Week 10

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Some general comments on the submitted work:

  • Get scoring formalities right (getting the right order)
  • Notate syncopated parts correctly so that parts are easy to read.
  • Write idiomatically for instruments
  • Include dynamics, phrasing and articulation on all parts
  • Don’t write things that are impossible to perform (for instance, crescendos on a single piano note!)…


Exotic Influences

  • The Importance of Rhythmic Structure within the compositions of early John Cage;
  • Lou Harrison and Colin McPhee move beyond cultural appropriation and exoticism;
  • Exotic influences and inventions

See presentation

Cage, who studied with Schoenberg (amongst others) took 12-tone ordering techniques as a useful tool but stated that Schoenberg and all those before him had made one puzzling fundamental error: Cage declared that it was not pitch, but rhythm that should be used as the basis of any musical structural system. Cage explored tying the local to the global in some of his early and middle period pieces such as First Construction in Metal and Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano, which we will examine in this lecture.

There will be a discussion of the difference between ‘exoticism’ and the use of other cultural systems in creating integral compositional schema. Also see Harry Partch’s interest in non-western tunings, Lou Harrison’s interest in gamelan (compare with Debussy) and the ‘machine’ like qualities of John Cage’s prepared pianos.

Also, we’ll look briefly at a work by a European composer very influenced by non-western ideas, Et Expecto Ressurectionem by Messiaen which integrates different cultures and musical techniques.


 Preparatory Reading

Indicative Seminar Discussions

Choose one of the followings questions (or come up with your own) and be prepared to discuss it:

  • Investigate the Cage’s use of exoticism
  • What did Cage consider the primary fault of all music since the Renaissance?
  • What are the most fundamental aspects of any organized sound?
  • What is the relationship between ‘global’ and ‘local’ in most composition?
  • How does the West usually appropriate music of other cultures (compare Robinson Crusoe)?
  • How appropriate is it for cultures to utilise other materials? Are there any good or bad examples?
  • Bring in a recording of a piece of music which you think demonstrates the influence of one culture on another.  Consider the issues and be prepared to discuss your findings.

Follow-up Work

  • Have an outline and bibliography of your major essay ready for week 11, we will discuss them in individual tutorials. You should have an outline showing the points you are going to make, the piece(s) you will investigate as an example, and the sources (journals, books, scores, recordings) you are using to do this.

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