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Revising the Ideas of Author,
Unity and Text in the Analysis of Modern Music
Uri González (# 0617105)
Onderzoeksmaster Theorie der Muziek
Supervisor: Michiel Schuijer
Reader: Jacques Boogaart
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - 1
Table of Contents
From Structuralism to Poststructuralism 4
Scope and Structure 7
PART I: MUSIC ANALYSIS AT STAKE 9
The Problem of Subjectivity and Music 9
The Death of the Author 9
The Postmodern Subject 11
Towards a Reconcilement with Authorial Intention 12
The Lookout for Formal Coherence 15
Unity-Based Analysis Burdened 15
Some Historical Context: Analysis and Organic Unity 17
The Resettlement of Musical Unity 19
Musical Work and Text 22
Notation as Reduction 23
The Linguistic Turn: Pluralities of Meaning 25
Analytic Discourse as a Metalanguage 26
Semiological Analysis 27
The Semiological Tripartition 27
The Problem of the Neutral Level: a Remnant of Structural Analysis? 28
PART II: THE POLYHEDRIC AUTHOR 32
Hèctor Parra’s Music 32
Biographical Sketch 32
Parra’s Creative Research 33
Epistemological Foundation: Color Modulation as “Visual Rhythm” 33
The Design of the Rhythmic Units 35
Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - 2
From the Micro to the Macrostructure 39
Back to the Center 44
Beyond Formalism into the Subjective 44
The Rebirth of the Author 47
Unity, Organicism and Truth 49
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND SOURCES 57
Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - 3
The driving thread of Western thought during the last half century has been one of constant self-
scrutiny – even self-doubt – and consequent redefinition of the qualities, boundaries and
precariousness of knowledge. This process is far from definitive. It is irreversible, probably endless.
Trying to name it goes against its own premises: namely, the dismantling of all-embracing concepts and
unified historical accounts of intellectual periods. But one cannot avoid taxonomy if one is going to try
to speak about things. I will refer to this phenomenon by its common denomination of
It has become almost commonplace among music scholars to ironize about the delay with which
thriving intellectual currents in other ambits find their way into their discipline. Nevertheless, during
the last 30 years, the reverberations of the postmodern condition have impacted on the study of music,
causing it to retreat into a process of deep introspection. Among its many symptoms, perhaps one of
the most significant ones was the coining of the ambitious term, “New Musicology”, which as of late
seems to have been abandoned in favor of the perhaps more modest “cultural musicology”, which
attempts to submit the study of music to postmodern modes of knowledge, drawing from ideas such as
the relative character of musical autonomy, the conception of culture as a system delineated by blurry
boundaries or a historical understanding of musical subjectivities (Kramer 2003: 6).
The very nature of poststructuralism resists self-definition. Most thinkers associated with the
movement display an intense fear of being described by that term, as if it meant being touched by the
hand of intellectual Black Death. Postmodern thought, we must keep in mind, is the sum of the works
of different authors, sometimes working in synergy, sometimes disagreeing and confronting each other
in still unsolved matters. It is thus with difficulty that one can consider it a distinct philosophical trend.
A metaphor that can better serve us is that of an intellectual force field, composed by different vectors
with different directions and intensities, whose interaction often results in them pointing towards
similar places, yet not all the time.
By now, an average perspicacity from the part of the reader suffices to sense that this study is going to
Poststructural +o,-s o. /0al1tical 34ou54t 6 !
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foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - !
considcrcd a nainstav tcstinonv of thc r"p$"re within Wcstcrn intc||cctua| thought. Dcrrida criticizcd
thc Wcstcrn ¯|ogoccntric¯ notion of an autononous. transccndcnt princip|c of hunan know|cdgc:
It would be easy enough to show that the concept of structure and even the word “structure” itself are as
old as the e"i$teme -that is to say, as old as :estern science and :estern philosophy-and that their roots
thrust deep into the soil of ordinary language <=> Nevertheless, up until the event which I wish to mark out
and define, structure-or rather the structurality of structure-although it has always been involved, has always
been neutralized or reduced, and this by a process of giving it a center or referring it to a point of presence, a
fixed origin. (FGHG: JHK)
Dcrrida thus |ocatcs thc idca of &$r"'$"re as bcing as o|d as thc cpistcno|ogica| basis of phi|osophica|
thought. What hc brings to thc forc is thc occurrcncc of an e(e)$ that shattcrs thc foundations of thc
cpistcnc itsc|f. 1his crucia| rupturc is nanifcstcd though thc disc|osurc of ¯thc structura|itv of
structurc¯. What this cntai|s is a conp|ctc shift in thc wav phi|osophica| svstcns conccivc thcnsc|vcs.
A|though poststructura|isn has oftcn bccn dcpictcd as an oppositiona| novcncnt to structura|isn. wc
can bcttcr undcrstand it as thc |ogica| conc|usion of thc tcncts of thc structura|ist cntcrprisc - which
accounts for thc fact that nost authors dca|ing with thc sub|cct find thcnsc|vcs in a b|urrv |inc
scparating structura|isn and poststructura|isn. If structura|isn trics to grasp how socia| and
intc||cctua| |ifc is rcgu|atcd through thc intcrp|av of various structurcs. poststructura|isn is spawncd as
thc conccrn with thc structura|itv of thc structurcs thcnsc|vcs. In othcr words. what poststructura|isn
pursucs is thc possibi|itv of thinking about thc idca of structurc itsc|f and how cvcrv svstcn has indccd
a structurc. In this wav. thc prinarv conccrn of poststructura|isn is thc wav in which know|cdgc is
produccd. 1hc vita| idca is that our u|tinatc ncans of obtaining know|cdgc about structurcs. |anguagc.
is a|so a structurc. 1his ¯|inguistic turn¯. as it has |atcr bccn ca||cd. cntirc|v rcviscs thc wav thc
cpistcnc rcgards itsc|f. Iron this noncnt on. phi|osophcrs bcgin to scc thcir phi|osophica| svstcns
not as abso|utc truth but as constructcd svstcns. Dcrrida`s arguncnt procccds bv pointing out that a||
structurcs havc a ccntcr:
The function of this center was not only to orient, balance, and organize the structure – one cannot in fact
conceive of an unorganized structure – but above all to make sure that the organizing principle of the
structure would limit what we might call the 'ree")a+ of the structure. No doubt that by orienting and
organizing the coherence of the system, the center of a structure permits the freeplay of its elements inside
!oststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - !
the tota' for*+ ,-./.0 1/23
7errida maintains that all the elements of a structure ultimately refer back to a center, which renders
the whole system coherent. Moreover, he affirms that “the notion of a structure lacking any center
represents the unthinkable itself” (1979: 278). This means that there can be no structure without a
center, that they represent complementary concepts. The function of this center is to limit what
7errida calls play, which all philosophical systems aim at administering. What he means by play, or
freeplay, is the capacity of movement of the different elements conforming a structure. For the
structure to remain recognizable, play must be kept under control. And the element that guarantees
control is the center.
Scope and Structure
In this study I shall try to show how the enterprise of music analysis has been criticized because of its
reliance on a center that, once deconstructed, renders the aims of analysis futile. The center that
poststructural accounts of music seek to dismantle is, nevertheless, not a single concept, such as Nod,
or class struggle, but must be uttered as a complex expression. I propose to consider the following idea
as the center that critics of “traditional” analysis – new musicologists, if one is pressed to link together
all of the voices whose discourse surely presents many nuances – have tried to take apart: Music
analysis is the attempt at reconstructing the creative process whereby a fixed subjectivity (author)
produces a structurally unified, and thus univocal, work.
The study object of the present investigation is a hybrid concept that can be called “analytical modes
of musical thought”, although for reasons of manageability I will refer to this phenomenon by the name
of “analysis”. As for the stylistic period, I will keep within the bounds of what is commonly referred to
as contemporary, avant-garde art music, that is, music composed under a strong modernist ethos. The
broad conception of analysis suggested by this research aims at including those instances of musical
thought whereby a piece of music is conceived as a structure that, although appearing ultimately
unified in the aesthetical plane, can be apprehended as an assembly of different, yet interrelated parts.
This concerns not only analysis as an autonomous scholarly discipline, but also incorporates the
“constructivist” ways in which contemporary composers conceive their pieces, independently of the
Poststr&'t&r() +odes o. /n()1t2'() Tho&5ht 6 !
.('t 7hether the (n()1s2s 2s )(ter 'on5e()ed 2nto ( se8(r(te st&d1 'om8)ement2n5 the 82e'e: ;n th2s 7(1<
'ontem8or(r1 m&s2' 'om8osers (re ()so (n()1sts: Th2s 8(8er 72)) ()so t('=)e the >&est2on o. 7h(t =2nd
o. (n()1st ( 'om8oser 2s 2n d&e 'o&rse:
/s 2t 7ere< the 8re?2o&s .orm&)(t2on o. the center 8oststr&'t&r() (''o&nts o. m&s2' (n()1s2s see= to
8&t 2nto >&est2on 2s >&2te 'om8)e@: Aor th2s re(son< 2t '(n Be d2sse'ted 2nto sm())er 'onst2t&ent 8(rts< or
'on'e8ts< e('h o. 7h2'h '(n Be s'r&t2n2Ced se8(r(te)1: ;t 2s th2s he&r2st2' 8ro'ess th(t ; h(?e 'hosen to
.o))o7 2n the 8resent st&d1< (nd th(t 7h2'h sh(8es the (rr(n5ement o. the d2..erent 8(rts o. the 8(8erD
A2rst< ; 72)) de() 72th the >&est2on o. ho7 the 'on'e8t s&BEe't2?2t1 h(s ( Be(r2n5 on the d2..erent
8ro'esses o. ne5ot2(t2on o. m&s2'() me(n2n5< es8e'2())1 s2n'e F(rthesG 'r2t2'() )(ndm(r= =no7n (s Hthe
de(th o. the (&thorI: Th2s 'h(8ter 72)) re?2e7 the 8roB)em(t2C(t2on o. the not2ons o. m&s2'()
s&BEe't2?2t1 (nd the (&thor< (nd re)(te them to the 8ostmodern 'on'e8t o. the de'entered s&BEe't<
s&55est2n5 ( mode o. m&s2'() (88rehens2on th(t reEe'ts .2@ed me(n2n5s thro&5h d2re't 'omm&n2'(t2on
72th ( r252d s&BEe't2?2t1:
Je'ond)1< ; 72)) (n()1Ce the ro)e 8)(1ed B1 the 'on'e8t o. &n2t1 2n the (n()1s2s o. Kestern m&s2'< the
(ttem8ts to 8ose 2nto >&est2on 2ts dom2n(n'e (s (n (n()1t2'() 'on'e8t (nd 2ts ostens2B)e re'ent re6
(ssert2on (s ( ?()2d he&r2st2' too):
A2n())1< ; 72)) e@(m2ne the re'on.25&r(t2ons o. the 'on'e8t o. the m&s2'() 7or= ('h2e?ed thro&5h the
mo?ements to 'ons2der 2t (s te@t: Th2s 'h(8ter 72)) de() thoro&5h)1 72th the 8roB)em o. the
'onstr&'t2on (nd 'omm&n2'(t2on o. me(n2n5 2n the st&d1 o. m&s2'() 7or=s< (nd the 7(1s 2n 7h2'h
(n()1s2s 'ontr2B&tes to 2t:
These three (.orement2oned 8(rts 'onst2t&te the .2rst 8(rt o. the st&d1< 7h2'h o&t)2nes 2ts theoret2'()
(s8e'ts: ;n the se'ond 8(rt< ; sh()) Br2n5 to5ether the 2de(s 2ns8e'ted 2n the .2rst 8(rt thro&5h the
'ons2der(t2on o. the 'om8os2t2on() method o. L(t()(n 'om8oser MN'tor P(rr(: ; ho8e to 8resent
P(rr(Gs ende(?or (s (n 2))&str(t2on o. the 8roB)ems (nd 2de(s e@8osed 2n the .2rst< theoret2'()< 8(rt o.
th2s st&d1: ;n th2s .2n() se't2on< ; 72)) 'omB2ne the e@(m2n(t2on o. the e82stemo)o52'() (nd (esthet2'()
>&est2ons e)2'2ted B1 P(rr(Gs m&s2'() 8h2)oso8h1 72th ( more 8erson() mode o. d2s'o&rse< enter2n5 (
d2()o5&e 72th the 'r2t2>&es (nd d2)emm(s 8resented 2n the .2rst 8(rt o. the 8resent st&d1< 72th the ho8e
o. re('h2n5 ( 8os2t2on 7here then tenets o. (n()1s2s (nd o. 8ostmodern tho&5ht '(n Be 'on'2)2(ted 2nto
8oststr&'t&r() modes o. (n()1t2'() tho&5ht:
!oststructural +odes o. Anal1tical Thou5ht 6 !
Part I: Music Analysis at 1take
The Problem of 1ub:ectivity and Music
!he %eath of the *uthor
The 7ro8lemati:ation o. the notion o. authorial intention .inds its ori5in in the writin5s o. Roland
=arthes> in which he claims that ?the 8irth o. the reader must 8e at the e@7ense o. the death o. the
authorA BCDEEF GGHI This can 8e read in man1 wa1sI +an1 musicolo5ists J es7eciall1 those who
su8scri8e most mani.estl1 to a 7ostmodernist ethos J haKe o7enl1 declared that this statement eLuates
with the necessar1 ho7elessness J i. not ridiculousness J o. comin5 to 5ri7s with authorial intentionI
Mawrence Nramer is one o. the main musicolo5ists associated with the so6called ?Oew +usicolo51A>
a reorientation in the scholar stud1 o. music that has 8een s7awned with the adKent o. structuralist
thou5ht in musicI Pe descri8es 7ostmodernism> re.errin5 to M1otardQs seminal de.inition> as
a conce7tual order in which 5rand> s1nthesi:in5 schemes o. e@7lanation haKe lost their 7lace> and in which
the traditional 8ases o. rational understandin5 J unit1> coherence> 5eneralit1> totalit1> structure J haKe lost
their authorit1 i. not their 7ertinenceI BCDDRF RH
Sor Nramer> traditional anal1ses o. music> which .ocus solel1 on the dissection o. the constituent
7arts o. the musical worTs and their relationshi7 to a central idea> do not do Uustice to musicI Pe
Luali.ies 7ostmodern strate5ies o. understandin5 as ?incorri5i8l1 interdisci7linar1 and irreduci8l1
7luralA as the1 reUect traditional conce7ts o. 8oth su8UectiKit1 and o8UectiKit1> .ocusin5 on ?diKerse>
culturall1 constructed su8UectiKitiesA BCDDRF RHI A 7ostmodern looT cannot> accordin5 to him> 8e
7artial to reasonI It cannot seeT to reduce the meanin5 o. a worT to the .ormal inter7la1 8etween the
materiali:ation o. certain Tinds o. structural relationshi7s that re.er 8acT to a core o. strictl1 musical
ideas> 8ecause> i. an1thin5> meanin5 in art must 8e enhancedI Alastair Williams s1m7athi:es with this
Kiew with his com7laint that there is somethin5 distur8in5 a8out seein5 a 7iece with 7ersonal
associations 81 our .aKorite com7osers reduced to a 5ra7h with clinical e..icienc1 BGXXCF GEHI
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 1"
fostnodcrn discoursc about nusic thus sccks to cnhancc ncaning. to prcscnt it as nu|tifarious. and
contcxt-contingcnt. It insists on thc rc|ativitv of a|| know|cdgc. ¯not |ust thc conccptua|
prcsuppositions but thc natcria|. discursivc and socia| practiccs - that producc and circu|atc
know|cdgc¯ (Krancr 199¯: 6).
