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Title:Carl Ruggles' "Sun-treader"
Author(s):Robison, Robert Tucker
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Melby, John
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This study examines the music of Carl Ruggles in an effort to reveal some of the ways that he uses melody, harmony and rhythm in the articulation of form.
The study proceeds in two main parts. Part one considers Ruggles' work as a whole and attempts to identify the basic principles of form that underlie it. Melody, harmony and rhythm are first examined separately to define their individual characteristics within this music, and then the ways that they are combined in the molding of form are considered. This examination does not present a detailed analysis of each of Ruggles' major works, but, rather, draws examples from those works to illustrate his methods of articulating phrases, establishing cadences, creating drama, and maintaining unity and continuity of material.
The second part takes the findings of part one and applies them in a detailed analysis of Sun-treader.
The results of this study reveal a pervasive simultaneity of unity and conflict in Ruggles' work. Unity, here, is primarily the result of an elegant balancing of tonal and rhythmic materials. The highly chromatic tonal vocabulary from which both melody and harmony spring is complemented by a largely asymmetrical orientation of rhythm. The combination of these tonal and rhythmic materials creates an environment of almost continuous change. Arching melodic lines constructed on the principle of non-repetition of tone, undulating chromatic harmonic progressions and rhythms of continually varying density and complexity generate a musical wave motion that is central to the music's form.
Drama, or conflict, enters this unified environment through the introduction of resistance to the musical norm of change. Repetition, reiteration of tones, and regular progression in many guises energize form by impeding or focusing musical movement, thus offering the opportunity for the generation of tension and release.
This simultaneity of conflict and unity--suggesting the human struggle to transcend worldly limitations and grasp the ultimate unity of the cosmos--is offered as a possible key to understanding Ruggles' ideal expression: the expression in music of the sublime.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Robison, Robert Tucker
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136717
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136717

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