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Some interparametric correlations in Edgard Varèse’s Déserts Morrison, Kenneth John


Varèse's later works can be described as an integrated network of parallel processes. As the composer's last completed work for instrumental ensemble, Déserts represents the culmination of Varèse's compositional style. At both the microstructural and macrostructural levels, there are correlations among a myriad of musical parameters. At the grossest formal level in Déserts and other works, the numbers of measures are often a whole number multiple of a primary motivic number. The number of beats and the number of rhythmic attacks are often related to the total number of measures in a piece such that there is an overall attack density of 1 attack/beat. There is also a regular metric background that belies the apparent rhythmic irregularities of the musical foreground. Similar correlations also control events at the level of microstructure: among pitch interval in semitones, the number of attacked time-points, and the total number of attacks in the entire instrumental texture in a given segment. These interparametric correlations enable the analyst to explicate some of the structural processes operating in this music.

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