Conposcrs working within thc contcnporarv Wcstcrn art-nusic idion. and cspccia||v thosc showing
strongcr tics with thc intc||cctua| |cgacv of nusica| nodcrnist pro|cct. with thcir bc|icf in thc
advanccncnt of nusic
. arc oftcn kccn on cstab|ishing thcir intcntions c|car|v. and thc incrcasing dctai|
with which scorcs arc notatcd and thc dctai|cd progran notcs that nanv conposcrs producc of thcir
own picccs arc a proof of it. A|astair Wi||ians chargcs this pattcrn with spccific goa|s. which arc
Such contro||ing proccdurcs tcnd. howcvcr. to bcconc cnncshcd in thc discourscs thcv scck to nastcr. ßv
inviting c|osc scrutinv of a nanuscript. thcv risk rcvca|ing it to bc a construction. not an invio|ab|c
uttcrancc. (2001: 37)
Wi||ians` c|ain can on|v undcrstood as inp|ving that nodcrn conposcrs activc|v scck to fcncc off
ncaning and that thcv do so bv ncans of a discoursc that rcduccs it to thc ncrc intcrp|av bctwccn thc
diffcrcnt structura| |cvc|s and forna| aspccts of thcir picccs. Yct. as Wi||ian rcnark continucs. thcir
stratcgv shoots back at thcn. sincc rcvca|ing so nanv structura| dctai|s of a work of art sccns to
undcrninc thc possib|c ¯acsthctic awc¯ that concs fron thc shift of attcntion awav fron thc tcchnica|
aspccts of a work of art. ßut thcrc is a short distancc bctwccn this and turning conposcrs into obscsscd
forna|ists. 1hc tacit rcquircncnt that todav`s conposcrs shou|d gcncra||v spcak about how thc natcria|
I an hcrc c|car|v rcfcrring to thc abundant|v docuncntcd inf|ucncc of thc thcorctica| and acsthctic prcniscs of thc
conposcrs of thc sccond \icnncsc schoo| on post-War Luropcan and Ancrican scria|ists and twc|vc-tonc conposcrs such
as ßou|cz. Stockhauscn and ßabbitt.
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foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 12
to a ccntra| idcntitv. 1urk|c argucs wc arc cncouragcd to think of oursc|vcs as ¯f|uid. cncrgcnt.
dcccntra|izcd. nu|tip|icitous. f|cxib|c. and cvcr in proccss¯ (199¯: 263-264). Or in Lacanian
psvchoana|vtic tcrnino|ogv. thc sc|f bcconcs ¯a rca|n of discoursc rathcr than as a rca| thing or a
pcrnancnt structurc of thc nind¯ (199¯: 178).
Towards a )econcilement with Authorial Intention
A |css radica| cva|uation points out thc gcncra| transfcr of intcrprctativc focus fron production to
rcccption in thc apprchcnsion of thc ncaning of nusic. that is. fron thc transparcncv of thc intcntions
of thc author to thc construction of ncaning bv thc rcccivcr of thc (nusica|) tcxt. 1hc author is not a
frcc agcnt anvnorc. but a ¯construction of idco|ogica| forccs. and ncaning is sccn as bcing ncgotiatcd
bctwccn thosc forccs and thc rcadcr¯ (Cook 199¯: 423).
1hc dcath of thc author shou|d not bc undcrstood as thc prob|cn-frcc proccss of cnpowcrncnt of a
ncw|v |ibcratcd rcadcr. Cook points out thc ncccssitv of cva|uating thc frccdon that thc intcrprctivc
approach conccdcs to thc rcadcr of thc work. It is usua||v thc casc that thc nagnitudc of that frccdon is
in invcrsc rc|ationship to thc ana|vtica| authoritv thc thcorctica| approach accords itsc|f. Cook dcpicts
Andrcw Hcad. through his ana|vscs of twc|vc-tonc nusic. cspccia||v that of L||iott Cartcr. as a high|v
authoritativc thcorist. 1his gocs to thc point of cvcn rcscinding thc conposcr`s cxp|icit intcntions
whcrcvcr thcsc sccn to contradict thc thcorist`s corroborations. Hcad rcprcscnts for Cook an cxtrcnc
casc of thcorv-bascd ¯dictatorship¯. whcrc authoria| intcntion and thc rcadcr`s frccdon arc ovcrru|cd
bv thc thcorv`s authoritativc conprchcnsivcncss (199¯: 42¯).
hcncnbcring that ßarthcs` cssav dcc|aring thc dcath of thc author was writtcn in 1968. nusic
ana|vsts havc gcncra||v bccn criticizcd for thcir too rcccnt. thus untinc|v rcaction (Krancr 199¯: 23).
Yct |ong aftcr thc origins of its prob|cnatization. and dcspitc a|| thc poststructura|ist gricvanccs. thc
conccpt of author is sti|| vcrv nuch a|ivc. Cook is pronpt to point out how. cvcn in thc nost
nathcnatica||v abstract ana|vscs. thc ascribcd crcativc va|uc of thc work bv thc ana|vsts shows that.
a|though sonc bc|icvc that ¯thc author nav bc dcad in nusic thcorv. [.] his ghost continucs to haunt
us¯ (199¯: 424). ¯1raditiona|¯ nusico|ogists sti|| trv to |ocatc authoria| intcnt whi|c pcrfornancc
cxpcrts arc guidcd bv what thcv bc|icvc wou|d bc thc dcsircd rcndition of a nusica| work bv its own
!oststr&ct&ral +odes o. Analytical 34o&g4t 6 13
com8oser9 And t4e idea o. t4e com8oser64ero still moti:ates a great deal o. m&sic criticism dealing ;it4
<omantic com8osers9 Coo>?s &s&al l&cidity s4a>es t4e recei:ed con:entional criti@&es o. m&sical
analysis ;4en 4e states t4at At4eory mig4t Be said to Be a disci8line predicated on t4e deat4 o. t4e
a&t4orC DEFFG: IJIK9 Contem8orary analysisL ;4ic4 4e considers as Beginning ;it4 Sc4en>erL can Be
&nderstood as a s4i.t o. attention .rom t4e com8osers? intentions to ex8lanations one 4ad to .ind in t4e
Am&sic itsel.C9 Coo> ma>es Sc4en>er t4e arc4ety8ical caseL ;it4 4is t4eory ex8laining t4e 8rinci8les By
;4ic4 m&sicL and not t4e com8oser o8erates9 A8ro8os t4e com8oser6geni&sL
!"e s&per)*r +*r,e *+ !r&!" - *+ ./!&re0 /s )! 1ere - )s /! 1*r2 34s!er)*&s54 6e")78 ")s ,*7s,)*&s7ess0
9&)8)79 ")s pe70 1)!"*&! ,/r)79 )7 !"e 5e/s! 1/4 )7 +*55*1)79 ")s ,*7s,)*&s )7!e7!)*7s0 !"e res&5!0 /5/s:0 1*&58
*+!e7 6e / 3)ser/65e ,*3p*s)!)*7; <&!0 +*r!&7/!e540 !"/! 34s!er)*&s p*1er /rr/79es e=er4!")79 +*r !"e 6es!;
>?,"e72er @ABCD EFG
A similar >ind o. reasoningL ;it4 mani.est di..erences t4at res8ond to t4e oB:io&s distance in time
Bet;een Bot4 84enomenaL 4as Been &sed in t4e ex8lanation o. m&sic 8ertaining to mat4ematically
inclined sc4ools o. com8ositionL in 8artic&lar serial and t;el:e6tone m&sic o. t4e 8ost6Oar 8ositi:istic
American academia and t4e P&ro8ean serialists9 Qn many o. t4e analyses dealing ;it4 t4is >ind o. m&sicL
t4e analyst stri:es to detect aBstract str&ct&res and t4en tries to ex8lain 4o; t4ey are 8er:asi:e in a
8iece o. m&sic in ;4ic4 t4e str&ct&res are ArealiRedC9 34is 8rocess re.lects t4e intellect&al atmos84ere
in ;4ic4 t4is >ind o. m&sic de:elo8edL an en:ironment t4at concei:es m&sic as Aresearc4C9 34e .ig&re
o. t4e com8oser6t4eoristL 8er4a8s Best incarnated in +ilton SaBBittL seems to en:isage m&sic in
aBstractL .ormalist terms9 <at4er t4an createL 4e Aex8loresC di..erent >ind o. m&sical terrain in order to
cond&ct 4is researc4 ;it4in concrete m&sical contexts9 34is !latonic &nderstanding o. com8osition
ris>s im8osing limits &8on a&t4orial intention too9
On t4e ot4er 4andL one can .ind more .lexiBle a88roac4es t4at let go o. t4e total administration o.
meaning9 Uonat4an SernardL in 4is a88re4ension o. minimal m&sicL tal>s aBo&t analytical a88roac4es
t4at are rendered more :iaBle i. t4ey reno&nce to t4e stri:ing .or exactit&des DEFFG: JVVK9 34is is an
alternati:e a88roac4 .or excl&si:ely An&merologicalC .ormalist analysisL ;4ere concrete mat4ematical
.orm&lations are s&Bstit&ted By sensory analogiesL mainly .rom t4e ;orld o. 8ainting and sc&l8t&re9
Alt4o&g4 t4e criti@&e mig4t Be made t4at :is&al analog&es cannot acco&nt .or excl&si:ely m&sical
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t4e :"ieti' an, t4e e#t4e#i'> 34i# ,i##"'iati"n 4a# a..e'te, t4e '"n'e:t ". 8&#i'a) &nity t" an
&n:%e'e,ente, ,e5%ee> /# ?%a8e% :&t# it@ t4e )i#tene%A# :e%'e:t&a) &nityB,i#&nity i# n"t :%e,i'ate,
any8"%e "n t4e 8&#i'A# teCt&a) &nityB,i#&nityD EFGGHI FJK> 3" '"8:)e8ent t4i#@ "ne #4"&), a,, t4at
#'4")a%# a%e in'%ea#in5)y a=a%e t4at t4e )i#tene%A# #en#e ". &nity 8i54t n"t 4a9e anyt4in5 t" ," =it4 t4at
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Mn 4i# %e:"%t ". 8&#i'a) :"#t8",e%ni#8@ ?%a8e% ta)k# a<"&t t4e a)8"#t &ni9e%#a) 9a)&e :)a'e, "n t4e
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a5%ee8ent t4at 5"", :ie'e# a%e '"4e%ent an, a,8ini#te% i,ea# '"n#i#tent)y> Mn a 5"", '"8:"#iti"n@ a))
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8&#i'a) inte5%ity i# t" <e ."&n, <eneat4 t4e #&%.a'e@ 4i,,en in an &n,e%)yin5 #t%&'t&%e@ t4e )aten'y ".
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E?%a8e% FGGHI FFK>
/n &n,e%#tan,in5 ". t4e '"n'e:t ". unity@ t4e%e."%e@ i# e##entia) ."% t4e :%e#ent en,ea9"%> Unity@ "%
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'ent&%y 8a#te%:ie'e# a%e e#ti8ate,> 7.ten@ an, t4i# i# #:e'ia))y t4e 'a#e =it4
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="%k> /n, it i# t4i# 9e%y .a't@ na8e)y@ t4e :"##i<i)ity ". ,%a=in5 &nity "&t .%"8 an a::a%ent ,i#&nity@
!oststructural +odes of Analytical 3hought 6 1"
what motivates a good deal of the analytical endeavor.
;et nowadays we find that a lot of music resting under the umbrella of postmodernism challenges the
absolute value of unity, which, in turn, calls for new methodologies that bypass the need to unveil it.
Webern, one of the privileged voices of 2A
century modernist thought, defined unity as
the in'is)ensa+,e thing i. meaning is t0 e1ist2 3nit45 t0 +e gene6a,5 is the esta+,ishment 0. the 7tm0st
6e,ate'ness +et8een a,, 90m)0nent )a6ts2 :05 in m7si95 as in a,, 0the6 h7man 7tte6an9e5 the aim is t0 make as
9,ea6 as )0ssi+,e the 6e,ati0nshi)s +et8een the )a6ts 0. the 7nit4< in sh06t5 t0 sh08 h08 0ne thing ,ea's t0
an0the6 =>?@AB CDE2
Bramer considers this conception typically eCpressive of 2A
century modernist thought. 3he 19
century concept of unity was weaker: the work was considered unified if all parts were understandable
in relation to the whole. Hn 2A
century, Bramer says, parts also have to be related to one another. Ht is
this newer conception that Bramer uses in his discussion, since he deals with modern music (1995:
12). According to him, the assumed unequivocal rapport between perceptual unity with teCtual unity
6century romanticism and 2A
6century modernism. Mnder a modernistic ethos, the onus is
on the listener to accept the music eCclusively along the composer’s terms. Bramer charges musical
analysis up to the present date with allying the poietic with the esthesic through a OtotaliPing meta6
narrative of teCtual unityQ (1995: R2). Hn it, only similarity is dealt with, but not disunity, for which
well6developed theories are lacking. And difference is essential for other postmodern analytical
disciplines outside of music analysis (1995: 12). Adam Brims contends that the very aCioms of music
theory 6 the tendency to invent models of musical structure and to analyPe how particular pieces
function as instances of those structures 6 the Ovirtual dogmasQ of organic coherence within a musical
work, as well as the establishment of the Ogreat composerQ as the locus of meaning, dissonate with the
postmodern critique of organicistSstructuralist premises in music. Tevertheless, for Brims, a big part
of postmodern analytical practice seems to dwell on the same old traditional methodologies and their
essentialist assumptions of structural coherence (1994: paragraphs 2.R 6 2.5).
But music6theoretical discourse doesn’t necessarily need to be about unity. 3he invisibility of
disunity is not a defect of the approaches at our disposal, but rather stems from a procedural bias.
Hndeed, a methodological toolboC able to disclose unity is also, by the same token, able to speak about
Poststructural +odes of Analytical Thought - !"
disunity. Fred 9verett +aus agrees:
Any non-vacuous vocabulary for asserting close musical relationships also provides ways of denying those
relationships – that is, ways of identifying differences. (1999: 171)
The fact that this capacity is rarely used is contingent upon concrete historical circumstances and
refers us back in time to the moment when the idea of unity became wedded to musical analysis in its
modern perception. I now suggest taking a retrospective look at how this process came about.
!o#e &isto*ica- .onte0t1 2na-3sis and 5*6anic 7nit3
Taking an expansive view of the concept, analysis as such can be traced as far back as the first
intellectual accounts of music. 9ven the description of the consonances by Pythagoras can be
understood as a form of musical analysis. But up to the 19
century, it existed in what Ian Bent calls
“analytical moments” within other types of musical inquiry of a more abstract kind (19KL: 20).
