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Volume I: Time, Memory and Multiplicity: Exploring the Influence of Marcel Proust's Narrative Language on the Musical Language of Henri Dutilleux and Volume 2: 300,000 Starlings Swarm Over Denmark

  • Utzinger, David Gerhard
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
eScholarship - University of California
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Henri Dutilleux's compositional language can be broadly divided into two categories: into a group of dynamic metamorphic techniques and processes the composer combined under the rubric of processes of progressive growth, and into different types of static and recurring pitch structures that have become known as referential devices. This dissertation explores the way author Marcel Proust's unique approach to the interconnected phenomena of time and memory in the novel À la recherche du temps perdu influenced Dutilleux's approach to those phenomena in his works, and how that influence manifests in the processes of progressive growth, processes which result in a manipulation of the musical object that reflects Proust's treatment of human character as comprised of multitudes; non-linear formal types, like multiply-directed time and moment form, that replicate Proust's non-chronologic approach to narrative sequencing; the formation of dense associative memory networks that are similar to those created in À la recherche du temps perdu by Proust's expansive use of metaphor and foreshadowing. Chapter 1 introduces the concepts that will be discussed, provides biographical sketches of Marcel Proust and Henri Dutilleux, and describes the dissertation's scope and methodology; Chapter 2 surveys Marcel Proust's narrative techniques, focusing on those techniques which affect time, memory and the concept of multiplicity; Chapter 3 surveys the compositional techniques that characterize Dutilleux's processes of progressive growth; Chapter 4 provides representative examples of the processes of progressive growth from Dutilleux's string quartet Ainsi la nuit; Chapter 5 compares Proust's narrative techniques and Dutilleux's processes of progressive growth, showing how Proust's narrative language manifests in the temporally disjunct formal types, associative networks and multiple perspectives of objects and sound events that characterize Ainsi la nuit; Chapter 6 surveys the different types of referential devices, juxtaposing them with the processes of progressive growth, and discussing their role in providing a structural framework; Chapter 7 explores gray areas—musical objects and sound events that simultaneously express the dynamic characteristics of progressive growth and the static characteristics of referential devices. 300,000 Starlings Swarm Over Denmark (2019) is an original work for chamber ensemble by David Gerhard Utzinger. The work is overtly pictorial; its aim is to abstractly evoke the beauty, dynamic formal metamorphoses, and complex swirling movements that are created by the massive flocks of starlings known as murmurations. Like Dutilleux's Ainsi la nuit, this work makes use of temporally disjunct formal types. Specifically, it is comprised of the type of multiple and interrupted linear streams of music that define multiply-directed time. At times, portions of the various linear streams occur in succession—that is, they are cut into delimited units and rearranged. At other times they occur simultaneously, each stream progressing independently and at a discrete rate, while interacting with the other concurrent streams. Additionally, 300,000 Starlings Swarm Over Denmark juxtaposes its dynamic and continually transforming sections with highly recognizable and static "chorale" sections, which occur at various points in the work. With this juxtaposition, the work replicates the similar juxtaposition created by Dutilleux's processes of progressive growth and his referential devices. 300,000 Starlings Swarm Over Denmark is a multi-sectional, and multi-temporal, single movement work. Performance time is approximately 13-15 minutes.

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