The 'objets sonores': Rethinking Structural Conventions in Schaeffer, Boulez, Grisey

Siclari, Alessio. 2006. The 'objets sonores': Rethinking Structural Conventions in Schaeffer, Boulez, Grisey. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

A rethinking of the conventional strategies of musical structuring has been intensively developed since WWII. At this time, not only the rules of the codified system of tonality were overcome, but also the notion of musical sound itself as it had been conventionally intended was questioned. The note, which implies the supremacy of pitch among sound qualities, was no longer accepted as the basic element of musical language. The notion of 'sonic object' was introduced, which entails the idea that musical sound can exceed the limits defined by conventional practice and codified system, and should be considered as an object to be researched and understood, in order to exploit its full potential. The research consists of a comparative study of three musicians operating in France after WWII: Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Boulez, and Gerard Grisey. Apart from the obvious geographical connection, they share the will to develop a new way to organise music on the basis of the accurate understanding and complete exploitation of the sonic object. The research is organised in three sections, each devoted to the study of one musician, each using his theoretical and, where possible, his musical output to clarify his thought and the reasons of his practice. However, for every specific topic of discussion, comparisons between the musicians are undertaken, so that the originality and/or inconsistency of each is highlighted by a confrontation with the others. Overall, the work shows how, notwithstanding evident superficial differences, especially in the definition and description of the sonic object, all three musicians had to confront very similar basic issues, and how the theoretical codification of any music is in fact, most of the time, a quest for a conceptual coherence which is always exceeded by musical practice.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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music, structure, Schaeffer, Boulez, Grisey, sonic object, musical language

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Date Deposited:

10 Jul 2020 14:25

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:51


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