SOUND PATTERNS

A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture,
Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music

by PHILLIP MAGNUSON

MICROCOSMS

Chapter 48. Texturalism

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Chapter 41.
Impressionism
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Chapter 42.
Primitivism
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Chapter 43.
Neo-classicism
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Chapter 44.
Expressionism
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Chapter 45.
Serialism
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Chapter 46.
Jazz
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Chapter 47.
Indeterminism
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Chapter 49.
Minimalism
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Chapter 50.
Electronicism
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Chapter 51.
Neo-romanticism
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Chapter 52.
Eclecticism

TEXTURALISM: an appeal to the undefinable

ImageAdolf Gottlieb:
Night Glow
Gottlieb communicates to us by placing two large shapes in his canvas. They are not immediately recognizable, but they have the power to fill our minds with ideas. 1971

48.1 BACKGROUND

TEXTURALISM is a term used to define large musical gestures and textures which exist beyond simple melody and harmony, or stated differently, gesture and texture assume the status which more traditional music reserves for melody and rhythm. Texturalism is about relationships of timbre, dynamics, media, number of parts, and density of pitch and rhythm. Texture is a vital aspect of all music, but in the second half of the 20th century, there has been unprecedented attention paid to it.

48.2 COMPOSERS ASSOCIATED WITH TEXTURALISM

48.3 MUSICAL ELEMENTS

At a glance:

TexturalismTonalityVocabularyTextureSonorityTime
basically maintains:
generally modifies:
completely changes:xxxxx

  1. Notation
    1. Composers can use traditional music notation, which combine into layers of sound forces.
    2. Composers can provide written directions, as found in Indeterminism.
    3. Composers can create graphic symbols, as seen in Indeterminism.
    4. Composers can create patterns either mathematically or with computers and translate them into traditional notation (STOCHASTIC music).

  2. Extended techniques
    1. Extensions of traditional color resources (such as flutter tongue or pizzicato)
    2. Newly developing techniques (such as multiphonics)
    3. Extended use of instruments (such as plucking inside a piano or tapping on brass instruments)
    4. Extended use of voices (such as grunts, shouts, or whispers)
    5. Extended use of performers (such as foot stomps or whistling)
    6. Electronic manipulation of acoustic sounds

  3. Textures
    1. There are four traditional textures:
      1. Monophony: a single line, even with multiple performers
      2. Heterophony: multiple lines, but each line has same structure but with varied embellishments
      3. Homophony: multiple lines, each one structured independently, but moving at fundamentally the same rhythm
      4. Polyphony: multiple lines, each one structured independently and moving with distinctly different rhythms
    2. Texturalism stacks and juxtaposes these traditional textures to create compound textures (STRATIFICATION).
    3. A dense (and frequently static) texture is called a SOUND-MASS
      1. These are sometimes created with sustained sounds, either consonant or dissonant.
      2. They can also be created from stacked ostinati or loops of random sounds.

ASSIGNMENTS:

SUGGESTED LISTENING

ANALYSIS

  1. Krzysztof Penderecki: String Quartet, no. 2 (1968) [MA #452] Listen to a performance
  2. Krzysztof Penderecki: Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1960) [ATM #27] Listen to a performance

SYNTHESIS

Write an Indeterminate and Texturalistic piece for a chorus (do not use a "word" text) of class members, one page or less, which is a complete musical thought. Include the following:

  1. Graphic notational techniques (do NOT use staff lines)
  2. Extended performance techniques
  3. Elements of both chance and choice
  4. Stratification
  5. Sound mass

The grading for this project:

Click here to view a sample Indeterminism/Texturalism project

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Copyright 2008-2009 by Phillip Magnuson.

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