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Title: Abstractions from spectral sonorities
Author: Brennan, Patrick
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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In this analytical commentary and the accompanying portfolio of compositions, I deal primarily with issues relating to Spectral and Post- Spectral techniques in contemporary music. Potential limitations of Spectralism (as a genre) are taken into consideration, and several philosophical underpinnings of this compositional style are called into question as I consider the possibility of a music which is enhanced, but not constricted, by its technical innovations. Specifically, I examine various ways by which resonant harmonic colours of the natural overtone series might be abstracted from their Natural context(s), categorised, studied, understood, and finally deployed within a harmonic language which is to some extent musically functional rather than merely sonically colourful. The seven compositions included in the portfolio approach the problem from a variety of methodological angles: 
 —Pitch structures, isolated from the world of acoustic phenomena, are studied and manipulated to create colourful musical objects with an inherent inner logic. —In some instances Spectral concepts and techniques are integrated (or juxtaposed) with principles borrowed or adapted from tonal, post- tonal and serialist approaches to composition. —Occasionally non-Spectral music is analysed from a Spectral perspective and repurposed within a hybridised harmonic language. The commentary also records my artistic and technical development as a composer during my time at Cambridge. It charts my progress towards the attainment of a harmonic/musical grammar unique to myself, and the pursuit of a technical facility appropriate to this ambition.
Supervisor: Causton, Richard Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: music ; composition ; spectralism