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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Conductor’s Role in Electro-Acoustic Orchestral Music: Performance Practice Problems in Kaija Saariaho’s Verblendungen

  • Author(s): Anderson, Dean
  • Advisor(s): Stulberg, Neal
  • et al.

The pairing of electronic elements with traditional orchestral instruments confronts the conductor with many performance practice problems. These problems are examined in this dissertation using Kaija Saariaho’s first work for orchestra and tape - Verblendungen (1984) - as a case study. The challenge for the conductor is to address issues that arise as a result of the electro-acoustic integration. These include, but are not limited to, problems of balance, articulation and conducting inflexible elements, such as recorded media. Although Verblendungen is Saariaho’s first major work for orchestra and tape, it is performed far less than her subsequent electro-acoustic orchestra works. The composer herself felt that that work was too “stiff.” Despite her reservations about the work, it is arguable that the conductor can play a vital role in relieving the work of some of its rigidity. The author uses Verblendungen as a template to devise strategies that can aid the conductor in developing an individual artistic interpretation of other electro-acoustic orchestral works. To this end, several correlating performance practice issues in other similar works are examined.

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