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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Conflicting lines, cohesive structures: Multiple -directed linearity in Witold Lutoslawski's “Third Symphony” and “Proximate Spaces” for piano and chamber orchestra
by Ogburn, James Joseph, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2009, 185; 3375242
Abstract (Summary)

Witold Lutoslawski is widely recognized as having contributed numerous innovations to the twentieth-century canon of “Western” avant-garde music. His contributions include new approaches to notation and aleatoric technique (especially in ad libitum sections), formal structure (“chain technique” and unusual four movement forms), and pitch organization (interval pairing and non-serial twelve-tone approaches). While emblematic of many of these qualities, Lutoslawski’s Third Symphony also demonstrates an overlooked aspect of his late compositions: multiple-directed linear processes. In my essay, I focus on linear processes within several levels of the musical structure (pitch, rhythm, orchestration, register, texture, and form), applying contour theory, set theory, and statistical analysis where appropriate.

In Lutoslawski’s Third Symphony many levels of the structure arrive at their goal in distinct places, are simultaneously oriented in different directions, or otherwise subvert each other. In addition, singularly directed linear passages interrupt each other in horizontal succession. These types of multiple-directed linearity are the objects of my study. Although multiple-directed linearity is not exclusive to Lutoslawski’s music, it is a facet that has been overlooked or mentioned only in passing within Lutoslawski studies.

The composition component of my dissertation is Proximate Spaces for piano and chamber orchestra. The formal continuity of Proximate Spaces was suggested to me by competing ideas of the 1990’s surrounding the search for a unified theory to explain the fundamental forces, dimensional composition, and existence of matter in the known universe. Much of the pitch material derives from a two-octave mode (18 pitches in series) and three subset hexachords of that mode. The work develops the tension between mechanistic devotion to this mode and episodes of free chromaticism, between strictly repeating rhythmic patterns and rhythmic variation, between instrumentation according to families and a free exchange of musical ideas regardless of instrumental relation. Initially aligned with the mechanistic paradigms of mode and regular rhythmic patterns, in several places the piano breaks free and attempts to incite revolt against the piece’s system by abandoning strict adherence to these structures. Although some other members of the ensemble briefly depart from the system, ultimately the machine prevails.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rosenblum, Matthew
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 70/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Keywords: Composition, Linearity, Lutoslawski, Witold, Music theory, Musical analysis, Poland, Proximate Spaces, Symphony No. 3, Twentieth century
Publication Number: 3375242
ISBN: 978-1-109-39591-4
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