Puido Adler’s foundational manifesto published in 1KK5, which is seen as providing the first
guidelines for the institutionalization of the study of music as a differentiated academic field, took as
the central goal of musicology the direct study of musical style, commonly known as “style criticism”.
Adler discerned two different strands in musicology: the “historical” and the “systematic” approach.
Contrary to what one might expect, analysis as such is still not considered as an independent technical
activity in Adler’s prUcis. If it to be there are all, it belongs to the historical component of musical
studies, rather than to the systematic one. It constitutes, as Samson explains,
a means of tracing the growth and development of musical styles, again with the implicit aim of validating a
classical canon. (1999: 39)
The emancipation of analysis as a practice per se was a consequence of the emergence of the concept
of the musical work as a privileged category, which took root in the rise of music aesthetics and its
increasing propensity to mark out artistic canons, transformations of function between music theory
and pedagogy, and to changing compositional praxis (Samson 1999: W9).
As Xuth Solie claims, the analogy between the human phenomena of the historical and social spheres
and the composition of an organism is a prevalent one in Yestern culture (19K0: 14L). The idea can
be traced back to the works of Plato and Aristotle, but it was during the 1K
centuries when it
Poststructural Mo,es of /nal1tical Thought 6 18
regaine, force in the 7ritings of the literar1 critics 8us1 cele8rating the 9autono:1 of the aesthetic;< =t
7as in this cli:ate that criticis: 8egan ,e>elo?ing into so:e sort of 9structural ?oetics;@ fostere, 81
the e>er6increasing o8session 7ith the ?rinte, teAt an, the rise of the conce?t of 7orB as the ?ri>ilege,
To ,e?ict those as?ects of organicist 8iolog1 that 7ere eA?orte, to Do:antic critical an, aesthetical
?arlance@ it is 8est to 8e gui,e, 81 EolieFs se:inal stu,1 GHIJKL< /s she eA?lains@ the :ain i,ea 8rought
into the fore of aesthetic consi,eration of 7orBs 7as that of 9organic unit1;@ 7hich >alues 7orBs of art
to the eAtent that the1 can 8e co:?rehen,e, un,er the 8iologistMs ?ara,ig:< Nuoting Ete?hen Pe??er:
There are two qualitative dimensions that yield organistic standards of beauty 8 the degree of integration
and the amount of the material integrated9 The maximum of integration is a condition where every detail of
the object calls for every other9 <r negatively, it is a condition where no detail can be removed or altered
without marring or even destroying the value of the whole. Such a whole is called an organic unity. (1BC6: FB)
The increasing i:?ortance of 8iological :o,els an, their su8stitution of :echanical ones as
?ri>ilege, ?ara,ig:s of eA?lanation for literar1 criticis: GEolie HIJK: HPJL :arBs the transition to an
anal1tical ?hiloso?h1 of art an, in ?articular to :usic anal1sis GEa:son HIII: QIL< /s Ro7ie conten,s@
the i,eolog1 of organicis: an, aesthetic autono:1 7ere t7o conce?ts that :utuall1 reinforce, each
other in their atte:?t to o8Cectif1 art@ an, es?eciall1 :usic@ as a s?ace 8et7een sensor1 ?erce?tion an,
intellectual cognition< Through organicis:@ the aesthetic 7as ?resu:e, to esta8lish a ?ur?ose in
Sature@ an, the Eelf resol>e, the Tantian ,i>ision of su8Cect an, o8Cect GHIIQ: PUL<
R1 the en, of the centur1@ fostere, 81 the ten,enc1 of the devisers of the :usical canon to engage
?ri:aril1 7ith the 7ritten teAt@ criticis: clearl1 >eere, off to7ar,s a ?oetics an, a structural :o,e of
anal1sis< /s Ea:son in,icates@ this cul:inate, into the congeal:ent of the :usical 7orB into a fiAe,
configuration< /roun, this conce?tion@ ?hilologicall1 ins?ire, teAtual eAegesis 8egan to flourish@
cul:inating in the 9science of autogra?h stu,1; ?ractice, a:ong others 81 EchenBer GHIII: PHL< This
signale, a 7atershe, in the scholar stu,1 of :usic@ an, a shift fro: /ristotelian to structural ?oetics<
V? till then@ :usic theor1 ha, 8een 8us1 tr1ing to soli,if1 7hat 7ere thought to 8e general ?ro?erties
of :usic< /fter the HI
centur1 an, the enshrining of the 7orB as the necessar1 focal ?oint of attention@
its structure 8egan 8eing taBen into account 81 ?ractices such as Formenlehre@ 8eco:ing reifie, an,
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - !"
transccnding thc ru|cs of spccu|ativc nusic thcorv. Ouoting Sanson:
From the early beginnings in theorists such as Adolf 6ernhard Marx to later formulations in 9iemann,
Mersmann, ;choenberg, and ;chenker, the idea of a structural sense of form gained unstoppable
momentum, sweeping music theory before it, and in the end building on its premise the entire edifice of a
newly independent discipline, music analysis (@). Cnity and wholeness, whatever these may mean in a
temporal art, became a structure, and in that lay its value. (1999: 41)
As a conscqucncc of thc vita|ization of acsthctic autononv and thc conccpt of work. nusic thcorv
fu||v cntcrcd a ¯structura|ist bias¯. rcp|acing ru|cs bv structurcs. Ana|vtica| thcorv saw a proccss of
progrcssivc dctachncnt fron cxtcrna| conditions in trving to givc cxp|anation to acsthctic phcnoncna.
1hc apprchcnsion of thc work of art thus cntcrcd a proccss of incrcasing dctachncnt fron socia|.
cthica| or cognitivc considcrations.
!"e %esettlement o, Musical 2nity
Cook a|nost sccns to a|ign with Joscph Kcrnan whcn hc quotcs Char|cs hoscn`s a||cgcd
affirnation that ¯ana|vsis as wc know it was invcntcd to show how ßccthovcn`s svnphonics nadc scnsc
dcspitc thcir apparcnt incohcrcncc¯. Hc spccifics that thc c|assica| ana|vsts` too|box was dcsigncd to
rc|ativizc thc apparcnt incohcrcncc in ßccthovcn`s svnphonic works. givcn his nusic`s tcndcncv to
abruptncss. discontinuitv and ncandcrings in incrcasing|v far-rcnovcd harnonic rcgions (199¯:
428). 1hus. givcn thc cvidcnt disunitv within thc nusica| surfacc. ßccthovcn`s nusic nccdcd a ncthod
of cxp|anation that focuscd on its undcr|ving unitv if it was to bc univcrsa||v apprcciatcd. Ana|vsis was
thus givcn its discip|inarv idcntitv with thc fcaturcs traditiona||v ascribcd to it. and bccausc of which it
is has bccn |atc|v sub|cct to rc-cva|uation: thc cnphasis on unitv. thc rhctoric of thc apparcnt vcrsus
!oststructural Modes of /nalytical Thought - !"
underlying structure, the subordination of the obvious to the non-obvious and the concern with
aesthetic legitimation (=ook 1995: C28).
In his essay “The /rt-Jcience of Music after Two Millennia”, Lobert =ogan points out the
description of processes of unity as the main fixation of music theory and aesthetics. =ontrarily, the
complementary processes of diversity or opposition have not been dealt with to a similar degree (1995:
C0). Pramer calls the Jchenkerian process “oppositional”, since it results from a conflict between the
demands of the !"#$%$& as a final goal and its actual realization only at the end of the piece. Jchenker’s
desire is to show how unity prevails among apparent tension and chaos (1995: 2S).
Tut as =ook swiftly points out, the problem of the “obsession” for unity might just be an apparent
one, a mere word game. / theory of musical unity, he says, is equally a theory of musical disunityW it just
depends on how one chooses to see it:
!chenker’s theory is a means of relating unity to disunity. 7e generally think of it as a mechanism that
takes foreground disunity as its input, and yields background unity as its output. ;ut it makes equally good
sense to think of !chenker’s theory as a means of demonstrating the diversity >?@ of the foreground; it is
precisely the comparison with the unified background that makes these qualities stand out in relief. (1995:
Not only does =ook refute the view that analysis exclusively aims at demonstrating how different
structural levels conform to a unifying substrate, but he suggests that Jchenker can be read as
“dramatizing” these relationships:
Any motivic parallel across different structural levels must, by definition, involve the apparent similarity of
formations that have different generative sources; hence motivic parallels don’t impose unity, as has been
generally assumed, but rather highlight the discrepancy between surface and structure (1989: 71).
=ook claims to have heard Losen affirm this at a congress.
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!oststructural +odes of /nalytical Thought 6 22
structural oppositions, analysis remains still a vital tool to describe musical relationships. =t is not
possible to tal> about musical structures without analyzing them, thus invo>ing reified theoretical
categories (Btraus 199E: par. G). Thus, what remains crucial is not to determine whether analysis is
necessary or superfluous, dead, or alive, but to what ends one must analyze. =n his attempt to defend
the fitness of “traditional, highly organicist” analytical paradigms 6 such as the one he employs in his
boo>, pitch6class set theory 6 he denies there is anything
inherently modernist, structuralist, formalist, or positivist (those four dar> horsemen of recent critical
theory) about pitch6class transposition, for example, any more than there is something inherently Lrench
MaroNue about the subdominant harmony. The subdominant harmony was first described as such under
certain cultural, geographical, historical, and biographical circumstances. Nonetheless that concept has
proved protean enough to play a useful role in many different contexts. =f it maintains a trace of its origin, it
is not a trace that prevents its successful adaptation. Bimilarly, to observe that two collections of pitch
classes are related by transposition in no way reNuires one to assume the entire burden of modernist
ideology and culture. Pi>e the subdominant harmony, the concept of transposition, while not a
transcendental or neutral term, can nonetheless be appropriated toward a variety of critical and theoretical
ends. (199E: par. E)
Btraus is eager to accept that there is a lot “traditional” theorists can gain from >eeping in mind some
of the concerns posed by poststructuralism. Mut even if the analytical concerns undergo drastic
transformations, the “powerful and sophisticated analytical technologies we have developed through
thirty years of intense communal effort” can still be employed whatever the enterprise, since what they
guarantee is system and rigor. =n his own words, “if analysis is to play its necessary role in serving a
post6structuralist ideology, let us insist, then, on analytically precise, and theoretically grounded
contextual definitions of unrelatedness” (199E: par. Q).
!"#$%&' )*+, &-. /012
/ traditional conception of the musical wor> sees it as a “single object S fixed, >nowable, immutable,
unified S rather than as a source of opposing, mutable, surprising, open6ended possibilities” (Togan
199E: G0). Vet composers donWt write wor>s: they write scores. No matter how carefully notated, a
!oststructural +odes of Analytical 3hought 6 !"
score is a material trace of some compositional intentions to which the performer can append a wide
variety of open6ended meanings. 3he score, understood as such, is a text. A text is a work when it is
legitimized by being univocally associated with an interpretation that gains prevalence among other
possible ones according to the authority of its formulator.
!oststructuralist musical scholarship distinguishes clearly between work and text. Barthes describes
the work as an enclosed entity whose configuration of meanings is determined by the stamp of the
author. As for the text, he contends: “there is now the requirement of a new object, obtained by the
sliding or overturning of former categories” (1977: 15L). 3his new object is intertextual: it is the ever6
changing canvas painted by the different discourses that sail it. Nt communicates constantly with other
texts. Nn this way, authorial control is greatly lessened, and the immanent meaning of a text, if ever
possible to grasp through analysis, is less important than what the different readings made of it by
different people tell us about it.
One sign of this is the increasing tendency to collapse all the possible terms expressing different
aspects of the reception of music P “hearing”, “listening”, “interpreting”, “understanding” P into
“reading”. As 3reitler points out,
Qhy, suddenly, “readingR” Certainly not in the sense of reading scores. Nt is a sign of the distancing from
“music itself”, of the evasion of direct engagement, of the deciphering of signifying actions that has
suddenly become the obligatory route from the event to its reception. And so, indeed, do recent “readings”
of music from some quarters increasingly read. (1995: 13)
3raditional musical analysis and aesthetics have predicated themselves on the duality of work and
performance in the search for authoritarian interpretations of music. 3his idea has become increasingly
problematic, reaching a crisis with treatment of popular music and jazz. Qith pre6modern music, the
problem is minor. Nn the absence of voluminous documentary evidence, the analysts have no choice but
to turn to traditional approaches such as philological interpretation of scores.
But where abundant recorded material exists, the fitness of traditional analyses is put into question.
Uet many authors busy with the examination of contemporary popular music still persist in the notion
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 24
of thc ¯canonic vcrsion¯. Ior cxanp|c. Hcad|an opts for a traditiona| conccption of work in his
ana|vsis of thc nusic of Lcd 2cppc|in:
Onc ob|cction to nv ana|vtica| trcatncnt of thc songs night bc that Lcd 2cppc|in continua||v changcd and
cvo|vcd in thcir conccrt vcrsions of thcsc songs. Dcspitc thcsc inprovisations. howcvcr. cach song has a
fixcd studio vcrsion that has bcconc dcfinitivc. and forncd at |cast thc basis for inprovisations on stagc. I
considcr thc studio vcrsions |ustifications for nv ana|vsis. (199¯: 36)
1hc prob|cn with this approach is that it |ingcrs on thc frozcn conccption of work whcn a nuch norc
dvnanic approach to thc cvo|ution of Lcd 2cppc|in is pcrfcct|v possib|c thanks to thc avai|abi|itv of
rccordcd natcria|. whcthcr studio-bascd or boot|cggcd. Instcad of adapting thc nusic to rcccivcd idcas
of how it shou|d bc accountcd for. wc shou|d trv to ¯tai|or our thinking to thc nusic¯ (Cook 199¯:
Yct. as anv ana|vst knows. thcrc arc difficu|tics poscd bv thc ncccssari|v rcductivc powcrs of notation.
Whcn dca|ing with inproviscd nusic such as a |azz so|o. for cxanp|c. it is obvious that a transcription
is in a wav an ¯idca|ization¯ of thc nusic. A |azz so|o night contain nanv rhvthnica| and pitch nuanccs
or dcviations (not to ncntion tinbrc. or intcntiona|´gcstura| considcrations) that night bc |ost in thc
proccss of notation for ana|vsis.
