Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Chromatic Saturation

I've always thought that the best classical music academic would be someone who knows pretty much all of classical music. Somebody who is as familiar with David Del Tredici as he is with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Obviously, this is impossible because almost nobody has such a tremendous musical memory and even if somebody did, he/she would not have the time to consume all available music. So, instead, us musical academics do what we can with the music that we have in our heads, eclectic though it may be.

But what seems like even the most odd connections should not be dismissed as random coincidence. On the other hand, such connections need to be carefully examined for what they are. Some sonic connections may lead to deeper analyses and others may just be nothing more than a superficial coincidence. On that note (pun intended):

The first "theme" of Prokofiev's Toccata is a "12-tone" melody compound melody. It starts from the mid-range and expands to an A octave over a d minor arpeggio. It systematically and tonally saturates the chromatic octave. The theme from the fugue from Musica Ricercata XI by Ligeti is very similar. It is also a compound melody that branches out from the middle of an octave and chromatically expands to fill an octave (also starts on A, incidentally). What is more interesting than the superificial resemblance is how these similar structures act in similar ways despite their chronological separation. Both melodies are an exaggeration, almost an exploration, of the limits of certain aspects of tonality.

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