in the next section.
As the graph in Example 15 (which is extracted from
46 Other examples abound; for instance, in the second part of Section A (W′, Example 8) shows, the first scherzo reprise (starting at re-
rehearsal C20–E5, measures 62–100), the Ravel La Valse quotations and hearsal G16, measure 146) presents three different boundary
Mahler Scherzo material open up a gap to A6, which is filled by the pre-
notes, G6, C7 and G7. These boundary notes are forcefully
sentation of F6 within the quotation from Debussy La Mer at rehearsal
E2 (measure 98) in the last few measures of the section. Similarly, the
stated and emphasized by the chords that end the scherzo
beginning of the piece can be even further divided through the con- reprise (quoted from Stravinsky’s Le Sacre). The most local
cept of the significant gap. At rehearsal B5 (measure 37), the gap, which achieves completion in the transitional section
Hindemith excerpts expand the cluster that appears at B (measure 33) that follows, is the gap up to G6. The saturation of this gap is
in the upper direction. Except for the C7, they eventually saturate the achieved by the presentation of the pitches that are missing
space up to the D a major seventh above the previous limit (D7, see from the scherzo reprise, B5 and F6, as the last pitches in the
the foreground graph of Example 23). Thereby, the upper register
transitional section; thus, the transition can be seen as a struc-
space opened up by the first sonority of the piece is for the first time
partially subjected to chromatic saturation. The reference to and par-
tural extension of the scherzo reprise, which culminates when
tial saturation of the initial gamut coincides with the end of the repeti- the gamut to the upper boundary of G6 is finally filled.
tion of theme a in the Mahler Scherzo and introduces the section of Above it, the middleground gap up to C7 is initially re-
contrasting material. ferred to in the last chords of the scherzo reprise. This C7 is
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80 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

(  ) 
  ( ) 

m. 146 188 210 308 342
A (Scherzo Reprise) Transition C (Trio II)

example 15. Middleground upper register significant gap: First scherzo reprise and transition

emphasized as a sustained note (which is quoted from Lutos awski48 and Ligeti,49 among others. The previous dis-
Mahler’s Scherzo) throughout the transitional section that cussion implies that the emphasis on pitch space, as opposed
follows. The gap it outlines is literally and immediately filled to pitch-class space relationships is a crucial characteristic of
when it becomes the upper boundary of the chromatic clus- much twentieth century music, and especially of music that
ter that occurs at the beginning of the second trio. The final
gap presented in this first scherzo reprise is that up to the
pitch G7, which constitutes the background upper boundary that instead of employing the operations of projection, rotation, expan-
for this whole section through the second scherzo reprise. sion and contraction (see Bernard 1986, 218), which take symmetry as
Thus, the chromatic saturation of a given gamut provides one of their fundamental characteristics, it emphasizes the full satura-
the motivation behind the combination of excerpts that do not tion of the pitch space as a fundamental aspect of structure.
otherwise relate in an obvious way through motivic or pitch 48 Stucky 1981 and Rae 1999 have discussed how the completion of chro-
similarities. The gamuts and boundary notes of these chords in matic aggregates disposed in pitch-space assumes an important struc-
tural role in Lutos awski’s late period (Stucky 1981, 114). These aggre-
adjacent sections interact to create important structural rela-
gates create harmonic fields that articulate the formal structure through
tionships that emphasize the formal and dramatic structure of contrast (see for instance the discussion of harmonic structure in Jeux
the piece. Because of the emphasis placed on pitch-space, the vénitiens by Stucky (1981, 134–41) and Rae (1999, 79–84). In other
methodology employed in this analysis relates in interesting cases the full presentation of the aggregate can serve as a climactic goal
ways to analyses that have dealt with other works that em- point, constituting the culminating point of a process (Stucky 1981, 114,
ploy pitch space as opposed to pitch-class space systemati- 119). Furthermore, these aggregates can be disposed as chromatic clus-
cally to delineate structure. These include works by Varèse47, ters that are gradually filled over a section of music in ways that are remi-
niscent of those discussed in the current study (Stucky 1981, 121–22).
Thus, both Lutos awski’s music and Berio’s these processes the involve
47 As is evident from previous references, many of the analytical premises pitch-space relationships are capable of creating large-scale relationships.
of the current approach overlap with those that Bernard has developed 49 Ligeti himself has commented on the importance of pitch space in his
to approach the music of Varèse (1981; 1986 and 1987). The emphasis output: “It is no longer primarily the intervals that constitute the struc-
on pitch space, as opposed to pitch-class space results in the following ture but relationships of density, distribution of registers and various
assumption: “If the vertical dimension is to serve as the primary scale of displacements in the building up and breaking down of the vertical
reference, then the partitioning of vertically defined space will take on complexes” (Ligeti 1958, 5–6, quoted in Bernard 1987, 208). Bernard
crucial significance” (Bernard 1981, 3). Moreover, “criteria of absolute notes the importance of “volumes of sound of varying density according
size and distance, in the vertical sense, must form the basis of structure” to schemes based on vertical span and symmetrical considerations”
(Bernard 1981, 4). My approach distinguishes itself from Bernard’s in (Bernard 1987b, 220) in Ligeti’s output from 1965 to 1970. He also
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between modernism and postmodernism 81

