Pitch and Texture Analysis of Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna. Jan Jarvlepp. Lux Aeterna ( ) by Gyorgy Ligeti is a single movement composition of about nine minutes. Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin: II. Wenn Aus Der Ferne. Cappella Amsterdam & Daniel Reuss. 6. Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin: III . ‘Rules as Strict as Palestrina’s’: The Regulation of Pitch and Rhythm in Ligeti’s Requiem and Lux aeterna – Volume 10 Issue 2 – BENJAMIN R. LEVY.

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Bass 1 joins block 5D and therefore leaves the pitch material of block The last occurrence of the three note cell is in block 5A see Example Here the pitches of block 2 are used with an upper octave doubling. June Learn how and when to remove this aeteran message.

The different divisions of the beat are frequently used for pitch ligetl making it impossible for the listener to pick a steady beat from the music. This article includes a list of referencesrelated reading or external linksbut its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. The entire text of the piece can be seen in Example 2. The first vertical cell appears in block 2 Example 13A.

The other is a simultaneous ending which occurs after all the singers in that block have reached the last note of their melodic line.

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One feels less at ease when harmonic textures contain large gaps in the middle. They are sustained for three bars and then fade out simultane ously over two bars. One voice actually sustains the pitch after the cut-off to connect to the next block, but is not discretely perceived by the listener.

For this reason it is possible in classical scores for string basses to frequently double the cello lines at the lower octave, while an upper octave doubling of the first violin line is an unusual special effect rather than a normal mode of orchestration.

However, the same A becomes the middle note of the bass chord thus giving a pivot note or pitch connection to this block. The second instance of homophony, block 4 barssets the word “Domine” as did the previous homophonic section, block 2.

The F is taken from the bottom note of the bass chord in block 2 creating a pitch connection. This technique uses the basses to underscore the entries of the sopranos and altos with blocks 3B and 3C. The composer has negated his previously pitch-centered material in favor of a dense neutral texture with internal movement but no apparent pitch goal. Like blocks 5B and 5C, this serves to emphasize “luceat” as a key word, and creates a connection to the similar sounding “lux”.


Block 3A is a strict pitch and word cannon in which all four tenor voices start simultaneously and then are staggered creating imitative polyphony. In conclusion, this composition has been very methodically created using ten clearly defined blocks with very strict internal pitch construction.

The ending of block 3A is a subtractive ending with the basses leaving ligeyi texture first in order to be able to re-enter at block 4. However, the strong B, A and A pitch centers found in the other vertical cells do not fit conveniently into a traditional tonal plan.

In Example 14, the first 14 syllables of the piece are lined up in vertical columns so that the rhythmic values assigned to each syllable can be compared from voice to voice. It then becomes canonic because the lud of the first syllable, “Re”, is different in each voice causing them to shift out of phase with each other.

The density of pitch classes range from a minimum of one in bars andto a maximum eight in bars Once block 5D has ended, the low F and G of the liveti are the only pitches left in the piece. Similarly there are two ways in which the polyphonic blocks can end. The polyphonic result is a single tonic note, F, which expands into a dense harmony without prominent pitches, for example bar 13, and then gradually moves to the new central pitch, A, starting at bar Unlike block 2, this appearance of the cell is difficult to perceive as a unity since two other blocks of texture are sounding simultaneously.

As Ligeti says “a kind of talea structure, not a rigid one as in the isorhythmic motets, but a kind of ‘elastic’ talea” 2 is used to order durational values. The words “Requiem aeternam dona eis” mean “eternal rest give to them”. Block 3A bars enters aterna a unison F in the tenors and overlaps with block 2, which fades out.

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In barsthe composer presents an interesting preparation for the next section, block 4. The rate rate of change from syllable to syllable is relatively fast at the beginning of block 5A and gradually slows down to a static interval in bars F becomes a temporary central pitch but within two bars it becomes part of a cluster without any prominent pitch.


There are only two short instances of homophony which appear at structurally important places in the piece. This ligei about a classical composition is a stub.

Lux aeterna (Ligeti) – from COLCD – Hyperion Records – MP3 and Lossless downloads

The final F of the piece is an octave below the first F of the piece representing a loss of energy and a greater sense. His Requiema response to the horrors of World War II, made a deep impression, and was swiftly followed by the present Lux aeternawhich can be seen as a pendant to it. Block 3B bars consists of a canonic representation by the sopranos of the line found in Example 6.

All entries are marked “enter very gently” or “enter imperceptibly” except lligeti 2 which enters “quasi eco”. No rhythmic pulse can be detected, because eternity has no sense of time, but the shape and structure of Lux aeterna is logeti and even strict.

Since not all four voices of block 1 get to sing the last four syllables on the high A due to the simultaneous cut-off, they are enclosed in square brackets in Example 3. It has a simultaneous entry of four soprano liegti and one bass voice, which leaves block 5C.

The inner pitch llgeti a semitone in order to form the inverted chord.

Block 5C bars is a static interval with an additive entry and sub tractive ending see Example In bars 75 to 79, the texture begins to thin out as blocks 3B and 3C leave the texture exposing some predominant pitches in block 3A. No two voices are the same but there is a general tendency for some syllables to be shorter and others to be longer.

This block cannot be considered ligfti because of the staggered entry and ending. The three pitches appear simultaneously and are the basis of three independent canonic strata within the same textural block see Example 7B. Human perception is such that one accepts lus gaps in the lower register with little experience of tension.

The words “luceat eis” aetern not appear until bars where their pres ence is structurally reinforced melodically.