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Louis Andriessen’s DE STAAT
Key to Harmonic/Melodic Material Chord A:
Octatonic Scale 1:
Octatonic Scale 2:
Note: musical examples are not in the same register as they are in the work, for ease of reading.
Harriet Harding ANALYSIS:
Fig. 1 Figure 1 is a canon of chord A in its simplest form. The canon repeats, with rests separating each repeat. Each canonic repeat adds notes (all in quavers) of the same notes of chord A. Andriessen also orchestrates this with 4 instruments, linking in with the number of notes in the tetrachord.
Fig. 3 The first chord at Figure 3 is chord C in its purist form (ex. 1). But this disperses into chromatic melodies, in rhythmic unison, creating cluster harmonies throughout the four trombones. However, the first chord of each bar is a different transposition of one of the four chords. Bar 1 is C transposed (ex. 1), Bar 2: A transposed (ex. 2), Bar 3: an extended version of D (ex. 3), Bar 4: chord C (ex. 4) etc. By Bar 8, the first notes are no longer one of the 4 chords, but chords of octatonic scales. For example Bar 8 is made up of G C# Eb and F#, all being derived from octatonic scale 2.
Fig. 4 Figure 4 is a conflict between the two octatonic scales. Scale 1 is heard in the woodwinds (ex. 5), and part of scale 2 is heard on the off-beat quavers of the trombones (ex. 6), alternating with the on-beat quavers of scale 1. At bar 5 the octatonic scale collapses back into chromatic gestures.
Harriet Harding Fig. 5 All pitch material for this section is derived from chord B transposed up a major 3 (ex. 7). The metre now settles in 4/4 for the longest amount of time so far in the work. This lines up with the introduction of 4 women vocalists, and a broadened texture instrumentally as well. The rhythms in this section even out to allow the voices to be heard clearly.
Fig. 7 This begins with the same material as Figure 5, but the 1st piano introduces new material based on a new transposition of chord B (ex. 8). This chord also has a chromatic passing note of C natural. The semiquavers alternate through various patterns of G A C C# and D, settling into 3 bar long repeats of these patterns. Chord B in another transposition is held in the oboes (ex. 9).
Fig. 13 The unison melody here is chord D transposed down a tone (ex. 10). An Eb is introduced in bar 6, creating chord A (ex. 11). The ensemble alternates between the two chords (D and A) until in bar 10 an F natural is added as another diatonic note, which also creates a new chord A starting on an E (ex. 12).
Fig. 28 The melody throughout the ensemble at this point is chord B (ex. 13). In Bar 3 an F is added, creating a Lydian scale, in reference to Plato’s text (ex. 14). The scale is built up in bar 5 with the added G. At this point the Bb and Eb are removed, leaving G Ab D and F. In Bar 7 Bb is reintroduced, as is an E natural. This could be seen to be Bb Lydian mode, but the focus, and accent, on the G suggests G dorian mode. In Bar 10 one sees a C7 chord (ex. 15B) superimposed on a chord B (ex. 15A).
Fig. 30 The melody is derived from chord B, though with the addition of the A one could say it is outlining a C Lydian mode (ex. 16) with the trombones emphasising the C as tonic. The A could also be seen to be a simple addition of a diatonic note above the G.
Fig. 31 This melody outlines octatonic scale 1. At bar 4, every instrumental top part begins to play A naturals instead of Abs, creating a chromatic cluster whenever either of these notes are heard. This A natural is logically the next note of the octatonic scale 1 (ex. 17).
Fig. 44 The shifting chords by this time are stretched further away from the original tetrachords. The first two chords are seemingly formed from octatonic scales, with one note each not belonging to their delegated octatonic scale. The first chord could be derived from chord C (ex. 18A), with an added B, and the 2nd could be an extended version of chord A (ex. 18B), with an added Bb. Gradually the chords simplify, with the third chord being a transposition of C (ex. 18C), the 4th chord being A in its simplest form (ex. 18D) and the 5th chord a transposition of A with the B from the previous chord held over (ex. 18E). Alternatively, the 5th chord could be seen to be formed from octatonic scale 1 (except for the G).
Harriet Harding Fig. 46 Figure 46 is A Lydian mode in canon, unifying the beginning and ending. Andriessen has now removed the complex tetrachord combinations, chromatic and octatonic harmonies and melodies, creating a more clearly audible, simple sonority. This is contrasted with unsteady, unpredictable rhythmic cells. A conflict is created between the notes G# and G natural, with alterations occurring between the G natural in the piano 2, and the G# in the piano 1 part. This conflict continues until the end of the work where it concludes on the G#.