Pitch and Texture Analysis of Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna. Jan Jarvlepp. Lux Aeterna ( ) by Gyorgy Ligeti is a single movement composition of about nine minutes. Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin: II. Wenn Aus Der Ferne. Cappella Amsterdam & Daniel Reuss. 6. Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin: III . ‘Rules as Strict as Palestrina’s’: The Regulation of Pitch and Rhythm in Ligeti’s Requiem and Lux aeterna – Volume 10 Issue 2 – BENJAMIN R. LEVY.

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It is only by seeing the capital D in the score that one can tell the difference between the two. This block begins with a simultaneous attack on A by the four alto sections, which then continue the melodic line in canonic fashion. Note that the three most important structural blocks of the piece are 1, 3A and 5A.

The words of the text are also treated canonically. Unlike the beginning of the piece, this canonic block begins with a simultaneous attack in all four voices. The tension of this high pitch is enhanced by the use of the “hole in the middle” effect. However, they appear later in other polyphonic sections and act as unifying cells. A release of tension has been accomplished since the B is now in a more relaxed middle range and since the “hole in the middle” effect is now absent.

In this piece, each of the sixteen voices is given a characteristic subdivision of the quarter-note beat:. They are sustained for three bars and then fade out simultane ously over two bars.

It has a simultaneous entry of four soprano voices and one bass voice, which leaves block 5C. There are several occurrences of neighbor motion found in the melodic line. Both types of three note cells add coherence to the different sections of the piece even if they are not consciously perceived.


The sequence of pitches never changes in this block. For this reason, I cannot pinpoint the emergence of a new pitch center to a specific bar in this case. The highest note of this block, B, is not present in block 1.

Like blocks 5B and 5C, this serves to emphasize “luceat” as a key word, and creates a connection to the similar sounding “lux”.

This time the chord appears in the lowest bass register, which is a contrast to the falsetto setting of the same word before. Block 4 is linked to block 3A by the pitch E, which is the liegti pitch of block 3A and the lowest of the three pitches which begin block 4.

Lux Aeterna (Ligeti) – Wikipedia

Whether we should think of the eternal light as coming from distant galaxies or from God, there is no doubt that Lux aeterna is a masterpiece, taking choral music—and the listener—into a new and eerie sound-world of the imagination.

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Basses 3 and 4, who have the low D, fade out simultaneously. The high and bright sounding B may be a word-painting of the word “luceat”. The other is a simultaneous ending which occurs after all the singers in that block have reached the last note of their melodic line.

To give the reader an overview of the piece and to serve as a point of departure, the blocks of texture are presented in a graphic form in Example 1. Block 5B ends with a simultaneous fadeout which overlaps with block 5C.


In Example 14, the first 14 syllables of the piece are lined up in vertical columns so that the rhythmic values assigned to each syllable can be compared from voice to voice. One does not aurally identify it with the homophonic blocks 2 and 4.

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Block 5C overlaps with block 5D and ends in an unusual way. They can start additively, that is to say that voices enter one at a time until all have entered creating a canonic texture. Blocks 3B and 30 enter here, causing the bass sections to sound as if they ,ux also entering with new material.

The third chord is an intervallic expansion of the three note cell and therefore is no longer identical.

Lux aeterna (Ligeti) – from COLCD – Hyperion Records – MP3 and Lossless downloads

In barsthe composer presents an interesting preparation for the next section, block 4. It is derived completely from the melodic line shown in Example 5.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eiswhich means “May everlasting light shine upon them, O Lord, with thy saints in eternity, ligeri thou art merciful. Examples 3 – lligeti In bars 75 to 79, the texture begins to thin out as blocks 3B and 3C leave the texture exposing some predominant pitches in block 3A. June Learn how and when to remove this template message.

Two kinds of texture are used in this piece: