Iain Mason


Spectral Music: Why create compositions with such a limited palette? The question I am trying to answer is why the composers within the spectral movement of classical music created their compositions with such a limited and challenging palette of sounds. With the extreme wealth of musical knowledge and a rich tapestry of sounds and movements within the classical and contemporary musical world, why was it that the composers in question who I will be investigating; Gerard Grisey, Kaija Saaraiho, and James Tenney chose to write music with a limited palette of sounds? The music to generalise is made up from the data of a note that is examined through a spectrogram and the analysis in which we find makes up the harmonic series of those notes/frequencies in question, but also the frequencies that are present but do not make up the harmonic series. Because instruments are complex and built to amplify but also give tone, timbre and sonority of complex sound, the frequencies present within these instruments make up such a complex nature in which music is written and heard. My challenge is to not only to investigate is to why they chose to write their compositions this way, but also the challenge of writing music within this style and examine my work and contrast with theirs to see, not only the challenges they faced when making their music, but also the challenges I face with using the same methodology and come to some conclusion is to why they chose this unique method of writing music. I will be using a similar methodology of using software to determine the notes/frequencies that make up my composition as like how they used spectrograms to analysis and produce the data for their compositions. I will also be challenging myself to write with the extended techniques that were employed by these composers and explore the musical boundaries and complex language in which they wrote spectral music.

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