ßut this is not an cxc|usivc prob|cn with ¯traditiona|¯ ana|vsis. It cqua||v affccts norc nodcrn.
conputcr-assistcd tcchniqucs that havc bccn a bit too prccipitatc in issuing thc c|ain that thcv dca|
norc dircct|v with thc nusic itsc|f than traditiona| ncthods. Ccrtain|v. thcrc arc bcncfits fron dca|ing
with nusic`s norc phcnoncno|ogica| charactcristics. which is what anp|itudc ana|vsis. pitch graphs
and spcctrograns do. ßut thcsc don`t bvpass thc proccss of rcification. nor do thcv avoid thc prob|cn
of cnphasizing ccrtain sa|icnt charactcristics to thc dctrincnt of othcrs. No ana|vsis accounts for thc
tota| potcntia| of thc nusic in tcrns of thc cognitivc rca|ization bv thc |istcncr (Cook 199¯: 434) or thc
potcntia| pcrforncr. An ana|vsis is a|wavs thc answcr to thc prob|cnatization of ccrtain concrctc
nusica| facts. rcsu|ting in thc abandonncnt of othcrs. Ana|vsis in its postnodcrn forn shou|d bc an
invitation to rcad ccrtain nusica| facts in a ccrtain wav. whi|c a||owing thc nu|tip|icitv of rcadings of thc
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!"# it is difficult to get an ob3ective history of a scholarly discipline, because if the historian is himself a
practitioner of it, he is likely to be a devotee of one or another of its sects and hence biased< and if he is not a
practitioner, he is unlikely to have the e=pertise necessary to distinguish between the significant and the
insignificant events of the field’s development. !19CDE C1#
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!"# there is one problem that neither philosophers nor historians have looked at very seriously and to
which literary theorists have given only passing attention. This question has to do with the status of the
historical narrative, considered purely as a verbal artifact purporting to be a model of structures and
processes long past and therefore not sub3ect to either e=perimental or observational control !"#. In general
there has been a reluctance to consider historical narratives as what they most manifestly areE verbal fictions,
the contents of which are as much invented as found and the forms of which have in common with their
counterparts in literature than they have with those in the sciences. !19CDE C1#
Dh2$-H# a??%oach 2# h-aB2)1 20d-9$-d $o Jo&ca&)$> 70 h2# a%$2c)- %-B2-8205 $h- 8o%@# o. $h- J%-0ch
?h2)o#o?h-%= Dh2$- ca00o$ h-)? $%a0#:2$$205= $h%o&5h $h- 8o%d# o. Jo&ca&)$= $h- ?o#$#$%&c$&%a)2#$
c%-do 91 8h2ch h- 2# @0o80 $o a92d-G
!Foucault# insists that such disciplines as ethnology and psychoanalysis, even in their Structuralist forms,
remain captive of the linguistic protocols in which t"#ir interpretations of their characteristic ob3ects of
study are cast. The Structuralist movement in general he takes as evidence of the human science’s coming to
!o#t#tr&ct&ral +o,e# o. /0al1tical 3ho&ght 6 2"
consciousness o) their own i.prison.ent within their characteristic .odes o) discourse2 345678 9:;
7hat thi# i0,icate# i0 the 8&#icological #phere i# that there i# 0o :8&#ic it#el.; a0, that the#e ki0,#
o. #olip#i#tic o=>ect#? i8per@io&# to their eAterior#? are a# .ragile a# #oap =&==le#B C0 thi# light? the
eAa8i0atio0 o. the 0otatio0 o. the #core =eco8e# #eco0,ar1? #lipper1? #&#pect? a0, .or8ali#t a0al1#i# a
.&tile ta#kB Dotatio0 i# 0ot a 0e&tral ,e@ice :that tra0#pare0tl1 recor,# i,ea# .or8&late, i0,epe0,e0tl1
o. it; E7illia8# FGGHI JKLB Ct a..ect# the #a8e e##e0ce o. the 8e##age a0, =1 eAte0#io0 the Ma1# i0
Mhich 8&#ic i# co,i.ie, a0, later &0,er#too, a0, per.or8e, =1 8&#icia0#B Dotatio0 8ark# a0 a&thorial
pre#e0ce? a0, thi# a&thorit1 i# cr&cial i0 ,eter8i0i0g the Ma1# 8&#ic i# #t&,ie, a0, @al&e,B Score#
ca00ot =e ,etache, .ro8 their teAt&al proce,&re#B 3he per.or8er ,oe# 0ot o0l1 .olloM i0#tr&ctio0#B Oe
re6rea,# the 8&#ical teAt? re6e0acti0g itB /0, =eca&#e o0e ca0 0e@er co8pletel1 ,eter8i0ate the #ocial6
li0g&i#tic #etti0g i0 Mhich thi# act o. i0terpretatio0 i# goi0g to take place? the #it&atio0 i0@ite# a great
,eal o. i0,eter8i0i#8B
3he pro=le8 o. the po##i=ilit1 o. 0e&tral a0al1#e# o. 8&#ic ha# =ee0 ce0tral to 8a01 ,i#c&##io0#
taki0g place i0 the 8&#icological are0a ,&ri0g the later hal. o. the FG
ce0t&r1B C 0oM propo#e to
eAa8i0e the 8atter 8ore clo#el1 thro&gh #cr&ti0iPi0g Mhat C co0#i,er a para,ig8atic ca#e o. the
pro=le8# elicite, =1 #o8e o. the a0al1tical approache# co0#i,ere, a# 8ore hea@il1 i0,e=te, to
#tr&ct&rali#t te0et#Q 0a8el1? #e8iological a0al1#i#B
!nal%tic *isco-rse as a 0etalan1-a1e
/# Rea06RacS&e# DattieP clai8#? it ha# =ee0 &0&#&al .or 8&#icologi#t#? at lea#t &0til rece0t ti8e#? to
&0,ertake a 8eta6re.lectio0 o. the 8etho,# e8plo1e, i0 their oM0 ,i#cipli0eB +&#icolog1? =oth i0 it#
hi#toric a0, #1#te8atic approache#? i# a #18=olic co0#tr&ct Mho#e .&0ctio0 i# to eAplai0 a0other
#18=olic #1#te8B 3h&#? i0 it# ,e#ire to eAplai0 the 8&#ical .act? 8&#icolog1 ca00ot e#cape =ei0g =ia#e,
=1 la0g&age EDattieP HTTGI HUGLB
DattieP =elie@e# that it i# co88o0 .or #o8e people to 0ot .eel co8.orta=le Mith the i,ea that 8&#icV#
8ea0i0g ca0 or 0ee,# to =e eAplai0e, EHTTGI HUHLB 3ho#e ,i#S&iete, =1 a #1#te8atic pr1i0g apart o.
the i00er Morki0g# o. o0eV# lo@e, ae#thetic o=>ect# 8ight e@e0 regar, a 8&#icological a0al1#i# a# a0 act
o. :=etra1al; to Mhat the e##e0ce o. 8&#ic i#I to co88&0icate Mitho&t Mor,#B Wor the8? a# #oo0 a#
!oststructural Modes o. /nalytical 3hought 6 27
music is e8plained :ith :ords; it <ecomes .i8ed; literal and depri=ed o. :hat constitutes its <asic
characteristic: its “openness”; its re.erence to a non6=er<al signi.ier; its capacity to e8press the
Bn his attempt to systematiCe the study o. the meaning in music; DattieC proposes the .ollo:ing general
de.inition o. meaning: “/n o<Eect o. any Find taFes on meaning .or an indi=idual apprehending that
o<Eect; as soon as that indi=idual places the o<Eect in relation to areas o. his li=ed e8perience G that is; in
relation to a collection o. other o<Eects that <elong to his or her e8perience o. the :orld” HIJJK: JLA
DattieCM de.inition includes all Finds o. possi<le o<Eects: .rom physical phenomenons concerning
earthly matter to personal or social .acts; a<stract concepts; :ords; ideologies; etcA Bt stresses the .act
that any study o. ho: an o<Eect .unctions sym<olically must happen; .irst and .oremost; at an indi=idual
le=elA Bt is this le=el o. .unctioning :hich maFes possi<le the .urther study at other le=els and allo:s us
to determine ho: meaning can also <e constructed collecti=ely or in interpersonal interactionsA 3he
de.inition understands meaning as something that is apprehendedN in a :ay; constructed; as opposed to
percei=edA 3he meaning o. an o<Eect is a transaction <et:een the recei=er and the producerA
/0e !e#iolo'ical /1i2a1titio,
DattieC states that :hen a sym<olic o<Eect; a te8t; a :orF; etcA; enters the <iographic horiCon o. an
indi=idual; the result is the creation o. a ne: constellation o. sym<ols interacting :ith one anotherA 3he
meaning o. a te8t is not the product o. the transmission o. a message that a recei=er translates thanFs to
his Fno:ledge o. a .i8ed code he shares :ith the producerA Bt is a myth to see the sym<olic o<Eect as an
intermediary in a process o. communication that transmits the meaning intended <y the author to the
audience HIJJK: IOLA 3he act o. meaning is mani.old: it can re.er to a comple8 process o. creation
HpoieticL that has to do :ith the .orm as :ell as the content o. the :orF; and also the point o. departure
o. a comple8 process o. reception that reconstructs a messageA 3hese t:o moments; ho:e=er; are not
DattieC doesnMt try to negate the possi<ility o. any communicationA Bn an act o. sym<olic .unctioning;
Poststructural +odes of /nalytical Thought - !"
communication is a particular type of exchange. The problem is that, as =attiez believes,
“musicologists, music theorists, analysts, critics, and musicians often have a different view of the
matter: for them, there mu#t be communication between the composer and the listener” (1FF0: 1H-
1I). =attiez sees communication as a particular case of exchange. The need of communication as the
driving force of any composer does not correspond with the reality of the dynamic aspects of the
meaning of human activities.
+eaning is rather constructed: it emerges from the assignment of a whole new web of symbols to a
particular text (or symbolic form): meaning emerges from the construction of that assignment. The
symbolic background of each receiver is, to one degree or another, different. Thus, the construction of
meaning can never be guaranteed to be the same for each personal case.
Lhen considering how the signification of a text works, three distinct yet tightly interwoven levels
are to be taken into consideration:
- The poietic dimension: the text whose meaning one intends to analyze usually results from a
process of creation, whose conditions (social, material, historical) may be described, reconstituted and,
in turn, also analyzed critically.
- The esthesic dimension: it considers the moment when the receiver constructs the meaning of a text
during the perceptual process of interpretation.
- The neutral level, or trac(, refers to the physical, material embodiment of the object of study. It is
the immanent and recurrent characteristics that are perceivable by our senses after the neutralization of
esthesic or poietic considerations. “The trace remains merely an amorphous physical reality, until it is
entrapped by analysis” (1FF0: 13-15)
The Problem of the Neutral 0evel: a 3emnant of Structural 7nalysis;
/ semiotic analysis has as its first stage a paradigmatic analysis. In music, paradigmatic analysis was
developed by =icolas Quwet during the 1F60s and further developed by later music semiologists (see
=attiez 1FH5, 1FF0; +onelle 1FF2). Quwet maintained that the most salient feature of musical syntax
was repetition - and, by extension, of varied repetition or transformation (Quwet 1FIH cited in
+iddleton 1FF0: 1I3). Thus paradigmatic analyses base the assignment of meaningful units on
Poststructural +odes of Analytical Thought - !"
repetition, to the point that “anything repeated (straight or varied) is defined as a unit, and this is true
on all levels” (+iddleton, ibid).
Paradigmatic analyses are an attempt at arriving at a completely objective methodology by not making
a priori assumptions. The first stage, thus, consists of dividing the piece into smaller constituents,
named paradigms. The second stage, syntagmatic analysis, examines how these parts relate to each
other, thus discovering the syntax of the piece without reference to any external sources or norms. At
this point, the temporal distribution and organiEation of the different categories of meaningful musical
units is also taken into account.
This kind of objective account of the signifying units of a musical text is what FattieE describes as the
ne#$%&' level of analysis, where
one does not decide a priori whether the results generated by a specific analytic proceeding are relevant
from the esthesic or poietic point of view. The analytic tools used for the delimitation and the classification
of phenomena are systematically exploited, until they are exhausted, and are not replaced by substitutes until
a new hypothesis or new difficulties lead to the proposition of new tools.
“<eutral” means both that the poietic and esthesic dimensions of the object have been neutralized, and
that one proceeds to the end of a given procedure regardless of the results obtained. (<attiez 1BB0:13).
In his critical scrutiny of FattieE’ suggestions, Iaske argues that the neutral level is a procedural
techniJue that “makes it possible for the esthesic interpreter, to hypothesiEe a repertory of syntactic
relationships from which, in a second step, elements of poietic andKor aesthetic relevance can be
selected” (1MNN: 221-222). Fevertheless, the criteria for segmentation are clearly dependent on the
analyst’s particular focus and the context of the research:
Gue to the fact that musical equivalence judgments have many unknown determinants, the units isolated by
the musicologist as contextually relevant JKL is always relative, subject to critical comparison, and in need
of empirical validations. (1BMM: 223)
FattieE is fully aware of this problem when he contends that the meaning of “similarity” is extremely
unwieldy. Any two musical events can be said to be similar in some respect, depending on the
particularities of our heuristic scope. Qe seems to acknowledge the awkward demands of neutral
analysis by pinpointing the tight interrelatedness of the aforementioned three analytical levels.
Poststructural +odes of Analytical Thought - !"
Analysis never stops engineering a dialectical oscillation among the three dimensions of the ob6ect.
Analysis at the neutral level is dynamic9 it displaces itself constantly as the analysis takes place. (<99>?3A).
In the pursuit of an objective account of the salient features of musical phenomena, human intuition
seems thus inescapable. ?et @aske contends that formulating some neutral syntactic descriptions of
music is central to systematic musicology. The aesthetic neutrality of the taxonomic level is an
operational artifact, but still methodologically indispensable CDEFF: HHIJ. Khat this allows is the
possibility to reach s"me kind of analysis with s"me%level of neutrality, although a systematic theory for
analysis that can produce automatic segmentations and unveil latent structures, a sort of analytical
machi*e or universal grammar in the Mhomskian sense, seems a mere chimera:
Almost twenty years ago, when Ehomsky published his !"#tactic !tructures, he emphasiFed the neutrality
of the syntactic level of natural language. Gy studies in psycholinguistics, generative semantic, artificial
language understanding, and cognitive as well as developmental psychology, this HneutralityI has been more
or less ripped to pieces. (Jaske <9KK? AAL)
Nevertheless, a notable number of current studies deal with developing formal theories that can
produce automatic segmentations along with establishing similarity relations between melodic
segments and forming taxonomic descriptions
Oome practical difficulties of paradigmatic analysis relate directly to the complexity of the
configuration of hierarchical significant units that describe the musical surface. Mook wonders whether
One of the most recent examples is the library +orphologieH, developed at Ircam in DEEE, for use in association with
the computer composition and analysis environment Open+usic. The latter is a visual programming environment
conceived at IQMA+ for the processing of musical objects in computer-assisted algorithmic composition. Its library
+orphologieH assembles different analytical algorithms for the detection and symbolic treatment of recurrent sequences
and profiles in different musical parameters such as harmony, rhythm, intensity, etc. $
Po#t#tructur(l +ode# o. A0(lytic(l Thou5ht 6 !"
