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Essay: Transformation and Transfiguration in Gérard Grisey’s “Four Songs for Crossing the Threshold” Musical Composition: “Everyone Became a Trail” - Song Cycle in Five Movements for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble

  • Author(s): Shatil, Assaf N/A
  • Advisor(s): Jones, David Evan
  • et al.

My dissertation consists of two parts: 1. an essay presenting an analysis of Gérard Grisey’s seminal work Four Chants for Crossing the Threshold (1999) for soprano and ensemble, in regards to concepts of transformation and transfiguration, and 2. a musical composition entitled “Everyone became a Trail” - a five movement song cycle with original texts for soprano and chamber ensembleGrisey’s Chants is an outstanding masterpiece that conceptually explores aspects of ‘crossing the threshold’ by combining poetry about death with formal approaches that strategically explore the temporal structuring of musical processes. The content and structure of the texts become a propelling source for the formalization of the musical material. In each movement Grisey presents unique musical systems that evolve through methods of transformation that inevitably lead to significant formal points of transfiguration. By globally focusing on this evolution from transformation to transfiguration Grisey presents a musical work as a metaphor for the transition between life and death. It is an experience of how time affects the evolution and decay of musical systems. Each movement in the work presents a distinct method to formalize temporal procedures that gradually transform towards a climactic point of transfiguration which inevitably leads to its concluding decay.

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