UBC Theses and Dissertations

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Breathing Music Granillo González, Maria del Consuelo 2006

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BREATHING MUSIC by M A R I A DEL CONSUELO GRANILLO G O N Z A L E Z Licenciatura (B.Mus.) Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1989 MMus Guildhall School of Music and Drama, 1991 MA/MSc University of York, 1993 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF MUSICAL ARTS IN COMPOSITION In THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 2006 © Maria del Consuelo Granillo Gonzalez 2006 Abstract This thesis is a composition for symphonic orchestra accompanied by an analytical document. Entitled Breathing Music, the composition is a single continuous movement approximately 14 minutes long, with a formal structure and musical language based on a personal interpretation of the concept of breathing. The background to the piece and its position within my work are presented in the Introduction, followed by a description of how breathing functions as the inspirational concept for the piece, and how the qualities of breathing are used as models within the composition. The document also contains an analysis of Breathing Music, which is organized into three chapters that present an explanation of the form, a detailed description of musical materials and procedures, and a discussion of the characteristics of the orchestration used, illustrated with excerpts from the composition. The last chapter of this document provides an aesthetic statement on this particular composition and on my creative work in general, followed by the full score of Breathing Music . ii Table of Contents Abstract 1 1 Table of Contents iii List of Figures i y Acknowledgements v Introduction 1 Chapter I Breathing as a concept 5 Chapter II Considerations about Form 7 Chapter III Musical Language 11 Chapter IV Orchestration 21 Chapter 5: Aesthetic Statement 23 Conclusion 26 Bibliography 27 Breathing Music Score 28 iii List of Figures Figure 1. Polyphonic gesture - Section A ; pg. 11 Figure 2. Chords of Section B pg.13 Figure 3. Permutations of chord 1 in Section B Pg-14 Figure 4. Melody of Section B pg.14 Figure 5.Generative gesture-Section C Pg-15 Figure 6. Melody of Section C Pg-16 Figure 7.Rhythmic pattern of Section A l Pg-17 Figure 8.Characteristic tetra-chords of chord 1 Pg-18 Figure 9. Tetra-chord A-Bb-C#-D (1:3:1) pg.18 Figure 10. Generative gesture- Section D Pg-19 Figure 11. Melody of the second climax pg-20 iv Acknowledgements I offer my enduring gratitude to Dr. Keith Hamel, my teacher and supervisor, who shared with me his invaluable knowledge and inspired me to continue working with his always intelligent and positive advice during my studies at the University of British Columbia. I thank Dr. Steve Chatman, Dr. Dorothy Chang and Dr. Bob Pritchard for their comments and suggestions about this thesis. I thank the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico who supported me financially while pursuing my doctoral studies. I thank my family for their unconditional love and support. I thank my daughter Valentina for sharing the journey of pursuing doctoral studies with me, which has been a wonderful learning experience for both of us. v Introduction The challenge of writing a doctoral thesis in composition gave me the opportunity to think about themes that have become significant to me over the past decade as I have been developing my own musical language. Specifically, the following themes were particularly important to me: 1. the musical gesture as a dramatic element within the musical discourse; 2. the creation and transformation of changing musical textures; 3. the different ways of achieving directionality. A s I searched for a concept that would help me explore these themes within a single work, I found myself tliinking about human experience and the natural processes that are integral to our existence. I ultimately choose the process of breathing as the conceptual basis for the piece because it provided me with an abundance of musical, structural, and poetic resources with which to work. I could simulate breathing gestures with various musical sounds, and these gestures could gradually transform themselves into new gestures in a continuous musical discourse. A s well , I could work with breathing in an abstract way by using cyclical and repetitive musical structures. The title of the piece has different meanings: Breathing Music can be understood as music that breathes, as music for breathing, or simply as breathing music (rather than breathing air.) A l l these meanings are relevant to my composition, which reflects the process of breathing at different levels of its organization. 