was composed after the late 1950s, an idea that will be taken general effect of discontinuity and fragmentation results
up again at the end of this article. from the successive juxtaposition of very distinct textures and
musical languages.
rochberg, music for the magic theater In this movement, the technique of chromatic saturation is
for the most part realized in reference to pitch classes and does
Rochberg’s Music for the Magic Theater is modeled on not operate in the realm of actual pitch space (as it does in the
Mozart’s Divertimento in B flat, K. 287: the first and second other pieces discussed in this essay). It plays a primary role in
movements quote extensively from this work. The first enhancing the sense of structural completion of many sections
movement constitutes a prototypical example of a musical throughout the piece, in creating links between sections, and
collage. It is composed of numerous successive short sections most significantly, in clarifying pitch relationships between
of music that are set off by textural, stylistic, tonal juxtaposi- superimposed and juxtaposed disparate quotations, thus func-
tion or rests from the surrounding components. These sec- tioning on a multitude of levels of musical structure.50
tions correspond to fragmentary quotations from a variety of Gap saturation procedures also influence many of the
pieces, interspersed and superimposed with original com- voice-leading tendencies of this work. Glenn Watkins notes
mentary by the composer (sections of music that are newly that the disparate elements in this piece are unified by their
composed and relate in a myriad of ways to the quotations). mutual use of the [012] chromatic trichord.51 The concept of
The layers of commentary incorporate a broad range of gap saturation and the use of the chromatic trichord are
styles and textures, from freely atonal lyrical passages in the strongly related because the chromatic trichord is the prototyp-
solo flute, to strident, hocket-like passages in the upper ical filled gap. The expectations created by the pervasive use of
woodwinds and brass that are aggregate based and thus em- this trichord enable the composer to use the outer pitch-classes
ulate twelve-tone rows (but are not used serially). Likewise, as a gap with strong voice-leading implications that are realized
the distinct musical languages of the incorporated quotations at the moment that the gap is chromatically saturated.
(from Mahler, Mozart and Varèse) contribute to a highly The movement is generally composed of numerous short
disjunct musical texture. Furthermore, though quotations and contrasting sections separated by rests or distinct breaks
and commentary recur in different guises throughout the in the rhythmic momentum from the surrounding music.
piece, there is no distinct formal scheme in the recurrence. A The most straightforward examples of chromatic saturation
in this piece involve cases where aggregate completion artic-
ulates formal units. Example 16 presents a reduction of the
notes the importance in this music of voices based on their spatial first section of the movement (the introduction). It consists
positions-that is, on their literal functions as upper and lower bound- of original material by Rochberg and is clearly articulated as
aries of occupied pitch space” (Bernard 1994, 231). Bernard considers a separate entity by a fermata rest in all instruments except
these pitch space relationships to be more essential to the way the the first horn, which sustains the pitch C through the begin-
music is perceived that the inaudible technique of “micropolyphony” ning of the following section. As the example demonstrates,
which Ligeti described as his compositional process (Bernard 1987b,
209). Clendinning (1995, 229–30) makes a similar point and labels
Ligeti’s technique by the term microcanon. Similarly, in this analysis of 50 Lambert (1997, 17; 81–88), discusses the importance of this technique
Berio’s piece, the tonal contrasts of the different quotations are sub- in the music of Ives.
sumed by relationships created by upper and lower boundaries in 51 According to Watkins (1994b), this feature was first pointed out by
pitch space. Rochberg himself.
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82 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

Act I: in which the present and the past are all mixed up and it’s difficult to decide or to know where reality is
/= 144–152 0 4 = 72
 7   5
Woodwinds 31z
7 ! 5

31z ! stab the air 5
 7 ' 70   , + 70 , + 70
1  16
Horn ff 31z 6 1 31z 6 1 31z 6
7 ! 70 5
2   16 *
 .  , +  , + .
 ) (
ff 31z 31z 6 1 31z 6 1
 7  #  ' ! 5
Trumpet in C  16
ff !
,  ' 
7 5

ff 31z
7 ! 5

Tuba   16
31z 8

 16  ,
Complete the aggregate
ff ffff
! brilliant, make piano ring
  16  ,   
Strings 88 floating, veiled, barely perceptible
 7 ! 5

88 floating, veiled, barely perceptible
Pitch classes in order of appearance
7 8 E 1 2 0 9
4 3

example 16. Music for the Magic Theater I. Aggregate completion in the introduction to the movement
(newly composed by Rochberg). Score in C.
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between modernism and postmodernism 83

Beginning of quotation from

Rhythmically free hocket-like passage in the woodwinds and trumpets Mozart, Divertimento K. 287, I
mm. 6–24
11 over sustained notes in the cello and bass 12
5 5 5 “Allegro”

