ChartingMémoriale: Paradigmatic Analysis and Harmonic Schemata in Boulez's ... explosante-fixe ... 

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ABSTRACT

Pierre Boulez's 1985 composition Mémoriale (... explosante-fixe ... originel), for flute and eight other instruments, is in many ways typical of the composer's later style, for instance encompassing highly thematic writing, an accompanimental texture which might be likened to ‘unplugged’ electronics, segmentation into clear harmonic fields and transparent formal articulation. Following a paradigmatic analysis of the flute part (which derives from the application of a software tool developed in part by the author at IRCAM), this article addresses the salient features of the work through a series of explanatory charts. A fundamental distinction drawn between polar notes and appoggiatura embellishment subsequently exposes a relatively uncomplicated harmonic structure based on six transpositions of a basic six-note cell. Additional examination of durational structure in turn reveals an underlying compositional system firmly rooted in the serial tradition.

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