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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Aspects of musical language in György Ligeti’s Ten pieces for wind quintet (1968) Morrison, Charles Douglas


Gyorgy Ligeti's Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet (1968) is a work representative of his style in the middle sixties; it illustrates many compositional procedures in a medium considerably more "compact" than that of many of his other works. Moreover, refinements of techniques from earlier pieces are apparent throughout the quintet. The first chapter traces the development of Ligeti's compositional style from his early period in Hungary to his more mature period, the style of which began to evolve in 1956 with his move to Vienna. Major works are cited, excerpts given, and stylistic features defined and substantiated, often by Ligeti's own characterizations of his changing musical language. Chapter II isolates certain musical parameters—form, texture, rhythm, and pitch—and discusses them independently of each other, defining details of their structures and illustrating them in excerpts from pieces 2 to 9 of the quintet. Concerning aspects of form, subgroupings of pieces within the quintet as a whole are suggested, while delineating factors within individual pieces are discussed in the light of the parameters effecting such segmentation. The section dealing with texture identifies two prevalent arrangements in the work, i.e., "ensemble" and "soloistic," and outlines general and specific textural aspects of each type (e.g., modes of instrument interaction). Rhythmic principles are discussed next, and the roles of meter and other rhythmic groupings are defined and illustrated. And finally, the section on pitch organization treats linear and harmonic details separately. Regarding the former, various means of linear connection and pitch-class unfolding are exposed, while in the latter, harmonic structures are classified and related according to a derived system of consonance-dissonance factors. Chapter II, through the examination procedures outlined above, provides a basic understanding of techniques and devices in preparation for the detailed analyses which follow in Chapters III and IV. Chapters III and IV deal exclusively and extensively with the first and last pieces respectively. Again, musical parameters are studied individually, and many concepts introduced in Chapter II are further discussed. These and other concepts (the latter being introduced with specific reference to the first and/or last pieces) are also approached on a larger scale, providing a comprehensive view of the pieces' overall musical structures. Instances of interaction between parameters are referred to in this regard. In addition, these two detailed analyses include aspects of connection between the first and third pieces of the quintet, and between the ninth and tenth. In Chapter V, conclusions are given which pertain to the quintet as representative of Ligeti's music of this period, as evidenced in findings resulting from the analysis.

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