0 Ob. Bsn. Cl.

1 3


ca. 1"
7 8
poco 1 6 : 8 Completes the aggregate
poco 1 8
 5 5 5  7 (  ) 3
  ( )  4 
( )
8 Cello and Bass
Pitch classes in order of appearance
0 4 8 2 3 6 T 9 1 7 5

example 17. Music for the Magic Theater I (r. 11–12), reduction. Chromatic saturation as a link between highly contrasting sections.

the presentation of pitch-classes E and A within the last of the tonal quotation that follows.52 The function of ag-
chord of the section completes the aggregate, thus signaling gregate completion in this example is to structurally link
closure of the formal unit. The elements contained in this these adjacent sections of music which feature strong con-
isolated section are set off from those in adjacent sections trasts of texture, instrumentation, rhythm, meter and pitch
through the sense of structural completion thus achieved. organization.
The occurrence of this structural process at the beginning of One of the most important usages of chromatic satura-
the piece and in other sections (see, for instance, rehearsal tion in this movement occurs in the sections which feature
nos. 9–10), establishes a sound term for this piece. In other the superimposition of commentary over a quotation.
words, it imbues the process of chromatic saturation with a Example 18 presents a reduction of the music at rehearsal
functional role that is exploited throughout the rest of the
piece. 52 Numerous other examples of this occur in the piece. For instance, the
For instance, chromatic saturation of the aggregate func- quotation from Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, IV (measure 14) that starts
tions as a link between adjacent sections. This is the case a couple of measures before rehearsal 2 and is played interspersed with
when a single pitch is withheld and provided at the appropri- commentary through rehearsal 3 presents all pitch-classes of the aggre-
ate place in the following section. Example 17 demonstrates gate but F. F is withheld throughout this section and finally occurs
prominently as the fortissimo first note of the Varèse quotation at re-
this process. At rehearsal 11, a hocket-like, rhythmically
hearsal 4. Similarly at rehearsal 20, all the pitch-classes of the aggregate
free passage in the woodwinds and horn is followed by a are presented between the Mozart Divertimento I (measures 60–66)
quotation from Mozart’s divertimento. The only withheld quotation and the added layer of commentary with the exception of
pitch-class in the rhythmically free passage is pitch-class F, pitch-class G, which appears prominently as the first pitch-class of the
which appears prominently as the first and uppermost pitch next section, a rhythmically free lyrical passage in the solo flute.
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84 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

  Completes the aggregate

        7 Interpolated layer of commentary
Piano &
 6  1 espr.

“Allegro” 4 = 144
Violin I  4 (  )   
8 dolcissimo 1 6
Violin II  4+    (  )    

8 dolcissimo 1 6

 3+    (  )    
; 4 ,
8 dolcissimo 1 6

 3  +
Cello &
Double Bass    
Mozart quotation is suspended Mozart quotation resumes

Pitch classes in order of appearance

5 3 2 0 4 9 1 E 6 8
7 1

example 18. Music for the Magic Theater I (r. 12). Aggregate completion relates the Mozart Divertimento I (measures 6–9)
quotation and the interpolated layer of commentary.

12. The F major triad from Mozart’s Divertimento, K. 287 is Example 19 demonstrates how aggregate completion
literally suspended as an arpeggiated figure in the piano and plays a major role in the interaction of disparate layers at re-
woodwinds is interpolated. This figure complements the hearsal 13. This time both layers are superimposed. The
pitch-class content of the quotation. The presentation of the lower layer continues the tonal quotation from Mozart’s di-
complete aggregate with pitch-class A both ends the inter- vertimento, while the upper layer presents piercing pitches in
jection, and creates a feeling of arrival that prepares the re- the woodwinds and trumpets. These pitches generally occur
sumption of the quotation. in a higher register than those in the underlying quotation,
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between modernism and postmodernism 85

Notated break in the music coincide

(F) (G) with aggregate completion
0 < 0
0 0
13  0


3 shrill 3 33 3
0  0

3 shrill 3 3
 0 0  0
Added Commentary


3 shrill 3 3
0 0 0
3 shrill 
 0 0 0
Trumpet in C
3 piercing 3 3 

 34  + +  + +   + -     + 
Horns 1 & 2

  3  ,            
+ + + +  
Violin I
Mozart Quotation

=    =
  34 + +             + +
Violin II
(1) 6
;  4    6           
+               +     

 3 + +  + + +  + - 
Cello &

-   -         
Double Bass
(1) 6
Pitch class in order of appearance
6 8 T E 0 1 3 4 5 7
9 2

example 19. Music for the Magic Theater I (r. 13). Aggregate completion relates the Mozart Divertimento I (measures 9–24)
quotation to the strident superimposed commentary. All pitch classes are provided by the added commentary,
except for pitch-class B , which is provided by the ostinato bass and the Mozart melody line.
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86 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

5 + 45
8  8
0 ! 8
8 +



example 20. Music for the Magic Theater I (r. 9). The chromatic gap created by the presentation of pitch-classes D, E  and C
is saturated by the subsequent presentation of the pitch-class C .

