Messiaen's Musical Techniques: The Composer's View and Beyond  book cover
1st Edition

Messiaen's Musical Techniques: The Composer's View and Beyond

ISBN 9781138257016
Published November 9, 2016 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

Despite Messiaen's position as one of the greatest technical innovators of the twentieth century, his musical language has not been comprehensively defined and investigated. The composer's 1944 theoretical study, The Technique of My Musical Language, expounds only its initial stages, and while his posthumously published Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d'ornithologie contains detailed explanations of selected techniques, in most cases the reader is left to define these more precisely by observing them in the context of Messiaen's analyses of his own works. Technical processes are nevertheless in many cases the primary components of a work or movement. For instance, personnages dominate 'Joie du sang des étoiles' from the Turangalîla-symphonie, and in certain cases, such as 'L'échange' from the Vingt regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus, the process (asymmetric augmentation) is the only structuring element present. Given this reliance on idiosyncratic techniques, clear comprehension of the music is impossible without a detailed knowledge of Messiaen's methods. Gareth Healey charts their development and interconnections, considers their relationship with formal structures, and applies them in refined and extended form to works for which Messiaen himself left no published analysis.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The theoretical and analytical writings of Messiaen; Theoretical and written sources; Extra-musical influences; The influence of Debussy and Stravinsky; Rhythmic evolution; Harmonic evolution; Harmony: an alternative perspective; Form; Implementation of analytical methodology; Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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The music and writings of Messiaen became the focus of Gareth Healey’s postgraduate research at the University of Manchester, under the supervision of Professor David Fanning, where he was awarded his PhD in 2005. An initial study of Messiaen’s Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d’ornithologie fostered a growing fascination with Messiaen’s theoretical magnum opus in all its revelations and limitations. Subsequent research has been developed in a number of articles and book chapters in both national and international publications, but the primary emphasis has remained the investigation of core elements of Messiaen’s musical language. Messiaen’s musical techniques: the composer’s view and beyond continues this focus on analysis and considers Messiaen’s musical language as a whole.


A Yankee Book Peddler US Core Title for 2013 'Messiaen’s Musical Techniques has much to offer as a reference guide. Readers will benefit greatly from the information and accompanying explanations. Healey admirably interprets the material and ably points out various interconnections.' Notes