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Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers: Concert Music from 1960-2000$
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Laurel Parsons and Brenda Ravenscroft

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190236861

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190236861.001.0001

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Kaija Saariaho, “The claw of the magnolia … ,” From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)

Kaija Saariaho, “The claw of the magnolia … ,” From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)

Chapter:
(p.155) 7 Kaija Saariaho, “The claw of the magnolia … ,” From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)
Source:
Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers: Concert Music from 1960-2000
Author(s):

John Roeder

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190236861.003.0007

Kaija Saariaho’s From the Grammar of Dreams, for two solo female singers, elegantly articulates the poetic structure of Sylvia Plath’s poem “Paralytic” by variations of rhythmic density and register; changes of pitch, intervals, and rhythmic behavior; and an arch-shaped tessitura. Its most striking feature, though, is its “polyvocality,” in which the voices simultaneously sing the same words to very different rhythms and pitches. This essay examines the multiple senses of musical time and space created by the shifting metrical and tonal relationships between the voices. As they imitate, synchronize, and diverge, two distinct concurrent points of reference—two equally present tonalities, and the coexistence of multiple meters—emerge that artfully portray the poem’s symbolic superposition of life and death.

Keywords:   Kaija Saariaho, From the Grammar of Dreams, analysis, meter, tonality, Sylvia Plath, polyvocal, superposition

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