but occasionally infiltrate the texture of the quotation. The contrasting meter, rhythmic and textural qualities, but which
ostinato B bass note (and tonic) of the Mozart quotation is also organized over a pedal B bass note. The completion
complements the pitch content of the superimposed com- of the aggregate in this instance is followed by an even
mentary. clearer break than in the first movement. These examples
The layer of commentary presents every other pitch-class interpret aggregate completion as the logic behind the spa-
in the aggregate. Except for the initial gap between pitch- tial juxtaposition of the tonal quotation and the layer of
classes 6 and 8 (F and G, a gap that is restated before the commentary that appears above it.
appearance of the final pitch-class of the aggregate, G) all Besides aggregate completion, other instances of chromatic
the pitch-classes are presented in ascending chromatic order. saturation occur in this piece. Gap saturation of the [012] mo-
Thus, the placement of the B as both melody pitch and bass tive determines many foreground voice-leading tendencies.
note of the Mozart quotation, appearing between the pitch- It elucidates the connection between the straightforward
classes A and B in the commentary, temporally synchro- motivic renditions of the chromatic trichord in the quota-
nizes the two layers. The moment of aggregate completion tions and the thematic chromatic collections of the more
(with the appearance of the G) is emphasized by a break atonal passages. Example 20 shows a typical instance. At re-
and a change of register in the layer of commentary as it fades hearsal 9, the pitch-classes D, E and C create a chromatic
out and allows for a complete reemergence of the Mozart gap that implies the following pitch-class, C.
quotation. This same technique is operative in Example 18, where
Significantly, this layer of commentary recurs in an almost the successive occurrence of pitch-classes G, F and A implies
identical form at the end of the second movement of the the pitch-class A, which (as was stated earlier) is needed not
piece (at rehearsal 57). Here it appears above a completely only to saturate the gap, but also to complete the aggregate,
different tonal quotation (from the sixth movement of thus emphasizing the structural role of this final pitch in the
Mozart’s Divertimento, measures 25–32), which exhibits commentary, which serves to reintroduce the suspended
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between modernism and postmodernism 87

m.66 m.80 m.96

A B A B A B A B′ A′ B′ A′ B′ A′ A

Stockhausen Dies Irae

Berlioz Main Theme




X (Intro) Y X

example 21. Musique pour les Soupers du Roi Ubu VII: Marche du Décervellage. Formal scheme.

Mozart quotation. Similarly, in Example 19, the G that sections of music, comprising materials from Berlioz’s
completes the aggregate appears after a restatement of the Symphonie Fantastique and Wagner’s Die Walküre respec-
F-G gap that initiated the section.53 tively. Example 21 tracks the two sources through the move-
ment. The first 65 measures of the piece (which constitute
zimmermann, musique pour les soupers du roi ubu, an introduction) feature the alternation of introductory ma-
viii, marche du décervellage terial from both pieces. The section labeled A in Example 21
(measures 1–24, 27–30, 35–42, 50–65) comprises material
The last movement of Zimmermann’s Musique pour les derived from the introductory timpani roll of the fourth
Soupers du Roi Ubu exploits the implications of an unsatu- movement of Symphonie Fantastique superimposed over a
rated gap for dramatic purposes. Broadly speaking, the relentless ostinato chord from Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke
movement is composed of the alternation between two IX. The B section (measures 25–26, 31–34, 43–49) is com-
posed of quotations of the introductory semitonal oscilla-
tion theme from Wagner’s Die Walküre. The introduction
53 The sections of music in the movement that are organized by twelve-tone ends with the appearance of the main theme from Wagner’s
collections (such as the pitches in the woodwinds at rehearsal 15) provide
piece at measure 66.
a challenge to the analyst because the numerous resulting twelve tone
lines are not apparently related by any of the standard transformations.
The appearance of this main theme initiates the main
Significantly, it is the motivic content that governs the structure of these body of the movement. It features the superimposition of all
ordered collections. The pitch-classes come together to begin, expand, or previously juxtaposed sources (including material derived
fill in versions of the [012] trichord or chromatic expansions of it. from Berlioz, Stockhausen and Wagner) from measures
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88 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

Wagner, Die Walküre, Dritte Aufzug, m. 20

4  = 84 73             ,               ,
  9  + + +  + + +         
ff !

