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Affect is no crime – Technical and aesthetic perspectives on the contemporary traverso repertoire

Gemolo, Matteo 2021. Affect is no crime – Technical and aesthetic perspectives on the contemporary traverso repertoire. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The Early Music movement has long been the subject of vigorous scholarly debate, especially since its entry into wider public consciousness towards the end of the 1970s. But the growing body of new music composed for period instruments since that time has, until recently, received little attention. A particular beneficiary of this practice has been the traverso, which offers the contemporary composer a rich palette of timbres, a diverse array of articulations, variable types of vibrato and a considerable versatility in embracing extended techniques. This dissertation considers new music for the traverso from the perspectives of history and aesthetics on the one hand, and of technique and performance practice on the other. The first chapter situates the phenomenon of new works for period instruments within the wider context of historically informed performance, a movement that has itself attracted the labels of both ‘modernist’ and ‘postmodernist’. The second chapter sets out the arsenal of extended techniques in commonest use on the traverso, exploring both the technique of their production on the instrument (their ‘effect’ and how to produce it) and their expressive function (their ‘affect’) in the context of twentieth- and twenty-first-century works. The third chapter analyses specific selected works from the instrument’s new music repertory, exploring both their technical means and processes (whether minimalism, microtonality, live electronics or algorithmic composition) and their aesthetic motivations (for example, with the postmodern irony of Jukka Tiensuu or the postimpressionism of Jacqueline Fontyn). While some of these works embrace the instrument’s stylistic and organological heritage, through the use of quotations from Baroque music or the re-appropriation of its genres and instrumental combinations, others do not, instead placing it in the context of a radically new aesthetic and/or an innovative soundscape. As the conclusion sets out, all this renders more problematic the task of situating new music for the traverso within contemporary culture, whether as a modernist, a postmodernist or a late modernist phenomenon. Presented along with the dissertation is a CD recording by the author and his ensemble Europa Ritrovata (released in 2019 on the Arcana/Outhere Music label) which features a number of the works discussed. Also included is an appendix listing more than 150 works composed for the traverso over the past four decades.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > MT Musical instruction and study
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 July 2021
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2022 03:13

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