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In Depth Analysis of Contemporary Music Four Example Pieces John Cage “My purpose is to eliminate purpose” Most famous and influential composer of chance music Example pieces: 4’33” (1952) Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (1951) for twelve radios

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john cage
John Cage
  • “My purpose is to eliminate purpose”
  • Most famous and influential composer of chance music
  • Example pieces:
    • 4’33” (1952)
    • Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (1951) for twelve radios
  • Inventor of prepared piano- piano whose sound is altered by the addition of objects to the strings of the piano
  • Influenced serial composers to add elements of chance to their music
sonatas and interludes for prepared piano
Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano
  • Set of twenty short pieces ranging from 90 seconds to 5 minutes in length
  • Reflects Cage’s study in Eastern Philosophy
  • Sonata II
    • AABB form
    • Part A- moves from a single melody to a two voice texture, “question and answer” structure
    • Part B- Twice as long as Part A, more extended phrases, starts loud and dense, conclusion is rhythmically active
edgard var se
EdgardVarèse
  • Born in France but spent most of his life in the United States
  • Pioneered the exploration of percussion and noiselike sounds with Ionisation for percussion ensemble in 1931
  • Wanted to pursue a “liberation of sound” and free music from traditional instruments
po me lectronique
Poèmeélectronique
  • Composed in 1958 when Varese was 75
  • Entire work is 8 minutes long
  • Designed to be heard in the Philips Radio Corporation Pavilion at the 1958 Brussells World Fair
  • Spatial effects created by using 425 loudspeakers placed in the pavilion
  • Worked with architect Le Coubusier, who selected images to be projected on the walls while the music was heard
  • Performance is fixed on audiotape
more po me lectronique
More Poèmeélectronique
  • Sound sources
    • Electronic Generators
    • Church bells
    • Sirens
    • Organs
    • Human voices
    • Machines
  • Unified by three rising tones
  • Tension is created by pauses of 2 to 7 seconds
  • Opening segment ends with 3 bell tones
ellen taaffe zwilich
Ellen TaaffeZwilich
  • Studied at Florida State University and Juiliard
  • Played as a violinist in the American Symphony Orchestra
  • Won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for her Symphony No. 1
  • Occupied Carnegie Hall’s first Composers Chair from 1995 to 1999
  • Named Musical America’s Composer of the Year in 1999
concerto grosso 1985
Concerto Grosso 1985
  • Commissioned by the Washington Friends of Handel to commemorate the composer’s 300th birthday
  • Each of the five movements contain thematic material from the opening movement of Handel’s Sonata for Violin and Concerto in D Major
  • Written for small orchestra and harpsichord, gives solo instruments prominent roles
  • Symmetrical- First and fifth similar, second and fourth similar
  • Outer movements use entire passages from Handel, others develop the opening theme
concerto grosso 1985 1st movement
Concerto Grosso 1985, 1st movement
  • Alternates Handel quotations with 20th century passages
  • New passages are often sped up versions of Handel’s four note opening
  • Pedal notes in bass give firm definition of the key
  • Uses short-short-short long found in Bach and Beethoven
john adams
John Adams
  • A leading composer who is considered a “postminimalist”
  • Uses the steady pulse, repetition, and clear tonality of minimalism with lyrical, expressive melodies and varied orchestral timbres
  • Conductor at the San Francisco Conservatory from 1972 to 1982
  • Composer for the San Francisco Orchestra from 1982 to 1985
  • Won Pulitzer in 2003 for On the Transmigration of Soul, commemorating those who died in the September 11th attack
short ride in a fast machine
Short Ride in a Fast Machine
  • One of the most widely performed works by an American Composer
  • Rapid tempo, rhythmic drive, and colorful sonorities create excitement
  • Large orchestra uses some unusual instruments:
    • Two synthesizers
    • Sizzle cymbal
    • Crotales
  • Steady beats in the Wood block, rapid ostinatos in the synth and clarinet