 9                   ,
 + + + + + + +
Flute 1  8
 9                  ,     ,
 + +  + + + +
Flute 2

 9         ,           
Oboe 1  8  + + +
ff !
         - + + +            - + +
Oboe 2

8  + + +       + + +
English Horn

 9                     ,
Clarinet in B 1  8  + + + +     + +

Clarinet in B 2 8                    -        , + + +               

ff !
 9  + + +                                     
Bass Clarinet   8

Trumpet in C  9  
 8 -         
French Horn               
               Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique V, m. 186
0 0
+ +  
  8  +
French Horns
Four Double Basses   
Bass Tuba   31z    31z 6
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
  9  < -  < -   ' 0 +  ' 0
Timpani 1   8 <  < <   <  <  < < -  < -  <  <  <  <   < -  < -  <  < - -

 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 00
Timpani 2   8  <  < < -   < -  <   <  <  < < -  < -  <  <  <  <   < -  < -  <  <
( - +
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Piano 1  8                                                    
Stockhausen, Klavierstück IX

example 22. Musique pour les Soupers du Roi Ubu VII, measures 73–79. The ending of the main theme of Wagner’s
Die Walküre and the juxtaposition of material from all three sources prepares the entrance of the main theme
from Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. Copyright ©1967 Bärenreiter-Verlag, Used by Permission.
MTS3101_03 4/16/09 6:46 PM Page 89

between modernism and postmodernism 89

Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique IV, m. 62

          ,                ,                  ,           @

! ! ! ff

               ,                 ,                  ,      @
Flute 1  !
! ! ff
+ + +  @
Flute 2
 ! ! !

         ,                 ,                  ,             
Oboe 1 
! ! ! ff
Oboe 2
              -              -              - 

-             -             -              @ 
English Horn

               ,                 ,                  ,     @   
Clarinet in B 1 
! ! ! ff
  ,                ,                  ,                   @
Clarinet in B 2
! ! ! ff

 + +                            + +           @ 
Bass Clarinet   
! !
Trumpet in C
French Horn        

 0 0 0 0  @   
French Horns
     ff +
Four Double Basses
Bass Tuba
    31z 6    31z 6    31z 6    31z 6
0 0 0 0
  +  ' 0 - +  ' 0 - +  '0 - +  '0 - +  @ + 
Timpani 1     

 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 00  @ +  .
Timpani 2   
( -
( - +
( - +
( - +
( - 
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ff
Piano 1     















example 22. [continued ]

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90 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

70–75. At measure 76, coinciding with the end of the main occurs at measure 80), and the final section of the piece,
theme of the Wagner quotation, the process of layering which restates the material from the opening.
reaches its highpoint with the introduction of an additional The following discussion explains how chromatic satu-
layer of material, the quotation of the Dies Irae as it appears ration determines the structural function of the various sec-
in the last movement of Symphonie Fantastique.54 This quo- tions in the movement. Example 23 presents the first four
tation prepares for the ensuing full texture quotation of the measures of the piece, which establish the chromatic filling
main theme from the fourth movement of Symphonie in of a pitch space as an axiomatic sound term for the piece.
Fantastique in measure 80. The appearance of the quotation Example 24 illustrates the gap created by the newly com-
from Symphonie Fantastique, thus fulfills the expectation set posed double bass figure with respect to the pitch range set
up from the very beginning of the movement by the timpani up by the Stockhausen chords and the drum roll from
drum roll55 and delayed by the various interjections of mate- Berlioz. Of note in terms of the establishment of the sound
rial from Die Walküre. term is the fact that the piece begins with an insistent repe-
The movement continues with an alternation between tition of the first four pitches of the double bass line shown
full-texture quotations from both pieces. At measure 96, the in Example 25, F, G, A, B (a gapped chromatic scale).
material from the four opening measures of the piece returns, The meandering chromatic ascending motion of the double
intensified by the addition of an organ pedal, added dou- bass figures that underlie the initial A section, begins the
blings in the piano, percussion instruments, and an enhanced process of filling in the gap set up by the opening material,
dynamic content. It is incessantly repeated without variation a process that is continued while the pitch space is ex-
until the piece ends, without reaching closure.56 The two panded during the ensuing quotations from Wagner and
most striking structural moments of the piece thus are the Berlioz.
section of music from measure 76 to measure 79 (represented The B section (beginning on the upbeat to measure 25,
in Example 22), which presents a spatial juxtaposition of ma- provided in Example 26) is initially related to the opening
terial from the three sources used in the movement and intro- material through chromatic complementation.57 As
duces the subsequent quotation of the main theme of the Example 27 demonstrates, the first few notes of the Wagner
fourth movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (which quotation initiate the process of filling in the pitch space
outlined by the opening. However, the quotation immedi-
54 The accompaniment to the quotation of the Dies Irae clearly draws from
ately proceeds to expand the range in the upper register.
the original source (especially in terms of rhythmic content because of
the emphasized upbeats). However, in terms of pitch organization the
The subsequent alternation between the two sections con-
accompaniment notes are drawn from the Stockhausen chords). tinues the process of chromatic saturation of the opening
55 The timpani drum roll is almost identical to that which initiates and is pitch space and expansion of the pitch space in the upper
prominently repeated at the beginning of the fourth movement of register. It is significant that some of these pitches are pro-
Symphonie Fantastique. vided by rearrangements in registral space of the Stockhausen
56 The exaggerated repetitions that begin and end the movement have chords from the opening and the progressive chromatic
been discussed by various authors, such as Kühn (1978) and Kiesewetter
ascent of the newly composed double bass line. Both of
(1985) as references to the decline of the Academy. During this move-
ment, entitled the March of the Brain Crushing, the Academy (under the
reign of usurpators) is brought to an end as it disappears through a trap- 57 The pitch convergence on F and G between the two quotations creates
door. The dramatic trajectory of the work doesn’t seek to convey finality a harmonic pedal point that ties the two contrasting sections together
at the end, but rather to pose a challenge to the artist. harmonically, in spite of the otherwise distinct pitch content.
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between modernism and postmodernism 91

Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique IV, m. 1

A = 84 ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Timpani 1  @              .              .
6 sempre
! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Timpani 2  @             


6 sempre
Stockhausen, Klavierstück IX
Added material

@  +
+  +
Four Double
: :

example 23. Musique pour les Soupers du Roi Ubu VII, measures 1–4. Copyright ©1967 Bärenreiter-Verlag, Used by Permission.

these are elements that also contribute to intensify the dra- through measure 76 (Example 22). This is an important
matic direction of the piece. structural moment, as was discussed previously. The main
Example 28 shows the F1 to D7 pitch space outlined and theme of Wagner’s piece ends, and all of the materials that
almost completely saturated by the material presented had previously been juxtaposed are simultaneously presented
in order to introduce the quotation of the main theme from
the fourth movement of Symphonie Fantastique. As Example
28 demonstrates, the pitches that have not been presented
thus far are C7, B6, B5, B3, E2, and A1. Clearly, the pitch-
class B gains special significance by its absence in many reg-
    isters. In fact, B4 is only reached in measure 76 as the final
 pitch of the main theme of Die Walküre in the trombone,
trumpets and horns (see Example 22).58

example 24. Gap created by the contrast in registral space

between the material from Berlioz and Stockhausen on 58 This A is thus a convergence point that is essential to the transition
one hand, and the added material on the other between the two excerpts.
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92 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)



example 25. Ascending, discontinuous chromatic line in the double basses that underlies A section throughout the introduction.
First four notes (F , G, A, B ) create a gapped chromatic scale.


21 A = 84 Wagner, Die Walküre, Dritte Aufzug, m. 1
. @ + .
@     8  +
Flutes &

Oboes &

@    . 8                                     @  , + .
English Horn
 @    . 8                                     @  , + .

Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique IV, m. 1 ff

 ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !  9  @ ! ! ! !
Timpani 1 @
           .                       8 , + + +         
6 ff 
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !  9 , @ ! ! ! !
  @         . + + + 
Timpani 2

                 9  @    

@     8 + + +    , + + +
Piano 6 ff 1
@                         8 . + - + + + @      
Stockhausen, Klavierstück IX

Four Double @  +     +  +    +   98   @ 

Added material

example 26. Musique pour les Soupers du Roi Ubu VII, measures 21–25. Presents the juncture between the end of the first A section
and the beginning of the first B section. Copyright ©1967 Bärenreiter-Verlag, Used by Permission.
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between modernism and postmodernism 93

example 27. Chromatic complementation relates the material from the B section (measures 24–25, drawn from Wagner’s Die Walküre),
to the material from the A section.
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94 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

Gamut outlined by Gamut is saturated by the quotation Significant gap created by Gap filled (and expanded) by
mm. 1–76. from Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique the Dies Irae in mm. 76–79. the organ pedal that sounds under
at m. 80.  the return of the opening material
 (   )   at the end of the piece (m. 96).
(  )  

 (  )  
 (  )    } (  )  

example 28. Pitch space outlined and almost completely example 29. Significant gap opened up by the quotation
saturated by the material presented through measure 76 of the Dies Irae (measures 76–79). Gap is filled only
with the last sustained chord of the piece.

With the important exception of A1, all of the missing

pitches are presented in the ensuing full texture B Major structural scheme described above is A1. The absence of this
quotation of the main theme from Symphonie Fantastique. pitch throughout the movement results from a significant gap
The B6 and C7 are provided by the quotation from Berlioz that is set up from the very beginning of the piece. The first
only because Zimmermann adds a piccolo part to the origi- four measures of the movement (given as Example 23) feature
nal instrumentation. Thus, the chromatic saturation of a the repeated figure 〈F, G, A, B〉 in the double basses. This fig-
given pitch space organizes the juxtaposition of these two ure, which was apparently newly composed by Zimmermann,
themes at a critical structural moment. comprises a chromatic structure with a gap created by the ab-
Example 29 illustrates how the quotation of the Dies Irae sence of the pitch A1. The significance of this explicit state-
from measures 76–79 opens up a new significant gap down to ment of the gap is sealed by the reappearance of this material
the pitch C1. This new gap is filled only with the presenta- at the end of the movement. Throughout the concluding sec-
tion of the pitches C1, D1, E1 and F1 as part of the organ tion, it is incessantly repeated until the piece ends, thus con-
pedal that is sustained over the last section of the piece. This tributing to the aesthetic lack of closure that is crucial to the
organ pedal, which is added over the recurring material from dramatic structure of the piece as a whole.
the opening of the piece, thus provides the exact pitches that
fill the structural scheme. The two main structural moments
of this movement are organized by the concept of chromatic absolutism/referentialism;
saturation of a given pitch range in the upper and lower regis- formalism/expressionism; unity/disunity;
ters respectively. continuity/discontinuity
The concept of the unsaturated significant gap reflects the
aesthetic content of this piece, by embodying the perceived Critical comments from Berio, directed at the “formalism
lack of closure. The only pitch that does not appear in the and escapism” of the twelve-tone composition school in
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between modernism and postmodernism 95

