Morton Feldman's clarinet works: A study through the words of the note man
Nelson, Matthew Phillip
Brandt, Anthony K.
Doctor of Musical Arts
Morton Feldman's writings, lectures, and interviews reveal a unified and consistent compositional drive towards a static musical rhetoric, or, to use his term, Time Undisturbed. Essential to his outlook was the notion of orchestration as the primary compositional determinant: Feldman's starting point was not a theme in the conventional sense, but the sound of a particular instrument playing a particular note. His works for clarinet--- Two Pieces for Clarinet and String Quartet (1961), Three Clarinets, Cello, and Piano (1971), Bass Clarinet and Percussion (1981), and Clarinet and String Quartet (1983) cover the major periods of Feldman's career. As such, they are touchstone works for studying the evolution of Feldman's methods; because they share the clarinet in common, they provide an ideal means for studying Feldman's abiding pre-occupation with timbre as his primary material. Feldman's unique notational styles vary considerably from piece to piece, but he strategically orients each in such a way as to pursue his fundamental goal of Time Undisturbed. Feldman is the rare composer where verbal intention and musical means form an unshakable and poetic bond. Drawing on Feldman's writings and close analyses of the scores, this paper will demonstrate how all of these works reflect Feldman's central concerns, drawing on the potentials of their respective orchestrations to articulate Feldman's unique musical vision.
Fine arts; Art history; Music