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Music of the Twentieth Century

Music of the Twentieth Century: A Study of Its Elements and Structure

Foreword by ROKUS DE GROOT
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Music of the Twentieth Century
    Book Description:

    Ton de Leeuw (1926-96) is probably one of the most influential composers at the crossroads between Eastern philosophy and Western technique. A one-time pupil of Olivier Messiaen's in Paris, throughout the latter years of his musical career he concentrated on the marriage of Western emphasis on action and tension, and the ethical function of music in Eastern traditions. The musical world of the twentieth century is a divided one. Numerous histories of it have been written, but few of the exceptional quality of de Leeuw's, who brought into his writing a lifetime of experience as a composer and scholar of music. His work is a lucid and impassioned discussion of the elements, structures, compositional principles and terminologies in modern music that can be regarded as most innovatory. This book is an excellent guide for anyone wishing to gain knowledge of the compositional technique and mentality, particularly university and conservatory students. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0542-5
    Subjects: Music, History, General Science, Art & Art History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. 7-8)
    Rokus de Groot

    Ton de Leeuw basically wroteMusic of the Twentieth Centuryin the period 1961 to 1962, a time of considerable change, both in contemporary music and in the author’s own life. The strong post-1945 emphasis on concerted radical structural innovation of music had however largely passed. New music was opening up in many new ways to many worlds of music, both past and present.

    In 1961, De Leeuw travelled to India with a commission from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Arts and Sciences to explore the possibilities of cross-cultural artistic interaction. He shared a positive outlook on this type of...

  4. Preface
    (pp. 9-10)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 11-18)

    The musical world of the twentieth century is a divided world. None of the dreams and expectations of enthusiastic minds at the beginning of the twentieth century has been fulfilled. In our new society an old nucleus has persisted, with its own customs and imagination stemming directly from concepts rooted in the nineteenth century.

    Worldwide social revolutions, a series of unbelievable and radical scientific discoveries, entirely new views concerning almost every field of life, and different generations of composers and performers, scholars and technicians have not succeeded in preventing the official music world from revolving, and continuing to revolve, around...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Panorama
    (pp. 19-36)

    The nineteenth century was not only the age of romanticism but also the period of great scientific discoveries and the tremendous rise of industry. Science and industry brought unsuspected change to society: on the one hand they stimulated an élan and optimism, in the hope of a better world, while on the other hand industrial development in particular caused great upheaval and disquiet, expressed in increasing criticism of the society of the time. Both of these forces were active in the early years of the twentieth century. The triumphant march of discovery proceeded, but at the same time more and...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Rhythm
    (pp. 37-58)

    The twentieth century brought great development in the field of rhythm, in the following two ways:

    1. The structure and development of rhythm in general became richer and more diversified;

    2. Interest in percussion increased, while other instrumental groups were also assigned important rhythmic functions.

    In Stravinsky’sThe Soldier’s Talemelodic and percussive instruments are on an equal footing. Works featuring extensive percussion parts include Stravinsky’sThe Wedding, Bartók’sSonata for two pianos and percussion, Edgard Varèse’sIonisation, fragments from Milhaud’sLes Choéphores, and Carl Orff’sAntigone. External influences may also be noted: not only the rhythms of Eastern music, but also...

    (pp. 59-76)

    How many attempts have been made to define the concept of melody? It is not our intention here to add another new and undoubtedly limited one to those already current. For we can assume that any definition of melody is related to our general musical attitude. How very different must the concept of melody be, or must have been, among peoples living beyond or before Western polyphony, in comparison for instance to the ideas of our nineteenth-century forefathers! Jean-Jacques Rousseau anticipated that century when he wrote: ‘Melody arises from harmony.’ And however much those same forefathers focused their expressive urge...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Simultaneity
    (pp. 77-96)

    For some ten centuries the European tradition has been particularly distinguished from other music cultures by the phenomenon of simultaneity. The eighteenth century in particular saw the erection of a magnificent edifice in which harmony undisputedly ruled over all other musical elements. The great romantics wielded harmony as an expressive means of the very finest sort. Even theoreticians were content, for here lay an open field allowing systematic excavation. Music could now be ‘explained’, and functions and cadences, modulations and alterations obediently joined ranks in a well-ordered and logical whole. Ever since, generations of musicians have been and indeed continue...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Timbre
    (pp. 97-116)

    Every period and every style has its own sound; it arises automatically, according to the manner of writing in fashion. Conversely, the composer may consciously seek those instrumental or vocal resources best suited to the realisation of his tonal ideal. In a continuous interaction between these two quantities, the classical orchestra expanded to become its romantic equivalent. A first notable change was a gradual increase in the number of instruments. Each individual group became larger, with three to four players to a part, and new colours were introduced: the piccolo, cor anglais, bass clarinet, double bassoon, saxophone, Wagner tuba, celesta...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Exoticism and Folklore
    (pp. 117-134)

    A European goes to Japan to learn the art of archery. He desires to draw near to the spiritual world of the East and believes that this celebrated practice of archery is a good way to begin, since he is already somewhat skilled in handling pistols and weapons. However, the first thing demanded by his master is complete inadvertence. ‘The true art’, he exclaims, ‘is purposeless and inadvertent. The more persistently you try to consciously aim the arrow in the right direction, the less you will succeed in approaching the essence of this art. You are obstructed by a will...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN From Free Atonality to 12-Note Music
    (pp. 135-162)

    Most innovations discussed in the preceding chapters stemmed from composers outside the Viennese School. The division thus arising in this book between (extended) tonal and atonal music is not a matter of principle. There are two reasons for discussing atonality separately. On the one hand, the movement presented a fairly closed entity, and its line of development in the first half of the twentieth century is clearer to follow than that of any other trend. On the other hand, and here lies the main reason, the innovations of atonality were not only more radical but also more comprehensive. In the...

  13. CHAPTER 8 From 12-Note Music to…
    (pp. 163-194)

    The step from Webern to the post-war period seems indeed to be but a small one. Let us first summarise the achievements of Webern.

    The causality and gravitational pull of tonality became things of the past. The concept of ‘musical space’ was introduced by Debussy (le temps ritmisé), Stravinsky and Schönberg, and the former two in particular departed also from development form. But it was not until Webern that the new concepts of form discussed in the previous chapter (section 1) evolved.

    Two processes were evident which may seem contradictory at first sight. In the first place there was a...

  14. CHAPTER 9 From the Sixties to the Present Day Contemporary Musical Life in the Light of Five Characteristic Features
    (pp. 195-204)

    It is hardly sufficient to discuss the newest developments in music exclusively in terms of their manifestation in the music world at large. Much of what is happening today reaches the public concert circuit only occasionally, if at all. Naturally, the same applies to the media and the music press in so far as they, in turn, form a reflection of events in the concert world. I have therefore drawn on a second source in order to obtain a wider view of the contemporary scene. Every year since 1960 I have enjoyed the privilege of seeing tens and sometimes hundreds...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 205-208)
  16. List of Examples
    (pp. 209-212)
  17. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 213-214)
  18. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 215-216)
  19. About the Author
    (pp. 217-218)
  20. Index
    (pp. 219-224)