Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Serialism and Messiaen

I wanted to post this blog as a response to some discussions (if that is what you might call them) on Twitter regarding Messiaen, music theory and serialism.

Messian lived in an interesting time for classical music. While not at the cusp between romantic and modern classical music, Messian was deeply emersed in a musical dialogue which challenged many of the long standing traditions of classical music especially, the use of major/minor tonality. Which was in fact why I posted a You Tube of Oraison. I don't have a lot of info on this work but I just realized that do have the score because I have the entire score of Messiaen "Quartet to the End of Time". One claim on Twitter is that this is simple major minor tonality which I beg to differ on. I don't have the score here but I will get my copy and take a look at it.

I am well aware of serialism and Messiaen's use of it but Messiaen, while he may have written serial pieces, was not a major adherant or advocate of serialism and neither am I. Many praise it and I realize that it brought a certain order out of the somewhat chaotic times of the early part of the century but it also lack a solid philosophical foundation.

The establishment of the major/minor scales in deeply rooted in a long history and the establishment of a scale based on intervals (at least at first with the Greeks) and then latter mofications/temopermants after that.

Messiaen did not want to be tied to serialism. Frankly, I find no use for it myself although as I said, I am certainly aware of Schoenberg and that latter adherants such as Weber but certainly not Messiaen.

I do find the use of dissonance useful and very effiective at times in electronic works. I used it in my compostion Ligetti's lament which can be found on my SoundCloud as well as microtonalism.


Leinhart's redition of Messiaen's Oraison is also an incredible use of a Buchla to bring out the etherial character of Messiaen and his Oraison.


I continue in my work to look to early 20th century classical music and the avant guarde for inspiration much more than I look to pop music. I am not looking to create beeps and bloops but a music that Messiaen would call "glissening". Music hsould lift us out of the mudane to the devine. That is what Messiaen new so well.

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