Webern's Op.21 and the unity of musical space.

Dack, John (2002) Webern's Op.21 and the unity of musical space. In: Systems Research in the Arts. IIASSRC Conference, pp. 31-42. ISBN 1-894613-10-4

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Abstract

This paper was presented at the Arts Symposium of the 14th Conference of the International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics held in Baden-Baden, Germany. The proceedings were published the following year. As part of his presentation Dack analysed the first movement of Webern's ‘Symphonie' Op.21 (most analysts concentrate on the second movement) and situated the work in the historical context of post-Romantic organicist theory. Webern, like other members of the Second Viennese School, treated the series as a generative ‘seed' for the organization of parameters other than pitch. After an analysis of the tone-row, Dack showed how it can be considered a ‘palindrome' with regard to the constituent interval classes. This well-known feature was then applied at every structural level in pitch, duration and (occasionally) instrumentation. However, in contrast to many analyses, Dack also proposed that Webern did not apply the ‘mirror form' in an unchanging (and thus unimaginative) manner. Each time this principle was applied, Webern re-evaluated the ‘mirror form', thus constantly necessitating a new form of engagement with his materials in a truly organicist fashion. Therefore, an apparently ‘closed' system can be re-interpreted in a dynamic, and ‘open' manner. In this paper Dack illustrated the historical roots of serial thought as used by post-war composers such as Stockhausen, Boulez, Pousseur and Nono. The relevance of serial thought is often questioned by many young composers who seem convinced it is little more than a repository of mechanistic techniques. Such views should not go unchallenged and this paper illustrates the flexible yet systematic nature of serial thought. For this presentation and others Dack gave on previous years at this conference, the committee awarded him its ‘Award for Meritorious Research' at the conference's closing ceremony. He has subsequently been elected a Fellow of the IIASSRC.

Item Type:Book Section
Research Areas:School of Art and Design > Art & Design
ID Code:465
Deposited On:14 Nov 2008 12:09
Last Modified:06 Feb 2013 10:02

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