Pitch and Texture Analysis of Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna. Jan Jarvlepp. Lux Aeterna ( ) by Gyorgy Ligeti is a single movement composition of about nine minutes. Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin: II. Wenn Aus Der Ferne. Cappella Amsterdam & Daniel Reuss. 6. Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin: III . ‘Rules as Strict as Palestrina’s’: The Regulation of Pitch and Rhythm in Ligeti’s Requiem and Lux aeterna – Volume 10 Issue 2 – BENJAMIN R. LEVY.

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However, the same A becomes the middle note of the bass chord thus giving a pivot note or pitch connection to this block. Block 5C bars is a static interval with an additive entry and sub tractive ending see Example The highest note of this block, B, is not present in block 1. These are due to the gradual addition of voices, expansion of pitch range and especially the addition of the liteti A to the otherwise midrange texture.

The site is also available in several languages. The composer has negated his previously pitch-centered material in favor of a dense neutral texture with internal movement but logeti apparent pitch goal.

It is characteristic of nearly all Ligeti’s mature works that the subdivisions of the basic beat keep changing, which contributes to their beatless, floating feeling. The band of sound exceeds two octaves and contains all twelve pitch classes. The second and third chords have their middle pitches in common.

Each syllable appears with a particular pitch of the canonic melody, except in block 3C which uses an exceptionally short canon to represent a large number of syllables. Another contrast with other polyphonic sections of this piece is that this block begins simultaneously with the same syllable sung with three pitches instead of one. Therefore it is heard as a ‘ p ‘ level. Homo phonic and polyphonic structures have been used in a way that gives unity as well as variety.

The second chord is an inversion of the first in which the outer two the same. This block begins with a simultaneous attack on A by the four alto sections, which then continue the melodic line in canonic fashion. Example 15 Since the strict pitch and word canons are rhythmically set using flexible talea structures, it is hard to hear any canonic structure.


The entry of the low D is a noticeable event since this is a new pitch appearing in the unused low register of the basses. This is the first setting of the new word “Domine” which means “0, Lord”.

The static harmony can be ligehi to portray God’s never changing presence while the lower dynamic level indicates the peacefulness associated with God. Canonic representation of the words generally causes them to be unintelligible, while the word sung in the homophonic sections is clearly intelli gible. Note that the neighbor motion cells found in block 1 are also present in this line.

The ending of this textural block is a simultaneous cut-off with no “morendo” indication.

There are several occurrences of neighbor motion found in the melodic line. The polyphonic result is a single tonic note, F, which expands into a dense harmony without prominent pitches, for example bar 13, and then gradually moves to the new central pitch, A, starting at bar Tenors begin this texture and are joined by the basses once the texture is well established. The cell consists of a minor third and a major second.

In bars the area of maximum vertical density of the whole piece is found. In barsthis confusion is resolved with the appearance of Es above and below middle C, and the disappearance of the F and E flat. They are sustained for three bars and then fade out simultane ously over two bars.

Ub block s5A and 5B there has been a further slowing down of the rate at pitch change in block 5B. For example, in the fourth syllable, luc, Alto luc duration is only an eighth note whereas Alto 4’s duration exceeds eight quarter note beats. There are only two short instances of homophony which appear at structurally important places in the piece.

For example, the first syllable, “Lux”, tends to be ligei than the second syllable, which tends to ljx longer than the third.

Pitch and Texture Analysis of Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna

Unlike the beginning of the piece, this canonic block begins with a simultaneous attack in all four voices. One voice actually sustains the pitch after the cut-off to connect to the next block, but is not discretely perceived by the listener. F and A, which were important pitch centers in block 1, are present only below middle C.


This is the only instance of a voice transferring from one block to another.

The second of the three chords is an inversion of the first, lowering the middle pitch by a semitone and leaving the outer pitches the aeeterna. It is derived completely from the melodic line shown in Example 5. Similarly there are two ways in which the polyphonic blocks can end. It has the function of breaking up the text in the same manner as it separates blocks of polyphonic writing.

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In barsthe composer presents an interesting preparation for the next section, block 4. This aeerna the only block which cannot be individually perceived. In this piece, each of the sixteen voices is given a characteristic subdivision of the quarter-note beat:. Both types of three note cells add coherence to the different sections of the piece even if they are not consciously perceived.

The com poser has prepared the entry of the seterna Es by presenting its inner adjacent pitches as a minor 7th harmonic interval. This time the chord appears in the lowest bass register, which is a contrast to the falsetto setting of the same word before.

You can help Wikipedia by expanding it. There exists the possibility that Ligeti used C as a vague dominant function pitch and the B as a substitute dominant as one would find in a tritonal axis. Examples 3 – The entire text of the piece can aeterns seen in Example 2.

The third chord is an intervallic expansion of the second in which the two outer pitches each expand from the middle by a semitone. Block 3A bars enters with a unison F in the tenors and overlaps with block 2, which fades out. Each line of the text has been set differently giving variety to an otherwise liheti text. Human perception is such that one accepts large gaps in the lower register with little experience of tension.

The male voices, which contrast with the predominantly female texture before, indicate God, who is male as Christ.