which he was trained, have led to analyses of his music that to shed further light on these relationships by demonstrating
outline very generally the aesthetic and dramatic effects of how technical elements function within the structure of the
the composition.59 These analysts seek to emphasize Berio’s piece to contribute to its dramatic content.
“fundamental preoccupation with poetic and dramatic clarity The structures that arise are not merely formalistic, but
and his concomitant rejection of musical ‘systems’ meant to carry a much deeper connotation. The technique of chro-
be discovered, discussed, and heard as such from the lis- matic saturation and the significant gap is a process that ad-
tener’s point of view” (Flynn 1975, 420). Significantly, the heres to an implication-realization model which is capable of
composition of Music for the Magic Theater also coincided controlling all levels of the musical structure (Meyer 1973,
with Rochberg’s aesthetic rejection of the dominance of the 110–12). It can be viewed as analogous to tonal harmonic
twelve-tone school. progressions in that it also embodies the Aristotelian princi-
It is the mechanization of the twelve-tone system to ple that the “Imperfect by nature strives for the Perfect”
which these composers objected; the use of the system with- (Dalhaus 1986, 126). The process complements the poetic
out a deeper preoccupation with underlying links and the and dramatic content of the work in creating a pattern of ex-
subjection of the artistic imagination and its product to rou- pectation that transcends mere formalism. Thus, the com-
tine processes of composition and analysis.60 The task of the poser’s goal of contributing to the “invention and elaboration
analyst, likewise, is not merely to extract pitch patterns, but of patterns of expectations . . . creating modes of condition-
to understand the relationship of these patterns and the ing and perception” (Berio 1968, Home Forum Page) is
structures that they form to the dramatic content of the clearly realized.
work. Rather than discredit the interpretations that have The analytical findings in this study shed light upon
been reached through the careful study of the textual rela- methods by which composers can draw connections between
tionships and extramusical associations, these analyses seek materials derived from distinct sources on many different
levels. These intricate pitch relationships cannot be uncov-
ered using conventional theoretical tools. Furthermore, this
study shows that similar techniques are used in works that
59 “Shuffling notes with the illusion that one is dealing with the forma- span wide stylistic gaps.61 Each one of the pieces examined
tion of music is like using words like ‘peace’ and ‘freedom’ in speaking in this article presents an entirely unique sound world and
about Vietnam without touching the underlying relationships that con-
stitute the real and horrifying meaning of that rotten war . . . A theory
the contrast between the sonorous qualities of the differ-
cannot substitute for meaning and idea: a discrete analytical tool can ent pieces is remarkable. It is striking that they share sim-
never be turned to creation by dint of polishing and perfecting it. It is ilar technical aspects. It is also significant that many of
the poetics which guide discovery and not procedural attitudes; it is these techniques result from a new emphasis and systematic
idea and not style” (Berio 1968, Home Forum page).
60 “What I’m against is the use of serialism in the abstract sense . . . it be-
comes a sort of immobile, static world revolving around itself ” (Berio
1976, 548). “Never has the composer come so dangerously close to be- 61 This should not be taken to assert intentionality. As Meyer (1973) put
coming an extraneous or merely decorative figure in his own society”; it: “Knowledge of the composer’s intention is unnecessary because a re-
they occupy themselves with “the assembly-line production and collec- lationship is a relationship whether it was expressly devised by the com-
tion of well-made, cleverly musical objects” (Berio 1968, Home Forum poser, resulted from the orderliness of stylistic syntax, or in rare in-
Page). stances was the result of chance” (75).
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96 music theory spectrum 31 (2009)

