Music as postmodern thought : a critical examination of George Crumb's Makrokosmos I
This thesis discusses the piano works of George Crumb, particularly Makrokosmos I, in the light of the Adornian critique of the post-war avant-garde and of Lyotard's theorisation of the postmodem. According to Adomo and Lyotard, modem thought is characterised by a totalising nature and both the Adomian critique of the post-war avant-garde and Lyotard's theorising of the postmodern are directed toward the critique of that character. This thesis shows the way in which Crumb's composition responds to this critique of modernity. Elements of musical structure, text treatment, exploration of timbre, spatiality (music notation and stage setting), and citational practice are identified through an analysis of Makrokosmos L These elements are contextualised both within Crumb's oeuvre (particularly, the piano literature) and within the musical and theoretical production of the post-war avant-garde, and finally, discussed with reference to Lyotard and Adomo's critique of modem thought. It is shown that, in contrast to the self-referentiality of music composition which pervades both integral serialism and experimentalism, Crumb's articulation of musical materials obeys a logic of montage resulting from the blocking of two incommensurable modes of sense, notably, musical structure (analytic unity of the work), and elements which deconstruct that structure (namely timbre, and notation). In addition to the perspective of historical musicology, the investigation discusses specific compositional elements from the point of view of perception (namely timbre) and representation (notably citation, text setting). By doing so, it is intended to show that Crumb deconstructs the totalising rationality pervading modem thought from not only an expressive but also a critical point of view.