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Nathaniel W. Eschler

Composer - PhD

Dissertation Abstract

Duality in Elliott Carter’s Third String Quartet and Divisi: for Chamber Ensemble and Duo A dissertation presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Brandeis University, Waltham Massachusetts

By Nathaniel Eschler

This dissertation discusses the broad and specific implications of simultaneous narrative in Elliott Carter’s Third String Quartet. In Duo I there is a connective music: a music that utilizes voice-leading; a voice-leading that creates a sense of strong and weak beat; a voice-leading that builds and connects the smallest phrase to the largest structure. In this language, there are melodies, motives, accompaniments, bass lines, polyphonies and cadences, etc. Conversely, in Duo, no. 2: there is non-connective music: a music that utilizes patterns to create and terminate groupings of similar objects; patterns that nullify the sense of strong and weak beats; patterns that delineate and separate the smallest group from the largest structure. In this language, objects can appear as a single note, a vertical chord, or a small linear segment where groupings of similar objects form block structures. In Elliott Carter’s Third SQ, these two paradigms unfold in a unified narrative. Furthermore, by using the composers first two String quartets, it will be shown how each of the two, aforementioned syntaxes, were first used as individual compositional processes.

Lulu: Final Cadences to Each Act

At the end of the opera, Act III, measure 1326 presents, following the logic just presented, and the logic of the ear, a contradiction. At this point there is a cadence without a major or minor sonority present (see example 4). As stated, this cadence suggests itself as being incomplete or inconclusive. As the step-wise descent C# to B occurs, the base sonority of this cadential formula remains unchanged. F, A, E. The B natural, out of the collection coupled with the lack of a major or minor sonority breaks the pattern of the formula. Of course, breaking a pattern has always been a powerful tool to mark an ending in music. As each piece that is non-tonal defines its own harmony and logic, there are no steadfast rules. Here, the cadential formula with the referential F in the bass, together with the alignment of materials, creates the ending. However, the composer’s instincts being correct, the disjointed rhythm of the pitches are necessary because of the instability created by the B natural and the lack of a major or minor triadic sonority adds to this incompleteness.

Drei Klavierstucke: Opening Phrase

In this paper, I will examine the structural, harmonic, and linear qualities of the first phrase in Arnold Schoenberg’s piece for solo piano, Drei Klavierstucke, Op. 11. The goal is to understand more clearly the behavioral musical characteristics of the first eight bars. Many different facets and techniques of musical theory will be used to accomplish this goal. Set analysis, for example, will help identify and label referential sonorities. Voice leading graphs and reductions will visually demonstrate structural pitches and their hierarchical groupings. Lastly, music examples will be utilized to show obvious and not so obvious pitch collections for easy identification and discussion. Through these means a better overall understanding of this seminal work of the twentieth century can be achieved.