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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of parametric organization in selected works of Luigi Nono Needley, Douglas


The main purpose of this study is to characterize the changes in Luigi Nono's treatment of techniques of parametric organization as found in five works composed successively from 1954 to 1957: "Liebeslied" (1954), "Canti per tredici" (1954/1955), "Incontri" (1955), "Il Canto sospeso" (1955/1956) and "Varianti" (1956/1957). The method employed is that of establishing the composer's processes of ordering, and determining to what extent they are applied within each composition. Through a comparison of the systems of organization used in each of the five works it is possible to assess Luigi Nono's development in the use of serial techniques. This analysis is limited primarily to studying the parameters of pitch and duration. Although these two parameters are the only variables which are consistently examined within each composition, other parameters, including dynamics, are discussed when it is found that their systems of serial ordering are directly related to and governed by the same organizational principles which are applied to pitch and duration. In the first four works discussed in this paper, namely "Liebeslied", "Canti per tredici", "Incontri" and "II Canto sospeso", parametric organization is linked closely to a technique which, for the purpose of this study, has been termed "polytimbral continuity." This concept of polytimbral continuity, which could be considered to have developed from "Klangfarbenmelodie", consists essentially of a continuous line of sound which has a constantly varying timbre. In comparing the methods of parametric organization as found in the five works, two basic characteristics are evident. The analysis of "Liebeslied", "Canti per tredici", "Incontri" and "Il Canto sospeso" have shown that with each successive composition the organizational systems not only become more complex but are also generally applied to a greater extent. Coinciding with this is the development of a technique of polytimbral continuity, the presentation of which in each successive work becomes more intricate. At the same time, the number of structural functions of polytimbral continuity in the ordering of parameters is increased. In contrast to this trend towards a greater degree of organization within "Liebeslied", "Canti per tredici", "Incontri" and "Il Canto sospeso", there can be found, within each of these compositions, areas in which the systems of ordering are not applied. Similarly, polytimbral continuity is not constantly employed throughout all works. In "Varianti", the concept and method of parametric organization is now changed completely. In discarding the technique of polytimbral continuity, Nono abandons the tendency of employing systems which specifically determine ordering of variable appearances. Possibly the most significant quality in Nono's development of serial techniques is the composer's reluctance to adopt completely, systems of total control. Although methods of parametric organization become more complex, Nono always retains a certain degree of choice. This avoidance of complete predetermination provides at least a partial explanation as to why Nono seldom employs organizational systems consistently throughout a work. The extent of irregularities may vary from one composition to the next but change is always evident. There can be no doubt that Nono has intentionally refrained from unerringly following systems of total serialism.

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