Dissertation Index

Author: Richards, William H.

Title: Transformation and Generic Interaction in the Early Serial Music of Igor Stravinsky

Institution: University of Western Ontario

Begun: July 1998

Completed: June 2003


A characteristic of the early serial music of Igor Stravinsky is its incompatibility with the canonical twelve-tone model derived from the compositional practice described by Arnold Schoenberg. The idiosyncratic expressions of serial techniques intermixed with non-serial linear constructions, and the commingling of diatonic and non-diatonic pitch objects have presented a considerable analytic challenge to those whose have encountered this repertoire from the perspective of classical serialism. This, in turn, has engendered a considerable amount of scholarship that acknowledges the limited explicative potential that serial theory holds for this repertoire.

This dissertation investigates the compositionally continuous and discontinuous serial and non-serial formations found at or near the musical surface in works selected from Stravinsky's early serial music, draws these formations into relationships through the analytical apparatus of an original transformational system, and explores their interactions through the model of generic set-class space. Ultimately, a dynamic model of the pitch structure for each of these works emerges that transcends order relationships embedded within the linear formations.

Chapters 1 and 2 of the dissertation identify the salient issues pertaining to the analysis of Stravinsky's early serial music, outline the analytical objectives, and develop the transformational system and the model of generic set-class space. The dissertation examines the group of functions that determines the symmetry transformations of a geometric figure and defines the music-theoretic analogues of canonical and non-canonical serial operations and operations in pitch-class set theory, and briefly explores the set-algebraic operations that underlie the combinational processes fundamental to pitch-class set theory. In doing so, the dissertation identifies a collection of transformations that coalesce into the transformational system, including the non-canonical transformations of distortion (stretching, shrinking, and substitution) and the near-equivalency transformation (the latter developed from the ideas of Joseph Straus and Allen Forte).

Transformational analysis, operating within the context of the model of generic set-class space, elucidates relationships among pitch-class objects, explicates the transformational processes that act on these objects, and provides a means by which to gauge invariance and change among pc objects. Through local and global interactions of the mechanism of the transformational system and the generic model, the multifarious linear and vertical pitch-class objects discovered through analysis coalesce into a network of nodes and transformational pathways that link them together in set-class space. The formulation of the model of generic set-class space--shaped by the theories of Richard Chrisman, Allen Forte, Roberts Morris, and Richard Parks--is in response to the diverse generic models proposed by Arthur Berger, Henri Pousseur, Pieter van den Toorn, and Joseph Straus. The transformational network is based on the works of David Lewin.

The dissertation provides detailed analyses of works selected from Stravinsky's early serial repertoire: Chapter 3, the "serial" interludes from Orpheus (1947); Chapter 4, Ricercar II from the Cantata (1951-52); Chapter 5, "Musick to heare" from Three Songs from William Shakespeare (1953); Chapter 6, In Memoriam Dylan Thomas (1954). Chapter 7 reviews the transformational system and the model of generic set-class space. Although no single principle or device elucidates compositional or analytical unity among the works of this repertoire, the transformational system and the model of generic set-class space effects compositional and analytical unity at a highly abstract level.

Keywords: transformation theory, symmetry, pitch-class set genera, near-equivalency, set-class space, pitch-class set theory, serial theory


(I) Shifting Perspectives on the Analysis of Stravinsky's Early Serial Music
(II) Theory and Methodology
(III) The "Serial Interludes" in Orpheus
(IV) Ricercar II, from the Cantata
(V) "Musick to Heare," from Three Songs from William Shakespeare
(VI) In Memoriam Dylan Thomas
(VII) Conclusions


Dr. William (Bill) H. Richards
Department of Music
Grant MacEwan College
Centre For The Arts, room 143
10045 - 156 Street
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5P 2P7
(780) 497-4462
Fax: (780) 497-4330

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