#e7iotic (0(ly#e# 8ould 9e 7ore u#e.ul i. they u#ed the #(7e li#t o. .e(ture#: #o th(t o0e (0(ly#i# could
9e directly co7;(red 8ith (0other i0 det(il< The =u#ti.ic(tio0: 8hich doe#0>t tot(lly #(ti#.y hi7: i# th(t
the ide0ti.ic(tio0 (0d #electio0 o. the#e #(lie0t .e(ture# h(# to ;ri7e the o0e# th(t (re ?i7;ort(0t .or
the rel(tio0#hi;# 9et8ee0 u0it# 8ithi0 the ;(rticul(r co0te@t o. ( 5iAe0 ;iece or re;ertoire o. ;iece#B
he0ce the li#t o. .e(ture# h(# to 9e co7;iled e#;eci(lly .or e(ch (;;lic(tio0C DEooF GHHIJ GKLM<
The #et o. .e(ture# th(t i# i7;ort(0t .or cl(##i.yi05 the 7u#ic(l u0it# o. ( #;eci.ic 7u#ic(l 8orF i0to
;(r(di57# i# de.i0ed i0 (0 ad hoc 7(00erB e(ch ;iece o. 7u#ic reNuire# ( #;eci(lly co7;iled li#t o.
.e(ture# th(t (re releA(0t .or the ;(rticul(r 7u#ic(l co0te@t< The ;(r(di57(tic 7ethodolo5y doe# 0ot
#u55e#t ( 5e0er(l #et o. .e(ture# or eAe0 ( 5e0er(l #tr(te5y (# to ho8 #uch .e(ture# 7(y 9e #elected< Too
o.te0: 7(i0#tre(7 (0(lytic(l ;rocedure# h(Ae 7(de cl(i7# to (0 (uthorit(ri(0 F0o8led5e o. 8h(t (
;iece ?i# re(lly (9outC th(0F# to 0eutr(l: o9=ectiAe (0d tr(0#ce0de0t(l de#cri;tio0 throu5h (lle5ed
0eutr(l 7ethodolo5ie# DOtr(u# GHHPJ ;(r< HM< Thi# Fi0d o. ad hoc theoriQi05 #it# Aery 8ell 8ith the
;o#t7oder0 de;ictio0 o. F0o8led5e (# loc(l (0d co0ti05e0t<
A.ter thi# critic(l e@(7i0(tio0 o. the co0ce;t# o. (uthor: u0ity (0d te@t: R ho;e to h(Ae ;roAided the
9(cF9o0e .or the u0der#t(0di05 o. the theoretic(l 9(#i# o0 8hich (0(ly#i# 8(# erected (0d the Fi0d o.
e;i#te7olo5ic(l ;ro9le7# the co0te7;or(ry (0(ly#t 7u#t i0te5r(te: i. 0ot try to 5iAe ( #olutio0 to:
throu5hout it# e0de(Aor< R0 the #eco0d ;(rt o. thi# #tudy: 8hich 0o8 .ollo8#: R #h(ll (rticul(te the ide(#
hereto.ore e@(7i0ed i0 rel(tio0 to co7;o#itio0(l ;roceedi05# o. the co7;o#er STctor P(rr(<
!"ststructural +"des ". /0al1tical 3h"ught 6 32
!ar$ &&' ()e !+l-)e.ri0 12$)+r
340$+r !arra5s 72si0
3his sec"0d 7art ". this stud1 c"0sists ". a c"0siderati"0 ". h"w a the"retical6a0al1tical a77rehe0si"0
". the rece0t creati9e "ut7ut ". the 1"u0g c"0tem7"rar1 c"m7"ser ;<ct"r !arra illustrates= "r
res"0ates agai0st= the a."reme0ti"0ed the"retical ca9eats> 3he reas"0 ."r ch""si0g his music is m1
?elie. that !arra= ?1 9irtue ". his 7articular ch"ice ". tech0ical a0d aesthetic c""rdi0ates= "..ers what
c"uld ?e see0 as a c"0ciliati"0 ". the dich"t"mies a0d 7"lemics elicited ?1 a 7"ststructuralist acc"u0t
". c"0tem7"rar1 music> @ ?elie9e it is 0"w 7erti0e0t t" "..er a sh"rt ?i"gra7hical acc"u0t ". !arraAs
musical acti9it1 i0 "rder t" e0a?le the reader t" get a .irst idea ". where !arra sta0ds as a creat"r>
;<ct"r !arra was ?"r0 i0 Barcel"0a i0 CDEF> ;e studied 7ia0"= c"m7"siti"0 a0d ch"ir c"0ducti0g i0
the G"0ser9at"r1 ". Barcel"0a> ;e started c"m7"si0g at age CH= dri9e0 ?1 a str"0g 7"st6R"ma0tic
aesthetic se0se> Jater= his a77r"ach t" the c"m7"siti"0al 7r"cess ?ega0 t" cha0ge as a c"0seKue0ce ".
his acKuai0ta0ce with the music ". the sec"0d Lie00ese sch""l as well as the Mur"7ea0 7"st6Nar a9a0t6
garde c"m7"sers such as Ot"cPhause0>
Duri0g the 1ears RSSR6RSST he was selected ?1 the @RG/+ c"mmittee t" ."ll"w the c"urse ".
c"m7"siti"0 a0d musical i0."rmatics at the Ure0ch i0stituti"0 i0 !aris= ."ll"wed ?1 a reside0c1 at the
GVO+D i0 J1"0> M9er si0ce the0= !arra has allied himsel. with c"m7uters i0 ma01 wa1s= such as
assisti0g= a0d thus "7e0i0g 0ew 7"ssi?ilities t"= his c"m7"siti"0al tasP "r i0 their r"le as s"u0d6
creati0g a0d ma0i7ulati0g de9ices> ;e has studied with such re7uted teachers as Bria0 Uer0e1h"ugh=
W"0atha0 ;ar9e1= +iPhail +alt= am"0g "thers>
Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - !!
In parallel with his musical career Parra has developed a certain amount of activity as a painter. His
interest in the visual arts has spawned his ever-increasing concern with the collaboration between
different art forms through the establishment of structural parallelisms. In this regard, in 2005 Parra
completed a period of artistic research, during which he explored the use of possible isomorphisms
between color perception and sound perception in the computer-assisted composition of music. Dor
the following outline of Parra’s particular conceptualiFation of musical structure, which, as we shall
see, implicates features that originate in the visual arts and are extended to the musical sphere to a
considerable extent, I will draw from his investigation, named For a creative approach to structural
inter-relations between acoustic and visual spaces
!pistemological Foundation: 3olor Modulation as “7isual 8hythm”
In his investigation of the rapports between visual and musical organiFation, Parra invokes physical and
physiological theories of visual perception (see Brediceanu 2002; Sloboda 2003; Neki 2003!" In his
exposO, Parra chooses to consider the treatment of color as the primordial element on the visual side;
the one which affords the painter the most effective way of expressing his feelings and sensations:
Color enables paintings to express the feeling of life and movement in the most gripping way. Thus, for the
My translation. The original Drench title is Pour une approche cr6atrice des interrelations structurelles entre les espaces
acousti7ues et visuels. Drom now on, all the translations from the original text in Drench will be mine. I must also point out
that the visual examples used throughout this research have been borrowed from Parra’s thesis with his permission, for
which I am most grateful.
!o#t#tructura) +o,e# o. /na)ytica) 3hought 6 !4
7ainter, co)or i# the 9o#t e..icient ,yna9ic e)e9ent, an, the riche#t in 7o##i:i)itie#; <=>>?@ ==A
3he 7ainter !arra taBe# a# hi# 9o,e), Cith regar,# to the a,9ini#tration o. Chat cou), :e ca))e,
DEi#ua) 9o,u)ationF, i# the Grench 7ainter HIJanne; /# !arra in,icate#, HIJanne atte97te, to ,eEi#e a
)ogica) or,er o. the u#e o. co)or in#7ire, :y hi# o:#erEation o. nature; 3hi# )ogica) #ucce##ion o. the
co)or i97)ie, the u#e, o. co)ore, #tain# in a 7articu)ar Bin, o. #ucce##ion that o:#erEe, a certain )aC o.
har9ony; Kn .act, it #ee9# high)y 7)au#i:)e that the #ucce##ion o. the ,i..erent co)or# in the 7ainting
.o))oCe, the #a9e 7ro7ortion# a# the ,i#tance# :etCeen the co)or# in the Ei#ua) #7ectru9; !arra a7t)y
co97are# thi# to a #ort o. DEi#ua) gra99arF, that a))oCe, HIJanne to organiJe the i97re##ion receiEe,
:y the #en#e# an, 9a,e 7o##i:)e a )ogica) con#truction o. .or9# through #u:t)e co9:ination# o. co)or6
co97)eLe# <=>>?@ =M6=NA; !arraO# 9etho, o. ,eEi#ing the har9onic an, rhyth9ica) e)e9ent# in hi#
7iece# i# ,irect)y in#7ire, :y thi# 7roce,ura) #trategy;
!arraO# co97o#itiona) #y#te9 i# 7re,icate, on the u#e o. #9a)) rhyth9ica) unit#, o. Pu#t a .eC #econ,#,
that are inter6re)ate, #o a# to re.)ect au,itory ten#ion# 9uch in the #a9e Cay a# HIJanne co)or #tain#
9o,u)ate in or,er to a,9ini#trate the Ei#ua) ten#ion
; 3he technica) a#7ect# concerning the 7ro,uction
o. the#e unit# Ci)) :e ,ea)t Cith )ater;
3he 7ara9eter# that he)7 u# ,e#cri:e the Qua)itie# o. co)or can :e categoriJe, in 9any ,i..erent Cay#;
3he co)ori9etric #y#te9 cho#en :y !arra ,i##ect# the co)or #7ectru9 into three co97onent#@ hue,
#aturation an, Ea)ue R there.ore it# acrony9 STU; K Ci)) not go into a ,etai)e, eL7)anation o. the eLact
!arra eEen #7eaB# o. Ei#ua) rhyth9 <=>>?@ =VA; Kn a 7er#ona) co99unication Cith hi9, !arra a#tute)y ,i, aCay Cith a
7erEa#iEe 9yth a9ong theori#t#, #cho)ar# an, art a.iciona,o#@ the .aci)e ,i#tinction :etCeen 9u#ic an, 7ainting through the
eLc)u#iEe con#i,eration o. the .ir#t a# a te97ora) art; /# !arra a7t)y in,icate,, the a77rehen#ion o. a 7ainting i# a)#o a
te97ora) actiEity, in the #en#e that the eye# re#t on ,i..erent 7art# on the canEa# .or ,i..erent #7an# o. ti9e; Kn thi# #en#e, any
art i# te97ora), an, a:)e to #u#tain 9o,u)ating 7roce##e# o. ,yna9ic ten#ion an, re#o)ution;
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 3"
intricacics of cach of thcsc paranctcrs. 1hc inportant fact is that HS\ is onc of thc prcfcrrcd nodc|s
for paintcrs and graphic artists bccausc it sccns to rcscnb|c thc wav in which thc hunan brain
pcrccivcs and ana|vscs co|or. a||owing for qucstions such as: what co|or is it: Is it vibrant: Is it bright or
dark: (200¯: 33-34).
1his wav. cach co|or can bc univoca||v dcscribcd bv a |ist of thrcc va|ucs: for cxanp|c (200. 6¯. 84)
Of coursc. thcrc arc othcr conponcnts in painting apart fron thc qua|itv of co|or. such as thc anount
of painting uscd - i.c.. thc ¯vo|unc¯ of thc stain - thc charactcristics of thc natcria|s of thc painting.
thc porositv of thc canvas. ctc. farra disrcgards thcsc dincnsions. givcn thc unvic|ding conp|cxitv that
wou|d rcsu|t fron thc attcnpt to takc a|| of thcn into considcration.
!he %e&ign of the -h.th/i0 1nit&
1hc structura| ana|ogv bctwccn thc visua| and thc auditorv gocs as fo||ows: |ust as a painting can bc
undcrstood as a succcssion of individua| co|or units. whosc |uxtaposition in diffcrcnt conbinations
rcsu|ts in concrctc curvcs of visua| tcnsion. thc pcrccption of rhvthn can a|so bc thought of as a
succcssion of c|cncntarv rhvthnica| units. whosc duration farra takcs as conpriscd bctwccn 1 and 6
scconds. In thc sanc wav that co|or can bc nodc|cd according to thc thrcc HS\ paranctcrs. farra
dcviscs a nu|ti-paranctrica| svstcn for thc codification of thc rhvthnica| units that providcs cffcctivc
wavs of connunication bctwccn thc visua| and thc auditorv sphcrcs: that is. a svstcn of isonorphisns
that a||ows napping co|or paranctcrs into rhvthnic paranctcrs. 1his wav. onc can obtain rhvthnica|
As has bccn ncntioncd. thcsc thrcc va|ucs corrcspond to thc paranctcrs huc. saturation and va|uc. 1hc huc. or tonc.
spccifics thc doninant wavc|cngth of a co|or. and it is quantificd using a continuun of 360 dcgrccs. 1hc saturation. which
cxprcsscs thc dcgrcc to which a co|or diffcrs fron whitc or. cxprcsscd in othcr words. thc anount of whitc in a co|or. has a
rangc fron 0 to 100. So docs thc va|uc. which rcfcrs to thc dcgrcc of |ightncss or darkncss of a co|or.
!oststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - !"
that correspond to significant visual tra;ectories extracted from a colorimetric analysis of
a concrete painting, or ;ust to color combinations spawned by the composer himself with specific
musical results in mind (200C: 4C).
Hach rhythmical unit is composed by the superposition of two cells, which may present a certain
temporal staggering. The upper cell presents a series of attacks (from 3 to C) in accelerando
(incrementing exponentially), while the lower cell’s attacks are increasingly slower (incrementing
logarithmically, i.e., in an approximately inverse manner as the upper cell). The following example
corresponds to the colors orange (LMNO30, 100, 100) and cyan blue (LMNO210, 100, 100):
The intensity of the increase or decrease in the distances between attacks is determined by the hue of
the color and also by its level of saturation. The spacing out between the upper and the lower cell is the
result of a function whose variables are also the hue and saturation. Qith the nearly infinite different
combinations that can result from the analysis of various color combinations, the final aim of this
system is to give a unique character to each color-unit. The system is devised so that the degree of
depth of each color is reflected in the amount of rhythmic energy. The sensation of movement resulting
from the visual perception is thus related to the sensation produced by the movement (or displacement)
of each rhythmical unit, which responds to the relatively flat or vibrant nature of each color (200C: 4C-
The expression rhythmical modulation is here used not in the sense Babbitt would use it, but in a quasi-metaphorical
way; it refers to some sort of gradient in the density of rhythmical events, an evolution of a parameter towards one direction
in a dynamic system.
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 37
Whcn thc saturation of a co|or dccrcascs. thc functions in thc svstcn wi|| rcturn a |incar incrcasc.
which in its turn ncans cvcn|v spaccd attacks. 1hus. co|ors around thc arca of thc grav wi|| tcnd to
producc rhvthnic rcgu|aritv. Contrari|v. an incrcasc in thc cncrgctic charactcr of thc unit rcsponds to
irrcgu|ar rhvthnic fcaturcs.
