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Worksheet: Chapter 37

Postwar Heirs to the Classical Tradition

The objectives of chapter 37 are threefold: 1) to identify some of the factors that led to
the diversity of musical style, technique, and patronage in Europe and the Americas after
World II, 2) to name some of the most significant trends in the classical tradition
between the mid-1940s and the 1960s, explain what is individual about each one, and
describe pieces by some of the major composers, and 3) to describe some of the effects
that these new trends in the classical tradition had on music notation and on the roles of
the composer, performer, and listener.

1. How did composers earn a living in the years after World War II? How did the
situation differ between Europe and North America? What effects do you
think this has had on composition?
a. Composition in North America increasingly became an academic pursuit,
resulting in the creation of composition departments at universities.
Composers were thus hired to faculty positions. Because the main source
of income now came from the professorship, there was no longer a need to
write music that appealed to audiences. Composers like Milton Babbitt
and Princeton were free to pursue music for the sake of music, exploring
ideas like total serialism without sacrificing the viability of their musical
b. In Europe,

2. How do Barber and Britten balance tradition with modern compositional

techniques? Cite examples.
a. Brittens uses lyricism in his melodies and accompanies them with
diatonic, modal, and chromatic harmonies.
b. Barbers music often has a clear tonal center but makes use of quartal
harmonies and modes.

3. What are the various distinctive compositional qualities in Messiaens

Quatuor pour la fin du temps?
a. Messiaen works with what he calls pedal groups, which are a series of
repeating rhythmic and melodic ideas. In the first movement of the
quartet, he assigns a pedal groups of different lengths to each instrument.
After each iteration, the pedal groups are rhythmically offset in relation to
each other. Messiaen also superimposes his modes of limited
transposition, which include whole tone and octatonic scales among other
synthetic modes. He combines this with nonretrogradable rhythms to
achieve the charm of impossibilities.

4. Why did many composers take up serialism in the period after World War II?
What institutions promoted or sponsored it?
a. Composers felt that they needed to abandon all tradition and start anew.
The horrors of WWII contributed to this sentiment. Composers and artists
as a whole had to ask themselves what the art of the new era would look
like, or if it was even possible to create art at this point. The answer that
composers like Pierre Boulez found was to turn inward, writing music that
explored the nature of music itself rather than referencing to the outside
world. Universities promoted serialism, particularly Princeton, where
Milton Babbitt taught.

5. What is total serialism? Who were some of the composers and major works
associated with it?
a. Total serialism is the application of the principles of 12-tone serialism to
not just pitch, but to all aspects of music, including articulation, duration,
and dynamics.
b. Pierre Boulez:
c. Milton Babbitt:

6. What is a prepared piano? How does Cage achieve such a wide variety of
timbres in Sonata V? How does he ensure that whoever performs this piece
will come close to recreating those timbres?
a. A prepared piano involves the insertion of various objects like screws and
rubber bands inside the piano. Rather than producing the expected sounds,
the timbre of each key can be radically altered to produce more percussive
b. Cage uses various objects such as ______
c. Cage includes a detailed diagram of what objects to use in the prepared
piano and where to place them.

7. What is the difference between indeterminacy and chance music? Use

examples from the text.
a. Indeterminacy is used to describe a composition in which a certain part of
the sounds created during the performance is not previously determined by
the composer. John Cages Winter Music would be an example of this. The
number of players as well as the duration of the piece are among the
elements that are indeterminate.
b. Chance music refers to a work where randomness factors into the
compositional process. The resulting score may be one that does not vary
from one performance to another, but the composer removes his will from
the composition to some extent. John Cages _____

8. What is performance art? In what ways is it avant-garde? How does it relate to

the works of John Cage?
a. Performance art
b. John Cage, while at Black Mountain College, created a production called
_____ where he brought together various artistic disciplines, including
dance, music, photography, and poetry. Happenings???

9. What did Harry Partch reject in Western music, and what materials did he use
a. Partch rejected Western pitch organization, which divides the octave into
12 tones.
10. What is musique concrete? When and where was it developed? How did it
change the role of the composer and performer?

11. What musical elements does Penderecki highlight in Threnody: To the Victims
of Hiroshima? In what ways is his compositional treatment of those elements
conventional, and in what ways is it unconventional?

12. What are quotation and collage? Describe the use of quotation techniques in
one piece from the 1960s.
a. Quotation involves the direct borrowing of a portion of a piece of music to
be used in a new composition.
b. Collage is the combination of contrasting styles in a single composition.

Paper topics related to this chapter:

Benjamin Brittens War Requiem
The techniques of Olivier Messiaen
Karlheinz Stockhausen
John Cage, Indeterminacy and Chance
Laurie Anderson, performance artist
Yoko Ono, performance artist
George Crumb, Ancient Voices of Children
Ginastera of Argentina
Collage composers Peter Maxwell Davies and George Rochberg