Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
|Picasso juxtaposes recognizable images with unfamiliar ones (the masks on the two women at the right, for instance), creating new effects from simple colors and lines.||1906|
PRIMITIVISM, unlike Impressionism, uses musical elements that are well-defined and clear. Primitivistic music (note the adjective; this is not about "primitive" music) is tonal, but the tonality is not achieved through expectation of resolution, as in the Common Practice Period, but through the asserting of one note as more important than others. New sounds are synthesized from old ones by juxtaposing two simple events to create a more complex new event.
Primitivism has links to EXOTICISM (use of materials from other cultures), NATIONALISM (use of materials indigenous to specific countries), and ETHNICISM (use of materials from European ethnic groups). It eventually evolved into Neo-classicism.
42.2 COMPOSERS ASSOCIATED WITH PRIMITIVISM
42.3 MUSICAL ELEMENTS
In the Common Practice Period: The essential organization is around a single pitch, the tonic, which provides a home base to the ear. All other pitches work to establish the pre-eminence of tonic. Furthermore, an organization of phrases (generally made up of 4, 8, or 16 measures) expand the establishment of tonic; all phrases end with a cadence which confirms this sense of tonic.
In the Common Practice Period: The essential vocabulary is a diatonic pattern of seven stepwise pitches called major and minor scales. Chromatic pitches, the remaining five, can be used, but only to enhance the diatonic ones.
The composite created by bimodality and bitonality is generally calculated by comparing the two tonal centers. Two tonalities that create a dissonant interval (such as a second or tritone) are simply defined by that interval. Two tonalities that create a consonant interval are defined by the modality associated with that interval:
Modality, in this context, refers to the quality of the pitch collection, and can be applied to major, minor, pentatonic, or whole tone scales, or to any non-traditional or synthetic pitch collections.
In the example below, the E major of the top part combined with the C minor of the lower part creates a composite somewhat like C major (but clearly not the C major of the Common Practice Period).
In certain situations, it is impossible to assign a single modality as a composite. When this occurs, both can be used to describe the piece. In the example below, the F major of the upper part combines with the F minor of the lower part to create an F major/minor composite.
In the Common Practice Period: The essential texture is created with counterpoint, which is two or more simultaneous individual and independent lines, each of which confirms the pre-eminence of tonic and utilizes the vocabulary of a major or minor scale.
In the Common Practice Period: The essential sonority (chord) is consonant and is a group of three notes (a triad) arranged in thirds (tertian). Dissonance is used, which could be a group of four notes arranged in thirds (a tertian tetrad) or non-chordal embellishments (passing and neighboring tones, suspensions, and pedals, among others). All dissonances are required to resolve.
The density of these harmonies can be triads, tetrads, pentads, and larger; they can be generated from conterpoint, planed (as in Impressionism), or simply stacked into the music.
In the Common Practice Period: The essential time organization is based on a consistent and unchanging beat. These beats organize into 2, 3, or 4 essential pulses per measure, with the first beat always the strongest. Each beat can sub-divide into two parts (simple meters) or three parts (compound meters).
The example above shows meters actually changing. On occasion, the meters may change with un-metered cross rhythms.
Analyze the pitch materials and phrase design, and locate all the musical elements that are typical, characteristic, or unique to Primitivism in the following pieces in Music for Analysis:
Write a Primitivistic piece for piano, one page or less, which is a complete musical thought of at least two phrases of at least 5 measures. Consider the musicality of your work; Bartok often employs thin textures of simple two voice counterpoint. While there is much dissonance, the overwhelming effect is one of consonance. Play back your work on the computer through MIDI (or better yet, have someone perform it for you on the piano) to guide you. The final result must be playable.
To prepare this writing assignment properly, use the notation guidelines appendix, located at Basic Principles of Music Notation, Semester IV.
Submit a MIDI file via email in addition to a print-out of the project.
The grading for this project:
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