1 I find it particularly difficult to place Breathing Music within the context of most recent styles of Western art music, and to classify and label my aesthetic because this work has many different stylistic influences, some of which could be considered to be in opposition to others. Pierre Boulez said : "a generation defines itself in relationship to its progenitors"1 In that sense I feel that composers of my generation are the children of the avant-garde. As a generation we have reacted to our parents in many ways, but most strongly in our skepticism of accepting newness as an aesthetic value. This skepticism has had different faces over the past quarter century, with perhaps the most prevalent reaction being Postmodernism. Within my compositional practice I have tried to avoid blindly following specific compositional trends, yet I have little interest in creating music that has no relation to the past. Let me illustrate some of the difficulties in classifying this work: since eclecticism is a main characteristic of Postmodernism, Breathing Music is Postmodern in the sense that it shows a variety of procedures instead of a single method or technique. However, I do not quote or make reference to different styles with my music, which many Postmodern composers do. Breathing Music constitutes a linear unfolding of a musical idea, as opposed to a typically Postmodern fragmented or juxtaposed discourse. The work has different levels of meaning. It guides the listener from moments of release to moments of climactic tension and aims to be expressive and emotional, which might be considered Neo-Romantic or Neo-Expressionist rather than Postmodern, although the breathing concept would be an unusual theme for a Romantic or Expressionist composer. Finally, the whole composition is based on my interpretation of breathing as a concept, which suggests that one might consider it to be a conceptual work. However, Breathing Music is not a conceptual composition because the primary focus is on the overall musical experience rather than on the illustration of a concept; the idea of breathing Fubini,Enrico. La estetica musical desde la Antiguedad hasta el siglo XX pg.465 2 belongs to and serves the creative process but does not have a life of its own independent of the music. Beyond these aesthetic considerations, my eclecticism would include compositional procedures derived from medieval counterpoint, serialism and twentieth century harmonic techniques. This places the Work in a very broad and uncertain spectrum between tonality and atonality, where complex textures and clearly defined melodies may coexist. There is no simple stylistic label for Breathing Music because it does not fall clearly into any specific aesthetic trend or school of composition. However, certain aspects of the composition are influenced by prominent composers from the last century: Stravinsky, Bartok, Messiaen, Gubaidulina, and Ligeti . While Breathing Music does not closely resemble the music of these composers, various techniques and compositional approaches found in some of their works have provided models for this composition. In writing Breathing Music I was influenced by the highly integrated formal structures found in compositions such as Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. It was a challenge for me to create a musical structure that was organically unified and where the macro and micro levels of the composition were interconnected. I was also mesmerized by the incredible freedom and flexibility found in Gubaidalina's compositions, such as the Offertorium, where the most disparate materials are brought together in such a natural way. The analysis of the complex cluster textures of Ligeti and the reading of his synesthetic approach to sound, inspired me to think of the breathing process as a wonderful pool of musical resources. In addition, I am quite taken by the colors and rhythmic vitality found in the music of Messiaen, such as Quartet for the End of Time or Chronochromie as well as in many works by Stravinsky. While I consider all of these composers and their music to be my primary influences, I have not tried to make my music sound like theirs nor to imitate their compositional styles. In fact, I suspect that most listeners w i l l not hear a direct connection between Breathing Music and the music o f these composers. However, the knowledge I have gained from the analysis of their 3 music has been invaluable. Many of the discoveries I made while examining the works of these composers became important points of focus in my own work. While I belong to a different generation than the composers mentioned above, I feel that composing today is no different than it was in the past. Independently of the means, the art of composition centers on the poetics and the organization of the form and sound materials. In my view, the manner in which composers respond to these questions does not progress or become better in time as do science or technology. I believe that individual responses to questions of aesthetic and style in art are as varied and diverse as the imagination of the artists and their historical contexts allow. While Breathing Music has connections to several contemporary composers and their techniques, it does not resemble their works. It is a work that aims to convey an individual voice that does not avoid traditional musical structures or dramatic forms, yet it searches for new modes of expression within those traditions. 