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By Marilyn Nonken

The main influential compositional stream of the previous fifty years, spectralism was once educated via electronic expertise but in addition prolonged the aesthetics of pianist-composers similar to Franz Liszt, Alexander Scriabin, and Claude Debussy. scholars of Olivier Messiaen similar to Tristan Murail and Gérard Grisey sought to create a cooperative dedicated to exploring the evolution of timbre in time as a foundation for the musical adventure. within the Spectral Piano, Marilyn Nonken exhibits how the spectral perspective was once encouraged by way of advancements in know-how yet prolonged the cultured matters of Liszt, Scriabin, and Debussy. Nonken explores shared fascinations with the musical adventure, which united spectralists with their Romantic and early smooth predecessors. analyzing Murail's Territioires de l'oubli, Jonathan Harvey's Tombeau de Messiaen, Joshua Fineberg's Veils, and Edmund Campion's an entire Wealth of Time, she finds how spectral matters relate not just to the earlier but additionally to modern advancements in philosophical aesthetics

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Extra resources for The spectral piano : from Liszt, Scriabin, and Debussy to the digital age

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His manipulation of harmony was directed by a desire to mirror the workings of the overtone series, approximating the microtonal nature of resonance. The scores of all three composers attest to their intuitive grasp of the complexities of the piano’s timbre and a spectral understanding of tone color, resonance, and decay. They exploited these features in their music, creating environments that reflected their distinctive preoccupations. The techniques that they required from their interpreters and their notation evolved with specific acoustic results in mind.

This perspective has been influential not only on compositional practice but on pianistic performance as well. It is thus necessary to distinguish those elements that characterize these spectral and, in the same sense, protospectral attitudes. First, there is the attitude of the composer, who conceives the material and structures a musical experience focusing on the acoustic nature of sound and the modulations between different sounds and sonorous environments. The sensual and sensory aspects of the music are primary.

In the chapter “Protospectralists at the piano,” the innovations of Liszt, Scriabin, and Debussy are considered with an eye towards their spectral descendants. These late Romantics and early modernists were still coming to terms with the timbral potentials of their instrument. Their pianos were much like the pianos we know today, far from standardized but replete with double-escapement actions, sostenuto pedals, and single-piece, full cast-iron frames. Their sonic potential, however, was largely untapped.

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