Title page for ETD etd-06022008-075450

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Van der Walt, Salome
URN etd-06022008-075450
Document Title Rhythmic techniques in a selection of Olivier Messiaen’s piano works
Degree MMus (Performing Arts)
Department Music
Advisor Name Title
Prof H J Stanford
  • diminution
  • non-retrogradable rhythms
  • chromatic scales of duration
  • polyrhythm
  • personnages rythmiques
  • symmetrical permutations
  • prime numbers
  • rhythmic neumes
  • religion
  • birdsong
  • modes of limited transposition
  • colour
  • rhythmic canon
  • Catalogue d’Oiseaux
  • mode de valeurs et d’intensités
  • Cantéyodjayâ
  • Ile de feu 2
  • augmentation
  • regards sur L’Enfant-Jésus
  • Greek meter
  • Indian rhythms
  • added values
  • Neumes rythmiques
Date 2007-09-05
Availability unrestricted
Olivier Messiaen is regarded as one of the most significant composers of the 20th century. His compositions are performed regularly and his teachings have influenced many well-known composers like Boulez and Stockhausen. This study focussed on his use of rhythm in his piano compositions.

I supplied a short biography of the composer along with a brief discussion of his compositional techniques. Thereafter his rhythmic techniques were examined through relevant music examples from his piano repertoire. Particular attention was given to works from the Vingt Regards sur L’Enfant-Jésus along with Cantéyodjayâ, Mode de valeurs et d’intensités and Neumes rythmiques from his experimental period (1949-1951).

In Mode de valeurs et d’intensités he revolutionized the serial treatment of duration, pitch, intensity and attack. His other rhythmic techniques include Indian rhythms, Greek meter, added values, augmentation, diminution, non-retrogradable rhythms, polyrhythm, chromatic scales of duration, personnages rythmiques, symmetrical permutations, rhythmic neumes, rhythmic canon and prime numbers.

© University of Pretoria 2007

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