4 Chapter I Breathing as a concept. Breathing has not only a physical dimension, but also a metaphysical or spiritual one. Breathing is the first human action after birth and the last one before death, which accounts for its use in poetry and literature as a synonym for life itself. It is so closely connected to being alive that its changing qualities reflect our physical, emotional, and psychological states. In ancient Oriental philosophical and spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation, the practice of breathing control, known as pranayama, is believed to have the power to heal and to alter a person's spiritual, physical, and psychological conditions. In yoga, the breath is intimately associated with Prana, which translates from Sanskrit into English as "primordial impulse". Prana is the primordial life force that governs all your mental and physical functions. It is the vital energy that animates inert molecules into self-healing, evolving biological beings. It is the primary creative power of the cosmos. (Deepak ChopraThe Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga pg.99.) The practice of yoga entails learning to regulate the Prana through pranayama accompanying the performance of a series of postures known as asanas . There exist different techniques of breathing in pranayama aimed for cleansing, invigorating, calming, relaxing, etc. not only the body functions but the state of the mind, which is believed to be continuously altered and influenced by the sensorial activities. With the pranayama the yogi attempts to know in an immediate way the pulsation of his own life, the organic energy that is released by the inhalations and the exhalations... the rhythm of the breathing is obtained by means of the harmonization of the three moments: inhalation, exhalation and the conservation of air in the lungs. (Mircea Eliade Yoga Immortality and Liberation.pg.54) 5 There is also a communal aspect to breathing. While we all breath at different rates and in different ways, we all share the same air with everyone who has ever lived. In a sense, the air we breathe connects us to one another and to the world around us. Breathing is also a process that, like most natural cycles, has two opposite states, which continually transform from one to the other. When breathing, we exhale the air in our lungs to create an empty space that will be filled again through inhalation; we start from emptiness that gradually becomes fullness, which in turn becomes emptiness again and so on. The act of breathing, like most cyclical processes, is gradual and continuous. While breathing is a cyclical process, there are aspects of irregularity in it. Breathing does not always reach its opposite states in exactly the same way and it is susceptible to significant fluctuations over time. The character of breathing can vary dramatically as a person's emotional outlook or physical state changes. While, in general, there is a stability and regularity to breathing, there is also a tremendous variety in its character and in how it reflects a person's condition. For me, breathing as a metaphor refers to any process that is both mutable and cyclical, that oscillates between opposite extremes, that reflects different emotions or psychological states, and that intrinsically appeals to us as living beings. These abstract qualities of breathing can be transformed into musical processes, textures, and structures in a flexible and poetical way. These are the qualities that I explored and developed in this composition. 6 Chapter II Considerations about Form The concept of breathing is applied to formal aspects of the composition. It informs the generation and manipulation of musical materials, as well as the large-scale divisions and subdivisions of the piece. A s a cyclical event, Breathing is both self-contained and recurring. The inherent repetitiveness of any cyclical process aids in our perception of it and in our ability to comprehend musical and formal structures. However, any recurrent process is prone to stagnation and care must be taken to overcome this tendency when creating a composition based on cycles. Natural cycles like the seasons, the days, the waves of the ocean, the human heartbeat, are in fact continuous and repetitive but also changeable and somewhat unpredictable. M y decision to choose a natural cyclical process as the model for this piece came from the desire to explore gradual and flexible transformations of cyclical musical gestures. These gestures become radically different from their original state, yet they exist naturally within a continuous framework. I considered cyclical behavior, transformation and directionality to be especially important in the design and structure of the musical discourse of this composition. In a sense, the structure of Breathing Music is a cycle of cycles, and these cycles exist i n three levels: 1. The individual cycle: the generative gesture; 2 . The cyclical section: a transformation process; 3. The total structure: a sequence of cyclical sections. 