American composer Morton Feldman is increasingly seen to have been one of the key figures in late-twentieth-century music, with his work exerting a powerful influence into the twenty-first century. At the same time, much about his music remains enigmatic, largely due to long-standing myths about supposedly intuitive or aleatoric working practices.In Composing Ambiguity, Alistair Noble reveals key aspects of Feldman's musical language as it developed during a crucial period in the early 1950s. Drawing models from primary sources, including Feldman's musical sketches, he shows that Feldman worked deliberately within a two-dimensional frame, allowing a focus upon the fundamental materials of sounding pitch in time. Beyond this, Feldman's work is revealed to be essentially concerned with the 12-tone chromatic field, and with the delineation of complexes of simple proportions in 'crystalline' forms.Through close reading of several important works from the early 1950s, Noble shows that there is a remarkable consistency of compositional method, despite the varied experimental notations used by Feldman at this time. Not only are there direct relations to be found between staff-notated works and grid scores, but much of the language developed by Feldman in this period was still in use even in his late works of the 1980s.
Contents: Listening to process, playing the system; ‘To create music as if on a canvas’: Intermission 5 (1952); Piano Piece (1952): ‘a discipline of vagueness’; Intermission 6 (1953): ‘the outlines of becoming’: ‘Primitive designs’: hearing and thinking through Intersection 3; Playing Feldman; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Dr Alistair Noble is a musicologist, composer, and pianist. He teaches in the School of Music at The Australian National University, where he is also Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Social Sciences.
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Chapter 1 - Listening to process, playing the system
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