A conp|ctc tcchnica| cxposition of how a|| thc possib|c paranctcrs arc con|ugatcd in thc crcation of
thc rhvthnica| units wou|d rcsu|t in tcdiun. and is on|v intcrcsting to hard-corc studcnts of a|gorithnic
conposition or nusica| nodc|ing. ßut |ust in ordcr to givc an idca of thc conp|cxitv of thc proccss
whcrcbv this is donc. I providc thc fo||owing inagc. a scrccnshot of thc graphica| intcrfacc that farra
progranncd in thc softwarc OpcnHusic (scc notc 4): in this casc. what wc obscrvc is thc proccsscs
whcrcbv sonc curvcs corrcsponding to spccific huc. saturation and va|uc |cvc|s arc produccd:
!"#$#$%&'$&%() +",-# ". /0()1$2'() 34"&54$ 6 !"
!(%%(7# #1#$-8 8(9# $4- $4%-- :;< '""%,20($-# ". $4- ,2..-%-0$ '")"% &02$# =2$420 ( 8",&)($205 >2#&()
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6 B-5%-- ". (''-)-%($2"0 "% ,-'-)-%($2"0 ". $4- C '-))# ". $4- &02$ DC 9(%(8-$-%#A "0- 8-(#&%205 $4-
(''-)-%($2"0? $4- "$4-% $4- ,-'-)-%($2"0E
6 F&8G-% ". ($$('H# 9-% '-)) DC 9(%(8-$-%#? 2I-I? "0- 9-% '-))EI
6 /#10'4%"01 G-$=--0 $4- '-))#7 "0#-$ DJ 9(%(8-$-%EI
6 !%"9"%$2"0 ". ,&%($2"0 G-$=--0 $4- C '-))# DJ 9(%(8-$-%EI
6 3"$() ,&%($2"0 ". $4- %41$482'() &02$ DJ 9(%(8-$-%EI
!oststructural +odes of Analytical Thought - !"
Thus, !arra8s system enables the “translation” of a visual experience into a temporal experience that
reflects what he calls the “life” of the first A2005: 5FG.
From the Micro to the Macrostructure
So far, we have considered the possible exploitation of the analogies between concrete color stains in
the canvas and small rhythmic units. !arra considers that color marks in a painting are governed by 2
kinds of relationships:
The amplitude of the visual field, which, in each case, focuses attention, is the domain of synchronic
relations, and the visual path, with a temporal component halfway between topology Aorder rapportsG and
temporal metrics Ain secondsG, is the domain of diachronic relations. A2005: F0G
It is the !i#$ $& #'(&$ of this double-sidedness of any visual-temporal relation, the synchronic and
diachronic constituents, which will be used as the basis for the construction of the bigger structure of
the piece. It must be underlined that, at all times, !arra speaks of “aesthetically significant
relationships”. What this indicates is that the kinds of color combinations that will result in the
aggregates of rhythmical units are not randomly assembled. In fact, there is virtually not a single
parameter in !arra8s system whose determination is left to aleatoric processes. These aesthetically
significant trajectories are actively sought after with the aid of an active administration of possible visual
solutions afforded by a technically informed application of color theory to pictorial activity coupled
with an empirical corroboration of the aesthetic validity of the aural results through systematic listening
proceedings A2005: F1G.
At a primary level, one can conceive the creation of a compound rhythmical unit through the
superposition of two different units that reflects a coupling of complementary colors. The next example
illustrates the union of the colors orange and blue, which causes a strong visual tension given their
opposed extremes of proximity and visual depth.
Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - !"
In the rhythmical plane, this tension results in a strong deformation of the uniform flow of time, a
result that substantiates Parra=s active ?uest for aesthetically significant couplings, as his description of
the previous figure evidences:
In musical terms, these irregularities take the form of an opening propulsion of energy Binitial attacks
orange but also blueC, followed by a central development Bmainly orangeC, suddenly stopped by a second
propulsion Bblue extremitiesC which brings us to the final expansion Bguided only by orangeCE BFGG5: I1C
As a contrast, the opposition green K magenta, both colors with little depth, prompts the
superposition of two relatively regular units, albeit with different durationsE This constitutes a less
energetic unit than the previous one, which Parra accentuates through their simultaneous onset:
A second organization level is added by the se?uential presentation Bwith possible overlapsC of the
rhythmic moleculesE This marks the leap from the microtemporal level to a more dynamic degree in the
piece, where the composer BpainterC must start to choose those combinations that Mcontribute to the
material realization that is most successful for their artistic projectO BFGG5: I4CE
The following example shows three different color couples that have been combined to produce a
visual K thus rhythmic K trajectory of an approximate duration of 15 secondsE An intense, attention-
Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - 41
grabbing couple, orange-blue, marks the very dense first part. A climactic point characterized by the
yellow-violet contrast follows this. The last cell, a less tensioned green-magenta coupling, equilibrates
the character of the phrase by stopping the momentum:
The next example shows how the quality of different phrases can be made to respond to relatively
slight variations in the different color parameters. In this case, the colors lose saturation or intensity,
and the colors yellow, green and blue vary their hue in a difference of 300. These new colors are less
vibrant, and thus become less complementary of their respective partners, displaying less visual
tensionF in the visual plane, this results into a less rhythmically expressive phrase:
Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - !"
Up to this point, the temporal succession of rhythmic attacks has taken place in a continuous time
line. Once several phrases have been concocted through the deliberate @ that is, non-automated @
arrangement of different color patterns in succession, what results is a succession of attack points in a
temporal continuum. Bn order to allow the performer to render the generated rhythms with precision,
they must be put into traditional mensural notation. This is done through a process of Cuantification,
which is also assisted by a special library of the software OpenMusic called Kant
, which analyGes
seCuences of attack points in continuous time and suggests different ways to convey them as
representations of discrete time through musical notation. The procedure has several phases:
First, the points envisioned as “strong” @ measure starts and other important rhythmic points @ are
marked with blue lines.
Then, the tempo is adLusted so that it resembles as much as possible the initial tempo hear% by the
composer yet allows for a more faithful Cuantification of the original seCuence.
Following this, the program suggests concrete rhythms, which the composer can fine-tune according
Developed at BRCAM by BenoQt Meudic (2003), and included in the software bundle OpenMusic.
Poststr&'t&ral +o,es of /nalyti'al 34o&54t - 43
to 4is int&ition. /t t4is point, so:e of t4e positions of t4e atta'; points 'an <e sli54tly altere, for
>inally, Parra trans'ri<es t4e r4yt4:i' p4rase <y 4an,. 34is final pro'ess 'o:<ines t4e o<servation
of t4e notation s&55este, <y t4e pro5ra: @it4 personal '4oi'es a<o&t 4o@ to a''ent&ate t4e te:poral
5est&ality of t4e p4rase for ,ra:ati' effe'ts, or to <etter a,apt it to t4e reA&ire:ents of t4e ,esire,
i:pa't of t4e :&si'al sit&ation <ein5 pro,&'e, or B in t4e 'ase of vo'al :&si' B to t4e se:anti' 'ontent
of t4e teCt, et'.
Dn t4is re5ar,, t4e ren,erin5 of t4e s&55este, A&antifie, r4yt4:s are en4an'e, <y :any ,ifferent
ele:ents s&'4 as t4e in'orporation of all ;in,s of 5ra'e notes, fast-note s@eeps, &n&s&al :o,es of
instr&:ental arti'&lation, ,yna:i' :o,&lations t4at 'onvey t4e sense of t4e p4rase (p!"#!#) or t4at
oppose it, 'reatin5 str&'t&ral polarities t4at res< in tension (s##$!p). /ll t4ese fa'tors see; to
'ontri<&te to t4e <etter perfor:an'e of t4e te'4ni'al an, eCpressive ,e:an,s of t4e :&si', an, are t4e
fr&it of a non-a&to:ate,, 'aref&l 'onsi,eration of t4e :&si' <y t4e 'o:poser @4ere 4is personal
aest4eti's an, int&ition play a fore:ost role.
No@ t4at eno&54 insi54t into t4e te'4ni'al pro'e,&res involve, in Parra=s syste: 4as <een provi,e,,
D s&55est ,elvin5 into a 'onsi,eration of 4o@ t4e 'on'ept&al 'on'erns eCplore, in t4e first part of t4is
essay :i54t <e ill&:inate, <y an infor:e, vie@ of t4e 'o:positional :et4o, 5ivin5 <irt4 to t4e :&si'
!"#$#$%&'$&%() +",-# ". /0()1$2'() 34"&54$ 6 44
!ack to the Center
Beyond (ormalism into the Sub4ective
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Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - !"
generation7s reluctance to speak of aesthetic problems and preference for a discourse of a technical
We belong to a generation that does not willingly address aesthetical problems? not so long ago, even I
ardently fought against those words commonly wasted on everything and nothing? I was particularly
infuriated by expressions such as “human”, “cosmos”, “the communion between man and the world”, “a
human scale”, etc? this vocabulary has been overused to the point of nausea, in the most despicable or
fatuous occasions. (1995: K91)
Does the death of the author respond to the impossibility of speaking of music on these grand, all-
embracing termsN Does the reOection of these terms imply the hopelessness of communicating any form
of subOectivity through music, in an all or nothing, formalist vs. critical-hermeneutic dichotomyN And if
so, was this impossibility self-imposedN Barthes declared the author dead in the seventies. Was he
really deadN As Kramer words indicate, it seems that was more a wishful thought than a reality:
For most of the twentieth century, subOectivity, in the sense of the private monad, !as regar(e( Smy
emphasisT as an obstacle to both musical experience and musical knowledge. Too much emphasis on feeling
or ascription of meaning could only obscure what was truly musical about music, its articulation of style,
form, and structure. Musical knowledge was knowledge of the variety and history of these Uualities? musical
experience came from following them with rapt attention. (2003: 6)
What Kramer is voicing here is the belief that modern, 20
century composers Z who else can he be
referring toN Z paid no heed to the historical character of their activity, to music7s appeal to interior
states of mind, to its capacity to act as the place of articulation for the various aspects of the social. But
Kramer is careful enough to give no names. What composers is he referring toN Making this claim to
include many of the [uropean composers of the serialist school would be a gross misrepresentation of
the facts. A scant look at periodicals such as )ie +eihe can supply one with more than enough examples
of musicians concerned with the social and the aesthetic aspects of their music. [ven Boule\, despite
his confessed disinclination to use cosmic terms to describe his musical aims, has provided us with
copious amount of literature addressing issues beyond the mere technical. Is Kramer then referring to
the American post-War composersN It is true that most of the theoretical writing that serves as a basis
for the establishment of twelve-tone and pitch-class set theory Z I am referring to Babbitt, Lewin, Howe
Poststr&'t&ral +o,es of /nalyti'al 34o&54t - 46
an, 7orte, a9on5 ot4ers : ,oes not a;o&n, <it4 'onsi,erations a;o&t <4at 'o&l, ;e 'alle,
!"#$%&'()*%+ 9eanin5, 'ir'&9s'ri;in5 itself to t4e tas= of 'onstr&'tin5 9&si'al syste9s. ?&t even if
s&'4 'onsi,erations ,o not 'onstit&te t4e ;&l= of t4e t4eoreti'al pro,&'tion of t4e afore9entione,
a&t4ors, t4ey are also t4ere. Bra9er 5oes onC
Dnfor9al interpretations of 9&si', p4rases E&st ;l&rte, o&t, &nsyste9ati', freely 9etap4ori'al or epit4eti'al,
not espe'ially arti'&late, are i9portant far in eF'ess of t4eir apparent la'= of s&;stantive <ei54t. 34ey
a'tivate s4are, ass&9ptions a;o&t s&;Ee'tivity an, foster feelin5s of allian'e an, i,entifi'ation. G&'4
infor9al as'riptions, ;earers of t4e 4er9ene&ti's of every,ay life, 'arry <it4 t4e9 o&r int&itive, pre'riti'al
sense of t4e <orl,. G4arin5 in t4e9 is a for9 of 9&si'-9a=in5 (IJJ5C L).
?&t t4e fa't t4at one ,oes not <rite a;o&t t4e aest4eti', or a;o&t t4e 4er9ene&ti', or a;o&t t4e
4istori'al, ,oes not i9ply t4at one ,enies its relevan'e, or even eFisten'e. Dn fa't, t4e possi;ility 9i54t
o''&r : an, D a9 <illin5 to a''ept t4e 4i54ly spe'&lative '4ara'ter of t4is affir9ation : t4at one pla'es
so 9&'4 i9portan'e on t4ese aspe'ts t4at t4e sense of respe't an, a<e arisin5 fro9 t4is fa't 9i54t
in,&'e t4e feelin5 t4at one is &nfit to spea= a;o&t it in a eloN&ent eno&54 9atter, an, t4at one 4a,
;etter sti'= to t4ose 9atters one 'an treat 9ore l&'i,ly. Or it 9i54t very <ell ;e t4at one ;elieves t4at
t4ere are s&;Ee'ts <4ose &r5en'y is 9ore pressin5 t4an ot4ers ;&t, a'=no<le,5in5 t4at t4is ;elief is
'ontin5ent &pon 'on'rete, lo'al 'ir'&9stan'es, one 'an a''ept t4at t4e sit&ation 'an ;e ,ifferent in a
9atter of fe< years an, t4at <4at ;efore <as ne5le'te, is no< ens4rine,. 7or t4at 9atter, <4at ,oes t4e
,ivision of 9&si' in its ,ifferent aspe'ts respon, toP Ds it at all ne'essaryP W4at aspe'ts nee, of a 9ore
&r5ent treat9ent no<P
34e previo&s N&estions a9o&nt to an inappropriate <ay of t4in=in5 a;o&t 9&si', at least no<a,ays. Df
post9o,ernis9 <ants to ;e tr&e to its o<n tenets, it s4o&l, a''ept t4at anyone s4o&l, ;e a;le to spea=
a;o&t any aspe't of 9&si' in any <ay t4at serves t4e p&rpose at 4an,, provi,e, t4ey ,o not elevate any
of t4eir post&lates to t4e level of eternal, self-evi,ent or ne'essarily &niversal <is,o9. /s /5a<&
re9in,s &s, t4e point is not R<4et4er a <or= is a&tono9o&s (or relatively a&tono9o&s) ;&t <4en in t4e
analyti'al pro'ess it is appropriate to set it &p as s&'4 for parti'&lar 4e&risti' p&rposesS (IJJTC IU9).