7 The individual Cycle: the generative gesture. Recurrence is the main characteristic of a process that is considered to be cyclical. In a musical discourse, the repetition of distinctive motives, themes, or other musical materials provides a sense of unity within a piece, although this repetition is not necessarily perceived as cyclical behavior. To be perceived as cyclical, repetition must be fairly regular and must continue for a reasonable amount of time. Each section of the composition begins with a generative motive or generative gesture that is repeated until it is perceived as being cyclical. It is particularly important to me that the audience perceives this cyclical behavior so it can make a connection to the cyclic nature of breathing. A generative gesture is a brief but complex musical idea with a clearly defined texture. A generative gesture is usually constructed from many interlocking or overlapping musical elements - often creating polyphonic or polyrhythmic textures. Thus, the generative gesture can be dismembered into simpler components when references to the generative gestures are desired. In each section of the composition, the generative gesture is gradually transformed as it repeats or cycles. The individual parameters of the generative gesture (i.e. rhythm, harmony, melody, timbre) are manipulated independently so that at least one of them remains intact throughout the process while the others may vary. Retaining consistency in at least one parameter is necessary because if all the elements of the gesture were to vary, the sense of recurrence and repetition would be completely lost. 8 The cyclical section: a transformation process. Each section of Breathing Music is built from the recurrence of an ever-changing generative gesture through a process that has clear sense of direction. The direction of a section depends on the inherent qualities of the generative gesture as well as on the relative position that each section occupies within the total form of the piece. Specific sections are "expansive" or "constructive", "climactic" or "goal-oriented", or even "decaying" or "deconstructive". In each section of the piece, there is one generative gesture and at least one parameter within that gesture that remains constant and defines the cyclic behavior of the section. To promote variety a different constant element is used in each consecutive section. Thus, in the first section, the generative gesture has a constant rhythm while its harmony , melody, register and timbre vary. In the second section, the generative gesture repeats harmonic structures, while its rhythm, register and timbre vary. In the third section, the generative gesture has repeating melodic sequences and contours while its harmonic region varies. The overall structure: a sequence of cyclical sections. Breathing Music is a single continuous movement, divided into seven clearly defined sections that create a cyclical formal structure. Consecutive sections follow one another without clear divisions or cadences. However, because each section goes through a directed process of transformation, there are brief transitional passages between them. In these transitional sections, the sense of cyclic behavior hesitates, dissipates or goes through a dramatic change, until it is transformed into the generative gesture for the new section. 9 The overall formal structure of the piece is: A B C Al D Bl Cl Each related section (eg. A A 1 or B B 1 ) is shorter in duration than its predecessor, resulting in an acceleration of the overall formal structure and an increase of energy towards the end of the composition. Finally, I wanted to shape the large-scale structure of the piece in the form of a big breath in which sections A, B , and C correspond to the inhalation and sections A1 D B 1 C 1 correspond to the exhalation. Although the idea of breathing does not necessarily require acceleration or even a climax, I decided to create several climactic moments within the overall form purely for musical reasons. This climactic moments are particularly noticeable at the end of section C , through D and again in C1 after which the music relaxes and thins in texture, finally arriving at the single note from which the piece started. 10 Chapter III Musical Language Section A of Breathing Music (mm. 1-53) is based on a four-voiced polyphonic generative gesture. Each voice of the gesture has a different rhythmic motive that is repeated like an ostinato throughout the section. Thus, there are four rhythmic motives of different lengths cycling throughout the section (Fig.l) : J = 72 It* > el- o 3 1 - L i J ' ' =^ Fig 1. Polyphonic gesture - Section A 11 The fixed musical parameter of this section is the rhythm, whereas the variable parameters are melody, harmony, timbre, and register. The generative gesture is completed in measure 10 when all the voices have been introduced. Throughout this section the voices cycle through their independent rhythmic motives, occasionally imitating one another melodically, presenting ascending or descending melodic contours, and opening up to encompass a wide register, (score mm.1-41). The piece starts and finishes with a single D. The individual voices of the generative gesture do not follow a fixed order of pitches but their lines are based on the notes of a D major scale with a lowered sixth scale degree (B flat). In section A , the chords that emerge are the result of the linear movement of the individual voices and not of a preconceived progression of chords. Section