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Studio B • Friday morning, 9:00–12:00

Genesis, Transformations, and Mutations

C. Catherine Losada (College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati), Chair

Barry Wiener (New York, NY) 

Ursula Mamlok's Path to Serialism

Ciro G. Scotto (Ohio University) 

TC-Generated Pcset Chains and their Transformational Network in sur incises by Pierre Boulez

Antares Boyle (University of British Columbia) 

Object/Process: Functions of Repetition in Birtwistle's Recent Music

Christoph Neidhöfer (McGill University) 

Serialism as Existentialist Metaphor in the Music of Camillo Togni (1922–1993)

Abstracts

Ursula Mamlok's Path to Serialism

Barry Wiener (New York, NY)

Recent discussions of Ursula Mamlok’s music have focused on her use of serial matrices, pc invariants and tonal references in works of the 1980s (Straus 2009; Straus 2016; Shanley 2016), theorizing these techniques as normative in her music. In this paper, I discuss Mamlok’s gradual adoption of serial procedures in the 1960s and 70s, drawing on her private papers (now housed at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin). I provide an overview of her techniques and development, discussing selected works in detail together with associated sketches. My investigation helps to elucidate the nature of Mamlok’s unique synthesis of serial techniques and its relationship to her earlier non-serial twelve-tone compositions, written during her studies with Stefan Wolpe and Ralph Shapey in 1960–64.

While Mamlok uses a series in the second movement of Designs (1962), the first movement is not serial. Rather, Mamlok employs unordered hexachords in Shapey’s manner. Mamlok first used a serial matrix during the composition of Stray Birds for Soprano, Flute and Cello (1963). She used combinatoriality for the first time in the Capriccios for Oboe and Piano (1968). In the Sextet (1977), Mamlok extended her control to the parameter of rhythm and created several series permutations as well.

My exploration of Mamlok’s evolution sheds light both on her artistry (clarifying her use of techniques that have been misrepresented) and on trends in American twelve-tone music that are often overlooked in the music-historical and music-theoretic literature.

TC-Generated Pcset Chains and their Transformational Network in sur incises by Pierre Boulez

Ciro G. Scotto (Ohio University)

This paper formulates a transpositional combinational (TC) based theoretical model for analyzing the harmonic and formal structure of sur incises (1996, 1998) for three pianos and percussion by Pierre Boulez. The theory extends the TC model of Boulez’s pitch-class multiplication operation developed by Ciro Scotto (2014) into new territory, and the paper demonstrates the analytical advantages of a TC based theory compared to the theories of pcset multiplication formulated by Catherine Losada (2008, 2014), Stephen Heinemann (1998), and Lev Koblyakov (1990). The TC based theory introduces the concept of hexachordal mutation, which transforms one hexachordal set-class (SC) into a member of a different SC. Hexachordal mutations form a transformational network with the contextual transposition operation J that relates harmonic complexes of hexachords generated by TC. The union of transformationally related mutated hexachords produces pcset chains that generate, organize, and interrelate much of the pcset material with cardinalities greater than six in sur incises. Since pcset chains and their corresponding TC-transformational network organize and interrelate hexachords from different SCs rather than just transformationally relating the members of a single SC, the theoretical model extends the pentachordal network and contextual operations David Lewin (1993) developed for analyzing Stockhausen’s Klavierstück III.

Object/Process: Functions of Repetition in Birtwistle's Recent Music

Antares Boyle (University of British Columbia)

Many analysts note an apparent paradox in the functions of repetition: it can create discontinuities at the boundaries of the repeated segment, but can also promote continuity in the form of a groove or ostinato (Lidov 2005, Margulis 2014). The first type, objectifying repetition, highlights the repeated material as a significant musical entity: it is foreground and is typically of formal or rhetorical importance to the work as a whole. In the second type, the repeated material itself (the ostinato) becomes subordinate to an ongoing metric process and typically plays a background role. Contemporary repetitive music often cultivates ambiguity between these dual functions for expressive purposes. My paper explores the textural manipulations arising from Harrison Birtwistle’s repetitions in two works, “Frieze 2” and “Frieze 3” from Nine Movements for String Quartet. I begin by describing generalized prototypes for the two repetition functions, drawing on and supplementing typologies by Middleton (1990), Lidov (2005), and Leydon (2002). Using these models, I show how Birtwistle’s brief “ostinati” combine characteristics of the two prototypes. I then show how a hidden, global chaconne in each movement embodies some of the same contradictions underlying the local repetitions. Thus, the same ambiguities of identity, continuity, and textural priority that animate local passages are also at the heart of Birtwistle’s larger forms.

Serialism as Existentialist Metaphor in the Music of Camillo Togni (1922–1993)

Christoph Neidhöfer (McGill University)

In Italy, as elsewhere, World War II led to a fundamental questioning of the function of the arts and to a reorientation of artistic creation. Following calls by writers and philosophers such as Adorno, Mann, and Sartre for the arts to play an active role in the rebuilding of the post-war world, and by following recent examples of politically engaged music (e.g., Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon, A Survivor from Warsaw, Dallapiccola’s The Prisoner), Italian composers produced a large body of politically committed music in the 1950s that can be grouped into three broad categories of (1) so-called “protest music” (Dallapiccola 1953), (2) works with biblical themes, and (3) music treating existentialist topics from contemporary philosophy and literature. Whereas recent scholarship on Italian politically engaged music has focused mainly on works of the first two kinds—on the works of “protest music” by Nono, Dallapiccola, and others (De Benedictis, Earle, Guerrero, Nielinger, Rizzardi, Samuel, et al) and religiously themed compositions by Dallapiccola, Petrassi, etc. (Alegant, Ciolfi)—music focusing on existentialist topics has received less analytical attention so far (Carroll).

Taking as point of departure two vocal works by Camillo Togni on texts by Sartre (Three Studies [1950], Ricerca op. 36 [1954]), this paper demonstrates, with information from the sketches, how the composer continued to devise serial strategies as metaphors for the philosopher’s politically charged existentialist narratives in purely instrumental works as well. I examine this in an analysis of Togni’s Fantasia concertante (1957) for flute and string orchestra.