7&rt4er9ore, <4et4er one favors str&'t&re, ,eta'4e, sear'4 for o;Ee'tivity, syste9ati' evi,en'e, et'.
or, on t4e ot4er 4an,, s&;Ee'tivity, poeti' 'riti'is9, 9etap4ori' t4in=in5 or parti'ipant o;servation,
!"e %e&irt" *+ t"e ,-t"*r
!o#t#tru'tur() +o,e# of A0()1ti'() Thou5ht 6 4"
7re##ure#8 9ot to ,o #o :ou), be t(0t(<ou0t to e=hibiti05 the <o#t 7o#t<o,er0 (rt of #u#7i'io0> to
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(ttitu,e# e@e0 of the 'o<7o#er hi<#e)fD EFGHHI JKL8 Mut the #(<e f())('1 ,oe# 0ot ho), u7 to,(1> :he0
:orA# (re #u77)ie, to5ether :ith their te'h0i'() ,e#'ri7tio0> :hi'h (<ou0t# to i0@e0ti05 it# o:0 #et of
(, ho' 'o0@e0tio0# or> i0 other :or,#> h(@i05 0o 'o0@e0tio0#8 No: 'ou), the (0()1#t> 5i@e0 the 'urre0t
#t(te of (ff(ir# re5(r,i05 're(ti@it1 i0 'o0te<7or(r1 'o<7o#itio0> ,i#re5(r, the i0te0tio0# of the
(uthorO A# :e h(@e ()re(,1 7oi0te, out> PooA #u55e#t# ( 7o##ib)e @ie: of <u#i' theor1 (# bei05
7re,i'(te, o0 the ,e(th of the (uthor EFGGQI JRJL8 No: e)#e '(0 :e u0,er#t(0, ( Ai0, of <u#i' :ho#e
<e(0i05 ,oe# 0ot 'o<e fro< it#e)f but throu5h it# 'o0#i,er(tio0 (5(i0#t ( b('A5rou0, of #t1)i#ti'
'o0@e0tio0# Ei0 the '(#e of the to0() 7erio,L or (5(i0#t 0(ture65i@e0 ru)e# Ei0 the Ai0, of S'he0Aeri(0
(0()1#i#LO Mut> b1 the #(<e toAe0> i0 (0 er( :here 7ie'e# 'o0t(i0 their o:0 #et of ru)e#> (0, :here the#e
ru)e# (re e=7)i'it)1 7ro@i,e, b1 the 'o<7o#er> the (uthor i# ()i@e (0, Ai'Ai058
Sure)1 the <e(0i05 of :orA# of (rt i# ( #)i77er1 'o0'e7t> 'o0#t(0t)1 bei05 re0e5oti(te, :ithi0 the
#7here of the #o'i() #itu(tio0# i0 :hi'h the1 t(Ae 7)('e8 Mut i0 the '(#e of <o#t 'o0te<7or(r1 <u#i'
'o<7o#er# of the RK
'e0tur1> #u'h (# !(rr(> :h(t #hou), 0ot be #)i77er1 i# the effort to 'o<e
to 5ri7# :ith #o<eo0e?# e=7re##i@e)1 <(0ife#te, i0te0tio0#> :hi'h o0e h(# t(Ae0 the 7(i0 to 7ut i0to
:or,# b1 <e(0# of ( 7re'i#e )(05u(5e (0, for :hi'h o0e 7ro@i,e# e=(<7)e#> :ho#e (i< i# to i))u#tr(te
ho: there i# ( ,ire't 'o<<u0i'(tio0 fro< the ,e#ire, 5o() to the fi0() re#u)t8 No: e)#e '(0 :e i0ter7ret
the#e :or,# b1 !(rr(> if 0ot (# ( ')(i< b('A of the 'o<7o#er?# ri5ht> if 0ot ob)i5(tio0> to (77)1 ()) the
<e(0# (@(i)(b)e to it# 're(ti@e for'e to the fu)fi))<e0t of hi# (rti#ti' i0te0tio0#O
After the e=h(u#tio0 of the #eri() (0, #7e'tr() 7(r(,i5<#> the 'o<7o#er e=7eri<e0t# to,(1 ( #tro05 0ee, of
e#t(b)i#hi05 refere0ti() <(rA# (,(7te, to the 'o0'rete 0ee,# of e('h 0e: 're(tio08 T0 thi# f)ui, #itu(tio0> ())
the 7o##ibi)itie# )(1 o7e0 to the 're(ti@e ('ti@it1 ERKKQI HUL8
T#0?t it #1<7to<(ti' th(t the bu)A of the #o6'())e, B0e: <u#i'o)o5i#t#D Aee7 the<#e)@e# bu#1 :ith the
hou#eho), 0(<e# of the ')(##i'() Au#tri(06Ver<(0i' '(0o0 W (0, 0ot 7re'i#e)1 to tr1 to 'ou0ter7oi#e
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 49
its artistic va|uc or prcscnt it as idco|ogica||v suspcct: faradoxica||v cnough. this is thc sin Kcrnan
attributcd to hardcorc nusic thcorists in his fanous diatribc against thcorv and in favor of doing awav
with its pi||ar-conccpts and practiccs such as organicisn. tcchnica| (forna|ist) ana|vsis. ctc. (scc
Kcrnan 1980)! In fact. as Dunsbv points out. nost of thc postnodcrn-bcnt nusico|ogists ho|d what is
considcrcd to bc a !"#$%&'"()(* idco|ogica| stancc
vct havc droppcd out a|togcthcr fron
contcnporarv art (2004: 2¯).
Coning back to thc prob|cn. or thc nccd. of distancc. it night vcrv wc|| bc that forna|ist. tcchnica|
ana|vsis and thc conccrn conposcrs p|acc into nanifcsting thcir intcntions arc thc nost va|uab|c picccs
of infornation wc havc about thc cndcavor of contcnporarv c|assica| nusic. Not on|v. stca|ing vct again
fron Christcnscn`s words. ¯a|| ana|vtica| know|cdgc is fu||v historica|¯. in thc scnsc that a svstcnatic
vicw cast upon rca|itv is sti|| indcbtcd to a particu|ar vicw of things which is tcnpora||v and
gcographica||v contingcnt. but it is a|so vcrv difficu|t. a|nost futi|c. to svnchronica||v dctcrninc what
wi|| constitutc thc significant. hcrncncutica||v dctcrninant facts onc wi|| want to tcasc out tonorrow
about thc nusic of todav. In such a casc. a tcchnica| ana|vsis of thc intcrp|av of thc structura| aspccts
giving shapc to a piccc wi|| a|wavs constitutc a va|id sourcc of know|cdgc. a|| thc norc if wc arc awarc
that was what stinu|atcd thc conposcr in thc first p|acc.
!nity, (rganici-m an/ 0ruth
A||ow nc to procccd bv quoting thrcc occasions in which farra uscs thc words +#,$*-.!"/%(%#!%.or
"(0)#,! in thc cxposition of his thcorics:
A|though thc fact that nost of thc idcas supporting thcir vicws takc thcir origin fron thc writings of Ircnch post-
structura|ists of thc 1960s and 70s poscs thc qucstion of how !"#$%&'"()(* wc can sti|| considcr thcsc paradigns.
!"ststructura) +"d-s ". /na)ytica) Th"ught 6 50
7Th- c"m9"s-r: must ch""s-, .r"m th- -ntir-ty ". th- 9"ssi<i)iti-s "..-r-d <y th- ac"ustic s9-ctrum, th"s-
that =i)) a))"= him t" cr-at- a !"#$%$&' and <a)anc-d =h")-> ?@AABC DEF
G"r th- rhythm, =- n"= 9r-s-nt a mu)ti69aram-trica) syst-m that "..-rs a high d-gr-- ". richn-ss and, at th-
sam- tim-, r-mains satis.act"ri)y sim9)- and !"#$%$&'> ?@AABC HEF
In "rd-r t" attain "%()&*! rhythmic ."rms, =- =i)) s--J a-sth-tica))y signi.icant int-racti"ns thr"ugh th-
a99)icati"n ". c")"r th-"ry t" 9ict"ria) cr-ati"n, ."))"=-d <y an -K9-rim-nta) inL-stigati"n ". rhythm <as-d
"n syst-matic auditi"n> ?@AABC MDF
Th-s- thr-- Nu"tati"ns ="u)d 9r"<a<)y su..ic- t" i))ustrat- h"= =hat O-rman might )iJ- t" ca))
Ph-g-m"ny ". "rth"d"K "rganicist thinJingQ sti)) J--9s 9-rm-ating th- minds ". c"nt-m9"rary
c"m9"s-rs, =h" might haL- <"rr"=-d th- th"ught 9r"c-ss-s ". a-sth-tic La)idati"n .r"m m"d-rn
/s it =-r-, =hat O-rman c)aims is that P.r"m th- stand9"int ". th- ru)ing id-")"gy, ana)ysis -Kists ."r
th- 9ur9"s- ". d-m"nstrating "rganicism, and "rganicism -Kists ."r th- 9ur9"s- ". La)idating a c-rtain
<"dy ". ="rJs ". artQ ?DRSAC EDBF> T-L-rth-)-ss, d-s9it- th- a)m"st Litri")ic c"nn"tati"ns ". th- tit)- ".
his artic)-, O-rman is n"t sugg-sting that ana)ysis n--ds t" <- d"n- a=ay =ith a)t"g-th-r, "r that his
d-sir- ."r th- -n."rc-m-nt ". criticism must dis9-ns- =ith th- La)u- ". "rganic unityC
On- cann"t -nLisag- any "n- "r any c"m<inati"n ". th-s- a)t-rnatiL- m"d-s ". criticism as su99)anting
ana)ysisV th-y sh"u)d <- W"in-d =ith ana)ysis t" 9r"Lid- a )-ss "n-6dim-nsi"na) acc"unt ". th- artistic matt-rs
at hand> Xhat is im9"rtant is t" .ind =ays ". d-a)ing r-s9"nsi<)y =ith "th-r Jinds ". a-sth-tic La)u- <-sid-s
"rganicism> ?DRSAC EEDF
/na)ysis, s" th- th"ught g"-s, is "n-6dim-nsi"na)> It is an "<s-ssiL-6c"m9u)siL- disci9)in- s-).6
a<s"r<-d in th- actiLity ". .inding "rganic, c-ntri9-ta) r-)ati"nshi9s =h-r-L-r it )ays -y-s u9"n> Xhat is
th-n, acc"rding t" O-rman, th- n-Kt st-9 that =- must taJ- in "rd-r t" "L-rc"m- this situati"nY Z-
g"-s "n t" Nu"t- +"rgan, =ith =h"m h- d-c)ar-s haLing a c-rtain Li-= Jinshi9>
7Th- ana)ysis ". m"d-rn music: must -Kamin- th- c"m9"s-r[s int-nti"ns in r-)ati"n t" th-ir c"m9"siti"na)
r-a)i\ati"n, must discuss th- im9)icati"ns ". th- c"m9"siti"na) syst-m in r-gard t" th- music it g-n-rat-s,
c"nsid-r h"= th- r-su)ting music r-)at-s t" ")d-r music and t" "th-r 9r-s-nt6day music, -Kamin- its
9-rc-9tua) 9r"9-rti-s and 9r"<)-ms, -tc> ?DR]]C HAF
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 51
Yct thc prob|cn prcscnts itsc|f whcn unitv or organic cohcrcncc arc not c|cncnts cocrccd into thc
piccc bv thc ana|vst`s frocrustcan habits but an inpcrativc thc conposcr inposcs upon hinsc|f. as
farra`s prcvious words indicatc. If onc of thc cxprcsscd conccrns of farra is to cstab|ish structura|
conncctions bctwccn thc visua| and auditorv univcrscs. is thc ana|vst`s task finishcd whcn thc concrctc
natcria|ization of thcsc conncctions bv ncans of a conputcr assistcd conpositiona| svstcn is
dcscribcd: It sccns that. in such a casc. thc ana|vst wou|d bc grantcd thc right to |ook for organic
rc|ationships. sincc thc sanc conposcr has statcd that thc crcation of thc nusic cnsurcs a ccrtain |cvc|
of unitv at a|| tincs. ßut sincc farra`s dcscription of his svstcn a|rcadv docs that. what is |cft up to thc
In farra`s casc. thc ana|vst is irrcnissib|v |cft in an awkward position. Ior. who is bcttcr fit than thc
conposcr to supp|v such a dcscription: farra sccns to cnbodv thc co||apsc of thc conposcr with thc
ana|vst. If a|| that wc nccd is organic cxp|anation of thc diffcrcnt |cvc|s of structura| intcrp|av. ana|vsis
wou|d cnd in such cascs whcrc a tcchnica| dcscription appcnds thc prcscntation of conposition. in
tcchnica| papcrs pub|ishcd in |ourna|s. or in conccrt progran notcs. And this is a norc than connon
habit anong nanv conposcrs nowadavs. If onc wcrc to find such |cvc| of tcchnica| c|oqucncc in nost
conposcrs. this wou|d ob|itcratc thc nccd of thc figurc of thc ana|vst as a scparatc charactcr in thc p|av.
In fact. in his writings. farra actua||v surpasscs thc ncrc tcchnica| dcscription and tack|cs issucs
bordcring thc socia| and pcrccptua| p|ancs. 1hc fo||owing citation is onc anong nanv cxanp|cs of
instanccs whcrc farra |inks thc tcchnica| aspccts of his conpositiona| cndcavor with thc broadcr
contcxt. bcvond thc natcria| rca|ization of sonc nathcnatica| rc|ations for thcir own sakc:
Onc can rcasonab|v think that todav`s pub|ic. uscd to rccciving in a passivc and unrcnitting wav a
nu|tip|icitv of stinu|ations. sonctincs !"#$%&&'$('!. nccds. in ordcr to attain a dccp acsthctic cxpcricncc.
of a norc intcnsc and po|vhcdric stinu|ation of pcrccption. Intcnsc bv ncans of its high dcgrcc of dcnsitv.
and po|vhcdric insofar as it addrcsscs diffcrcnt faccts of thc scnsibi|itv. a|though in an articu|atcd fashion
around a )&"(* or ccntra| corc. 1hat is whv our purposc is far fron thc ¯tradition¯ that consists in
asscnb|ing a po|vphonv of orthogona| or !"#$%&&'$('! c|cncnts. (200¯: 111)
Hcrc farra addrcsscs thc prob|cn of pcrccption in a socictv whcrc nass production of connodificd
artistic products subsuncs individua| |ivcs in a hazc of stinu|i. surroundcd as thcv arc bv a rc|ativc|v
saturatcd vct disunificd f|ow of inprcssions. In ordcr to convcv thc kinds of structura| tcnsions hc
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - !2
pcrccivcs in c|cncnts fron othcr scnsorv fic|ds such as a painting bv Cézannc or a pocn bv Cc|an.
farra adapts his crcativc proccss to satisfv a concrctc cxprcssivc nccd: thc prcscntation of an acsthctics
of po|vhcdric conncctcdncss that wi|| indu|gc thc |istcncr`s nccd for intcnsc stinu|i at nu|tip|c |cvc|s
Hcrc. farra addrcsscs thc usc of tcchno|ogica| ncans in his picccs:
In fact. a big part of thcsc ncw possibi|itics concs fron thc app|ication of ncw tcchno|ogics in a|nost cvcrv
donain of nusic. 1his richncss of ncthods is ncvcrthc|css not a|| that unrc|atcd to thc crisis spawncd bv thc
insufficicncics of thc aforcncntioncd paradigns. A cha||cngc. both pcrsona| and co||cctivc. prcscnts itsc|f:
to nastcr thcsc ncw ncdia and to intcgratc in thc Wcstcrn nusica| tradition.