A ends with a transition that takes place from m. 41 to m. 51. The durations of the rhythmic patterns in each voice are gradually diminished, generating increased rhythmic activity in this passage. At m.52, all of the voices share a seven note chord {E, F, F#, G, A , Bb, C#}, that marks the beginning of section B. This collection of notes will become an important pitch set for the whole composition because it is closely related to the D scale with Bb used in section A and it is a relevant harmonic structure for sections B, C and D as it will be explained later. Section A has a peaceful and expansive character. In terms of the breathing metaphor, this section represents communal breathing. There are different kinds of breaths that transform gradually from a close-knit polyphony to loosely overlapping melodic contours. In section B (mm. 54 - 91), the generative gesture is a series of chords of different densities and registers that create a sonic resemblance to inhaling and exhaling. 12 The section is based on the following chords: 1 i 3 E E E £1_ X5I ZEE ZEE Fig 2. Chords of Section B Throughout section B, these 5 chords are ordered as follows: XJ 1,2, 1,2, 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 3, 4,5 1,2, 1,2, 1,3,3,4, 4,5 1,2,3,3,1 (m.m. 51-62) (m.m. 63-73) (m.m. 74- 82) (m.m. 83-92) This harmonic sequence is somewhat cyclical, but is not a rigid repetition of the chords. The sequence 1,2,3,4,5 loosely repeats itself three times, but within each of these sequences the exact ordering of the 5 chords is different. To further obscure the perception of repetition, the phrasing of the section is independent of the 5-chord cycles. The sense of cyclical behavior is intensified by the juxtaposition of widely spaced open chords (1,3,5) and contracted chords (2,4). The fact that the open chords 1 and 3 are both set class [0123569]; and close chords 2 and 4 are both set class [01348] also contributes to the 13 perception of a cyclic behavior. Chord 5 has a different interval construction pes [013457], so there are really only three different classes of chords in the entire section. Although the five chords of the harmonic progression are repeated throughout the section, either their voicing or their register is varied so that different sonorities are derived from the same basic harmonic structure. Figure 3 shows an example of different permutations of chord 1: m.53 m.63 m.67 m.74 J*. m.83 te: Fig 3. Permutations of chord 1 in Section B The general direction of the harmonic progression is controlled by the top voice of each chord, which forms a melodic line. This line crosses several registers and is characterized by minor seconds and major thirds. When reduced to a single register the melodic line is: Fig 4. Melody of Section B 14 Overall, section B has a static quality in which the successive inhalations and exhalations alternate peacefully like clouds. The section's varying dynamics and alternating instrumental groups contribute to the perception of a sonic image of expansion and contraction. Towards the end of this section melodic material derived from the chords is introduced and a transition leads to the beginning of the next section. Section C has a more complex generative gesture, consisting of a 5-measure phrase that combines three main elements, (Fig.5): 1. a two-voice melodic counterpoint in the middle and high registers; 2. rapidly undulating 16th notes in the middle and bass register; 3. a harmonic "sighing" gesture in the middle register. This 5-measure phrase is based on chord 1 of section B used both harmonically and melodically : E , F, F# ,G ,A ,Bb , C# [0123569] (Fig.5) : F i g 5. Generative gesture - Section C 15 The entire phrase is then transposed, with minor variants, to different harmonic regions in the following order: TO, T6, Te, Tl, T6. The sequence of 5-measure phrases expands and contracts its overall register in order to create an undulating texture. During the fifth transposition of the generative gesture (m. 112), the melodic line shown in Fig.6 develops a predominant role through rhythmic augmentation. There, the whole section reaches a climactic point and the cyclic repetitions break down to bring the first half of the composition to a close: flute - m.92 TOT rrtir i LJ ¥ F-f ^ - - f # i -J 3 E 5 : Ll ' j, ' J mJ  1 1 1 1 1 Climatic melody m. 112 - T6 + augmentation ' fl B. : — . -£ \ T »; T k A • —1= 1 ^  • • — 1 = Fig 6. Melody of Section C In section C cycles occur at several different levels within the individual layers of the generative gesture. There is a cyclic recurrence of the generative gesture itself as it moves through several harmonic regions and there is a cyclic expansion and contraction of the texture as a whole. In this section the qualities of breathing are interpreted in a more abstract way. In addition to creating a musical representation of breathing, mainly by the sighing gestures, the process of 16 developing the cycles through repetition and transformation becomes an important compositional consideration. Following the climactic passage at the end of section C (m. 133), a varied restatement of the three main sections of the composition - A B C - begins, but with the