Theses Doctoral

Misshapen Shadows, Broken Symmetries, Lustrous Glimmering: Gyӧrgy Ligeti's "Melodien" and Gustav Klimt's Mosaics

Nail, Ashley Simone

This essay is an analysis of Gyorgy Ligeti's Melodien for orchestra (1971), with a particular focus on symmetrical structures and imitative echoing. In this essay, I explore the many levels--melodic, harmonic, temporal, and structural--on which these mirrorings and shadowings take place. In Melodien, these symmetries and shadowings are often broken, distorted, or negated; the tension between order and disorder in Ligeti's works manifests itself in these moments. I also explore the connections between Gustav Klimt's mosaic paintings, an inspiration behind Melodien, and Ligeti's compositional practices.
In the introduction, I briefly situate Melodien in terms of Ligeti's previous works. In the following two sections, I discuss structural, temporal, and melodic aspects of mirroring and shadowing. In the fourth section, I explore harmonic aspects, including the prevalence of the major third in Melodien and the presence of symmetrical and near-symmetrical interval structures. In the fifth section, I discuss the idea of implied just intonation within the 12-note equal-tempered world of Melodien--distorted shadows of harmonic spectra. In the sixth section, I discuss the connections between Melodien and Klimt's mosaic works: the surface-level brightness and glitter of both, structural and compositional correspondences between Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and Melodien, and the presence of broken symmetries in Klimt's works.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Lerdahl, Alfred W.
D.M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
July 15, 2014