I nust now confcss thc kind of rhctoric dodging I havc bccn indu|ging in during thc |ast fcw
paragraphs. Onc of thc nain rcasons I chosc farra`s nusic as nv studv casc is that his figurc
constitutcs a paradignatic. or bcttcr said. an cxtrcnc casc whcrc a conposcr`s |oquacitv cou|d a|nost
pronpt thc bc|icf that it is unncccssarv to subnit his nusic to an cxtcrna| |ook bv anothcr pcrson. sincc
such a |ook cou|d hard|v bring anvthing ncw to thc tab|c. ßut this wou|d bc. oncc again. tantanount to
dcc|aring that thcrc arc univoca| vcrdicts thc ana|vtica| cndcavor nust ncccssari|v conc to if it is to bc
faithfu| to thc u|tinatc !"#!$%of thc piccc undcr ana|vsis. And sincc this truth about thc piccc is bcst
fornu|atcd bv thc cxp|icit intcntions of thc author. oncc hc has spokcn thcrc is |itt|c to add. ßut nv
prcvious asscrtion that. givcn thc wcight farra p|accs on thc ro|c that unitv p|avs in his conccption of
thc work of art in a disconncctcd socictv. it is pcrfcct|v |ogic and viab|c for an ana|vtica| |ook at his
nusic to takc unitv as its input. docsn`t intcnd to inp|v that onc can on|v |ook for unitv. or that it nccd
bc donc at a||. If poststructura| nodcs of nusic-ana|vtica| undcrstanding arc to cxist at a||. this nust bc
1his concrctc scgncnt rcfcrs to farra`s work &!"'!!' (2003) for soprano. |ivc c|cctronics. rca|-tinc vidco pro|cction
and |ights. with tcxt cxtractcd fron thc pocn ()*+,$"#)*%bv fau| Cc|an and bascd on a pictoria| ana|vsis of Cézannc`s
painting -$.!'/#%012" (1904).
!o#t#tru'tura) +o,e# of /na)1ti'a) 3hought 6 !"
un,er the 'on,ition of ,oing a7a1 7ith #u'h an i,ea a# !"#$!%&!"$'()$(*!"+(,$-&!$!"#$!%&!"8 an,
e9:ra'ing the ne'e##ari)1 9u)tifa'ete, out'o9e of an1 in;e#tigation ,ea)ing 7ith arti#ti' o:<e't#=
!o#t#tru'tura) +ode# o. /na)1ti'a) 3hought 6 !"
7e.ore the in#titutiona)i8ation o. 9u#i' :edagog1 in the ;<
'entur1= ana)1#i# >a# an e)e9ent
o?er)a::ing >ith 'o9:o#ition@ Auring the #u''e##i?e :ro'e##e# o. e9an'i:ation o. ana)1#i# a# an
a'ade9i' di#'i:)ine in it# o>n right= both ana)1#i# and 'o9:o#ition >ere eCua))1 a..e'ted b1 a tenden'1
to di#integrate into a :)ethora o. di..erent Di#9#E= ea'h o. >hi'h ')ai9ed the :atent o. arti#ti' truth@
3hi# :heno9enon i#= >e #hou)d a)) ho:e= a :ro'e## the 'urrent #tate o. a..air# i# tr1ing to re?er#e@ Fot
on)1 are the border)ine# bet>een ana)1#i# and 'o9:o#ition ')o#er together again= but a)#o 9u'h o. the
'onte9:orar1 theoreti'a) >riting i# in#:ired b1 :o##ib)e u#e# 'o9:o#er# 9ight 9aGe o. theorie#@ /#
HooG :ut# itI
!" $%&'& is * +is,unc$ion 1&$2&&n suc% con$&34o'*'5 $%&o'i6in7 *n+ co34osi$ion8 i$ *'is&s no$ so 3uc%
"'o3 i+&olo7ic*l o' 3&$%o+olo7ic*l +i""&'&nc& *s "'o3 $%& +'*7 in+uc&+ 15 $%& s4o:&n o' 2'i$$&n 3&+iu3 o"
*n*l5$ic*l +&3ons$'*$ion; <=>>?@ AB>C
Jortunate)1 or un.ortunate)1= ho>e?er one 9a1 'hoo#e to )ooG at it= not e?er1 'o9:o#er i#= or i#
.or'ed to be= eCua))1 eK:)i'it about the de#ired target the1 >i#h to ai9 .or through their te'hni'a)
:ro'eeding#= or about ho> the 9ateria)i8ation o. their 'o9:o#itiona) :)an# re)ate# to a #:here >hi'h i#
not 'ontained in the #a9e 9u#i' >e are tr1ing to eK:)ain@ +organ i9:)ie#= >ith hi# :re?iou# >ord#= that
it i# there >here the 9odern ana)1#tL# ta#G #hou)d begin@ 7ut hi# en'ourage9ent .or ana)1#t# to go
be1ond the #tri't)1 9u#i'a) or= >hat i# the #a9e= to re)ate >hat i# #tri't)1 9u#i'a) in a te'hni'a) #en#e to
the broader= eKtra9u#i'a) 'on'e:t#= #ee9# to #ugge#t the 'oa)e#'en'e o. ana)1#i# >ith 'riti'i#9= a#
Mer9an :ointed out N;<OPI QQ;RS and thi# i# Cuite :regnant >ith 'onnotation# o. new$musicological
anti6.or9a)i#9= >hi'h re#onate >ith the traditiona) a''u#ation# 'a#t u:on ana)1#i# that /ga>u
3he 'harge o. .or9a)i#9 >a# 9ade be'au#e ana)1#t# inCuired on)1 into the 'onne'tion# bet>een :attern#
>ithin a :ie'eS the1 did not dea) >ith 9atter# o. a..e't and eK:re##ion= >ith the D9eaningE o. 9u#i'= >ith it#
'u)tura) 'onteKt@ 3hi# un.ortunate 9i#re:re#entation o. a hitherto 'o9:)eK theoreti'a) enter:ri#e 9ade
:o##ib)e the :re#'ri:tion o. an in#tant 'ure@ 3o e#'a:e the di)e99a# o. .or9a)i#9= 1ou 9u#t atta'h the
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 55
pattcrns vou havc obscrvcd to soncthing c|sc: a p|ot. a progran. an cnotiona| sccnario. a contcxt. an
agcnda. a fantasv. or a narrativc. You nust. in othcr words. prob|cnatizc thc gap bctwccn thc nusica| and
thc cxtranusica|. (1997: 299).
At this point. thc invcntorv of gricvanccs thrown against nusica| ana|vsis cou|d bc cxtcndcd
indcfinitc|v. Lach vcar witncsscs thc pub|ication of nanv books that c|ain thc nccd for a
rcconsidcration of ana|vtica| practicc. Yct. as Agawu points out. cvcn during thc worst vcars of thc
¯storn¯. thosc that wcnt into hiding continucd producing work that was good in an o|dcr but no |css
va|id tradition of scho|arship (2004: 267). 1his gocs to sav that thc critiqucs on ana|vsis havc bccn
takcn but not ncccssari|v acccptcd b|ind|v. As Straus contcnds.!nost ana|vst wcrc drawn to thcir
discip|inc bccausc of thc p|casurc takcn in thc c|osc cngagcncnt with thcir favoritc nusica| works in
ordcr to cxp|ain how thcv arc put togcthcr. how thcir inncr structurcs function (199¯: 9). No nattcr
how nuch conccpts as ¯work¯ and ¯structurc¯ arc ob|cct of nuch suspicion in critica| thcorv. thc |ack
of an cnpirica| proof that such conccpts arc actua||v harnfu| or innora| to thc who|c scho|ar|v
cndcavor rcndcrs postnodcrn rcvisionist agcndas suspcct. Ana|vsis shou|d continuc indu|ging in sonc
of thc ncthods and approachcs that havc a|rcadv provcd uscfu|. ßut at thc sanc tinc. thcorv and
ana|vsis shou|d abandon thcir csscntia|ist tcndcncics in favor of a non-positivist tvpc of undcrstanding
(!"#$%"&"'). thus transccnding thc Cartcsian dichotonv bctwccn sub|cct and ob|cct. which is not
achicvcd through sub|cctification of a tcxt but bv ncans of an ongoing and ncvcr-cnding proccss of
ncdiation (Christcnscn 1993: 1¯). Cadancr`s conccpts of historica| consciousncss and of thc ¯fusion
of horizons¯ can hcrc provc uscfu| in rcso|ving thc dichotonics prcscntcd bv our rc|ativc svnchronic
and diachronic distanccs to nusica| tcxts undcr ana|vsis. 1hc hcrncncutic sidc of ana|vsis shou|d havc
as its prinarv conccrn to bring out thc tcnsion bctwccn thc tcxt undcr scrutinv and thc prcscnt in a
dia|cctic proccss rcvca|ing thc doub|c-sidcdncss of anv ob|cct of intcrprctation: its capacitv to act as a
historica| docuncnt writtcn bv an individua| |iving within a uniquc cu|tura| sctting and addrcssing
dcfinitc prob|cns in a pcrsona| discoursc. vct opcn to ncw intcrprctations bv virtuc of bcing rcad in
ncw contcxts. 1hc undcrstanding of a ncthodo|ogv or intcrprctation of a thcorv cannot takc p|acc
indcpcndcnt of its app|ication to a concrctc historica| conccrn. Yct nusica| ana|vsis. as it has bccn
donc with nusic of thc past. is sti|| va|id in that it is f|cxib|c cnough to adapt to cvo|ving nusica|
cnvironncnts and ab|c to gcncratc ncw approachcs. susccptib|c of coagu|ating into ncw traditions. As
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 5"
Christcnscn savs. wc arc distant fron thc past. not scparatcd.
ßut what pcrhaps is nost nccdcd to nitigatc thc intcrdiscip|inarv tcnsions within thc currcnt
¯nusico|ogica| rcginc¯ is a bit of connon scnsc. Onc nccds on|v ask anv co||caguc to rca|izc thc
cxtcnt to which anv nusic scho|ar actua||v agrccs on thc sanc basic nattcrs. No sanc acadcnic
nowadavs wou|d sustain that thcrc is such a thing as abso|utc nusic - othcr than as a historica| catcgorv
-. or that cu|turc docs not |cavc its inprint in nusic. or that thcrc arc no historica| truths. In thc cnd.
conccpts such as radica| forna|isn or cu|tura| ´ |inguistic rc|ativisn arc. in nanv instanccs. straw ncn
uscd for hcuristic purposcs of agcnda pushing. norc than thc actua| axions guiding thc procccding of
honcst nusic scho|ar activitv.
As an cpi|oguc. I wou|d |ikc to quotc thc words of historian Lawrcncc Sanson. a nuch nccdcd
invcntorv of connon scnsc practiccs for thc scho|ar dca|ing with thc cxanination of anv kind of
cu|tura|. historica| or acsthctica| ob|cct:
Whcn I was vcrv voung. now fortv or fiftv vcars ago. I was taught thc fo||owing things. nonc of which borc
nuch rc|ation to thc crudc positivisn of thc |atc ninctccnth ccnturv:
1. 1hat onc shou|d a|wavs trv to writc p|ain Lng|ish. avoiding |argon and obfuscation. and naking onc´s
ncaning as c|car as possib|c to thc rcadcr: 2. that historica| truth is unattainab|c. and that anv conc|usions
arc provisiona| and hvpothctica|. a|wavs |iab|c to bc ovcrturncd bv ncw data or bcttcr thcorics: 3. that wc arc
a|| sub|cct to bias and prc|udicc bccausc of our racc. c|ass and cu|turc: and that in conscqucncc wc shou|d
fo||ow thc advicc of L. H. Carr and bcforc wc rcad thc historv. cxaninc thc background of thc historian: 4.
that docuncnts-wc did not ca|| thcn tcxts in thosc davs-wcrc writtcn bv fa||ib|c hunan bcings who nadc
nistakcs. asscrtcd fa|sc c|ains. and had thcir own idco|ogica| agcnda which guidcd thcir conpi|ation: thcv
shou|d thcrcforc bc scrutinizcd with carc. taking into account authoria| intcnt. thc naturc of thc docuncnt.
and thc contcxt in which it was writtcn: ¯. that pcrccptions and rcprcscntations of rca|itv arc oftcn vcrv
diffcrcnt fron. and sonctincs |ust as historica||v inportant as rca|itv itsc|f.
If thcrc is cvcr going to bc a noncnt of nusica| svncrctisn. whcrc a|| diffcrcnt strands of thc scho|ar
apprchcnsion of nusic co||aboratc in ordcr to givc thc nost conp|ctc account of anv nusica| situation.
it wi|| bc through an cpistcno|ogica| shift. whcrcbv spccia|ists of onc fic|d wi|| start va|uing othcr
approachcs for thc cxtcnt in which thcv ¯pitch in¯. and not for what thcv |cavc out. in thc connon
cntcrprisc of undcrstanding nusic.
foststructura| Hodcs of Ana|vtica| 1hought - 57
Ad|cr. Cuido (188¯): ¯Infang. Hcthodc und 2ic| dcr Husikwisscnschaft.¯ !ier%el'ahrschri,% ,.r
/usi12issenscha,% 1: ¯-20.
Agawu. Kofi (1997): ¯Ana|vzing Husic undcr thc Ncw Husico|ogica| hcginc¯. in: 4he 5ournal
o, /usicology. \o|. 1¯. No 3. Inivcrsitv of Ca|ifornia frcss.
____(2004): ¯How Wc Cot Out of Ana|vsis. and How to Cct ßack In¯. in /usic 9nalysis.
23´ii-iii. ß|ackwc|| fub|ishing.
ßabbitt. Hi|ton (19¯¯): Sonc Aspccts of 1wc|vc-1onc Conposition¯. 4he Score and <=/=9=
/aga>ine 12. pp. ¯3-61.
____(1960): ¯1wc|vc-1onc Invariants as Conpositiona| Dctcrninants¯. in /usical ?uar%erly
46. pp. 246-¯9: rcprintcd in @robleBs o, /odern /usic. cd. f. H. Lang. Norton. 1962.
____(1961): ¯Sct Structurc as a Conpositiona| Dctcrninant¯. in 5ournal o, /usic 4heory. \o|.
¯. No. 1. (Spring 1961). pp. 72-94. Ya|c Inivcrsitv frcss.
ßarthcs. ho|and (1977): <BageC/usicC4eD%. Iontana.
ßcnt. Ian (1987): 9nalysis. HcHi||an frcss.
ßcrnard. Jonathan (199¯): ¯1hcorv. Ana|vsis. and thc `frob|cn` of Hinina| Husic¯ in Eoncer%
/usicF Goc1 H 5a>> since IJKL. cd. Harvin & Hcrnann. Inivcrsitv of hochcstcr frcss.)
ßou|cz. ficrrc (199¯): @oin%s de GepNre <O <Baginer. Christian ßourgois Lditcur.
ßowic. Andrcw (1993): 9es%he%ics and Sub'ec%iPi%y ,roB Qan% %o Rie%>sche. Hanchcstcr.
ßrcdiccanu. Hihai (2002): 4opology o, Sound SorBs and /usic. Lditura Acadcnci honanc.
Christcnscn. 1honas (1993): ¯Husic 1hcorv and its Historics¯ in /usic 4heory and %he
TDplora%ion o, %he @as%. cd. Christophcr Hatch & David W. ßcrnstcin. Inivcrsitv of
!"#$#$%&'$&%() +",-# ". /0()1$2'() 34"&54$ 6 58
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Poststructural Modes of Analytical Thought - 59
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