addition of a new section D, resulting in A 1 D B 1 C 1 . These restatements are somewhat shorter than their originals statements. Whereas sections A , B and C build in dramatic intensity, the sections A 1 D B 1 C 1 contain an initial climax followed by a gradual diminution of dramatic intensity. Therefore, while the musical materials and processes are restated with variations in the second half of the composition, the overall dramatic shape is reversed. Section A 1 (mm. 134-164) is not a strict variation of section A but it is related to it because it also relies on the repetition of a rhythmic pattern to maintain the sense of a recurrent cycle (Fig 7): 8 r r r r 7r pr p'p'r P ~ r 8 * 7 [ 6 P r P ' P r pr • ^ » V mm m" r r 8 7 r P v rp • pr P1 Fig 7. Rhythmic pattern of section A l While sections A and A 1 are clearly related to one another, the melodic materials used in section A 1 are not taken from section A , but are derived from chord 1 of the 5 chord progression from section B. The notes that form chord 1: [E F F# G A Bb C#] are now presented as a mode. 17 From this mode I use tetra-chords 1:3:1 and 1:2:1 to build the phrases of Section A 1 . This tetra-chords are transposed to different harmonic regions for each different phrase (Fig 8): 1:3:1 1:2:1 ki- JU M »' =| rn it Fig 8. Characteristic tetra-chords of chord 1 As well, the effect of overlapping voices from section A is recalled, although A 1 is thicker, using harmonic streams rather than melodic streams (Fig.9): It d f m. • 9 — r \ K. j m. -fc p — — 1 fc->^8 * n F 7 v 9— 9 9 H • 7 • f m. j fc . F \ 9^~ • 9-#r8 9 9— m V 9 9— — r — T + — i I _ Fig N 9. Tetra L-C hord A B b ( tz : # D — * — ^ (1:3:1) 18 Section A 1 proceeds in overlapping phrases of four bars that are streams of different timbres and registers. The rhythm of these streams is somewhat vague because each stream goes in and out of the main pulse (mm.134-144). This section develops into an energetic section D, which musically represents a "fire breath". This vigorous kind of breath belongs to the Pranayama breathing techniques, and involves forceful exhalations followed by passive inhalations where the primary movement is from the diaphragm. Section D (m.m.165-187) is also based on tetra-chords 1:3:1 and 1:2:1 but its main feature is a polyrhythmic pattern between the voices, punctuated every 5 t h bar by a gesture that seems to "take a breath" only to keep on going (Fig. 10) : m.168 Fig 10. Generative gesture - Section D This section can be better understood as a development of the previous section rather than as a new one. The end of section D overlaps at m.188 with the sudden entrance of B 1 . This section is much shorter than its previous version (B), and while its musical materials are very similar, the orchestration now emphasizes the colors of the sections of the orchestra in different 19 order and with some variants in the correspondent passages (m.m.71-91) and (m.m 196-213) from B and B 1 respectively. Section C 1 starts at m.210 with a slightly varied version of section C. Here, the melodic contours are a little different from the previous section, as are the series of transpositions that the five-measures passage moves through. This section rises to a climax at m.234 where an altered version of the melody from section C is presented (F.l 1): m.234 Fig 11. Melody of the second climax After this point the piece gradually fades out towards a closing section that starts at m.262. This new section consists of a rich texture of overlapping harmonic strands built with notes of the original D scale. Reversing the process of the opening section, the final texture gradually reduces its register until a single D in the middle register remains. 20 Chapter IV Orchestration The instrumentation of Breathing Music is: 2 flutes (2n -piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 Bb clarinets (2nd- bass clarinet), 2 bassoons (2nd-contra bassoon), 4 F horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (marimba, vibraphone, snare drum, bass drum), harp, piano, celesta and strings. In recent years it has become increasingly frequent for me to have a synesthetic perception of music. In my imagination a sound is frequently accompanied by a visual image that has movement, texture and color. These perceptions occur when I am listening to music and when I conceive of my own music. That is why I have found the term musical gesture appropriate to refer to my generative musical ideas. This is nothing new; composers like Ligeti have talked about their music as materializations of webs and clouds and Xenakis involved the spatial perception of sounds in his works. I composed sound webs of such density that the individual intervals within them lost their identity and functioned simply as collective interval groups...this meant that pitch function had also been eliminated...Pitches and intervals now had a purely global function as aspects of compass and note density. ( Ligeti, Ligeti in Conversation (London:Eulenberg, 1983) p. 128 ) Timbre was an integral part of the primary materials from their conception. Breathing Music was created from different breathing-like musical gestures; I had a mental image of their movement, their