Research Output
Poetry and symmetry as organizing forces in music
  Aspects of poetry and symmetry are taken to represent the tension within the compositional process between spontaneous impulses and intuitive insights on the one hand, and more consciously imposed structure and organization on the other. These forces are not viewed as contradictory but as necessary and complementary elements of music; the need for balance between the two is considered essential.
Intuition plays a significant role in bringing together the disparate elements of the compositional process into a musical whole. Structure, both formal and otherwise, has a large part to play, but neither logical organization nor inspired themes will automatically create a satisfying piece of music. For the composer, accessing the intuitive sense can be aided by holding in mind a particular poem, picture or mood-tone as an overall organizing principle. Thus poetry, in its broadest sense, has guided the overall form of many of the compositions as well as providing initial stimuli.
For the purposes of analysis and discussion, this dissertation divides the pieces of the accompanying portfolio into three main groups in order to describe the particular role of poetical stimulus, symmetrical pitch organization and intuitive integrating forces. The final Nocturne is used to illustrate how all of these aspects are brought together in one piece.
Amongst the most influential composers on the author are Bartók, Lutosławski and Ligeti. Specific approaches to pitch organization used in the portfolio are drawn from their music, ideas and the theories of subsequent analysts. The music and writings of Schoenberg, Henze, Dutilleux, Copland and Rautavaara have also had a significant impact on the composer through their insights into the compositional process and the wider role of music in society.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 June 2012

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    M1 Music

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    781 General principles & musical forms


Eccles, J. Poetry and symmetry as organizing forces in music. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Musical composition; poetry; symmetry; tension; pitch;

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