Author: Anabel Maler
Publication details: INTÉGRAL The Journal of Applied Musical Thought, Volume 35
Abstract:This article adapts Classical notions of formal function for the purpose of proposing a listener-centered theory of phrase formation in post-tonal repertoires. It contends that formal function is an emergent property of music through which a listener actively shapes musical organization in time. The result of this approach is a view of musical form in which the listener and composer mutually construct the significant formal units of a musical work through their interactions, a perspective particularly well adapted to the challenges presented by post-tonal music. In order to show how phrase structure in post-tonal music emerges through these formal affordances, the article analyzes in detail several passages from Edgard Varèse’s Density 21.5, Luigi Dallapiccola’s Dialoghi, and Anton Webern’s Three Little Pieces Op. 11, No. 1. The theory of phrase presented here encourages an understanding of phrase as fundamentally relational and constantly mutable.