Abstracts of issue 5-6 (1987)

Haris Xanthoudakis

Sonority and Timbre, from Impressionism to Cubism: The French Contribution to the Formation of Modern Music

Recent musical historiography recognizes that certain French composers hold an important place in the history of contemporary music. Nevertheless, these isolated cases are considered uniquely in their relationship to a partial evolutive scheme, elaborated during the period of militant serialism. According to this scheme, actual music (which would also be defined by a positive or negative relation to serial music) springs from a tradition, which departs from the emancipation of dissonance, advances through the establishment of atonality, dodecaphony and total serialism, to disperse in a post-serial arborescence of styles.
Departing from another image of actual music, an image based on the idea of the mutation of sonorous material and on the hypothesis that French music tradition has always been oriented towards sonoristic considerations, detrimental of functional harmony and thematic elaboration, the writer hereby proposes to examine the contribution of this tradition to the formation of modern music, through the French musical revolutions, occurring at the beginnings of our century, which, being radical, could not possibly be much isolated or deprived of systematic foundations.