Music Discussion

Reading assignment:

Götterdämmerung in Vienna_Kluge_transCC.pdfPreview the document

Listening assignments:

Luigi Nono, “Guai ai Gelidi Mostri”… (Links to an external site.)

(listen to Part IV, which is track 4 on the Naxos site)

Richard Wagner, Act 3 from “Götterdämmerung”… (Links to an external site.)

(disc 4, all tracks)

J. S. Bach, Ricercar à 6 from “The Musical Offering”… (Links to an external site.)

(track 9)

J. S. Bach: Ricercar à 6 from “The Musical Offering”… (Links to an external site.)

(track 7)

Anton Webern / J. S. Bach: Ricercar à 6 from “The Musical Offering”… (Links to an external site.)

(track 2)

Writing Prompt:

You have one story to read and five listening selections. The third, fourth and fifth listening selections are different versions of the same piece, but be sure to listen to all of them, as you will be comparing them.

In the story, “Götterdämmerung in Vienna,” the third act of Richard Wagner’s apocalyptic opera “Twilight of the Gods” is subjected to a series of transformations; starting from a planned performance in an opera house, we wind up at the end with rotting canisters of film, preserving in distorted form the recording of a desperate and weirdly fragmented performance. Trace these transformations and describe briefly, but as clearly as you can, the steps through which this performance and these recordings have gone. You might want to imagine the end result as presented near the end of the story, and then work back to how the music was presumably intended to sound. Describe these transformations with direct reference to the imagined sound production and performance, not just to the plot and the actions that the story describes. Of course this will require some effort of imagination.

In the Listening selections, listen to the final act of “Götterdämmerung” to hear how that music sounds in the “original.” In fact, this is a live recording from 1955, just 10 years after the setting of Kluge’s story! Thus the recording has some historical link to the premise of the story. Listen in particular for the extraneous sounds captured on this live recording, including the stomping of the feet of the singers on stage, and the audience noise. Compare this to the external sounds Kluge describes in his fictional account. (off the record: this is a very long selection, and it may be quite abrasive as a listening experience; listen to as much as you can, getting a feel for what this music does and how it feels and sounds.)

Then, listen to the last part of the Luigi Nono piece to get a sense of how this composer’s music sounds and functions. Nono is mentioned in the story as the composer to whom the fragmented Wagner recording is posthumously attributed. The vocal parts in Nono’s composition use a collage of texts borrowed from multiple sources, but then sung in such a way that the lyrics are intentionally unintelligible. Then listen to the three versions of the Bach Ricercar and try to identify the differences between them. The first and second versions aspire to the status of “authenticity,” while the third, an orchestration from 1935 (10 years before the setting of Kluge’s story!) clearly undertakes a process of fragmentation and re-arrangement. Comment on how this re-arranging and fragmenting is achieved by Webern, as best you can.

So this assignment is about fragmentation and transformation, and how this notion can be traced across the selections I’ve assigned. In the story, fragmentation is the result of destruction, breaking apart and decomposing, so to speak. In the Nono, it seems to be a process of saturation, and a kind of blurring and “bleeding over” so that contours are no longer legible. And Webern does it differently too, clarifying through differentiation.

Based on the music and composition, the underlying background provides a theme under which the music has produced the composition. In the “Götterdämmerung,” it is clear that fragmentation is present as different transitions take place. This can be identified at the beginning of the song and as it continues. The motives of the songs are inverted to indicate the transformations. They bring drama and a historical perspective to the song. Isolation of the musical motive has been successfully achieved through transposition . The permutations are also a great way in which the motives and transformations have been made. The background and tonal variations attest to the different transformations. The motivic connections are also well presented, and the fragmentation also sees the different acoustic concentrations in the different bars of the tone. The leaping of the tones is of an emphasis on the motive. Nonetheless, these are only possible to detect with the middle ear.

In the Nono, the historical attenuation and thematic presentations have also been presented. Nonetheless, the sound intention has deviated from the constructor’s intentions. The unintelligent parts are meanwhile inadvertent the fragmentation is also demanding and sees the different quotations in the music . The different motives create a melodic pattern and voice. Moreover, the scale degrees and cadence tones have a synchronous effect on the overall structure and melody of the sound.

The fragmentation is also thematic. It shows the different segregation and symbolic fashions of the world and the occurrences of the war. The music communicates the different aspects of music that portray destruction and flooding. This way, the author’s tone and melody representations cannot vary so much from the meanings. Nonetheless, there are inventive notations and formal declarations of particulate portions. On the other hand, the aleatory musical signature can also be detected in the segmentation. Upon close examination of the music, it is also possible to view the music’s different inspirations and underlying societal portrayal. Here, poverty and low social status, as well as the war background, are well distinguished. Fundamentally, the textual and musical themes are synchronized and united via a common phrase of the invention.

This is what i wrote

When you say that it’s clear that fragmentation is present, but how specifically does that fragmentation manifest?

There are a lot of statements here without specific examples from *your experience* listening to the music.

For example, what differences did you hear in the three versions of the Bach? How do those differences manifest, and how do they contribute to fragmentation?

How did the extraneous sounds in the 1955 recording of the Wagner compare to the imagined sounds in the 1945 fictionalized story?

This is the question you need to answer

There are less than 4 questions left, you can read what I wrote. Then follow what I wrote and write at the end.

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