Dissertation Index

Author: Link, John, F.

Title: Long-Range Polyrhythms in Elliott Carter's Recent Music

Institution: City University of New York

Begun: January 1992

Completed: January 1994


Although Elliott Carter (b. 1908) is recognized around the world as one of the foremost composers of the late twentieth century, the music he composed in the 1980s--one of the most productive periods of his career--has received very little scholarly attention. During that time Carter developed a clear and expressive rhythmic language, based on long-range polyrhythms, that imparts a new sense of global organization to his recent works, and has significant implications for the more general theoretical issue of rhythm in post-tonal music. This dissertation is a study of long-range polyrhythms in Carter's music from Night Fantasies (1980) to Anniversary (1989). Chapter 1 considers the abstract properties of long-range polyrhythms. Chapter 2 examines the types of polyrhythms Carter has favored in his recent works and his decisions regarding their notation. In chapter 3 questions about the musical palpability of long-range polyrhythms are addressed from the point of view of the listener/analyst, and numerous examples are given of how long-range polyrhythms can enrich our hearing of Carter's recent music.

Keywords: Elliott Carter, rhythm, polyrhythm, 20th-century music, music theory, music analysis


Abbreviations of Terms Defined in the Text
List of Figures
List of Examples
Chapter 1 - The Abstract Properties of Long-range Polyrhythms
Chapter 2 - Carter's Polyrhythmic Choices
Chapter 3 - Analytical and Perceptual Issues
List of Works Cited


John F. Link
Music Dept.
William Paterson College
300 Pompton Rd.
Wayne, NJ 07470
ph. (201) 595-2340
fax (201) 595-2217

     Return to dissertations