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Proportioning the divine: Jolivet and the golden section

Rae, Caroline 2019. Proportioning the divine: Jolivet and the golden section. Presented at: Public Research Seminar, University of Aberdeen, 24 October 2019.

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Abstract

Conspicuous among Jolivet’s manuscripts and sketch materials are his many pages of arithmetical calculations. The presence of these calculations, and the fact that Jolivet chose to preserve them, suggests a process at work that was intimately connected with his act of composing. While some calculations relate to durations in terms of minutes and seconds – Jolivet’s preparatory notes reveal that he carefully planned the overall duration of his works and their constituent movements – others are more enigmatic, seemingly inexplicable combinations of raw numbers. A vital clue to the function of these calculations is the frequent presence of the value 0.618, the irrational number associated with the ratio known as the Golden Section. Several of his working manuscripts also contain the Greek letter ‘Phi’ (Φ), the mathematical symbol conventionally used to represent the ratio of the Golden Section, which he inserts, sometimes with the relevant arithmetical value derived from one of his calculations, above significant bars. Among the now many composers whom it has been suggested ‘may’ have incorporated Golden Section structures, Jolivet represents a rare case of one who left clear evidence akin to a ‘smoking gun’. Focusing on the Second Cello Concerto (1966), this paper investigates Jolivet’s approach to the Golden Section and its relationship with his aesthetic thinking in terms of the spiritual and divine.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2020 15:45
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/136557

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