textures, and their colors, and I first imagined these breathing-like gestures with all their sonic qualities. This dictated the choice of instruments to be used, and thus orchestration played a very important role in not only defining the identity of the generative gesture, but its development and transformation in each section of the work. 21 A different approach to orchestration distinguishes each section of the work. In Section A the polyphonic texture starts in the middle register with a few solo wind instruments. The texture is gradually thickened and expanded in range by the progressive addition of strings, brasses and percussion instruments, which generates an increase in density and intensity as well as a gradual change of timbre aimed to reach a very loud, tutti sonority. In Section B this thick sonority starts to behave like a body that is exhaling and inhaling. The expansions and contractions are achieved by the juxtaposition of expanded and contracted chords using two groups of strings, woodwinds and brass, which alternate with one another and each have clearly defined dynamic contours as they fade into one another. In section B the orchestral families produce a blended sound in which the individual timbers of the sections are not independent. When this breathing becomes softer and quieter the new gesture enters in Section C. This time the orchestra is divided into four different layers: a melodic counterpoint, an undulating figure, a sighing motive, and a harmonic background. A l l of these layers have different timbres so the resultant gesture is more intricate and colorful than the previous. Towards the climax the melodic layer becomes prominent and there are some doublings of strings and woodwinds. In the following Section A 1 the orchestra is divided into small mixed groups that play brief overlapping textures of different timbres and registers. These textures are like small collections of harmonic streams that appear and disappear but gradually develop into a polyrhythmic polyphony in section D, where the orchestra is divided into its traditional instrumental families again, and a rich and colorful section results. The last two sections - B 1 and C 1 - recreate with minor variants the orchestration of B and C respectively. Beginning at m. 262, the closing section reverses the expansion process of the opening section with a shimmering texture of mixed timbres similar to A 1 that eventually contracts to a single note. 22 Chapter V Aesthetic Statement One of my concerns as a composer has been to find a balance between technical procedures and musical results. I believe that great compositions are those whose music can stand on their own without the need of theoretical justifications, and are also the product of solid compositional techniques. However, it is difficult to find such a balance because the rational logic that is used to design a particular method of composition does not necessarily coincide with the ways in which we perceive sound or understand musical structures. Some things may work nicely in theory but not very well in practice. For instance, referring to the procedures of Total Serialism Ligeti says: There was no guarantee that a single basic order would produce analogous structures on the various levels of perception and understanding. Unity, therefore, existed only on the level of verbal description, clapped on the musical events from the outside. Even the generalization of serial procedures to engage more abstract and global characteristics, such as types of motion, form, density and so forth, did not tighten the loose connection that had developed between compositional processes and the actual resultant sound of the music. Pre-planning had become so important that it was the real compositional act. (Ligeti, Uber Form in der neuen Musik Vol.10 (1966) pp 23-35.) Throughout the history of 20th Century music there are plenty of examples where the techniques employed are not necessarily audible, simply because the perception of such techniques is beyond the abilities of even the most adept listener. Ligeti's micro-polyphonies or the total serialism of Boulez are good examples of this. Sometimes the technique is not meant to be heard, but in those cases, the music that results must come across through the workings of other mechanisms. 23 Technically speaking, I have always approached musical structure through part-writing. Both Atmospheres and Lontano have dense canonic structure. But you cannot actually hear the polyphony , the canon. You hear a kind of impenetrable texture, something like a very densely woven cobweb...The polyphonic structure does not come through, you cannot hear it, it remains hidden in a microscopic, underwater world , to us inaudible. (Ligeti, Peter Vdrnai Ligeti in Conversation pp. 13-82) There are also plenty of examples - particularly in the music of the 60's and 70's avant-garde -such as Boulez Structures, Messiaen's Mode de valeurs or Cage's 4:33 , where the technique, the process of composition, or the concept behind a work became at least as important as the resultant music. Sometimes the theoretical and conceptual discussion about a piece of music was far more