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Musical Symbolism in the Operas of Debussy and Bartok$
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Elliot Antokoletz

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195365825

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365825.001.0001

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Epilogue

Epilogue

Chapter:
(p.291) 14 Epilogue
Source:
Musical Symbolism in the Operas of Debussy and Bartok
Author(s):

Elliott Antokoletz (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365825.003.0014

The new musical language that emerged in the early 20th century seems to have been motivated, at least in part, by the need to reflect — even express — the new literary, psychological, and philosophical principles that surfaced in the new art-form of these symbolist operas. The transformation of the more linear, defined quality of the traditional major/minor scales into the more diffuse, static effects created by the use of modality, polymodality, and symmetrical pitch-set interactions resonated with the modernistic conception of the human being, who is perennially divided and threatened by the split between the conscious and the unconscious mind. The symbolic connotation of symmetrical pitch relations has similarities with Matte Blanco's concept of “the unconscious as infinite sets”. Also discussed is the creative process and social context, in which the text narratives are impacted by the ideological trends of the time, not only in what they say, but also in what they omit. Both operas have meanings that must be decoded. Analysis of these works stems from the point of view of dynamic psychology. The chapter touches on various psychological and social (gender) issues as addressed by György Lukacs and Béla Balázs.

Keywords:   modality, polymodality, symmetrical pitch-set interactions, conscious, unconscious, Matte Blanco, infinite sets, creative process, text narratives, ideological trends

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