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.

  • Dates:

    2006 to 2012

  • Qualification:

    Master's Degree (MPhil)

Project Team