interesting, from a technical or philosophical point of view, than the music itself. The consequences of this phase of 20th century art music are vast and beyond the scope of this thesis. However, I feel it is important to mention that there is a significant body of 20th century music which emphasizes the rational experience over the aesthetic experience, with the result that much new art music fails to be appreciated, understood, shared and enjoyed by non-musically trained people and even by a great number of professional musicians. Contrary to this prevalent trend, I believe that the means of composition - the methods, techniques and systems. - should arise from the sound images that the composer is trying to convey. They should not be treated as if they had a life of their own that is independent of the music that we create with them. The methods and techniques employed should ultimately serve the music. The musical idea should emerge first, and it should be clear enough to the composer that it will almost dictate the means needed to express it. I am very much against adopting a particular procedure or technique for the sake of its rational values or for its inherent logic. I prefer to employ systems and processes in a more flexible and eclectic manner - altering and adjusting the techniques as my imagination dictates. This approach ensures that poetics and musical expression are always a primary focus in my music. 24 In Breathing Music, I tried to find a balance between the compositional methods used to structure the work and the sonic and dramatic expression of the music. While I derived all the formal structures and compositional procedures from the concept of breathing, I allowed myself enough flexibility to freely express my musical ideas. The result is, I hope, a composition that is highly integrated and logically structured, yet is expressive, dramatic and meaningful. 25 Conclusion Breathing Music is an orchestral work that uses breathing as its conceptual basis. The work explores the characteristics of the breathing process in multiple levels, from its purely sonic representation, to the use of its qualities as models for various musical techniques and processes. The relation of breathing to motion and emotion gave me the idea of using breathing-like musical gestures to function as structural cells within the piece. Thus, one of the most important characteristics of Breathing Music is the establishment of breathing-like musical gestures that have a cyclical behavior and go through processes of gradual transformation. These processes are approached in a different manner in each section of the work. The musical elements of rhythm, harmony, melody and timbre are assigned either a repetitive or a transforming function in each section of the composition. In Breathing Music, I sought to integrate the conflicting aspects of breathing, such as the fact that it recurs yet always varies slightly, into a musical discourse that was both cyclical and mutable. At the same time, I also wanted the music to "breathe" at all levels, from its constituent cells to its entirety; the overall structure of the work is a cycle of cycles. Breathing, therefore, is used both as a structural concept and as a perceptible sonic feature of the composition. The aural image I wanted to create in Breathing Music is that of a living organism that gradually evolves through different emotional states - it is continually cycling and continually transforming, as if it were alive. 26 Bibliography 1. Boulez , Pierre. Puntos de referenda I Spanish translation by Eduardo J. Prieto/ gedisa editorial, Barcelona 2001. 2. Cope, Stephen. Yoga and the quest for the true self. Bantam Books New York 1999. 3. Eliade, Mircea, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958. 4. Farhi, Donna. The Breathing Book. New York: Henry Holt, 1996. 5. Fubini, Enrico. La estetica musical desde la antiguedad hasta el siglo XX/ Spanish translation by Carlos Guillermo Perez de Aranda/ Alianza Editorial. Madrid 2000. 6. Hendicks, Gay, Ph.D. Conscious Breathing. New York:Bantam,1995 7. Joshi, Kalidas Sadashiv Pranayama: the science of yogic breathing. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia, 1977. 8. Ligeti, Gyorgy, 1923. Gyorgy Ligeti in conversation I with Peter Varnai, Josef Hausler, Claude Samuel and himself. London : Eulenburg, 1983. 9. Morgan, Robert P. Twentieth-century music: a history of musical style in modern Europe and America .New York : Norton, cl991. 10. Rosen, Richard. The Yoga of Breath a guide to Pranayama. Shambala Publications, Inc. Boston, 2002. 27 Breathing Music Transposed Score Duration: 13-14 min. Instrumentation: 2 Flutes; 2 n d also plays Piccolo 2 Oboes 2 Bb Clarinets; 2 n d also plays Bb Bass Clarinet 2 Bassoons; 2 n d also plays Contra Bassoon 4 F Horns 2 Trumpets in C 2 Trombones 1 Tuba Timpani Percussion (two players: Vibraphone, Marimba, Bass Drum, Snare Drum) Harp Piano/Celesta 16 1s t Violins 14 2 n d Violins Strings 12 Violas 12 Cellos 10 Double Basses 28 Breathing Music 29 30 31 / 32 33 34 39 40 41 44 45 46 47 48 50 51 53 / 54 55 56 57 59 60 62 65 68 69 70 71 75 80 81 84 85 86 87 89 90 


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