exploitation of the spatial dimension that the collage aes- it into question. Thus, in these works, composers do not
thetic brings to the fore. This concern with the spatial di- necessarily defy the idea of unity, but instead critically en-
mension and relationships that occur particularly in pitch gage in the postmodern debate over the function of unity
space is common to many composers (such as Lutos awski in music by making it an essential aspect of the expressive
and Ligeti) beginning in the late 1950s and perhaps should content. As Rochberg puts it: “Pluralism, as I understand
be considered one of the most important stylistic trends of it, does not mean a simplistic array of different things
the latter half of the twentieth century.62 In these collage somehow struck together in arbitrary fashion but a way of
pieces in particular, we can see that chromatic complementa- seeing new possibilities of relationships; of discovering and
tion and the careful control of saturation in pitch space con- uncovering hidden connections and working with them
vert juxtaposition and layering, which often convey a sense structurally; of joining antipodes without boiling out their
of randomness and shapelessness, into essential components tensions” (1984, 241; quoted in Berry 2002, 239). Similarly,
of the formal structure. Meyer states:
Significantly, it is not the underlying structure that moti-
The lack of distinct, tangible shapes and of well-articulated modes
vates the relationships, but the nature of the relationships,
of progression is capable of arousing powerful desires for, and expecta-
the contrast between the disparate components in itself, tions of, clarification and improvement. This aspect of musical structure
which consolidates the structure of the pieces. Thus, this and expression is one which as unfortunately received but scant atten-
study does not seek to demonstrate that these apparently tion from music theorists, aestheticians and critics, who . . . have con-
disjunct works of art are in fact necessarily governed by an tinually construed ‘inevitability’ to mean unequivocal progression . . .
all-encompassing unity. Instead, it proves that total disjunc- The fact of the matter is that some of the greatest music is great pre-
tion is not a necessary by-product of the incorporation of cisely because the composer has not feared to let his music tremble on
the brink of chaos, thus inspiring the listener’s awe, apprehension, and
materials from diverse sources in a work of art.
anxiety and, at the same time, exciting his emotions and his intellect
The manner in which these diverse materials are incor- (1956, 161).
porated into a given work traverses the spectrum in the
level of disjunction. The interaction of disjunction and In fact, the juxtaposition of surface disjointedness and
unity in these works is essential to their conceptual process. underlying structural organization can be interpreted as
The postmodernism of these works lies not in the way that yet another level of disjunction, one which permeates the
they deny traditional notions of unity, but in how they call very core of this repertoire. It embodies the nature of the
relationship between the borrowed material and the con-
text into which it is introduced. “The conflicts and tensions
62 Bernard (1990, 1987 and 1994) discusses the essential role of the spa- between the two principles of collage and control, and
tial dimension in understanding the musical structures of composers more generally of heterogeneity and unity, run through the
such as Varèse, Bartók, Carter, Ligeti and Messiaen. The music of sev- history of twentieth-century music. Indeed, it is these con-
eral of these composers directly influenced many of the musical devel- flicts, not a work’s ideological cohesion, that make twenti-
opments of the 1960s. Lutos awski has noted how his “greatest con- eth-century music so fascinating” (Heile 2002, 288.) Thus,
cern at present is pitch and the development and enrichment of
through the use of chromatic complementation, collage
methods and procedures connected with it. This, I believe, will be clear
to anyone who will compare my latest compositions with works written
composers were able to resolve what Max Paddison calls
in 1961” (Stucky 1981, 123; quoted in Marek 1976, 4–5). Adorno’s “modernist dilemma” on both a concrete and an
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between modernism and postmodernism 97

abstract level: “How to construct a unity which does not means of imbuing it with tendency tones and expressivity.
conceal the fragmentary and chaotic state of the handed- To use Meyer’s words: “Deviation, originating as expression,
down musical material, and yet which does not simply may after a time become normative, and when this occurs it
mirror fragmentation through identification with it, but is necessary either to invent new deviations for the sake of
which is able to embody, negate, and transcend it” (1993, aesthetic effect or to point up those already in use” (1956,
158). 65). Also, “should all tempered tones of a system become
In approaching this music, most writers have focused on structural points (norms), then new tones, tendency tones,
how it diverges from the earlier twelve-tone practice found would have to be introduced into the system so that mean-
in the music of these composers. I posit that in spite of the ingful relationships would exist within the tonal system”
aural contrasts, these pieces constitute an extension of the (1956, 134).
musical language found in their earlier style.63 The concept The subtle and versatile role that chromatic saturation
of aggregate completion and the systematic exploitation of plays in the dramatic and large-scale structure of these
chromatic saturation in pitch space constitute a concrete link pieces from the 1960s thus demonstrates the unique place
between the serialism of the modernists and the postmod- that they occupy in the development of music in the latter
ernist practice of quotation. This connection is not apparent part of the twentieth century, as they constitute both a re-
from the musical surface of these works, which eschews con- sponse to and an outgrowth from the serial practices of the
ventional serialism. 1950s. In these works, these composers were able to tran-
Meyer’s discussion of musical style provides a framework scend their own frequently voiced objections to the mecha-
within which this music can be characterized as postmodern nization and overwhelming dominance of the twelve-tone
and contextualized within the broader discussion of post- school of composition, while maintaining and refining,
modernism summarized at the beginning of the article. rather than negating, some of its principles. The strands of
These pieces react to by obscuring (but thus tacitly invok- continuity referred to in the title of this article exist both
ing) the “sound terms” of the modernist style, thus calling within the pieces themselves (concretely realized through
upon both the idea of reaction and continuity between the technique of chromatic saturation) and between the
modernism and postmodernism. Meyer emphasizes that “it modernist and postmodernist trends that these pieces
is clear that one style system may presume knowledge of bridge.
other styles which do not become overtly realized in a sta-
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Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 31, Issue 1, pp. 57–100, ISSN 0195-6167,
electronic ISSN 1533-8339. © 2009 by The Society for Music
Theory. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission
to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University
of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, at http://www. DOI: 10.1525/mts.2009.31.1.57